If you are new to the world of PMO or thinking about starting a career in PMO, we’ve got you covered. This article will give you practical ideas and tips to make that jump into the exciting world of PMO.

Firstly, we should take the time to appreciate how far the PMO has advanced and developed. From its’ early inception in the 1950s, the PMO has moved from an administrative function into a much more dynamic strategic business partner. This is due, at least in part, to advancing technologies and AI. As we have seen this shift, we have seen a shift in terms of the calibre of candidates wanting to work in and lead PMOs.

Secondly, let’s be clear that there is no one clear and defined path into PMO. If you speak to any person working within a PMO, they’ll all have very different backgrounds and experiences; no pathway will be the same. Make sure you understand your own personal career path. There are many roles within a PMO – make sure you understand these roles, and which one will best suit your personality, interests and skills.

Words used to describe a PMO

From a PMO community event with Wellingtone Practitioners


What Words Would You Use to Describe a PMO

There are many and varied roles within the PMO team, from Risk Manager, Planner through to PMO Analyst and PMO Leader. You need to consider which role(s) you would like to visit on your career path and where you would like your journey to ultimately conclude.

There are many and varied roles within the PMO team, from Risk Manager, Planner through to PMO Analyst and PMO Leader. You need to consider which role(s) you would like to visit on your career path and where you would like your journey to ultimately conclude. Check out this article for further detail on the PMO roles available.

There are various career theories that have clear learnings in terms of how to achieve career fulfilment: –

  1. The theory of work adjustment
    • The satisfaction of individuals with the work environment, and vice versa
    • KEY TAKEAWAY: Make sure a company’s culture + values are aligned to yours…and vice versa
  1. The self-concept theory
    • How do you think and see yourself? A person’s existence depends on how s/he perceives themselves
    • Self-concept is learned, organised + dynamic
    • KEY TAKEAWAY: Change the way you see yourself to move forwards in your career
  1. The theory of circumscription and compromise
    • We build a cognitive map of occupations by picking up occupational stereotypes from those around us. Then compromise our career choices based on this.
    • KEY TAKEAWAY: Stereotypes are not static and are sometimes misconceptions. Minimise unnecessary compromise by optimizing self-investment

Career-chasers must constantly adapt, evolve, and proliferate to survive against ever-changing opposing species. You can do this by:

  1. Being proactive and indispensable
  2. Moving up sideways or out
  3. Thinking of the value and not the cost
  4. Saying yes to opportunities
  5. Having a ‘can-do’ attitude – and if you can’t then learn

Recommended Books for PMO professionals

Investing time to network is also crucial when it comes to advancing your PMO career. 61% of professionals agree there are opportunities to be found through regular online communication. See more about networking tips here.

Make sure that you invest in some qualifications too.

Recommended Qualifications for PMO Professionals

And finally, don’t be a ROG! Take away actions:

  • Have a vision
  • Create a PDP Action Plan
  • Be a ‘Goal-Digger’ (weekly/monthly/yearly + 5yr plan)
  • Get a career squad (coach/mentor)
  • Create a list of achievements
  • Create a list of PMO transferable skills
  • Define what ‘success’ looks like to you

Opportunities don’t happen, you create them

Change your mindset and you can change your world. Make sure you are always proactive in managing your career path. A job won’t just drop in your lap, you need to put in the hard work to make it happen.

Networking is really important in obtaining your dream job in PMO, especially in the early stages of your career. For more information check out this article on How to network effectively. There are some further useful articles on The importance of PMO networks and Top tips for new PMO Managers.

If you can get access to a mentor, then make the most of this. Mentors are those in a similar disciple who has a wealth of experience and can really help shape your career path. They can also help open many doors for you as they will usually have a fantastic network themselves which they can hopefully give you access to.

Make sure you research into what is required to work in a PMO. Review job applications and CVs/LinkedIn profiles for those who have the job you want. What skills do they have? What qualifications? What experience? Which of these do you already have? You will have already have transferable skills that are required by a PMO role; highly organised, multitasking, building solid working relationships, strategic thinking, IT skills…the list goes on! Compile a list of your qualities and skillset and have real-life examples of where you have successfully used these.

Make yourself well-known to recruitment agencies, especially those within the field of project management and PMO. Contact these recruiters directly. Phone them. Add them on Linked In. If you can liaise with the Hiring Manager directly that can potentially make your application stand out above the rest.

Qualifications

There are so many PMO qualifications out there, it can be tricky to know where to start. Check out our article Which qualification is right for me? Our APM Accredited PMO Practitioner training course is a great starting place.. For those with some PMO and/or project management experience take a look at our article PMO Leader versus PMO Practitioner course.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body

There are so many books out there telling us how to start or change careers and how to project manage. The list below are some of my favourites and apply specifically to PMOs:

Nothing works unless you do the work

Make sure you have a career plan written down; from a daily to-do list through to a 5-year plan. After all, what gets written down, gets done.

And remember that all this time, effort and money is an investment in your future. Think of the value, not the cost.

Watch the companion webinar

Are you a natural-born goal-digger? How about a Red Queen? Feeling like a ROG? No idea what we’rere talking about!? Then watch this video to explore the many ways in which you can advance your PMO career, whichever stage of the journey you’re at. And if you already have a successful PMO career, learn how to maintain your momentum, moving sideways, up or out!