Contract Project Manager? What you need to know! – Part 4

Contract Project Manager? What you need to know! – Part 4

Today’s environment is increasingly creating less full time and more contract positions. What is a rock solid stable position today may not exist in three months or three years, and it is prudent risk management to be able work as a contractor on a permanent or temporary basis.  Part 1 outlined three steps for success as a contract project manager. In part 2, I shared what a Chief Technology Officer told me about Contract Project Managers. In part 3 of this series a seasoned contract project manager provided the Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts for a contract project manager.

A major option for working as a contract project manager is to leverage staffing companies.  It is a rare Project Management Institute event that doesn’t have staffing company sponsorship, with their smiling representatives giving away candy and tchotchkes to attract project managers. In part 4 of this article I will share what a group of leaders at a staffing company (in business more than 50 years and engages over 20,000 contractors annually) told me about hiring and working with contract project managers. The factors they cited for success with a staffing company are below:

  1.  Build a relationship/partnership with the recruiter. A relationship should create mutual accountability.  The contract project manager should treat the recruiter as a client.  Many never contact the recruiter once the contract is in place until it is about to expire. This is not treating the recruiter as a client.  Recruiters can sometimes have high turnover.  Frustration for the contract project manager can set in when there is a change in the recruiter, because the process of creating a relationship must be started again, but it is a necessary and no different than having a change of stakeholders on a project.  A strong relationship with the previous recruiter is a good starting point for a great relationship with the new recruiter.
  2.  Ask the recruiter “Can you help me?” Have the recruiter evaluate you.  An experienced recruiter knows the characteristics of who is being hired and how those characteristics are best communicated to the client.
  3.  Have the recruiter take the time to write an executive summary with you. The recruiter knows the client and you want the executive summary to match the job as close as possible.
  4.  Be disciplined in your search. Avoid making duplicate submissions for the same position.  Even though you may be applying for a position in a large metropolitan area, it is a small world and when (not if) people find out you are making duplicate submissions or playing both/multiple sides you may not just be damaging a relationship with one staffing company but many.  Never be surprised at the strong relationships that exist between the personnel of competing organizations.  They are often members of the same professional societies and there are always individuals that have worked for both companies.
  5. Establish a feedback loop. Provide your recruiter consistent feedback, even when you are under contract.  Contact the recruiter every 2 to 3 weeks.  You may often have insight into the client circumstances that can be valuable to the recruiter.
  6.  Don’t mislead the recruiter. This means being forthright about your job status, salary and experience.
  7.  Don’t be disheartened if the recruiter doesn’t submit your resume for a specific job. Sometimes the recruiter has a perspective of the client situation that you may not have and/or be aware of and for a variety of reasons they may be unable to share.
  8.  Don’t use your recruiting partner to leverage your current employer for a salary increase or new job. Like item 4, this is a very short sighted strategy that could have long term negative ramifications.
  9. Be prepared to travel. Willingness to travel makes you eligible for a wider set of opportunities.

I recently conducted a series of courses for a Fortune 50 company.  Interestingly, about 1/2 of the participants were contract project managers.  More and more companies are using contract project managers and it is a trend that is only going to increase.  Success as a contract project manager is more than doing a good job, it is also about creating and managing the opportunities for the next job.

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Posted by Dr. James Brown in Career Management.


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