Where are all the good project managers?

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Every week in our company meeting we review who we know looking for new jobs and companies we know are needing to fill positions. the other day as I was looking at our list, the gap at the manager level struck me. I know our data set is both limited and likely skewed but it does seem there’s a dearth of good applicants in the manager/doer level of the IT space, both on our list and in my talks with people. We know plenty of people looking for Director, VP and CIO/ COO positions, but many of the jobs companies want to fill right now are at the manager level, and the kind of manager who is still able to “do real work” (a quote from one of my clients).

The same day I talked with a friend who is trying to fill a really interesting IT management role focused on the business analysis around a large program. He’s got three headhunters working on filling this role, has been interviewing for months, and can’t find someone qualified. He finally concluded that the balance of technology skills, project management abilities and the softer skills needed to navigate a complex program are just really hard to find in that level of individual.

Why is it that these people are so hard to find? Is this a new problem? Do IT people not have what it takes to move into these roles? Are they not interested? Do they get promoted beyond as soon as they get there if they are good?

I think this gap has always been around, but it has gotten worse lately. We used to raid the Big 4/5/6; and they produced a swarm of senior consultants and managers with 5-10 years of experience, eager to get off the road and join a company. But from what I’ve seen (and my colleagues who interview them) this isn’t a sure thing anymore. These days, the big consultancies do a lot of packaged implementations and long term outsourcing contracts so consultants are more likely to have gone deep in a specific area versus gotten the overall skills required to jump in and contribute to a large variety of projects.

If you have any thoughts, I’d welcome them. And if you know any really good project managers in Denver or Dallas, send them my way!

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