4 ways to hire stronger project talent


Hiring talent may seem easy; hiring the right talent takes thought, time, and the right mindset. Here are four tips for hiring better talent for your projects.

Image: Jirapong Manustrong, Getty Images/iStockphoto

We’ve all heard the saying right fit during interviews. But what does that actually mean? This can mean virtually anything, depending on the mindset or motivations of the person recruiting. It’s an intangible, subjective phrase. It can leave companies wondering if the right candidates have been hired for projects and the company in general.

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The most important aspect of recruiting isn’t knowing where to look for project talent: It’s knowing what to look for. Recruiters should look for the right talent with not only the technical skills and leadership skills but also people with the right mindset.

Here are some key things companies and recruiters can focus on to ensure the right fit for the role. 

1. Have project-specific skills goals

The first thing recruiters should focus on is skill-based talent. This means finding and interviewing talent from around the world who can meet the technical needs of the role. Often talent is only sourced locally, and this doesn’t provide opportunities to see a larger pool of candidates with varying skill levels and experiences. While it may seem like the most financially prudent move, it overlooks diverse capabilities that can bring higher-value skills to the table. An international hire may seem costly upfront, but there may be long-term benefits that are missed.

2. Increase diversity, and practice inclusion

Diversity is another factor that often gets bypassed, whether intentionally or not. Different cultures, genders, races, ages, and viewpoints affect a recruiter’s hiring decision in minutes. This is called confirmation bias: A person’s need to believe their preconceived views are correct. It can be problematic and have far-reaching implications for project teams and companies looking to hire the best talent. About 60% of interviewers will make a decision about a candidate’s suitability within 15 minutes of meeting them. Some will have done it before the interview even happens. 

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It creates a disservice to companies because they could be passing over top candidates for no good reason. It’s not enough to educate employees on workplace culture and diversity–recruiters should also be required to attend this type of training. Companies should regularly measure and audit hiring practices and account for diversity in hires. This helps to ensure the best project talent is being hired without confirmation bias.

3. Change the status quo

The status quo is an often unseen danger in most companies when hiring, especially for complex and costly projects. Projects are typically initiated to solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity, and this requires teams to think outside the status quo. Status quo can become entrenched in your company’s culture, from hiring practices through to project management practices and daily operations. It quietly stifles growth and innovation at every turn. Companies and their recruiters should seek candidates who can help them change the status quo and find ways to improve project performance and day-to-day activities. 

4. Focus on innovation 

Innovation is a word that has been bandied about for some time but directly aligns with project activities. Far too often, recruiters or leaders will shy away from hiring innovators due to their own insecurities and concerns about job security. This creates a problem for companies as they unknowingly hire weaker candidates for the wrong reason. Your company’s executive team may talk about being innovative, yet some leaders, middle-management, and recruiters seek to hire non-innovators out of fear. This can be fear of change, job security, missing out on promotions, being overshadowed by new hires, or simply not knowing if executives really believe in innovation. 

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Successful project teams have managers and members that continually look for ways to improve performance. Innovative thinking is in their blood. When presented with problems, innovation is at the forefront of their minds. Leaders need to communicate with recruiters about their desire to hire innovative candidates. Recruiters looking for project managers and teammates would do well to seek candidates that can demonstrate they are focused on being innovative in the role that they are seeking. 

Hiring strong project talent is the foundation of a successful project management strategy. How successful your projects are depends on hiring skilled, diverse, innovative talent that seeks to improve the status quo. 

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