In Part 1 of this series, we examined the basic challenges that face a veteran project manager making the transition from traditional corporate America to the Internet economy. Faced with competition from the Net generation, you, the veteran, must find effective ways to reposition your skills to fit the needs of the Internet workforce. It's not so much what you've done as how you've done it.
You can increase your chance of landing a satisfying position with a dot-com enterprise by considering the following strategies:
- Your resume must change. Make your resume bristle with know- how. Do not try to dazzle with technobabble. Add a section listing software and hardware skills; include knowledge of graphics, communications, and authoring tools if you have it. Describe the scale of your accomplishments in terms of the people you have managed, deadlines you have met, and dollars of revenue you have supported. Keep it as short as possible.
- Emphasize technical skills if you have them. Startups love people who have dabbled in code, can use PhotoShop, understand Flash, and know their way around some HTML editing tools. If your position will be technical in nature, you must demonstrate some level of technical proficiency.
- Demonstrate that you can get things done. In some situations, the magic words are "on-time and on-budget delivery." Given the chance, describe your step-by-step development process.
- Swamp them with examples. Quietly challenge their experience by explaining your own. Leave them with a binder of project documents that demonstrate your skills in describing and managing projects.
- Look for gaps in their experience that you can fill. Your most valuable commodities are experience and good judgment. You have seen it all; you've made the mistakes and know how to avoid them. Can a team of twenty-something developers truly say that? You may be able to invent your job on the spot after finding out what they desperately need to succeed.
- Realize that your experience with human nature may be a key to their success. Development is all about interpersonal relationships. If a team cannot blend and collaborate, it won't produce good work. If you are uncomfortable with a collaborative environment, stick to bricks and mortar. An experienced manager, however, can lend a sense of organization and calm to a frenzied development effort. If you are that person, let it be known.
Jason Rich, a technical recruiter with the Execu|Search Group in New York, sums it up succinctly: "The most successful project managers are the ones who are able to walk into any environment and take control, not by being everyone's boss, but rather by bringing out everyone's strengths and binding them together to build a powerful team."
Be prepared for a rapid interview and hiring process if you are seeking a job with an Internet startup. Don't let them see you blink. You may be hired on the spot or even receive your job offer via email. Laugh about it. Tell your best friend. But fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride.