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Recently, I qualified as a solicitor (that's "lawyer" for Americans), and decided I would much sooner set myself on fire than continue in that role. I have a law degree, but I have always been maths/IT minded. I also know that while I'm a passable coder, my strengths are in the area of organizing teams and getting stuff done.

What, in your experience, are the things that a hiring manager would consider beneficial when assessing an applicant for a junior IT project management position who comes from a different field and has no direct IT project management expertise? Would Scrum or PRINCE2 certification be helpful? Are there other qualifications that would be sensible to seek out before looking for a project management role?

  • This is a bit of an opinion poll. Can you edit the question to be more objectively-answerable? – Todd A. Jacobs Dec 28 '13 at 15:03
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    Let me specify: "What, in your experience, are the things that a hiring manager would consider beneficial when assessing an applicant for a junior IT project management-related position who comes from a different field and has no direct IT project management expertise?" – Chris vCB Dec 29 '13 at 15:02
  • Thanks both for the answers. They were very helpful and I'll keep them in my mind for the future. Again, thank you @AlecMaddison. – Chris vCB Jan 2 '14 at 0:09
  • I edited your question to reflect the underlying question you posted in the comments. This is still largely an opinion poll that could be better answered by a career guidance counselor, but hopefully it's now a clearer opinion poll. – Todd A. Jacobs Jan 4 '14 at 16:23
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If I were in your shoes I would be playing up my knowledge of the Law domain first and IT competancies second. Whether one considers PM skills transferable across domains or not, in a practical sense many employers want to hire people with direct knowledge of their domain. Thus someone who comes to IT project management in the legal sector, with actual qualifications to practise law, will be as rare as the proverbial rocking horse, erm, deliverables :) and may well get you into an IT PM role that you wouldn't otherwise have stood a chance in. Also, why limit yourself to IT PM, why not business change PM (in the legal world), where your relative lack of IT experience would not count against you?

In my opinion, any amount of time spent actually practising law will put you in a very good position for PM in that field (assuming you can also demonstrate good knowledge of PM disciplines too). Perhaps do a year of that before switching and use it as a year-long training course for your PM career in the legal domain? It seems to me you are in really good position, rather than perhaps thinking it hopeless. Good luck!

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Much of the skills of being a PM--managing and leading people, managing risks and resolving conflicts, sales, solving problems, planning, facilitating quality--are the same no matter industry or domain. Knowing the industry and domain is important, but becomes less so as one evolves from technologist to manager to leader. And, managing projects exists with every job. So this type of a career change should be quite simple assuming you have some degree of intelligence, aptitude, attitude, and good leadership skills. I hired a lawyer recently into the consulting and PM world. It was a piece of cake to ascertain those transferable skills, and I was right; he hit the ground running.

I look for people who are smart, can critically think, can present professionally. Everything else can be taught.

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