Effect of Project Work vs. Process Work on your career

I’m considering two different job offers, one is project oriented and one is process oriented, which one will be best for my career?

First, thank you for emailing me your question, I appreciate it. There are pros and cons of both project and process oriented jobs. I'll begin with a definition of each to assure we are using the same terminology and then describe their advantages and disadvantages.

A project oriented job, such as the implementation of a new software application, has a start and end. When the project you are working on ends, you are assigned to another project, and the cycle repeats. A process oriented job is one that has a volume of similar work tasks, such as monitoring nightly operations or ongoing disk space monitoring.

Advantages of project oriented jobs include:

• Working on different types of projects can quickly widen your professional experience. • You can quickly build the accomplishments section of your resume. • If project teams are created and deconstructed on a project-by-project basis, you will have the opportunity to continually meet new people and expand your professional network.

Disadvantages of project oriented jobs include:

• Each time a project ends you are vulnerable to layoff because you are between assignments. • It's harder to gain a high level of expertise in a specific application area unless all of your projects are enhancements of the same software application code set. • If your company has many physical locations, there is an increased chance that you may need to travel to multiple sites and/or work remotely with a team in another city or country. Note that, depending on your point of view, this could also be considered an advantage.

Advantages of process oriented jobs include:

• You have the opportunity to more easily become a subject matter expert related to the particular process you are performing or managing. • Assuming that the process continues to be needed, you are less likely than those performing project work to be effected by layoffs or organizational changes. • Once you have mastered the task, it's easier to stay inside your comfort zone.

Disadvantages of process oriented jobs include:

• Over time, it's easy to become professionally defined as only able to perform one specific task, thus reducing your future professional marketability. • It can be difficult to illustrate professional growth on your resume and/or with future employers because, unlike project oriented jobs, you are continually performing the same task. • If the process goes away you will very possibly also be asked to leave.

At the end of the day, both types of jobs can be satisfying and provide career growth. The real questions should be which type of job:

• Do you enjoy the most? • Is most suited to your personality? • Do you think you can be the most successful performing? • Most closely matches your current skill set? • Is most available in your current geography? • What are your long range career goals and which job type has the most potential to get you there?

As one final thought, if you get bored easily and like a wide variety of experiences, then you may be best suited to a project oriented job because of the variety of assignments. Conversely, if you don't deal well with change and prefer situations that are consistent and familiar, then a process oriented job may be a better choice.

Best wishes and good luck on whichever path you choose.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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