While checking my LinkedIn feed this morning, I saw an update indicating that there are over 2,000 job postings for remote project managers on just one North American employment site. While this is encouraging news for those who have been laid off due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, the number of job seekers has also increased dramatically over the past two months.
If you are looking for a new role, a job as a remote project manager is ideal given the current circumstances but without actual experience leading dispersed or distributed teams, how can you compete with other candidates?
This challenge is a good example of the difference between interests and positions.
If the recruiter or hiring manager is focused on a position of needing someone with recent, demonstrable remote project management experience, you will want them to reveal the specific interests they have. You might not have the former, but if you can make them feel confident that you can satisfy the latter then they might be willing to take a chance with you.
Here are three categories of interests they are likely to have:
- How will you engage and inspire remote team members?
- How will you go about forming a high performing team from a group of individuals when there won’t be an opportunity bring them together?
- How will you surface and respond to conflict or performance concerns with remote team members?
- How will you keep me in the loop?
- How will you align key stakeholders towards a common set of project objectives?
- How will you influence or persuade remote stakeholders who wield significant power over the project?
- How will you ensure key stakeholders such as the customer or project sponsor remain engaged and are providing timely feedback?
- How will you ensure decisions are getting made in a timely manner?
Monitor & control
- How will you gain an accurate understanding of project status?
- How will you know if scope creep is happening and how will you deal with that?
- How will you manage issues when everyone is dispersed?
- How will you know if critical risks are about to be realized?
Depending on the context of the project you should be able to identify other specific concerns. Updating your resume and cover letters to include examples of how you addressed these in the past. During an interview, ask probing questions to understand what are the top pain points the interviews is are worried about and try to allay their fears by providing specific examples of how you have addressed these in the past.
Is this guaranteed to work?
Of course not, but the more you can do to help them realize that your past experience is relevant to their current needs, the greater your chances of getting a call back.
Good luck, keep calm and stay safe!