Key signs you may not want that project management job

By guest blogger Brad Egeland.

Are you looking for a new job in project management? Are you trying to find just the right fit while advancing your career and possibly find some new challenges that will get you noticed and allow you to PM some projects with cutting edge technology from time to time?

Unless you are currently consulting and could very easily return to it and pick up where you left off or unless you are currently unemployed and desperately seeking any employment out of shear financial need, then no matter how good the job may sound, you still need to be careful. It may not necessarily be as good as it sounds. And you would hate to make an expensive move or dump good consulting clients for something that likely isn’t what you really want and need.

So, let’s consider these five signs that you really may not want to pursue that job that looked so good or you are a finalist for or you are thinking about selling your house and moving across the country for…

The hiring organization seems too needy. You know the one. They keep asking for things, they want to know if you can travel 75% of the time, they need you to start yesterday, they want to see samples of your previous project work including templates and sample status reports and project schedules. It may sound like a great job, but if you don’t know a lot about them and they seem to need a lot from you, what should your gut be telling you? That perhaps they are less “established” and stable than you thought they were and they may not be worth taking a drastic life and career step for. At least not if it involves a big move and many life changes.

The process is never-ending – even if you are a “finalist”. If you keep hearing that you are a finalist or that it’s your job to lose (that’s one of my favorites) but yet they keep adding “one more interview” or “one more round” to the process…then just know you’re probably dealing with an organization who can’t decide what they want or with an organization who can’t decide if they can afford you. Run the other way…you can’t make a flaky hiring organization into a stable one. But I have advice – very good and successful advice on how to handle this type of organization…especially if you are a consultant. I’ve had to do it on a couple of occasions. Let me know if you need any advice on this one.

The company is a very small startup and is across the country. Don’t get me wrong…I love to work with small organizations and startups. I’ve been consulting with them for years. But I have only done it in a remote capacity or for startups in the Las Vegas area. I would never move across the country for one – too many fail. And I would never dump consulting clients right away for one for the same reason. If I started working for a startup full time I would let the consulting clients go as projects ended without burning bridges because that startup I just went to work for may not be around next year.

The company seems to think they are overly important. Actually, this one can easily tie into the last category. The company that thinks they are overly important may keep having you jump through hoops for them and dance for them. They may ask you to run a mock meeting or prepare some sort of demo for them. Sometimes they are legitimate, sometimes they are just acting overly important, and sometimes they are even just out to steal your ideas and templates for free. Yes, that happens.

They keep delaying your start date. If this is happening, be thankful you haven’t started yet…unless of course you’ve already made a 1,500 mile move. Then you’re probably screwed. But seriously…if this is happening then they are on the brink of financial ruin or seeking venture capital that isn’t in their hands yet. Whatever the reason, they can’t pay you yet or they would be. No one messes with a new hire this way unless they simply don’t have the money. I haven’t had this happen to me personally, but I have had it happen twice to colleagues and it was painful to watch.

These are just a snippet of some of the reasons you may not want to take that seemingly lucrative or “too good to be true” project management job that you’re trying to get or have just been offered. Consider any career change carefully, of course…as it can have dire consequences if you don’t and you are experiencing any of those gut check moments like the ones I’ve listed here or others that test your metal. Those voices probably aren’t lying to you!

How about our readers? Do you agree with these tips and do you have any of your own to share about the job hunt/career change challenges? It’s always a tenuous process and the change you may be making could be huge…you don’t want to make it lightly or without thinking it through.


brad-egelandBrad Egeland is a consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. He is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad’s project management blog.

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