AS LONG AS there are projects to be managed, there will be a need for project managers. Executives in many contracting firms don’t want to get their hands and minds dirty with details of how much money you’re going to earn for them, or really how you’re going to do it. They trust you enough to know that you won’t try to cheat them so that at the end of your job you’ll be accountable for all the money and hand it over to them. If more than nine times out of 10 you show a profit, regardless of circumstances, then you’ll basically have a job as long as the company has jobs for you to run.
Accept the fact that, in the future, margins for jobs are going to get even tighter with the pressures on you even greater than in the past. You could always go to another profession with a little less pressure, such as air traffic controller or bomb disposal technician.
Assuming that you’re too old, too peculiar or too stubborn to change occupations because you actually love the profession we’re in, what can and should you do to help ensure your continued employment in the field?
The key to surviving project management as a career until you finally hit retirement age is, and will be, education.
I’m not talking about learning the basic mechanics of how to manage projects. I’m assuming you know how to do that or you wouldn’t have a job as a PM. What I’m talking about is continuing education about the modes, metrics and paradigms of how project management will be in the future.
If you’re bilingual in Spanish and English you already have a huge advantage for continued employment in most parts of the country, as opposed to your brethren who are not. Each year a larger percentage of the construction workforce is Hispanic.
I’m sure you’re quite good at creating Gantt charts for jobs, but have you ever really done a job using CPM (critical path method) scheduling where you needed to play with the parameters to squeeze extra days for no extra money from a schedule that was already stretched to the breaking point?
Owners are demanding compressed schedules and almost all jobs in the future will be on fast-track schedules but will not have any extra money in them for acceleration. That being the case, you had better accelerate your education about CPM scheduling.
Do you even try to keep abreast of all the new accounting and corporate responsibility laws that have been passed recently? If not, a law you’ve never heard of could bite you hard in the wallet or possibly even get your company prosecuted and you fired for something you had no idea was illegal.
What about Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute? Is it worth it for you, yes or no?
The list goes on and on but you get my point: Keep abreast of all the latest developing trends by reading CONTRACTOR and other trade magazines. Join trade associations such as Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors-National Association and ASHRAE. Attend continuing education classes. Surf the Internet from time to time to find nuggets of info you can use and, in general, try to become part of as many information loops as you can.
Doing so will not ultimately guarantee your continued employment as a project manager, but it will certainly help!
Kent Craig can be reached by calling 919/851-9550, or via e-mail at [email protected].