Securing Loyal Candidates in IT Project Services
Recently I had an in-depth conversation with one of my clients about the challenges they faced when securing Project Managers. In the last 12 months, their churn rate had significantly increased and was impacting their delivery.
After our long discussion, here is how we agree the IT Project Services market looks at present:
If you’re a Project Manager in Australia right now, you would have a general sense that things are going great. You’re in high demand, you’re earning a high contract rate, and you can take your pick at whatever exciting project comes along.
Conversely, if you’re an Aussie business in need of a good Project Manager, your perspective is likely to be entirely different. It’s hard to secure the best people, you’re paying high rates, and loyalty is harder and harder to come by as higher rates and more interesting projects pop up left right and centre to steal your star PM.
What not to do in a candidate market
What tends to happen in a candidate market (where the candidates have the power), is that companies rush the hiring process; afraid they will miss out if they don’t act fast. In doing so, they can often compromise on the thorough recruitment process that is necessary to ensure you’re getting the right fit. As a result, high demand candidates go wherever the money is best, and the project is most enticing. With such a flippant decision-making process on both parts, is it any wonder that they will just as quickly jump to the next high paying, interesting project as soon as it presents itself?
Batten down the hatches
While it may seem counterintuitive, tightening recruitment processes is essential when you’re in a candidates market. Of course, it’s important to respect that these candidates are in a position of power; review your rates and think of how your company will compete for the best people, but that doesn’t mean jumping the gun and accepting a revolving door of disloyal PM’s. Staying proactive and firm in these times is essential – no matter how much pressure you’re feeling.
The best method for securing the right people, who are not only technically great but will also be loyal and committed, is to qualify, qualify, qualify.
Qualify that they have the right skills for the task
Step one is the most obvious and usually as far as many companies get when looking for a PM. Skills are, of course, critical to the person being able to deliver but this is the first qualification, not the final. Consider if this PM works the way you require. There is a shift in the demands and pace now expected from PM’s; they’re expected to be able to make multiple iterations on projects, be agile, yet work within traditional Project methodologies such as waterfall and PMBOK. Assess if your candidates meet all of your requirements.
Qualify that their career ambitions match what your company can offer
Assessing how your project or company aligns to a candidates’ career ambitions is critical in discovering the likelihood of a candidate staying with you, even if someone else offers them more money. If their career ambitions don’t align and it is merely a project to them, then you can’t expect them to stay when something better comes along.
Qualify that they want to see the project through
As above, if the person is not bought into the project, they are likely to jump ship as soon as something higher paying or more interesting proceeds. Throughout the interview process, qualify how the candidate has conducted themselves in previous projects. Look for people who have pride when they speak about the projects they deliver, beware of those who have not stuck around to see how it ends.
The resounding message is that communication is essential. Don’t get caught up with the pressure to find someone without taking the time to get to know them and discover if they truly want to get to know you.