How to Become a Project Management Contractor

February 27, 2009 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Miscellaneous

How to Become a Project Management Contractor
By Rosemary Hossenlopp

Generally there are two reasons that you are considering a contract project management job; inspiration or desperation. Let’s start on the happy side; inspiration. Being a contractor gives you a chance to work on different projects, engage with different companies, meet lots of solid project management professionals, gets lots of experience, learn lots of tools and get paid for overtime (most of the time).

I wish I had this amount of foresight to pursue this route. I didn’t. I followed the second path; desperation.

So desperation means that you have been kicked out of the corporate nest. You were laid off. It was a comfortable nest and so this season is incredibly stressful on you. It is a culture change for companies too. Corporations are enveloped in global panic and fear. When hiring managers finally get an ok to proceed with bringing back staff, they may only be hiring contractors to reduce their cash burn-rate risk. Since you are addicted to eating, you want to consider a contract job.

Now I think being a contractor is a great path to success. I wish I would have done it earlier. Don’t get my giddiness wrong. I loved working as a Silicon Valley project manager. But as a contractor, I have had professional opportunities and personal satisfaction that I would never have had in a corporate environment.

Some of you may not be as excited as I am. I understand. I made it across the chasm. I’m feeling very confident about my ability to compete in this economy due to the lessons I’ve learned over the years.

Let’s see if you want to take this same path as a longer term career choice. Take a test.

Rate yourself on a 1-10 on these areas.
Grab a pencil!
1 indicates strong disagreement and 10 indicates strong agreement

  1. Finances: My bank account can handle gaps in my employment.
  2. Personal Relationships: My significant other can handle gaps in my employment.
  3. Emotional Intelligence: I can adapt to many situations and people.
  4. Skill Inventory: I ask for work where I both gain critical skills yet deliver success.
  5. Influence: I demonstrate tangible value to the project management community.


0-10: Hum; you need to turn in your project management credentials
11-20: Seek an environment where soft skill and PM training is available
21-30: You consistently deliver high-quality project work.
31-40: You are professionally recognized and in comfortable control of your life
41-50: You need to publish a book; immediately!

In this economy you need to find the fastest path to cash. That may mean taking a contract job while waiting for your next job. But many of you, this is time to rebrand yourself as a contractor and turn up the dial closer to a score of 50 on your test. Tomorrow we talk about some key skills for project management contracting and consulting success.

Rosemary Hossenlopp is known in the IT industry for requirements results. She coaches other consultants on how to thrive, not just survive. When Rosemary is not consulting or coaching, she is learning, writing, running, or socializing in Silicon Valley. Rosemary can be reached at

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