Geoff Guest Blogs on “The Camel”

How To Manage a CamelLate at night last Thursday I was outside having a cigarette (okay, and a drink too), and was mulling over a problem. While mulling over that problem I started thinking about the hiring process and how much of a mess it is.

It’s not a mess because of anything anybody’s doing wrong…it’s a mess because, in a project setting, we’re making something new. That means we’re dealing with a much larger set of unknowns than, say, an operational manager who is responsible for production output. The level of unknown leads us to problems that we need others’ input, skills and experience to help solve. In an ideal world we’d just go over to the desk of the person we want to consult, and work with them to find a solution…at which point we’d assign them the work and take it from there.

The point is, coming up with the solution is a back-and-forth thing.

But if we don’t have that person in yet, we don’t know what our solution is. To be fully honest, we likely don’t know 100% what our problem is–that back-and-forth hasn’t, and can’t, take place because our consultant isn’t there yet. All we know is, we can’t do it ourselves.

So we create job specs containing points we think / hope are right. We send those job specs to HR, who send them to a recruiting firm, who send them to the newspaper. During this time, we’re not getting any better at articulating what we need, because we’re mostly waiting for the new person to help us do that.

But where does that leave our candidates who are out there trying to find us?

Anyway, I was thinking about all that, and decided “hey, I should tell that to Lindsay [Scott of How to Manage a Camel]”. She deals with candidates all the time–maybe she’d like to hear that and maybe kick the can around at work!

So I wrote her with my half-formed thoughts sloshing around in my brain with the night’s liquor, and she offered me the opportunity to write a guest post on her well-loved and long-running blog! (Needless to say, I was very excited.)

I hope you enjoy it!

I’m a professor of project management at the college where I work. My students continually amaze me with their insights, passion and all-around awesomeness. I figure they deserve access to more answers than I can give them by myself. This site is for them.
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