By Raymond Vrabel, Director, Technical Account Management, Continuum Managed IT Services
The second installment of a new monthly blog series offering tips and best practices on various ways MSPs can help their SMB clients work through the most challenging daily business issues.
Last month, I opened my blog series for this year, known as “Better Call an MSP,” with a call for content and ideas. We want to hear from you, the members of our MSP community, about some of the more pressing issues facing your business.
In speaking with some of Continuum’s partners at our recent Partner Advisory Council (PAC) meeting, one of the challenges discussed was the hiring process – and more importantly, how to retain and keep solid, long-term employees. Several of the PAC members I spoke with noted that they want to not only become better at hiring, but also want to have a company that’s based on low employee turnover. While it’s true there have been countless books and articles written on this topic on a general level, a point was made that there is a need for more shared best practices and techniques specific to the MSP community. Having personally participated in hiring and recruiting processes that have worked, here are some tips to keep in mind when starting the hiring process to save both time and money – and to ensure that the hire is an appropriate long-term fit.
1.) Making the Best Use of Online Labor Platforms: Before you roll your eyes, don’t stop reading just yet. I know there are probably some of you that have used an online labor platform to hire either full- or part-time employees without much luck, or that have had a negative experience. However, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Without offering specific companies or links, there are a few of these platforms that are both general and specific to the IT community. There are even a couple that I know of that have been started by former SMB thought leaders, who know the industry and the business. Do your research and find out which of these platforms is best-suited to meet your needs. If you are in a peer group or vendor partner advisory group, ask around about the experiences your peers have had with these types of platforms. Also ask your vendors for their insight, as they may have used one of these platforms to fill full-time or contractor positions. This is one situation where “word-of-mouth” marketing is the best use of your resources.
2.) Attracting the Right Match: Finding the right hire is a two-sided deal. It’s not just about the potential candidate; it’s also about ensuring that as the business owner, you are projecting the best representation of your company, the job requirements, salary, benefits and day-to-day expectations. You don’t want to prep to hire a solid candidate, only to find their salary requirements don’t meet what you are offering and they walk. You then have to go with someone who is flexible on the salary, but may not be as qualified or have as high-level skill set.
Make sure the open position description, whether it’s sales/marketing, tech, administrative or something else, is very detailed and discloses all of the pertinent information that the potential candidate needs to know. By doing this, there’s less of a chance of missing out on your next “all-star.” Just because you have a job advertised doesn’t necessarily mean it will attract the right people.
You also don’t have to always pull from the candidate pool responding to your job advertisement. There are ways to seek out proper talent on your own, perhaps by conducting a filtered search in LinkedIn to see the types of qualified candidates that might be a fit, but aren’t actively looking.
3.) Formalizing the Selection Process: Gone are the days when job seekers scan the “Jobs” section of their local newspaper, and then snail mail their resume and cover letter to the potential employer. With online applications, email, social media and online job boards, the process is vastly different than it was 10 or 15 years ago. Many companies now use social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to advertise a position simply because it’s easy and free. Many times when I log on to my social media accounts, I see job advertisements in my LinkedIn feed or colleagues posting requests on Facebook to fill a position, asking for recommendations from friends and colleagues. While this can be helpful, knowing if a person is qualified (or not) for a specific job can sometimes be a matter of opinion, especially if the recommendation is coming from a friend.
You can take this a step further, however, if you are willing to spend the money, by hiring a head-hunter or staffing agency that specializes in doing all of the leg work, such as collecting and screening resumes, pre-screening interviews, testing and background/reference checks. This way, you don’t spend extra time performing all of these HR tasks that might take away from your business. It might be worth it to seek out one of these agencies, since they can help “weed out” the candidates that might not be a fit for your company’s culture and expectations. While you might feel this is a costly endeavor, remember that by doing this from the get-go, it could save you time and money in the long run; I’m sure we can all attest to the costs of terminating an employee and having to re-hire and re-train their replacement, not to mention the adjustment period.
These are a few ideas that I have come up from my own successful experiences and best practices. Hiring solid, long-term talent requires a solid match for both the candidate and the employer. It is not only you, as the employer, who is looking for the right match. The candidates seeking employment are also looking for the right match. If you have any strategies or techniques that you have tried that have worked, please reach out to me on Twitter; @rayvrabel or let me know in the comments section at the end of this blog.
Raymond Vrabel is Continuum's Director of Technical Account Management and participates in product and service growth initiatives. He manages Continuum's Technical Account Management team which supports over 3,500 partners worldwide. Vrabel has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry, specializing in managed IT services, disaster recovery and cloud solutions. Follow him on Twitter: @rayvrabel.