Few would argue that today’s employment market is different to that of the past. The great recession of 2008, combined with the continued trend towards globalization, mean that for many people the concept of “job for life” is dead. Today’s workers know that the chances of them having the same role, or even the same employer, throughout their career has dropped, and changing jobs is a reality many professionals will have to face one or more times in their careers.
Proactive professionals recognize that staying relevant in the job market is a lifelong effort. Settling into a comfort zone and staying there is no longer an option. Instead, working professionals need to continually keep an eye on their employability. Although we may not consciously recognize it, we all have an “employability score”. Your employability score is a measure of how easy (or difficult) it would be to find a new role should the need arise. The higher your score the easier it would be for you to find a role you really wanted. The lower your score, the more challenging finding a new job would be if the need arose.
To stay relevant we need to recognize that the job market is changing. In the old economy, academic credentials and years in the role were used as barometers of employability. As long as you could present yourself relatively well in a job interview, having the right credentials and the prerequisite years of experience in a related role, might be enough to land the job. In today’s job market academic credentials still matter, but in many nations employers are becoming more selective in who they hire. The focus is shifting and organizations are looking for people who can apply their knowledge and have a track record of delivering results.
One good way to build skills and demonstrate that you understand how to add “value” to an organization is by getting involved in projects. Projects are the stepping stones of progress in an organization and hence they are often an opportunity to stay current or learn new skills. As such, smart professionals recognize that getting involved in the projects around them is a good way to maintain their employability score. Every project you participate is an opportunity to learn, grow and practise your skills.
The recognition of the role projects play in building up a person’s employability score is driving an increased interest in learning more about Project Management practices and Project Leadership skills. Project Management is a set of organizational tools used to define, structure and manage project type work. Project Leadership is about focusing a team towards a goal and translating a team’s potential into delivered results. Among other things, such knowledge and skills helps ensure that projects are properly defined, project work is approached systematically, decision-making is optimized and everyone’s efforts are properly coordinated. When done well, Project Management and Project Leadership practices ensure the efficient use of resources and help maximize the value from the investments made into the project.
While taking on a leadership role in a project can be a great opportunity, it requires a broad portfolio of skills. It takes teamwork, it takes leadership and it takes communications skills. You need knowledge of Project Management practices and you need a deep knowledge base from which you can guide projects towards success. While those can be learned through experience, they aren’t easy skills to learn on your own. As they say: the “school of hard knocks” is the school that has the highest tuition fees. Troubled and failed projects aren’t hard to find and many organizations find that they waste significant resources whenever a project goes wrong.
One of the easiest ways of increasing the chances of project success is to ensure people are properly trained. Leading a project is a challenging task and where the leader has no training in Project Management or Project Leadership the chances of failure are unnecessarily high. To prepare themselves to take on the leadership roles in a project environment, working professionals need to be properly trained. For people interested in getting more involved in their organization’s projects, or who want to formalize their understanding of Project Management practices, a foundation course in Project Management is a good starting point.
At the International Project Leadership Academy we believe our formula for teaching Project Management and Project Leadership is among the best available. All of our classes are developed by experienced project managers who know what it takes to lead projects in today’s modern organizations. Leveraging industry recognized best practices in Project Management our training brings the ideas to life by showing how the ideas apply in the real world. Based around worked examples and case studies that illustrate the concepts in use, our classes focus on applied knowledge rather than just theory from a book.
All of our tutors and instructors carry the Project Management Professional (PMP®) designation from the Project Management Institute (PMI®) and as a team we have a broad range of business backgrounds from which to share experiences. We continually develop increased levels of insight and understanding by undertaking original research into the field of Project Management and Project Leadership. That research is leveraged in our training and helps keep our content current. Our quality is maintained though our affiliate the International Project Leadership Academy Namibia for our students and organizations in Africa.
For those who have made the decision that they want to use projects as a vehicle for maintaining a higher employability score, the rewards can be considerable. As you plan out your career development and consider your next steps, reviewing how Project Management knowledge and Project Leadership type skills fit into that picture can be a step well worth taking.
- Robert Goatham is Founder of the International Project Leadership Academy, which provides training materials to leading universities in North America. Starting in 2016 the Project Management classes are being offered in partnership with the Zimbabwe Open University and via its affiliate, the International Project Leadership Academy Namibia, to students and organizations in Africa.