Project Management

Trouble hiring a project manager? Five possible reasons why

Project managers are perpetually in high demand, but there may be other reasons you're having trouble recruiting a PM. Find out what they are, and what you can do about them.

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If your company is struggling to attract skilled project managers (PMs), you should research and isolate the precise reasons why and devise strategies to address them to remove any future barriers to finding the best talent. These are possible factors that might be hampering your candidate search.

1: Posting an ambiguous job description

In PM territory it's beneficial to craft specific job descriptions for the required role, intended outcome, and project nature. Being too general may miss the mark and can result in attracting candidates that don't match the needs of the project or the company.

With overloaded schedules, conflicting deadlines, and changes in company-wide goals, this normally intuitive aspect of hiring can easily become lost in the rush to post vacancies. Additionally, the nature and purpose of projects can change frequently and without sufficient notice, making it difficult to keep pace and to adjust job descriptions accordingly.

PM candidates assume that the employer or recruiter has been meticulous in detailing the position, and will apply based on that information.

SEE: Job description: IT project manager (Tech Pro Research)

2: Casting too wide a recruiting net

When looking for a PM with specific skill sets, focus efforts in relevant places that are more likely to yield the results you want. Resist the urge to cast a wide net in the hopes of finding the right PM for your project.

You should reach out to agencies that specialize in placing project management professionals, and then ask around within your professional networks for referrals. By asking around and seeking concentrated sources to meet specific PM challenges, it just may increase the likelihood of finding the right combination of knowledge, education, skills, and attributes.

3: Racing against the clock to find a PM

Don't procrastinate when searching for top PM talent. It can become too easy for companies to lose sight of the fact that they are unlikely to be the only organization vying for this type of talent. Further, if your company is seeking highly specialized project help, it amplifies the need to adequately assess project leadership needs, be proactive, and act quickly.

When you take into account high competition, how long it may take to find a PM, work-related interruptions, and the steep learning curve in the initial stages of most projects, expedience makes good sense.

SEE: IT Hiring Kit: Project Manager (Tech Pro Research)

4: Hiring for a company with a less-than-stellar reputation

An area that can be hard to talk about and equally hard to measure is company reputation. Let's face it, no company wants to believe or hear that they possibly have a negative reputation that's impacting their ability to attract or retain PMs.

If this is a concern, consider exploring reputation management options to effectively handle and clear up any harmful company image issues. Often times negative feedback can be brought to light during employee exit interviews, providing insight into potential reputation problems before they get out of control. Make the effort to find out more about such issues before they impact your company's recruiting efforts. When interviewing perhaps even explore what new candidates may have heard about your company; give consideration to asking about how they handle conflict and difficult situations beyond their control should they arise.

5: Recruiting in a highly competitive geographic region

There may be heightened competition for the best and brightest in project management in some geographic regions for various reasons, including economic, political, and legislative factors. This can easily make certain regions less desirable in terms of attracting project leaders.

Employers in these regions may need to consider more innovative mechanisms to attract and keep project leaders. It may be a good idea to meet regularly with other employers or recruiting specialists in the same geographic area to discuss challenges and barriers to hiring. Following this, schedule brainstorming sessions to discuss ways to attract PMs to the area, such as considering the specific benefits to living and working in that region.

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About Moira Alexander

Moira Alexander is the author of "LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership" and Founder & President of Lead-Her-Ship Group. She's also a project management and IT freelance columnist for various publications, and a contr...

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