Ah, the annual buzz of New Year’s resolutions. Every year I talk to project managers around this time and at least half of them tell me that they are going to get a new job. Or at least look for one. Even my own team tell me that they want to expand their horizons and try new things, take on new projects and build their skills. This really is the time of year for reflection and creating new career goals. So if you are part of that group of people who want to grab 2015 and make the most of the next twelve months by securing a new job then here are eight tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Update your CV

First, you must have an up-to-date CV or resume. Start now – dust it off and update it with your relevant experience from 2014. This isn’t optional because as soon as you hear about a good opportunity you want that document to be ready and working for you. You may not have time to spend a few hours updating it prior to sending it off or handing it to someone, so be ready.
It actually doesn’t take that long to update your CV if you do it often. It’s the one career document that should reflect your current experience so make a habit to update it regularly.
While you are at it, update your experience eon your LinkedIn profile too.

Tip #2: Network e.g. with Chapters

Not all jobs are advertised. A good many of them are but you’ll also hear about things on the grapevine if you know what to listen out for. Network actively for jobs and let your network know that you are looking for a new opportunity.
Places like your PMI Chapter meetings are great locations to tap into the local knowledge of hiring managers and people who may be aware of recruitment drives coming up in their companies.

Tip #3: Take a course

Build your career and skills by studying. Even if you don’t think you are ready to go out into the marketplace and job seek right now, consider what you need in order to take that next career step and get those skills programmed into your development plan for 2015.
Take an open course if you can as you’ll meet people from other businesses. They may have opportunities in their companies – it’s another way to expand your network.

Tip #4: Set up alerts for job searches

Let the jobs come to you. Create tailored alerts by saving your searches on your favourite job sites. If it is easier, create a rule so that your alerts come directly into a folder in your email and don’t clog up your inbox.

Tip #5: Ask

There might be something available internally that you simply aren’t aware of. Talk to your manager about your career goals and what opportunities they may have coming up. There could be the chance to deputise for someone going on extended leave, to take on larger projects, to build skills in areas like facilitation or change management or other areas. They might not lead directly to a new job but it all improves your skills, makes it known that you are good at turning your hand to what needs to be done and increases your exposure amongst hiring managers.

Tip #6: Refresh your skills

You may have been managing projects for some time but it never hurts to update your practical project management skills. How good are you really at managing project plans? Make the effort to learn the new features of your tools – for example, do you know how to sort tasks and resources in Seavus Project Viewer? You’ve probably been stuck using your tools for so long that you’ve forgotten they can do a lot more than you use day-to-day. Go through the ribbons and check out some of the other features that you don’t use often – they could make a really big difference to your productivity.

Tip #7: Join online groups

Online groups can be good for job hunting and also keeping your morale high when job hunting isn’t going as well as you would like. There are groups for lots of things and you’ll be able to find friendly project managers who can review your CV and give you career advice about your next steps. There are also plenty of recruiters hunting for suitable candidates so make it known that you are on the look out for a new role.
If you do make it obvious on your online profile that you are hunting for a new role (on LinkedIn, for example), then it is courtesy to tell your manager. It is far better that they find out from you and not from browsing your profile online and suddenly seeing that you are looking to leave.

Tip #8: Get references to use when the time comes

Get prepared by finding people who can act as references when the time comes. Most new employers or agencies will be after references as soon as possible when they want to put you into a new position, so spend some time now thinking about who would make good references for you. References should be:

  • People you trust
  • People who know your work
  • People who will be honest but praiseworthy about your skills.

Then when you do need to provide their details you already have people in mind and they already know that you might be asking them for reference information for a new position.