Secrets revealed! Expert trainers spill top tips to impress PM recruiters

Plus a breakdown of the suite qualifications and certifications available within the Australian project management landscape
9 May 2019

Secrets revealed! Expert trainers spill top tips to impress PM recruiters


When it comes to mastering project management, it’s all about getting the knowledge and tools we need. From legitimate educators.

Experience, of course, is always important – and you can be an absolute superstar at your job – but the ability to manage projects is not something that we’re born with….

Look, that’s not to say that some of us aren’t naturally more gifted at it than others.

BUT, because of the rapid growth and transition of our workforce into the ‘gig economy’, or contract/freelance, short-term work – project management has subsequently taken a specific shape in our current context.

And that shape is, that the ability to manage projects properly is now crucial. And, the applied knowledge and skills we need to manage our project, must be learned correctly. Not guessed as we go!

It’s not even about being able to manage just projects effectively anymore.

It’s simply about being able to manage them properly, using proven processes and techniques at speed, with confidence that they’ll achieve what they need to.

In fact, by 2027, the Project Management Institute predicts 574,399 roles in Australia and 87.7 million globally will be project-based.

And because of this demand, we’ve seen an increase of project management education offerings; mainly in the form of qualifications, certifications and online content.

We’ll start by saying this; 

If you’re serious about managing projects within your role, you’ll need to think about a qualification

And, potentially a certification too. This is not only because of the premium content you’ll receive through these exercises but also because they hold standards that are highly recognised by recruiters and employers. If they’re looking for competent project managers, this is what they’re looking for.

However, having said this, getting ourselves qualified and certified is certainly easier said than done. That’s for sure!

And even when we choose what course or certification we’ll partake in, there’re that many providers to choose from – and more and more popping up every day, competing for our attention.

It can be overwhelming. …

But there’s one thing we can say without a shred of a doubt. And that is that where project management is concerned, it’s becoming increasingly important to gain recognised training.

The good news is though, trained project managers earn 10% more than those without project management qualification.

Hopefully, that in itself makes the qualification worth it?

Or at least, it can justify your training investment!

Before we unveil the top 3 things recruiters are looking for in a project manager, here’s a breakdown of the suite of qualifications and certifications available within the Australian project management landscape…

What you can do and when.

And most importantly, how they are regarded in the eyes of your employer or recruiter.

Qualifications vs certifications

Let’s start with qualifications

Qualifications are about what you know.

They’re all about knowledge – in this case, on project management definitions, processes, methodologies, techniques etc.

So, when recruiters are investigating your profile, if you’ve got the qualification/s they’re looking for, they can safely assume that you can competently manage the project because of what you know.

Now, because qualifications are about knowledge, they’re forever valid. You only need to gain a qualification once, and it’s good for life.

Typically, you’d gain a qualification before a certification because certifications are all about demonstrated practice. More on that next…

Types of qualifications

For project management education, you have a choice between vocational and tertiary qualifications.

In Australia, vocational qualifications are offered under the Australian Qualifications Framework.

They are delivered through Registered Training Organisations (like us), are nationally recognised, and are highly regarded by employers because we go through a rigorous process with the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) to become an RTO. As an RTO, they are stamped as an official provider of quality-assured and nationally recognised training and qualifications.

A breakdown of RTO-offered qualifications

In addition, in Australia the vocational suite of qualifications cater for the three main roles in project management;

  1. Certificate IV in Project Management – for project team members (not necessarily the project managers)
  2. Diploma of Project Management – specifically for project managers
  3. Advanced Diploma of Program Management – for those managing the project managers or portfolio managers

Alternatively, tertiary qualifications, offered through universities are for senior and advanced students, looking to further their project management education.

A breakdown of university-offered qualifications

In other words, universities don’t offer entry-level education options for project managers, but an extended education once you’ve reached a senior or advanced level of learning.

A Masters degree in Project Management is the highest tertiary qualification available and is a 3-year course.

But is a Masters degree for me?

We’d say, if you’ve already done vocational training in project management and you’re looking to compliment your practice on-the-go and you’re managing complex projects or, you want to specialise in the project management industry in and of itself, then definitely consider a Masters.

Next up, certifications.

A breakdown of Project Management certifications 

Your certification is your demonstrated, recent experience in applying what you’ve learnt (your qualification) in practice.

Thus, certifications expire.

To remain certified, you must continue to collect certification points throughout your career.

Although there are several certification providers, the top 3 in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region are:

  1. The Project Management Institute (PMI)
  2. The Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM)
  3. The International Project Management Association (IPMA)

All of these guys offer a suite of certifications that cater to managers of simple through to complex projects.

PMI offers the Project Management Professional Certification. This is probably the most popular certification for project managers worldwide, with 750,000 project managers completing this certification annually.

For context, in the year 2000, there were only 20,000 professionals worldwide, a testament to the growth of project management demand today.

With all this in mind…

Here are the top three things recruiters are looking for when hiring PMs

1. They are looking for demonstrated knowledge of the tools, techniques, processes and methodologies.

If you are going for a project manager role, as a minimum you are going to want to complete a Diploma of Project Management.

This will show the recruiter that you’ve been formally distinguished as a project management professional with the knowledge and skills required to give your project the best possible shot at success.

2. They’re very often looking for context-specific certifications.

For example, a global company might be looking for someone to complete, or have already completed an internationally recognised certification. So you’d need to make sure that your certification is recognised in countries beyond Australia. Note: not all providers offer this.

Or, they may be looking for methodology-specific training. For example, a foundational certification in PRiNCE II.

It’s important that you investigate the specificities around the types of certification that you’re role requires. You may be able to find this information alongside the overall project management approach used by the organisation.

Don’t be shy to drill down and ask exactly what PM certifications your employer or recruiter is looking for.

3. Combination is key

Holding a qualification as well as certification/s is most sought after by employers.

Not only does this show that you know the necessary processes, standards and techniques (your qualification), but also, you can demonstrate recent experience applying this knowledge (your certification).


If you’re serious about adding project management to your suite of professional skills, your first step is to get yourself qualified by a reputable training organisation. This is arguably the most important asset your next recruiter will be looking for.

A general qualification in project management, such as a BSB51415 Diploma of Project Management is a really solid place to start to give you knowledge of the different tools, processes and techniques to apply to your project management and how to tailor different approaches to suit your projects.

Our flagship qualification, the BSB51415 Diploma of Project Management has been officially endorsed by the Australian Institute of Project Management.

This means that:

  • By successfully completing the program (DPM), you’ll be automatically certified by the Australian Institute as a Certified Practicing Project Professional (CPPP).
  • Your new qualification plus certification will entitle you to the post-nominals “DPM CPPP”

View our course dates here.