Lately, LinkedIn and the blogosphere are awash with anecdotes about inexperienced or just plain lousy project managers with the PMP credential. Patrick Richard, of The Hard-Nosed Project Manager, posted several specific examples just the other day. “We are not talking here of a lack of familiarity with specific tools but rather with basic project management concepts.”
As a long-time PMP credential holder, I don’t want to see marginally skilled or largely inexperienced project managers with the PMP. Obviously, if PMI is credentialing people who don’t have the necessary experience to sit for the exam, then they should consider requiring independent verification, or at least increase their application audit sample rate. Those looking to “break in to project management” should be encouraged to pursue the CAPM. Perhaps PMI should improve their pitch on who should apply for which credential, possibly adjust pricing to make CAPM more attractive, and work to improve industry acceptance of CAPM as an entry-level certification.
As a hiring manager, I value the PMP credential as a filter. Over the years, I’ve seen quite a few self-described “expert project managers” who weren’t. Same thing with bad programmers, bad drivers, bad cooks, and bad parents. Professional society credentials are at least an objective indicator (if not a guarantee) of some level of mastery. However, managers shouldn’t make hiring decisions based entirely on a resume. They should do extensive reference checks, along with multiple in-person interviews, and possibly proficiency tests or situational assessments for those claiming specific skills. And those managers who still make a bad hire, despite the filters and rigorous selection process, need to figure it out quickly and take appropriate action, because that’s what good managers do.
Those of us who are in leadership positions have to take some responsibility for development of those who will eventually replace us. Used wisely, the PMI standards and credentials are useful tools for professional development. But they aren’t the whole picture, and we shouldn’t curse a yardstick for being a poor micrometer.