Finding and Acquiring Excellent Project Leaders

This post will cover how to find and acquire top leadership talent rather than candidates who are merely technically qualified.  While it takes a multi-tiered approach to adequately address project leadership needs, talent acquisition is the first and most crucial step.

Traditional staffing companies use a wholesale approach of providing a large pile of “good-enough” resumes.  While sifting through some basic functional, on-paper requirements is sufficient for lower-level, technical roles, project leadership positions require a deeper dig. Project success relies on applying these functional skills in real-life scenarios where difficult trade-offs need to be made, which requires a unique combination of leadership, negotiation, collaboration, keen judgment, strong interpersonal skills, and situational awareness.


Traditional staffing firms aren’t equipped to discern these “soft skills” that make a candidate a true leader. It takes a boutique agency with a specific focus on project leadership positions, a network of vetted project management professionals,  and a keen understanding of project processes to recognize these talents.

The onus should be on the staffing organization to provide a small field of bullseye candidates, rather than drop a pile of “qualified” resume on your desk and expect you to find a good fit among them.  This requires a two-stage verification process.

In the first stage, a staffing company gets within a “6-inch bullseye” for both the requirement and the potential candidates by:

  • Verifying client responsiveness
  • Honing skill and experience requirements
  • Vetting candidates through their resume and two phone screens

The second phone screen is with a project management expert who can ask the hard-hitting questions that are directly relevant to the project needs of the client. The expert needs to be qualified to get to the bottom of the candidate’s real-world results that demonstrate they are a true leader in a way that a simple “recruiter” never could.

The second stage gets within a “1-inch”bullseye:

  • Deeper screening against the fine-tuned requirements
  • References, drug screening
  • Skype/Face-to-face meeting
  • Culture match to client environment

Any breach in this process leaves your organization open to taking on a subpar candidate, which comes at a high cost.

To learn about integrating this talent into your organization’s process and culture, read more.

You can access our comprehensive white paper on project staffing for free here.