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Hiring for Projects
As you work on various projects, you may find your current staff cannot handle the additional workload or you may need an expert in a particular field. Hiring for projects is becoming a common occurrence as employers have already stretched the employees’ time with his or her daily responsibilities.
According to Abby Lombardi from Hiring Demand Indicators, “Project management skills are still one of the 10 most in-demand skills. In December 2012 there were over 40,000 job ads with the term “project manager” including in the job description.” Lombardi is seeing an 8% year-over-year increase in the number of job postings with project management qualifications included.
There are several benefits to hiring for projects:
- This person does not have any connection to anyone at your company, making it easier to learn how processes or people work without any pre-conceived notions as to how functions operate or why a certain process is performed in a certain manner.
- This person is hired as a consultant; therefore you do not have to pay for benefits. If you hire a permanent employee, would you be able to keep them busy once the project is over or will you be paying for idle time?
- You can hire someone with specific experience and/or education that you may not be able to afford in a permanent position at your company.
- The sophistication of technology eliminates the need for the consultant to be on site for the project, therefore you will not have to equip an office for this temporary position.
Once you decide to hire for a project, where do you begin? Devise a plan similar to a mini project:
- Define the qualifications you need. For example, if you are considering changing your employee benefits, you’ll need someone with a working knowledge of the laws for the employer and the employee. You’ll want someone with experience in shopping for benefits, such as health insurance or retirement plans.
- You may already have a project plan written, which determines the length of time you will need this consultant. If not, estimate the duration of the project. You will need to inform the potential candidates as to the length of time you will need him or her.
- How will you find candidates? There are websites which you can advertise with and pay a small commission. By using a third party, you will narrow the field of qualified candidates; you can list the qualifications required and the third party can flag those candidates applying that do not meet your qualifications.
- Once you have the applications for this position, you’ll want to weed out those who think they are qualified but their experience and education do not indicate this. Using the example of changing employee benefits, ask the potential candidates to write a one page summary of how they would manage this project. This will quickly tell you which applicants are capable of working this project for you.
According to Harvard Business Review, “Resumes are dead and interviews are largely ineffectual. Forget the “What’s Your Greatest Weakness?” interrogatory genre; the real question is how well candidates can rise to the ‘appliject’ (a term dubbed by Harvard meaning application for a project) challenge.”
The one page response you receive will quickly distinguish the qualified candidates from those grasping for the unobtainable.
You’ll want to hire someone with the ability to gather and assimilate data within a specified time period. You don’t want to hire someone so analytical that they can’t produce results in a timely manner. The other most important quality is someone who is flexible. As you know, projects often stumble for various reasons. You do not want to hire someone who is easily bamboozled when everything doesn’t fall into place according to the plans.