Project Manager Recruitment – It Need Not Be A Lottery

PM Recruitment

Recruiting the right project manager (PM) into your organisation is a big decision and often a huge investment, yet all too often the success is largely left to chance.  Prepare and choose wisely, rather than take a gamble, and you will have a much better chance of ensuring that your projects succeed.

In this guest post, John Williams founder of ProjExc PM Consulting takes a look at what you should consider to take the risk out of PM recruitment. Having recruited or helped others recruit, induct and coach hundreds of project managers in many industries he provides a rare insight.

Top 8 Considerations When Recruiting a PM

1. Investment
Do you have a mature project management organisation with structured project management processes and tools? If yes, then you can probably afford to recruit a less experienced (less expensive) PM as you will have have confidence that sufficient structure is in place to ensure success. If you don’t have structured and proven systems in place, then you will need to employ a more capable PM, who also has the experience to choose when and when not to use the relevant tools from their toolkit.

2. Don’t Compromise
Never be tempted to put in place a permanent hire who doesn’t meet your essential needs in the hope that they’ll adapt or get there. Not only would this be a high risk decision for your organisation, but also for the individual as well. Until you find the right person, buy yourself some time and bring in an interim. There are plenty out there!

3. Specification
Involve stakeholders in specifying the role and the ideal person to maximise the chances of putting the right person in post. Those stakeholders will not just be the line manager, but also other senior leaders and resource managers. It is often a wise move to consider what your customers need or expect as well. Consider (or ask) do they use particular PM frameworks/methodologies/toolsets which your PM will be expected to interface with? If your PM is expected to behave internally as a customer champion, this should also have a bearing on what you are looking for.

4. The Role
In recruitment it goes without saying that you need a solid role (or job) description. Honest clarity is essential if you are going to bring on board the right person. The right person will be, and will continue to be, motivated. Remember though the more detailed/rigid the responsibilities the less flexibility you’ll have in the future.

5. The Person
As well as the role, it is really important to specify the type of project manager you are looking for. The hard skills which you need and want is the starting point. Then think about the experiences your ideal candidate will have had. Crucially important as well are the attitudes and softer skills.

6. Pure Project Management
Is your project manager also going to be one of the project resources, or solely focused on project management? In the former case you will probably be looking for industry knowledge. Remember though that the more the project manager will be sucked into the detail of the project, the greater the risk that they will lose focus on their project management responsibilities.

7. Induction
You’ve appointed a great PM with the skills, experiences and personality that you need. Don’t fall into the trap of a half-hearted induction. Make sure that you equip your new PM with the information and tools they need to do a great job from day one, helping them to climb up that learning curve as quickly and effectively as possible. If you can, give them a mentor and/or coach to give them the best possible start. This can be someone internal if they have the skills and time to fulfil the role, otherwise use someone from outside. This relatively small investment will provide a truly significant return.

8. Assessment
Most organisations apply a 3 or 6 month probationary period to new recruits but often don’t apply a structured approach to making the most of it, either for the organisation or for the individual. Independently led regular assessments and reviews during the probationary period will ensure that both parties are held accountable for giving new recruits the best possible opportunity to settle in and prove that they meet expectations.

Next time you are recruiting for this pivotal role don’t forget to consider the above and you won’t go far wrong. If you need any support during the recruitment or settling in of project management professionals, why not get in touch with the team at ProjExc. Good luck!

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