How to hire a project manager for your IT needs
Are you looking to hire an IT project manager? The task can be a challenge, especially if you’re not an IT whiz. But knowing what skills, experience, and credentials to look for can make the endeavor more manageable.
The following information and recruiting tips can help you successfully source, interview, and hire a project manager for your IT needs.
IT project manager credentials
An IT project manager’s responsibilities are both technical and organizational. Therefore, employers may accept credentials that fit under either category. For example, many companies look for a certification such as Project Management Professional, and some 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
Your next IT project manager may have skills that lean more toward project management, or more toward the technical side. Some of the skills to look for when recruiting an IT project manager include the following:
- Specification and planning of software development projects
- Tracking of project progress, change management, and risk management
- Testing and quality assurance
- Software life cycle management
- Problem solving and communication skills
“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.
IT project manager experience
A good way to assess an IT project manager candidate is to delve into their track record doing what you’ll need them to do at your company. For example, relevant experience you might look for could include:
- 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
“Project managers for IT need to be 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
In addition to writing an effective job description and posting your open position on job sites, you can hire IT project managers by reaching out to organizations related to IT or project management. It’s also helpful to note that recent recipients of relevant certifications may be looking for new opportunities.
“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 IT project managers
Once you’ve sifted through resumes, it’s time to prepare for the interviews. These tips can help you conduct an effective interview before hiring a project manager:
- 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 also 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 IT project managers
When it comes to hiring and retaining IT project managers it’s important to sell your company well, while also addressing and being honest about your top candidates’ concerns.
- 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
- Many project managers are concerned about a dearth of upward mobility; find a way to address this directly within your company and with the candidate
“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.”
Hire a project manager with Monster resources
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