Association for Project Management
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Project managers need a new approach to recruiting top teams

Blog posted by: John Bentley, 23 March 2020.


Attracting and recruiting the best talent is one of the most challenging aspects of any major project or transformation programme. As any head of project management, chief technology officer or head of innovation will tell you, getting the best project managers in the right roles and tech stars on board is slow, time consuming and often hit-and-miss.

From paying large fees to recruitment agents to the huge loss of time reviewing CVs, traditional recruitment processes hit both time and budgets of heads of project management. Project managers are, of course, not unique when it comes to slow and outdated recruitment processes. They can, however, have a bigger impact on our industry where meeting short-term goals is paramount and getting the right skills in place as quickly and efficiently as possible can make a huge difference to the success of the project.

So what’s the solution? How can organisations recruit the best project managers and bring in the skills they need without all the pain of relying on recruiters, job boards and going through the arduous task of reviewing multiple CVs? Technology holds the key to unlocking access to real-time, top talent.

Smart recruitment: letting algorithms do the hard work

The good news for anyone heading up or recruiting for projects is that technology is transforming the recruitment process. It is now possible to cut out those in the middle that often lack the understanding of the organisations, teams, roles and skills that they serve, and instead opt for intuitive technology to build much higher performing teams. Here are some of the key features that any recruitment technology for project managers should deliver: 

  • Help with the job spec: writing multiple job descriptions for the team you need is time consuming and difficult. Job building tools, preferably ones that use things like pick lists, significantly reduce this time burden and enable project managers to spend valuable time reviewing and interviewing candidates. Additionally, they ensure focus on the right data that allows better hiring decisions, ensures candidates are more informed about the role as well as making specs consistent across the organisation and comparable with targeted candidate data. 
  • Instant, targeted shortlists – in a digital world with instant access to information, spending weeks or sometimes months collecting and assessing CVs in order to create candidate shortlists seems unthinkable. RecTech platforms should provide the ability to match job specs to applicant profiles automatically and instantly. 
  • Getting rid of high recruitment fees – project hiring fees, especially for larger teams, can be extremely costly and in many cases unpredictable. It’s time to question why we pay these high costs (which are scaled according to the rate or salary of the candidate) and find better options for project recruitment. Look for a recruitment technology solution which allows you to post jobs and find candidates for free, and ideally delays any fee until your chosen candidates have completed a probationary period to avoid wasting valuable budget on unsuitable hires. 
  • Goodbye CVs: Let’s face it, CVs aren’t a great way to fully understand an individual and what they can offer your organisation. They’re usually quite formulaic, lacking in detail and fail to bring out those softer skills and personality traits – plus, who wants to spend hours reading CVs and having to make assumptions based on their content? We now have the opportunity to collect multiple data points about an individual, their experience and skills, as well as their work preferences and personality. Tools including online psychometric testing saves employers time during the interview process and ensures your shortlists are highly relevant. 
  • Making life easier: technology should make our lives as project managers easier, especially when recruiting. If you’re thinking of ditching the CVs and looking for digital alternatives, make sure they offer lots of helpful management tools like interview scheduling and offer management. Saving time when finding your next stars will mean you can dedicate more effort and energy to candidate onboarding, training and the overall employee experience.

Time for change

Talent plays a fundamental role in the success of any project and with pressure to meet increasingly tight project deadlines and budgets, the way we recruit the best project managers and specialist skills has to evolve. What’s clear is that the manual processes we have relied on until now are no longer relevant in a digital world where large and innovative projects require the best talent the market has available in real time. 

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About the Author

John Bentley is founder and CEO of HRTech platform elbo. As a former Project and Programme Manager, Delivery Consultant and Software Development Head with many years of experience hiring for major IT and transformation projects, John founded elbo to help organisations overcome the significant pain points of hiring performant teams and talented tech stars. He has a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and services industry, focusing on project and programme management, digital transformation, product management, business strategy, consulting, delivery, data and algorithms.


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