As the principal partner of Solutia SDO, Jackie Clark has had a direct role in managing the people behind technology that’s transformed businesses across Canada. When IT projects stall, she knows how to manage people to get them running again. In this bi-weekly column, she’ll be sharing her insight on navigating the issues and pain points that hijack the success of large projects. We’ll be sharing the most common questions Clark hears from her clients and her responses to them. Do you want your project management problems solved? Leave a comment with your question or Tweet Jackie @sdosolutia.

I’m struggling to find the right talent to meet my client’s project needs. I’m starting to lose out on opportunities because I can’t find the required mix of experience, skill and approach. I’ve reached a critical point. What can I do to find the right people?

I agree it’s tough out there at the moment to match the right person to the right job.

We’re dealing with client demands to find someone fast – and then the candidate finds something else while the client is making up their mind.  Add to that overly ambitious requests, ambiguous or even worse no written job descriptions; rate pressure that eliminates the person that could do the job; competition from every consulting firm and their dog; job locations where there’s no talent and no expense account to travel….the list goes on. So what can you do to thrive in these challenging times and gain a reputation of being the one firm that your client can count on to always get the job done right?  Here are a few tips that work for us:

  1. Prior to launching your search, grab 15 minutes with your client to make sure you (and they) understand the job requirements, the duration and the rate or salary. If the compensation doesn’t match the job, be upfront with the client. Don’t waste your time or your clients if you know there is a mismatch. Most clients are open to this discussion and look to you to keep them up to date with the current market rates. Your candidates will appreciate these details when you meet with them to discuss the role and will be more likely to work with you to a favorable conclusion.
  2. Rethink your network to uncover hidden gems. Are you casting as wide a net as you could? Just recently we were searching for a data engineer (who isn’t) and having a pretty hard time finding candidates. It turns out our company receptionist’s husband is qualified – and available!
  3. Turn your search on its head – instead of focusing on their skill and experience, look for people with the right behavioral match for your client’s organizationClients judge personality / personal style and approach highly in the decision-making criteria when selecting individuals to work on their projects and may soften their other requirements if the candidate has a proven ability and desire to learn.
  4. And most importantly, treat your candidates with trust and respect. Give them all the relevant information they need to determine if they are a right fit for the job, be candid and authentic when promoting the client, keep them informed of the recruitment progress and timeline and give them genuine feedback based on the client decision. We practice this judiciously and have been rewarded with an amazing crew of talented, loyal individuals that will turn down other jobs to work through us.
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