Project Management Institute

Relocation Restart

Showcase Your Skills When You Move to a New Region; Also: What to Expect from an Internship, and Cover Letters That Connect

By Lindsay Scott

I'm moving to a different region of the world. How can I make sure that my skills and experience transfer?

Project management skills are universal, but understanding the professional nuances in a new region can help accelerate the job search when you're relocating. I recommend that you focus on three areas of your résumé or CV to show how your skills and experience easily translate:

Meet regional requirements: Make sure that the skills and experience on your résumé are clear, concise and written to align with the region in which you're trying to work. Different countries have different customs and culture when it comes to what's included in the résumé and how it's written. Ask other people you've met in your new region to show you their résumé and perhaps give you some pointers. You also could query your own social media contacts or even post a question on PMI's LinkedIn discussion group, where other project professionals can lend a hand. You're trying to build a consensus on subtle résumé requirements: Do I include a photo? Should I organize it chronologically? Should I use first person? You want to be sure your résumé is not standing out for the wrong reasons.

Widen the lens: Make sure your résumé expresses a high-level view of your skills and experience so it translates anywhere. Listing your PMI certifications demonstrates that you understand the common language of project management. Use that same language when highlighting your most recent project experience, too. Include big-picture details such as the budget, what the project is delivering and the span of control. Then explain the project management capabilities that enabled you to complete that project successfully—skills such as planning, budget control, risk mitigation and stakeholder management. Finally, add leadership skills and experience plus any other people skills. Creating a résumé in this way will allow anyone who is reading it to not only quickly see the skills and experience but also the level of seniority you might have.

Research the market: Finally, you have to understand how the employment market works in your new region. Am I prepared to move when work is offered? Is freelancing a popular option? On average, how long should it take to secure a permanent role? How many interviews are expected for a particular role? If offered a new position, do I have all the proper legal documentation to start working immediately? Is it better to apply online for jobs, or do companies tend to advertise their roles directly to job seekers? Do I understand what the job titles in my new region mean? (Pro tip: You'll be surprised how the responsibilities associated with project management job titles can differ by region.) Understanding the recruitment process in your new region will take time, and you'll need to gather insights from a variety of people. Look at it as a network-building exercise and an opportunity to connect with new people.

There's no doubt that the skills and experiences you have gained in your career in one part of the world can translate to another. It's the cultural differences—and being informed and mindful about the impact they might have—that can create an advantage. There's no magic wand, so be prepared to keep learning every day.

I just landed an internship in a project manager role. What can I expect? What will be required of me?

Welcome to project management! You're going to be learning so many new skills. You'll meet a diverse range of people, face lots of challenges and have fun along the way. Typically, you can expect to manage a real project or even several projects (not virtual projects for training purposes). The projects might be small or low-risk, but they will cover the entire project life cycle in a relatively short time. That means you'll learn and develop the core project management competencies as you work.

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Most likely, you'll be assigned to an experienced manager for day-to-day mentoring and guidance. Expect to check in regularly with other interns to share insights and experiences. The idea is to gain experience in a professional environment and understand how values and culture affect teams and projects. Ultimately, you'll learn about the organization and how projects are run in that particular business. And with some internships, you'll get an opportunity to continue working there on a long-term basis.

Bottom line: Internships are a great opportunity to explore whether project management is suited for you. However it pans out, you'll have a great set of skills to provide a competitive edge in any job market.

In today's digital world, do I still need to submit a cover letter with my application?

Absolutely. The biggest mistake you can make is to not submit a cover letter when you have been specifically asked to include one as part of the application process. Too many people fail to read the instructions correctly, and they stumble at the first hurdle. The other common mistake people make on cover letters is neglecting to include contact details. Applicants assume they're not needed because the résumé is attached. But the two documents often become separated in the process, so make sure you include a phone number and email address with your cover letter. PM

Have a career question for Lindsay Scott? Email [email protected].

img Lindsay Scott is the director of program and project management recruitment at Arras People in London, England.
This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

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