What to do after passing the APM PMQ

By Ben Snell 

Welcome back to the fifth edition of my blog about switching careers into Project Management. In this blog I’m going to talk about what to do after you’ve passed the APM PMQ exam, some steps I took to increase my chances of getting an interview and which kinds of job roles to apply for.

As I talked about in my last blog, I felt incredibly confident when I took the exam because I had prepared so thoroughly. What I hadn’t prepared for was the torturous 8 weeks that it takes for the exam to be marked, the footage invigilated and the final result to be ratified. No matter how confident I felt, it was impossible to shake that nagging little “what if?” voice to such an extent that I kept revising and going over my notes until the blessed day the confirmation I had passed dropped into my email inbox. All of which leads me onto the first thing to do once you pass the APM PMQ: Celebrate! It’s important to not regard passing the exam as the end of learning (as a former teacher my mantra is we are all lifelong learners) but it’s also good to stop and take stock of our achievements. Sometimes we can become so focused on moving onto our next goal that we can disregard all of the hard work and sacrifice that got us to this point.  We should be proud of our success and use it as motivation on the way to our next goal.

Next on the agenda was to begin searching for appropriate job roles and to tailor my CV to those roles. It’s always worth sending off an application to an interesting or promising role but I wasn’t getting a huge amount of success, so I began targeting roles like:

  • Junior project manager
  • Assistant project manager
  • Project support officer
  • Project coordinator
  • PMO assistant/manager
  • Project management internships

I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s much better to send out four or five good, tailored CVs a week rather sending out hundreds of boilerplate CVs. The reason is that studies have shown that recruiters look at a CV for an average of only 8 seconds, if a human being is even looking at it at all. Sifting software is being used increasingly to scan CVs for keywords, so it’s always worth tailoring a CV using keywords from the job specification for these reasons. As to how to tailor your CV with no experience? Remember my advice from the very first blog I wrote; we all have experience managing projects in our everyday life and in whatever jobs we have previously done. Look at the job specification, pick out some key behaviours and link these to behaviours you have demonstrated in your previous roles. Some of the technical aspects of project management can only be done in a project role but behaviours like punctuality, organisation and people skills are universal.

Thank you for reading, in the next blog I will be discussing my ongoing job search to share my experiences and will welcome any comments from others on whether I am taking the right approach!