Is it really hard to find the ‘A’ rated candidates in this highly competitive market? 

Could this be because the ‘A’ rated candidates normally get placed through recommendations and word of mouth and therefore are rarely seen ‘doing the rounds’?


At the time of writing this article there is certainly an abundance of jobs being advertised in the project space. And when we look at the number of applicants for these roles, there is certainly no shortage of candidates either!

But does this indicatively mean that project recruitment market is flourishing?

Maybe it does…but the true picture only becomes clear when the following factors are taken into consideration;

  • What’s the average time taken from a company first advertising a position (whether internally or on the open market) to when that position was filled?
    • If this is longer than three weeks then there may be an issue with the number of ‘appropriately skilled’ candidates in the marketplace
  • What’s the average number of candidates needed to be interviewed before the position was filled?
    • If this is more than five or six then again, this could give an indication that despite there is an abundance of candidates out there, the general skill levels of those candidates may not be great
    • It could also mean that recruiters are either asking for a king when they only need a prince or they are not prepared to pay the appropriate rate for the position they want to fill
    • There may also be issues with the way in which candidates are being shortlisted…automated CV checking could be one of these (but that warrants a whole post of its own!)
  • What’s the average number of positions that the companies fill themselves without having to go agencies?
    • A lot of companies will always advertise internally before going to market and will only use recruitment agencies as a last resort because of the financial cost with doing this. If they are struggling to fill positions themselves then this could be another indication that the ‘good ones’ are very hard to find
  • For successful contract candidates, what’s the average number who were offered an extension to, or a second contract with the company that took them on?
    • This is probably the best way to gauge the level of candidates out there. If anything above twenty percent of candidates are not renewed then it would suggest that there is something wrong with the recruitment process and/ or the overall marketplace
  • What’s the average number of advertised jobs that are filled and then advertised again (for the same position) within six months
    • If this is high, and the total number of jobs available in the marketplace is used to determine how well the market is doing, then this could be misleading

So if any of the above were true then is there an ‘overstocked’ market of under skilled candidates right now and that this is having a direct impact on both companies and agencies ability to find and recruit the right people which in turn is giving a false perception of a buoyant market?  If so, this could have been caused by several factors;

  1. How many ‘operational’ people have been placed into ‘project’ roles without any prior experience or knowledge of the role or of working in the project world? How many times have you seen this result in projects being set up and structured in an organisational fashion rather than a structure for driving change e.g. work streams relating to operational business units and not key impacted functions or journeys? This can lead to people ‘fumbling’ through the project doing the best they can with the knowledge they have (or don’t have) and once the project is complete from that point forward they are classed/ class themselves as a Project Manager/ Programme Manager/ Product Owner etc. HAVING EXPERIENCE RUNNING LARGE OPERATIONAL TEAMS DOES NOT MEAN PEOPLE CAN SUCCESSFULLY MANAGE A PROJECT!
  2. Having a lot of projects on your CV does not make you a good project manager. It just means you’ve been asked to run a lot of projects (see point one above).
  3. Project Management degrees have now been available for a good ten years or more and therefore the number of graduate Project Managers is increasing year on year. With very little (if any) hands on experience they will inevitably find it harder to land positions when competing against seasoned PM’s. It is therefore logical that this is also a contributing factor into the number of available candidates available in the marketplace.
  4. Careers in the project world are becoming more and more appealing and sought after and there has been an increase in people changing their careers to be part of our wonderful world. This usually means getting accredited with one or more of the many project certifications that are now available, and then putting themselves out there to try and find that first project job – again increasing the overall market size.

I’m sure there are many more factors that could be considered and people will no doubt find fault in the suggestions and thoughts above.

However, I suspect those people in the industry with a lot of experience will feel a little bit uneasy at the moment with the way the overall project (recruitment) marketplace is looking and heading.