How to Search for a New Job—With Confidence
Lindsay Scott also shares tips for transitioning into a project role and knowing when it’s time to move on.
I’m struggling to find a new position. I worry that I’m not qualified for most roles. Any advice?
It seems like your challenge is more confidence than competence. In a hyper-competitive job market, organizations are looking for people who believe in themselves—and their skills.
Still, it’s also natural to suffer from imposter syndrome during a job search. Learning to embrace balanced self-doubt is a healthy part of career development. Most organizations aren’t looking for perfection: They want project professionals who have the tools and skills to overcome problems—and even failure.
The first step? Assess your experience and skills, and then apply for jobs that align with your strengths. And when applications or interviews become daunting, embrace those scary moments as an opportunity to learn and grow. Seek support and encouragement from your professional network throughout the process to stay focused and resilient.
Job searches can be stressful. But they’re also a learning opportunity. To take the sting out of setbacks, lean into your project management skills. Apply learnings from each application you submit to fine-tune your search until you achieve your goal.
I just got promoted from a business support role to my first project role. How can I expedite the transition?
Your promotion is a fairly common move, so your organization should understand that there will be a learning curve. Here’s how you can accelerate it:
First, ask your human resources department for a job description so you are clear on the new responsibilities. Understanding those expectations can help you prioritize areas where you may need to develop your skills.
Next, talk with other people from project teams. Those who share the same role as you can provide practical advice on how they gained knowledge. Hearing about their experiences and challenges might help you avoid some of the newbie mistakes for project professionals.
Then talk with project managers, who can explain how your role best serves the team and fits into the larger strategy of the organization’s project portfolio. For example, your responsibilities may include formatting documents, creating reports, scheduling meetings or reconciling project costs—all of which are essential to supporting the team and ensuring projects run smoothly.
Finally, build up your fundamental project management knowledge. There are plenty of educational resources—including books or sites like PMI.org and ProjectManagement.com—that not only serve as a beginner’s guide but will also grow with you. Also ask your manager about internal support: Does the organization provides formal training or encourage the pursuit of certifications?
Bottom line: If you enjoy working on different tasks, learning new skills and being surrounded by a diverse group of people, working in a project environment will be a great move.
I’m thinking about leaving my job. How do I know if the time is right?
Before we discuss timing, let’s acknowledge that there are myriad variables that make people look for an exit—beyond the pandemic-burnout-driven Great Resignation. Maybe the organization doesn’t provide opportunities for advancement or to take on more challenging projects. Or your organization has low project management maturity. Maybe you feel out of place after changes to the senior management, project strategy or organizational culture. Or perhaps there’s been a freeze on promotions and pay raises.
Whichever variables are urging you to move on, ask yourself: Are any of them likely to change for the better soon? If they are, does that make it more likely that you’ll leave or stay?
Many people feel stuck in a rut at some point in their careers. If the source of that professional languish is out of your control and not likely to change, it might be better for your health—and career—to pursue something new.
Have a career question for Lindsay Scott? Email [email protected].
Lindsay Scott is the director of program and project management recruitment at Arras People in London.