An interesting and often frustrating subject when carrying out project management recruitment has to be buzzwords – over the years I have discussed employers’ requirements for project management jobs and been asked the dreaded qualifications question. Now I believe in a balanced and proactive approach to gaining experience and qualifications in project management. After all, a true professional should be keeping abreast of effective methods and as part of their continuous professional development (CPD) training and studying is expected. However in most organisations, a pragmatic approach to implementing and following PM structures is common place – which is how the methods are anticipated for use by the authors and bodies. There are many PM badges available and those who are successful in the PM field tend to dip in and out of a number of methods for delivery and supporting project delivery.
When an employer is looking for a new project management professional they will usually create a job description which includes a number of core competencies and required experience – however for years now a great deal of these employers will ask for PRINCE2. When asked if they use this structure they often say no, but they want someone who has the certification as this means they are qualified. I have pushed back on this preconception dozens of times and only on a few occasional have the hiring managers or HR actually understood that experience counts for more than just a certificate. I have dealt with hundreds of candidates who have no PM experience but have taken their PRINCE2 qualification in the hope of getting a job in project management. Equally I have spoken with hundreds of project professionals who have a great deal of demonstrable experience in delivering / supporting often complex projects and programmes but have no PM related qualifications. I know which I would rather have responsible for my expensive projects.
Why is PRINCE2 so commonly asked for from employers who do not use the method?
Because it is a buzzword – PRINCE2 has been very well marketed over the years, and as such it has gained popularity within the PM field. Just like MP3 players are referred to as iPods, not all are actually the genuine article but the fantastic marketing of Apple has ensured iPod is a household name for personal music playing devices. Therefore if you look up project management on search engines – you guessed it, PRINCE2 pops up straight away. I can understand to a point why employers will then assume that this is the standard for PM professionals but more education is required for the hiring managers to ensure they are not losing out on exceptional candidates just because they don’t tick that box. The use of PINO (Prince In Name Only) needs to be addressed after years of use and a better understanding of what structures are used (and required) still needs clarifying when writing job descriptions.
There are a number of project management specific recruitment agencies available in the UK – if you are an employer who is looking for a new project management professional to join the team, it is well worth talking to one or more as a sounding board and to assist you in understanding your actual needs.