The Disappearing Project Manager

Aug. 27, 2007

Natick, MA - Finding and hiring talented staff tops the list of business challenges that today's A/E/C firm leaders face, according to ZweigWhite's 2007 Successful Firm Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms.

Project managers (PMs) are harder to come by in today's market, and the position has quickly become the most in demand executive search for ZweigWhite's Human Resources Advisory Services (H.R.A.S.) Group. Recruiting and retaining qualified candidates isn't getting any easier, and the disappearance of PMs has industry leaders asking: Where have they gone? And how do I get them back?

One answer to where all the PMs have gone is based on pure demographics. Today's project mangers are Gen-Xers that have eight to 15 years of post school experience. They were born during the only population decline of the century, which means there are just fewer of them to go around. The shortage can also be attributed to the dot-com boom of the 1990s. When it hit, the A/E/C industry lost a new crop of potential engineers and architects. No matter where PMs went, the fact is they are rare, and competition to land one is fierce.

''If you really want to attract a project manager, you have little choice but to aggressively recruit them. Power networking, headhunting, and leveraging existing employee referrals are some of the ways to be more proactive about identifying prospects,'' says Lori Oakes-Coyne, a principal with ZweigWhite's H.R.A.S. Group.

The reality is a job posting is not going to bring in a talented project manager. Remember, they are busy working, not combing through want ads. If an ad does happen to pique the interest of a candidate, give them the things they value most. To Gen-Xers this means job security, diversification of skills, and a work-life balance. Also, training and mentoring younger staff is an alternative for filling the competency gap and preparing the next generation of successful project managers.

ZweigWhite's Human Resources Advisory Services (H.R.A.S.) Group has been the A/E/C's recruiting and retention solution since 1988, with more than 95 percent of searches filled. The group specializes in the A/E/C industry, and posses the knowledge and experience to help firms overcome their human capital challenges. Consultants provide access too hard to find, top-tier, industry professionals through executive level search and recruitment process outsourcing. They provide guidance and advice through the entire recruitment, interview, offer, and hire life-cycle, functioning as an extension of the firms HR department. Reputation and ZweigWhite's network of business information experts set H.R.A.S. apart.

ZweigWhite is a leading source of management consulting, information, and education for the design and construction industry. ZweigWhite brings together experts in strategic business planning, organization, operations, business valuation, ownership transition, human resources, recruitment, finance and administration, information technology, mergers and acquisitions, market research, marketing, project management and project delivery methods. The firm is headquartered in Chicago, with additional offices in Natick, MA, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

For further information, contact Lori Oakes-Coyne, [email protected], or go to

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of I+S Design, create an account today!