For Recruiters (Part 2): How to Find a Great Project Manager

Precise job description

Avoid standard phrases such as “needs to be a team player”, “works independently” or “is organized”. These are things that almost every job position requires. Such a generic job offer will get you swarmed with applicants and you’ll end up overlooking some great people. Be as precise as possible in the job description. Describe specifically what kind of projects your new PM needs to handle. Ideally, a project manager can work on any kind of projects, but every person has fields they prefer to work on.

Required skills and knowledge

If you need someone with know-how in a specific methodology (Scrum, Lean, Agile etc.) then be clear about it. This will reduce your applicant selection and you get the people who have the skills and knowledge you want and need. You also need to decide how much technical knowledge your future PM needs to have. But don’t be too fixated on that, the most important skills are still the project management skills. For example, a good PM can successfully complete a renewable energy project even with limited knowledge of the matter. The reason is that they have assembled a great team that does know about the specifics. PMs plan and manage the work and solve problems, their role is NOT to create things hands on.

Consider someone with a certification

Hiring is always connected with additional costs, but you should see hiring a PM as an investment. Remember that a project manager will free up your time and allow you to use that time for other important matters. Not every project manager has or needs a certification (e.g. PMP Certification from the PMI), but more and more companies prefer or require one from their project managers. Certified PMs can demand a higher salary, but they are worth it: Professional services firm PricewaterhouseCooper found in their third global project management report that “38% of organisations with individuals certified in their preferred PM methodology reported successful budget performance, 6% higher than for organisations without certified individuals.” However, a certification is not the be-all and end-all, there are many very good project managers out there that do not have one because they compensate with a lot of practical knowledge. (Source)

Look at talent you already have

Not everyone can be a project manager, a great engineer can be a terrible project manager even when overseeing an engineering project. But that does not mean that every engineer is bad at it. Look around your business and see whether you already have a person who is a natural leader and manages projects like a pro. If there is no one in your own company, maybe someone in your circle of acquaintances fits your requirements or knows someone who does.

Find someone who fits into your company’s culture

This is an aspect that is sometimes overlooked when it comes to hiring. An applicant can be amazing at their job, has a lot of experience and be certified, but if they do not fit into your company’s culture, you might not be able to retain them for long. A large part of project management is collaborating with others and working in teams, so having someone who shares the same values and beliefs makes things easier for teamwork.

Next up:

Part 3: How to Get the Onboarding of New Project Managers Right

Reading Tips:

How to Hire People Who Fit a Company’s Culture

10 Killer Interview Questions for Hiring Project Managers

Read more:

For Recruiters (Part 1): Does Your Business Need a Project Manager?