Are you a Veteran moving into Tech? Yes? Then forget about the PMP.

Are you a Veteran or transitioning servicemember interested in obtaining your PMP and looking to jump into a tech job with (hopefully) one of the industry greats like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, T-Mobile, AT&T, Capital One, Need I Go On? Not so fast!

PMP (Project Management Professional) certifications are becoming virtually obsolete in the technology industry. In thinking about your transition and employment goals and desires, ensure you’re future-proofing your plan as much as possible. Just as we don’t build tomorrow’s technologies on yesterday’s platforms, if you want to work in tech you need to build your resume for the future and not base it on certifications of the past (at least in this industry).

Alternatively, if you are interested in working for companies and institutions like public utilities, construction, shipbuilding, manufacturing, or in other complicated environments, then the PMP probably is the best answer for you and the right way to go. True, there are many manufacturing (hello Lean!) companies increasingly becoming agile, and many other industries and sectors are experimenting with agile methodologies and applications. However there is more than enough traditional project management work out there if you’re flexible about where you’re going and what you’re managing.

If the traditional project management world is where you want to be, the good news is that everything you’ve learned throughout your military career  has set you on course to fulfill your PMP requirements and obtain your certification. We wish you the best of luck!

If, however, the tech industry is where you want to be, then don’t waste your time on the PMP. Instead, start learning how to leverage your knowledge, skills, and experience operating in the complex environment of technology.

Your first challenge is going to be the reality that many of those very same technology companies do not fully understand what they are seeking in a job candidate. Companies which regularly espouse their “agility” and agile practices still put “PMP” on their hiring sheets in either the “Required” or “Desired” skills section. I guess because it is the way they’ve always done it (terrible!) and it’s like a warm, snuggly blanket of reassurance in the otherwise dark night of human resource uncertainty.

Yet typically once you get to the interview, things fall apart because – it turns out – the people hiring you are not the people who put the proverbial ad in the paper and they ask you questions about obscure, farcical conceptions such as Agile, Scrum, Lean, SDLC, Test Driven Development, iterations, continuous improvement (hey that one at least sounds good), and a host of other words that are relatively alien to a standard PM.

Unfortunately, those words are the core components of their business methodology, and the PMP has absolutely nothing to do with any of those concepts (although continuous improvement still sounds good).

The good news here is that your knowledge, skills, and experience actually are the key abilities technology companies seek, although it often requires some translation on your part. The first part of translation is knowing the language, so you need to start learning about Agile. Today.

Here are just a few ways to get started.

  • Look into the PMI-ACP (Agile Certified Practitioner) certification. There are lots of courses and strategies for getting the knowledge you need – the actual hands-on experience may be harder, but this is a great certification which gives you the exposure, vocabulary, and talent to show that you understand Agile theory, methodologies, and practices.
  • Take a course on Lean. This is another great agile methodology more geared towards manufacturing but which is making inroads and holds applicability to many areas of the tech industry.
  • Take a CSM (Certified ScrumMaster) or CSPO (Certified Scrum Product Owner) class. This will give you a few glimpses of what Agility is and will teach you about Scrum, the overwhelmingly most popular Agile framework in the market today. There are classes all over the world and a basic certification can be achieved in two days.
  • Check out any of the numerous books about Agile methodologies and thought.
  • Get involved in Agile discussions on LinkedIn, blogs, and other online sources. See if there are any Agile Meetups in your area, and go  to them. Agile practitioners love to talk about Agile, so leverage that.

Additionally, get online to resources like Code School and PluralSight (who own Code School) and start learning about software development, at least at a basic level. You’ll be amazed at how far apart this knowledge alone can set you from your competition.

Remember, this may take some creative selling on your part, as well. I’m regularly surprised to see the number of established companies recruiting for an agile project manager who have no idea what “agile” actually means. This is a fantastic situation for you – as an interviewee. You can actually educate them.

However to do that, you must be prepared and armed with the knowledge you need in order to have the conversation in the first place. So forget about the PMP and invest in yourself and in the studies which will prep you to get into the tech giants of today and tomorrow.

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