How the Market has Affected Project Management Hiring

Has the “down market” affected project management hiring? Absolutely!  The recession has hit mid-level managers the hardest, i.e. those at the level of Director or Vice President. Many of them have solid general management/supervisory skills but lack extensive hands-on experience in a technical specialization. As a result, they are reinventing and re-titling themselves as “project managers”, using their severance to prepare for the Project Management Professional (“PMP”) certification.  They have increased the quantity of project managers available for hire, although not necessarily the quality.

This has kept rates down and competition fierce for the few projects that are being initiated.  With this glut of project managers on the market hiring managers basically can hire a project manager for $40-50/hr where as two years ago the same PM would go for $80 or more.

Project management is considered crucial in many companies where it is required (e.g. companies doing business with the federal government), businesses that are highly regulated (e.g. health care), and in companies that have adopted a project management or “quality” culture.  Also firms that have made extensive and deep cuts in their IT staff during this recession are now hiring contract PMs until the economy recovers sufficiently to return to hiring perm staff.

On the other hand, firms that do not have a mature project management culture, for example, firms that do not traditionally do a lot of internal IT development work, consider project management “overhead”. Lacking the experience with a high-quality project management process, they figure that money spent directly on IT production staff, i.e. developers, testers, etc. is a better value than hiring a project manager whose output is difficult to measure. The result, invariably, is a project that is over budget, is delivered late, often not meeting the client’s quality expectations.

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2 Responses to “How the Market has Affected Project Management Hiring”

  1. PM Hut Says:

    I commented a few years ago about the same issue, when I felt that everyone was getting into Project Management. I have to say that the average quality of the Project Managers in the market is not the same anymore. Project Managers used to go through a lot of steps professionally to become Project Managers, nowadays, you can have someone who just finished school looking for a Project Manager job.

    The profession is facing the same challenges that faced programmers in the late 90s.

    Still, someone can increase his value in the market by getting certified, although this article on pmp salaries is a bit old, but it does make a point.

  2. Andy Says:

    What might be needed is a way to more accurately screen project managers and identify the truly skillful. Recruiting/head-hunters are woefully lacking in this regard. This is likely because they don’t have PM training or an understanding of the profession themselves, and the downward pressure on PM compensation makes it difficult to attract skilled talent. Finally, as with most talent these days, “the good ones are already employed”!

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