Project managers work in many industries as the primary person responsible for the success of a project. Hiring a qualified and effective project manager can be challenging, especially for companies that haven't employed a project manager before. If you are considering hiring a project manager, you probably want to prepare and research so that you have a solid understanding of what the position entails and what type of candidate is best.
In this article, we explain what a project manager is, what the advantages of hiring a project manager are, how to hire a project manager and tips for hiring a project manager.
What is a project manager?
A project manager is a professional who manages many aspects of projects from their start to their completion. Project managers work in many industries, including construction, IT, software and more. Project managers act as the primary authority on their projects and may oversee a large team or no team at all. They manage the budget, the schedule and the quality of the work. Companies that have regular projects that need to be overseen and guided can likely find a lot of use for a project manager.
What are the advantages of hiring a project manager?
One of the greatest advantages to hiring a project manager is that your company's projects then have a person managing them and organizing everything related to them. If you don't have a project manager, the project management duties are likely done by a manager who isn't experienced in managing a project, as the skills required to manage a project are not necessarily the same as those needed to manage people. If a manager isn't responsible for the project, it's also possible the duties are scattered among multiple employees, which might cause issues in completing a cohesive project.
Related: FAQ: Project Management Basics
How to hire a project manager
Here are the steps you can take to hire a project manager:
1. Create a clear job description
Once you've identified a need for a project manager at your company, putting together a job description should be your first priority. To create an effective job description, you can create a list of what you would want the project manager to be responsible for and then compare it to other project manager job descriptions. It's possible some of the tasks and responsibilities you've included may be unusual for project managers, and if that's the case then you may need to consider if you want to include them or not.
It's also helpful if you determine with any internal stakeholders what type of experience you want the project manager you hire to have. A company that has never had a project manager before might benefit from an experienced project manager, even if it costs more. Companies with lots of project managers where there is an established training process may be more willing to give less experienced project managers a chance.
2. Evaluate candidates
Once your job listing has been posted and you begin to receive resumes from candidates, you'll want to evaluate the candidates that are applying. Project manager skills are not always transferrable between industries, so companies hoping to hire a project manager should evaluate candidates for their experience and knowledge of your particular field. For instance, a construction project manager might have some skills that apply to software project management, but many of the expectations and parameters are different. You might even decide to have candidates do skills or personality tests before considering them for the role.
If you find that the candidates who are applying for your project manager position are not the type of people you want to hire, either due to not having the right experience or other factors, you could work to recruit candidates that do fit your needs. If you work in a competitive field or there aren't a lot of project managers with the qualifications and skills you need, you might need to actively recruit candidates rather than waiting for them to find your job listing.
3. Interview carefully
Before you begin interviewing candidates, it can be helpful to create a series of interview questions that really allow the candidates to show their understanding of project management and the best methods for managing a project in your industry. This might mean asking for details of previous projects and being able to recognize when a candidate is providing evidence of effective project management. You could also provide hypothetical project situations to ask the candidate how they would respond.
If you aren't familiar with project management processes, terminology and best practices, it can be helpful to research before the interview so that you are fully aware of what to look for. The candidates you interview should be providing answers to any project management questions that prove they understand the best ways to manage a project.
4. Make your offer
Once you've identified the candidate you feel is the best fit for your needs and culture, you should make the offer quickly. Project managers in many industries are in high demand, so it can help to move quickly when you're ready to hire. It's also helpful to research the average salaries for that position in your industry, especially based on location and experience, in order to make sure your offer is appropriate.
Tips for hiring a project manager
When you're hiring a project manager, especially if your company hasn't previously employed a project manager, you may be unsure about the best way to find the right candidate. Here are some tips for hiring a project manager:
Any research you do should relate to your industry specifically: Since project manager is a title in many industries, researching the responsibilities, qualifications and salaries for industries you don't work in won't be helpful. Your research should cover the things that apply to the type of work a project manager would be doing at your company.
Be prepared to pay for experience: In many industries, project manager is a title that people work up to after years of experience, so qualified project managers may have extensive experience in their industry. This might cost you more money for a salary, but it's probably worth it if they have the skills and experience you need.
Understand the certifications: Especially in an industry like software development, project managers may have specialized certifications or training in specific methods. If your industry is one of these, you probably want to understand what these certifications are, how they affect project management and what might work best for your company.
Consider freelance or contract project managers: For some companies, it may not make sense for you to hire a permanent, full-time project manager. Instead, you could hire a freelance or contract project manager who is only being paid to work on one specific project from beginning to end. This could be more cost effective for some organizations.