How to Hire an IT Project Manager: Job Skills
By: John Rossheim
Are you looking to hire an IT project manager?
The role comprises a multitude of talents and aptitudes, which can make talent acquisition a challenge.
The following recruiting tips and information will help you identify the job skills needed for this position – as well as how to close the deal and retain your project manager, information technology.
IT Project Manager Credentials:
- Because project managers’ responsibilities are both technical and organizational, employers may accept credentials from either domain
- Many organizations look for a certification such as Project Management Professional
- Some organizations seek candidates with a certification in agile or scrum software development methodology
“It’s important to have some level of PMI or Six Sigma certification, the ability to play multiple roles, and experience in managing in a complex environment,” says Tom Becker, vice president of Recruiting for ManpowerGroup.
IT Project Manager Skills:
Here are some of the job skills to look for when recruiting an IT project manager:
- Specification and planning of software development projects
- Tracking of project progress, change management and risk management
- Testing and quality assurance
- Software life cycle management
“At a minimum a project manager needs to understand how website redesign works, and comprehend basic technical terminology as well as the big picture of how web development gets done,” says Leah Mason, director of operations at Four Kitchens, a web design and development firm.
Key Experience for Project Manager, Information Technology:
- Several years of project management experience, preferably in software development or IT infrastructure
- Significant experience facilitating communication among technologists and line-of-business managers
- Budgeting, cost control and risk management experience is desirable
“Project managers for IT need to being detail-oriented, super-organized, somewhat prescient — able to see around corners to anticipate issues — and they have to play nice with others,” says Jim Gibson of Gibson Consultants.
“We look for demonstrated experience in supporting multiple clients across industries, proficiency in office productivity programs, and passion and curiosity for the work we do,” says Mason.
How to Source IT Project Managers:
- Projects managers can be sourced through a variety of organizational affiliations
- Recent recipients of relevant certifications may be ready to change companies
“Most clients are asking for five years of experience in IT and project management,” says Gibson. “They may settle for something that’s close to that.”
“The stuff that turns up quality candidates is networking,” says Mason. “That means referrals from within, recommendations from peer firms, and our involvement in open-source development communities, from local meetups to internal forums and conferences on digital project management. We keep eye open for people who could be the right fit.”
How to Interview Project Managers, Information Technology:
These tips will help you prepare to conduct an interview:
- Ask the candidate to address complex hypothetical scenarios that involve technical, organizational and interpersonal challenges
- Candidates should meet with the full range of prospective colleagues: managers, peers and reports. Be sure your staff knows how to conduct an interview.
“Behavioral interview questions are extremely important for evaluating the candidate’s talents, both technical and nontechnical,” says Gibson. “You need to get to how the candidate thinks. Why do they want to do this job, take this career path? It’s important to under their skin.”
“We first do a phone screen, just to see that the candidate can connect with us via video chat and have intelligent conversation, and to check for any red flags,” says Mason. “Then one of our subject matter experts will have a much more in-depth conversation with candidates who pass the phone screen — an in-person interview if the person is local, to see how their levels of energy and excitement come through when we talk about what our company does.”
Closing the Deal and Retaining Project Managers, Information Technology:
- The challenges of project management vary widely from one company or IT department to another; sell the match of the candidate’s aspirations with the company’s business and company culture
- Directly address a concern of many project managers: a dearth of upward mobility
“A lot of times candidates want to go into a smaller shop and wear many hats,” says John Sliger, recruiting director at Randstad Technologies.
“A candidate may be looking for a more entrepreneurial culture where decisions are made faster, where they can take leadership and have ownership,” says Becker. “The ability to influence and control is a draw for people coming from a bigger company.”
“We’re challenged in offering upward mobility, because we have only a few levels in our small organization,” says Mason. “But we find that people usually have a particular penchant for certain elements of their role – so it’s about enabling them to spend more time working on those elements. And we offer a professional-development stipend of $2,000 to $3,000 to support our employees’ interest in expanding their skill sets.”