Hiring a Project Manager Starts With a Good Staffing Partner
Finding a good project manager can be a critical first step in the product/program development
life cycle. Unfortunately, many companies still struggle to identify the talent needed to guide
projects. They often outsource to staffing agencies to spotlight promising candidates, an
approach that can yield more problems than potential.
Large staffing organizations typically aren’t attuned to their partners’ true needs and can rarely
identify a shortlist of credible candidates. They’ll stockpile résumés that — on paper — align
with the role’s surface-level requirements, then pass the buck to HR to filter through the noise
and home in on the best potential matches.
Project management staffing, like other tasks, isn’t one to enter carelessly or impatiently. Before
partnering with a staffing partner, it’s vital to size up what exactly this collaborator will bring to
the table for you.
Hiring a project manager requires a focused and nuanced effort that reflects the role’s
significance to your business’s overall trajectory. Working with a boutique firm can be a sound
investment if your project management processes aren’t formalized or if you need a candidate to
push a costly or complex project across the finish line.
Of course, not all firms are created equal, which is why you should carefully vet potential
partners. Here are three key questions to ask as you conduct your search:
1. What skills and attributes do you prioritize during your search?
When building a list of project management candidates, traditional staffing firms focus
on technical expertise and PMO-certifiable skills. Unfortunately, that’s not a recipe for a
Given the importance of soft skills in project management, a firm that doesn’t conduct an in-
depth phone screen led by a project management expert before referring a candidate is simply
not adding much value to your hiring process. Find a partner that employs subject matter experts
who understand what makes a project manager an effective leader. A two-step verification
process should enable you to home in on an ideal hire.
2. What is your process for sourcing candidates?
Dynamic project leaders possess a rare combination of traits, experience, and technical skills —
all qualities that take time and knowledge to assess. A good partner will commit this time and
knowledge before even engaging with you so it can regularly have access to a pool of qualified
candidates who can meet its clients’ needs.
Look for a firm that is entrenched in the field of project management to foster a community of
practice. Make sure the firm regularly attends seminars, networking events, and industry
conferences so you know it’s continuously tapping credible and diverse talent segments.
3. What is your role in the onboarding process?
Some firms boast their ability to find candidates only to disappear after the hire. That shows a
lack of commitment both to you and to the employees they hire on your behalf.
A good partner will communicate regularly with you and with your candidates to confirm that all
parties are completely satisfied with the match. They’ll also have processes in place to support
candidates during onboarding and beyond, increasing the likelihood that a new project manager
is set up for success from the start.
Finding a good project manager is one of the most crucial personnel decisions you’ll make, so be
sure to get it right. For more tips on what to look for in candidates and partners, check out our
staffing whitepaper “Getting Beyond PMPs: Best Practices to Find, Select, and On-board
Excellent Project Leaders.”