5 Things MSPs Should Know About Hiring In A Tight Job Market

‘So what this means is, the [COVID-19] pandemic has shown all the skillsets to be very valuable. And employees that just started working at these companies are on the average making 30 percent than people in the same role that started two years ago,’ says Michael Slater, Sherweb’s director of pre-sales and partner enablement.

Better Ways To Find Tech Talent

MSPs, like every other company in the IT industry, and indeed like almost every company out there, are finding it hard to recruit and retain the right kinds of personnel.

Michael Slater, director of pre-sales and partner enablement at Sherweb, a Quebec-based provider of cloud services to MSPs across the U.S. and Canada, told an audience of MSPs at this week’s XChange+ 2021 conference that it is possible to find good staff at what will likely be much higher salaries than in the past, but there is no single way to do so. Instead, Slater said, there are certain lesser-known tricks to finding IT help that may not be approved by a company’s human resources department but which might help.

Slater used his time on stage to look at the difficulties in finding talent and explore several ways to improve the search process. For a look at some tricks that might help any MSP find the right people, click on the slideshow.

5. How To Attract Talent

Slater said that there are things a company can do to attract top talent without focusing on salary.

The first is to build a good company culture and brand, he said. “It sounds simple, but it’s something you can always work on,” he said.

Millennials and other employees want to they are in productive and diverse environments, and that they are not going to work for a few weeks just to find their new employer does not fit their needs. Therefore, Slater said, it is important for a company to identify its culture, and involve a handful of existing employees in the on-boarding. He also suggested using personality tests like Myers Briggs to ensure the company builds diverse teams.

The second is to tap current employees for referrals, as employees have their own networks and can be a company’s brand advocates. Slater suggested that companies which have not yet built referral programs do so.

The third is to build strong talent networks, which Slater said is really a pipeline of potential candidates that can be tapped in the coming years. That network, which should include a diverse set of potential employees, should be focused on bringing in people skills and attitude, as technical skills can be taught.

Finally, Slater suggested offering full or hybrid work-from-home options to all employees, given that remote work is already one of the fastest-growing attributes in business today.

4. Looking, Looking, Looking For Help

Slater said 67 percent of U.S.-based organizations are looking for personnel to fill new roles related to their cloud investments, according to IDG, and that MSPs are competing with businesses from SMBs to enterprises across industries to find the right people.

Among the new roles businesses are trying to fill now, Slater said they include:

* Cloud architects

* Cloud systems administrators

* Security architects

* Devops engineers

* Cloud software engineers

3. Tips For Hiring: The Unapproved Way

Slater offered three tips for hiring people that he has used which he said were not approved by Sherweb’s human resources organization that he said might help SMB owners.

The first was to find someone happy with his or her current position and ask if they were interested in coming to Sherweb, he said.

“It never hurts to ask. ... If you like somebody, just go talk to them,” he said. ”I know it sounds simple, but most people won’t do that.”

The second was to not only look in LinkedIn, but to also look to such communities as Reddit or GitHub. “Go to where the communities are,” he said.

The third is to join professional organizations. Slater suggested a group called the Presales Collective as one. “So I pay from my own pocket to steal from other bigger companies like Salesforce and Google, and then meet these people halfway to offer them a better place to work,” he said.

Not every organization is suitable for recruiting, Slater said. “Never look for employees on Tinder,” he said.

2. IT Growth Isn’t Stopping

This is happening at a time of tremendous growth in the IT industry, Slater said.

Citing global market research company Forrester Research, he said there will be a 35 percent growth in the global public cloud infrastructure market to $120 billion in 2021. He said Forrester also estimated that 30 percent of companies during this time will increase spending on cloud, security and risk, networks, and mobility.

Meanwhile, Slater said that 32 percent of all IT budgets will be allocated to cloud computing within the next year, according to IDG.

1. Quick To Leave, Hard To Find

Slater, citing the Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index, said that 41 percent of employees are either considering leaving their employers or have left already in what has been called the “Great Resignation.”

“In this world, it’s hard to find people,” he said.

Slater conducted a poll of the audience in which 92 percent of the attendees said they are looking to hire technology skilled employees in the next 12 months.

“Impressive,” he said. ”Almost the entire room is looking to hire employees with technical skills in the next 12 months.”

Indeed, he said IT jobs are projected to grow by 11 percent by 2029, or to about 530,000, citing an unnamed source.

Slater also polled the audience about what they think is the median salary range for field workers in IT such as pre-sales architects, local support personnel, security experts, and subject matter experts, and the audience consensus was very close to the actual median annual wage $91,250 as estimated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2020, compared $41,950 for all occupations.

“So what this means is, the [COVID-19] pandemic has shown all the skillsets to be very valuable,“ he said. ”And employees that just started working at these companies are on the average making 30 percent than people in the same role that started two years ago.“

A Timely Message

Slater’s take on hiring trends and how MSPs can better find talent is a timely message, said John Douglass, president of Pileus Technologies, a Wichita, Kansas-based MSP.

Slater was right about the need to look for new ways to find employees, Douglas told CRN. He said his company recently found it difficult to find the right inside sales rep, and went through several sources in its search.

“People are wanting higher salaries, but we found it difficult to get good candidates,” he said. “You have to step back and see where the ads are placed.”

Douglass said he tried three recruiting sites in the search for a new inside sales rep.

“Indeed was sub-par,” he said. “The candidates were all entry-level people without a lot of experience in sales. ZipRecruiter brought in higher-level people, and we found our new employee there. LinkedIn seemed to bring in candidates who were way over-qualified. I saw people who could be national sales account managers applying for a local sales rep manager job.”

While it is tempting to outsource level-1 technical support to alleviate hiring concerns, Douglass said he prefers to not go that route.

“I like the control we have with in-house support,” he said. “We’ve gotten several customers because we don’t outsource. They like us because they know the tech person.”