Searching for a Project Management role

By Ben Snell

Welcome back to the seventh edition of my blog. This time we’ll be talking about my ongoing job search, how I’ve been using the APM competence framework to improve my applications and a little bit about the jobs I’ve been applying for. As always, any advice or suggestions about how to improve my job search would be greatly appreciated in the comments.

I currently work for the Department for Work and Pensions on a fixed term contract, so the job search has never been far from my mind since I passed the APM PMQ last October. My current role (Learning & Development) isn’t strictly project related, although it has given me the opportunity to volunteer for and be involved with some projects that are going on within the department. It’s been really useful to see all the things I learned about being put into action and again reinforced that many of the skills I’ve gained throughout my career are totally applicable to project management.

I’m a very visual learner, so I created a competence matrix using the APM competence framework to really improve my job search. The APM competence framework is a set of core competences that are crucial for managing a project, programme or portfolio effectively and is an excellent tool for being able to frame existing skills in a P3 context. These 27 competences are rated from 1 – 5, with 1 meaning “aware” and 5 meaning “expert”. The APM framework also offers examples of what demonstrating knowledge and application of each competence would look like, making it incredibly easy to determine what your current level is as well as what it would take to progress further.

Doing this was helpful as, first and foremost, it’s a good reflective exercise which forces you to be honest about things you excel at and areas to improve. Rather than being a negative experience, I was able to see how well prepared I am for project management roles from my previous experience. It also helped to identify areas where I currently lack experience, meaning I can be selective with the projects I volunteer for and ensuring that I focus on the areas where there is room for improvement.

The APM competence framework is so advantageous when applying for a new role as it forces you to read the job description/person specification really thoroughly to make sure you’re picking out the key competences. As we have talked about before, tailoring your application to the job description is absolutely crucial in such a competitive labour market and this exercise encourages you to really focus on what the recruiters are looking for from prospective candidates.

I am currently following my own advice and aim to send out four or five strong, tailored applications a week. I’m looking at a variety of roles; within the civil service or in the private sector, either as a project manager or project support but always with a strong commitment to career progression and development. Also recently roles within Learning and Development, so watch this space!

That’s all for this edition, next time I hope to be able to discuss preparing for an interview and some tips on interview technique. Until then, stay safe and thanks for reading.