Should You Only Hire PMPs?

Lazy to hire PMPs

I received an email from the studio audience which has sparked one of my rare but fun rants.

“…companies should use PMPs instead of untrained but experienced project leads. If you have any sources I could use, please send them on!!””

Deep breaths Josh….deep breaths…..

That’s Lazy

If screening for PMP certification is a part of your hiring strategy, and even worse, you screen out candidates for not having it, you are being lazy and doing yourself a disservice. It’s a lazy way to look at the candidates and it’s going to yield terrible results for you. You are going to turn away people who would have been your rock stars unless you look at the whole picture.

Sure, it’s more work. But it’s well worth it to make the right hire than to struggle for months or years with the wrong one.

There are so many people I’ve worked with who had no certifications, many with no advanced degrees, who could mop the floor with most of the credentialed PMPs out there.

If you have PMP blinders on when hiring for project managers, you are cutting corners and you will pay for it in the long run.

That’s Silly

What does “untrained but experienced project leads” mean? Do they deliver results? Why should I care about 3 letters behind their name in that case?

You tell me.

I abhor the process of screening candidates for the PMP certification. I look at candidates in light of the whole package, and any certification or training will enter into that. But I have worked with too many people who had the degrees, the certifications, and looked great on paper but fell flat on their faces when it came to getting the job done.

This lie about a PMP certification being a signal of competence is one of the reasons I get so many questions from new project managers about the PMP exam. They think they have to go get it, even though they have little to no experience yet. It makes me more than a bit upset.

But…I’m not a Hater

I’m a PMP, even though I didn’t drink any of the k00l-aide that was apparently passed around.

I think certifications of all stripes can be a great thing, especially if in the journey to achieve them you learn tons you didn’t know before. Your paradigm shifts. Heck, I help people get certified but I’m adamant about doing it for the right reasons, and in the right way. One of the primary reasons I got my PMP is because I knew companies do what I’m railing against right now. It’s true. And facing reality is a good thing.

At the same time, the primary benefit I received was not the certification itself. It was the process of studying. My thinking was broadened. In some respects, I came to discover how wrong I think the PMI’s approach is in several cases. One of my early criticisms was that in trying to describe everything, they describe nothing. I’d rather expose myself to something that is trying to be prescriptive, so I can take the parts that seem to work well and apply them to my own work. Still, it broadened my thinking and I benefited from it.

pant…pant….wheew….ah…that’s better.


Should You Only Hire PMPs? is a post from: pmStudent

I love to help new project managers and working project managers further their careers.

I also offer online project management training for you!

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Eric Melton

I’m a CAPM, working toward PMP, and have become active in my local PMI Chapter. Monthly chapter seminar/dinners are a fulfilling learning experience, with people who really dig project management and positive change. PMP people are just different. I want to be part of this club.

I’m also in the middle of a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt course, and have also joined the commercial quality group ASQ, who also has a local chapter and does seminar dinners monthly.

I’ve been a Project Mgr on huge projects, successfully completing things that saved millions of taxpayer dollars, did things smarter, etc., but now that I’ve found the methodologies for doing those things I feel I should have been PMP long ago to really have been qualified for the job I was doing.

I would not blame anyone for screening for PMP when seeking a competent PM. It means the person has studied the methods to the madness, it should mean they have project experience, and it also means they actively seek those required PDUs (points) to keep their cert, meaning they attend seminars, participate in PM groups, continually learn more about PM, etc.

Personally, I’ve been the uncredentialed rock star, but it’s hard to substantiate. Right place, right time, right attitude. But when I get my PMP and LSS BB, I’m better prepared to move on and move up. I don’t discount that. It also makes me work to improve myself, which keeps us cocky rock stars humble…



I agree to an extent. Some of the best project managers I’ve ever seen do not have PMPs. I think PMP is a great base if you are looking for a solid project manager. The skills that it takes to lead huge projects is outside of PMP and to me is more often about leadership, public speaking, internal politics, and vendor management.

Dick Davies

I’ve worked with over a dozen PMPs and never found a common thread in how they worked. Well maybe an addiction to software.

I started as a union carpenter, so I have very definite project management skills. I try to see what each PMP has done that I can understand.

As my mentor, Dr. Drucker writes, “You manage things, you lead people,” so if it’s wrangling file cabinets, that’s one thing. If you are getting better production (not productivity) out of the carbon based units, that is quite another.

Carol Davison

Dave you would be surprised at the number of people who use degrees and certifications to determine that candidates are qualified. I guess its easier than actually making a decision.

Josh Nankivel

Spot-on @Carol, and that is something which really perplexes me. With all the time, cost, and headache involved with replacing people or hiring for new positions, why don’t we all do a better job of running a rigorous candidate selection process? For most of us, the standard process is 1) screen resumes and 2) have some discussions where we ask canned questions and write down the answers on a sheet of paper followed by 3) making a rather arbitrary decision among the candidates. How about something which allows candidates to demonstrate competence? That would mean so much more than a certification, degree, or how well they can BS the interview panel.