An issue that consistently plagues the IT industry from year to year is the skills gap. Recruiting, hiring and retaining technical talent is a huge challenge. This leaves IT providers with vacant positions for long stretches of time.
In its “IT Industry Outlook 2017,” CompTIA warns “demand for tech talent continues to exceed supply.” Forty-one percent of U.S. IT firms have job openings for which they are actively recruiting candidates. As the economy strengthens, finding new talent becomes even more difficult. CompTIA reports that almost half of IT employers who are hiring – 47 percent, to be exact – believe hiring and recruitment will be harder in 2017 than last year.
The Skill Gap in SMB’s
The skills gap is especially tough on smaller companies, such as the MSPs that serve the SMB market. They can’t match the financial resources of bigger channel players, IT vendors and non-IT corporate enterprises. So it pays to have a hiring and retention strategy to fill your technical positions. You don’t want staff vacancies to hinder your business’ growth.
Just like any other business strategy, you should approach recruitment and hiring in a methodical, well-defined way. It takes processes, documentation and communication to produce the desired results.
Set Up a Process
In the day-to-day bustle of running a business, the tendency is to approach hiring in a chaotic, unplanned fashion. But even if you hire only one employee every couple of years or less, you need to have a process. Start by making it easy for candidates to find you. A “careers” link on your website and social media pages is a good start.
Create a database of candidate resumes and prioritize them according to skills and employment histories. Figure out who besides you in the organization – say, your chief engineer – should review resumes and participate in the interview process.
Have a clear vision of the ideal candidate, and document your hiring goals to make the process predictable and repeatable. For instance, write down questions for candidates and the business goals you want them to understand. This helps set expectations, both for the job-seekers and yourself.
Know Where to Look
There are plenty of resume posting sites where you can find candidates. But when recruiting technical talent, it’s a good idea to work with a professional recruiter. Headhunters scour listings, build resume banks and stay in touch with qualified candidates.
Recruiters have a better chance of identifying good candidates more quickly than you can because that’s their core competency, while you have other business responsibilities besides hiring.
In addition to working with a recruiter, it pays to keep an eye on local high schools and colleges to see what kind of talent they are churning out. Partnering with local schools for internship programs can spark interest among young people in IT careers while potentially providing you with future hires.
Know What You’re Looking For
Knowing what you’re looking for in a technical employee may seem obvious, but sometimes it’s easy to focus on certain aspects while ignoring others. For instance, a candidate may have a lot technical certifications but a poor track record of working as team, knowing how to address customers or handling pressure.
A well-honed interview process helps weed out individuals that aren’t the right fit. This takes a certain amount of gut feel to spot any red flags but remember that relying on gut feel alone can be a mistake.
No individual MSP is going to solve the skills gap on their own, but having a process and vision seriously increases your chances of finding the right people for the job – and keeping them for the long term.