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Hiring a Good Project Manager – What To Look For?


Hiring is not an easy task no matter the position. So many aspects need to be considered such as experience, knowledge, attitude and overall fit. Hiring a good fit in a position as important as a project manager can be incredibly difficult. In this posting I’m going to dive into some of the qualifications to look for when setting out to hire your new project manager.

Experience

This is an obvious and easy to understand trait of project managers. Resumes can detail a project manager’s experience, their work history, size of projects and teams as well as the actual project outcomes and their track record. Depending on the position that you have to offer, the experience shown on the resume of the candidate can be the first indicator if you want to pursue the next steps. If they are senior PM’s with 20 years of experience, they may not be a good fit for a junior project manager position that you are offering. Opposite to that, you may not want a project manager with one year of experience managing your multi-million dollar client project portfolio.

Knowledge

While some may confuse knowledge with experience, I consider the two mutually exclusive. Someone may have 20 years of good project management experience, where some may have one year of experience 20 years over. What situations have they been in where their skillset helped them deliver great results? What were some of the missteps they’ve taken along the way that have helped shape their perspective on project management? While you can gain knowledge with experience, it is certainly not guaranteed. The knowledge of a candidate is difficult to discern from a resume without actually speaking to them so trying to extract their level of knowledge is something that needs to be done in a dynamic setting such as the interview.

Attitude

This is at the very top of my hiring checklist, regardless of the position. With a bad attitude, all other qualifications, knowledge and experience are tossed right out the window. I’ve always professed that I would rather hire someone with minimal knowledge and/or experience and a great attitude than the reverse. Attitudes are infectious and in order to build a successful organization you need a great culture and negative attitudes will rot a great culture quicker than any other factor.

Customer Fit

This can be something that is often overlooked when evaluating project management candidates. Project managers are often the face of your organization when working with customers. You need to understand the corporate cultures of your client base, their personalities and ensure that the personality of your candidate will mesh well with your client base. This is incredibly difficult to do and often times concessions need to be made for the sake of other areas of qualifications for your candidate.

Hiring is never an easy process however with a shift of emphasis from hard skills to soft skills when evaluating talent, you will be setting your organization up for a better match when selecting your project management candidates.

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