Contractors' Questions: How to switch sectors for project management?

Contractor's Question: I've been providing Project Management services for the last 6 years, specialising in Information Management (IM) projects / implementations, mainly for Central Government and Public Sector clients. Although I am moving to Australia in the next 6-9 months, I would like to move into specialist type of consulting, e.g. Financial/Banking PM, rather than just a 'PM' with an IM background. How should I move out of not-for-profit work and into the private sector, while keeping my PM title?

Expert's Answer: The private sector is showing some positive signs - especially the banking/finance sectors - but the competition for these roles remains strong, and is focussed on people with the business knowledge. Many IT contractors moved from the private sector to the security of the public sector during the recession, and I believe the public sector benefited from a broader business knowledge. Expect that those candidates should be favoured over career civil servants, but maybe there is option to promote the converse. So consider how the private sector can benefit from the broader business knowledge, and your experience at large organisations, and promote that.

Of course, working with a reputable agency that understands client requirements, culture and PM contractors will give you advice on how to approach this move more successfully. Alternatively, you may be able to leverage some of your contacts created from your PM work to date if 'direct to client' opportunities are more appealing.

In terms of the role you might focus on, you should note that there are fewer 'junior' PM openings than roles at developer level. Whilst the market is improving, there is still a great deal of competition for roles and thus flexibility is required on the level of post, rate, location, new skills, industry. Time can be added into the equation. If you need something quickly you may need to be even more flexible.

The expert was Alan Rommel, managing director of Parity Resources, the IT recruitment and services group.

Sunday 20th Jun 2010