Straight Talk on Project Management

Bad hire days

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Bad hire days, blocked pipes and the CESTpit. IT Project Recruitment realities and how to overcome them

25 million new project professionals are needed by 2030!!

That’s the year 2030, by the way, not half past eight tonight!

Although, if you’ve been through a recruitment process lately, the pressures of project resourcing in 2021 can make the timeframes feel that tight!

According to the latest Talent Gap report from the Project Management Institute (PMI), 2.3 million project managers and changemakers will be needed every year to keep up with this increasing demand.

Have you tried to recruit lately? Not quite so easy these days, is it?

The 25 million new project professionals by 2030 is a global need, you probably just need one project rock star, a safe pair of hands, to deliver the projects you have right now.

Both globally and just within your project team right now that is easier said than done, thanks to: higher demand for project professionals in emerging and developing countries due to economic growth; an increase in jobs requiring project management skills creating more project management-oriented employment (PMOE); retirement rates; and here in the UK, talent leaving the industry after IR35. Projects could find themselves with troubles ahead.

In its report, “Talent Gap: Ten-Year Employment Trends, Costs, and Global Implications 2021”, the PMI says this shortage of talent may pose a considerable risk to organisations relying on project teams to implement strategic initiatives on time and on budget.

Of late, I feel like I’ve become an unofficial counsellor to those responsible for IT Project resource management or talent recruitment! Doctor David’s prescription is always PMaaS (Project Management as a Service), here are just a few of the challenges I’m hearing about in my “surgery”.


You’ll have shared the results of the ‘Check Employment Status For Tax’ survey (CEST) with contractors but did you expect them to take the results as an update to the terms of their employment?

I’d already heard this from several contractors who have morphed into employees post IR35 but this week the first recruiter confirmed seeing an unexpected shift in thinking from previously self-employed IT Project talent. Those that were unable to renegotiate terms have really taken umbrage to some of the CEST responses given compared with the actual reality of their engagement.

One Project Leader colleague has colourfully labelled the phenomenon “The CEST PIT”, tumbling expectations vs reality

She told me, “We’ve been interviewing candidates who have jumped ship after IR35 or are planning to and there is a definite change in mindset around things like use of private phones and equipment such as a laptops, use of personal car, and working hours, all the things that now define their tax status determination. I have some sympathy.

To be told that you’re going to be taxed more and at source because you don’t have to provide any equipment and then be expected to use your own mobile phone to take a call about the project must be pretty frustrating.”

The upshot is that there may be individuals on the recruitment circuit right now carrying a little IR35 baggage. I don’t know how many, but I’m yet to talk to a contractor-turned-worker who is over the moon happy about the changes, most are getting on with it, but relationships have changed.

The good news is that the talent you access through Stoneseed were unaffected by IR35, for them it is business as usual, they are in the same headspace in August 2021 that they were in back in March.     


One of my favourite requirement requests shared by a client during my IT Project recruitment days was, “We need a Sally.”

They were referring to Sally the utter project delivery legend who had just left after being headhunted – they needed her replacement to be at the same skill level, have the same character and attitude – they needed a new Sally.

I remember thinking if I could invent a machine to clone project talent as they leave, I’d be a billionaire, because every recruitment drive needs ‘the next Sally’ (or John, or Andy, or Rachel, or Steph). Project pipeline planning depends upon continuity, the most efficient teams are built upon interdependent talents, cogs that turn each other to drive the engine! Many Stoneseed clients are telling us that those pipelines are blocked, there’s a spanner in the works inhibiting those cogs from turning and it’s down to the difficulty in matching the skillset of your new hire with those of the dependable legend that just left!

Stoneseed has always made getting to know your business a pillar of the client relationship, we get to know your team, how you do business, your goals, culture and challenges. So, whether you are in the business of effectively project pipeline planning to meet demand or flying by the seat of your pants in a demand driven daze, we’ll always have the right talent and resources to suit your organisation.


I asked a client once how she was doing and she told me, “I’m having a bad hire day.” We both laughed.  Sometimes, you’ve just got to laugh, haven’t you?!

BUT … A bad hire isn’t just inconvenient! For projects operating within fine margins between success and failure – it can be fatal. Aside from the bothersome annoyance and cost of having to restart the process of recruitment, hiring and onboarding all over again, the delay and disruption unleashed by bringing the wrong person into the team can have a decimating negative effect on your ability to deliver your project on time and within budget.  

Bad hire days seem to be more prevalent. We’ve touched upon the CEST pit and the lack of like for like talent, these, and the factors that we opened with (increased PMOE and greater demand, etc) are really impacting the available talent.

A client had engaged a well-known recruitment firm and had used their applicant tracking system to ensure that only the best CVs made it onto her desk. Of the ‘most suitable’ candidates she was given, not one was what she had in mind. It’s not the recruitment firm’s fault! They would have put forward the best talent they had on their books – you can only work with who you have!

Stoneseed’s PMaaS works differently.

We’ll get to know your exact needs before recommending resources. We’ll have the right fit already or know where to find them. Recruitment often falls short because you can only hire from the pool of people who want to be hired.

Stoneseed has access to project talent who are not looking to be hired.

Why would they?

They’re in demand professionals who thrive on being just what a client needs, just when they need it and for how long they need it! As one project legend put it to me once, “Superman flies in and rescues everyone from the burning building, he’s not there the next morning with a dustpan and brush.”   

PMaaS will find your superhero!


Just about every recruiter I have talked to in the past year has raised the challenge of making the right hire without being able to meet in person. As restrictions ease, this may change but the landscape of work has evolved and working from home is increasingly ‘the new normal’ – at least for part of the time!

Even interviewing over a Zoom call, which gives you a face-to-face experience of sorts, is not without its pitfalls. A large percentage of communication is non-verbal (70-93% depending on the expert) so it follows that a two-dimensional video version of a candidate may not allow you access to the real them. We’re all getting better at it, but many people still feel awkward on video.

“Meeting in person gives you the chance to observe how a candidate is in a work environment, how they enter the room and greet you, how they carry themselves, you get a better gauge of how they’ll fit your team,” a HR director friend told me.

“Plus,” she added, “I’m sure I interviewed a guy last week who had only dressed his top half. He was wearing a shirt and tie but I’m certain his reflection in a glass door behind him revealed Star Wars pyjama bottoms!”

PMaaS takes away the need for face-to-face meeting, the resource you’re buying in is only with you for as long as you need them, you’re not their forever home. Having said that, many of the project delivery experts available through Stoneseed’s PMaaS have been through a face-to-face process with us.

Plus, our commitment to getting to know you and your business before recommending talent to suit your needs gives you peace of mind that whoever joins your project delivery team, for however long, will fit you and your culture perfectly.

The world of project recruitment and resourcing. Like most things, has changed. My sense is that it’s an ongoing change, an evolution. If you are experiencing project resourcing issues and/or are looking for an alternative to traditional recruitment, Stoneseed’s PMaaS might be the solution that you’re looking for.

  Find out about Stoneseed’s Project Services

Source: – talent gap report 2021