Finding Great Talent for Your MSP Is Hard But Not Impossible – Here’s How to Get it Done

By Emily Glass, CEO at Syncro

Ask any MSP owner what their biggest challenge is, and they’re likely to give the same answer: talent. The tech industry is inherently fast paced and often stressful, which can make it challenging to keep your current team healthy and happy.

Even more challenging, however, is finding top-quality talent when you need to fill an opening or expand your team. 

Despite alarming headlines about mass layoffs in tech, followup research shows that the majority of recently laid off individuals have either already found a new job or have a job offer in hand—and 80% did so without getting a pay cut.

This creates a unique environment where there’s often a lot of talent available, but the best talent is quickly snatched up. While finding and onboarding top-tier talent can be challenging, it’s far from impossible.

It all starts with the job description

As Travis Grundke, EVP of Operations at Ashton Solutions, explains, part of making yourself an attractive potential employer requires being blunt and honest about what the job entails.

“One of the things that we do with our job listing, which I think is important to understand, is that we make it sound like it’s the most terrible, horrible, no-good job that somebody would want. ‘You’re going to hit the ground running. In the morning you might be handling a couple of end user support requests, and then you might end up getting dispatched out to take care of a cable modem that died at an office. It’s a fast-paced kind of environment.’”

Unfortunately, it’s become all too common that a candidate thinks they’re getting hired for one position, but is given a completely different list of responsibilities when they show up for their first day of work. This is the kind of experience that will see new hires heading for the door and leaving bad reviews on sites like Glassdoor — hardly a recipe for attracting top talent.

An honest description of what the job has in store is valuable because it helps narrow the focus so you’re receiving stronger applications in the first place. 

How to become an attractive potential employer

Of course, in a competitive talent market, your MSP should also offer an attractive salary and benefits. The days when an MSP could pay roughly minimum wage and still expect to attract quality talent are long gone—if they ever existed.

While a livable wage is an important starting point, the right benefits will also play a key role in attracting top talent. Unsurprisingly, the flexibility to work completely remote or in a hybrid role have become top priorities for many since the COVID-19 pandemic. So too are opportunities for ongoing training and education.

Notably, as the Dice 2022 Tech Salary Report reveals, there often exists a significant gap between what tech employees want and what they get. Benefits such as paid sick days, remote and flex schedule options, training and education, and 401(k) matching all had gaps of 11 to 25 percent between how many employees wanted them and how many employers offered these benefits.

By offering a selection of benefits that are highly desirable among IT workers, your MSP can go a long way in differentiating itself and becoming more attractive to top talent.

Identifying top talent

Once those applications start coming in, the next step is identifying the best fit for the job. According to Grundke, identifying candidates that have a “growth mindset” is critical for creating a top-level team. He notes that quite often, a candidate who has a growth or entrepreneurial mindset will ultimately be more valuable than someone who comes in with specific technical skills. While technical skills can be taught, the right personality and mindset cannot.

As he explains, “How do they think? How do they interact with other people? Do they have the ability to to think more like an attorney or a doctor? Do they have a consultative mindset? Are they able to have a conversation with a client who tells them, ‘Hey, I need three mailboxes for my receptionists.’ And to then turn that around and say, ‘Help me understand why you need those three mailboxes. What are we trying to accomplish here?’ I’m looking for that kind of thought process with our prospective employees.”

At the same time, of course, some level of technical qualifications are needed. In his own hiring efforts, Grundke has candidates complete a short online assessment that accomplishes two key purposes. First, it helps ensure candidates have the necessary level of technical proficiency. But more importantly, it helps weed out candidates who aren’t as interested in the position.

By his own estimates, only 10 percent of job candidates who were invited to complete the online assessment actually did so. This saved massive amounts of time that might otherwise have been wasted reaching out to unmotivated candidates. Instead, hiring efforts could be focused on engaged, qualified talent.

Creating a structure that helps new hires succeed

Finally, whether taking a chance on a less experienced candidate who has a strong growth mindset or hiring a more experienced engineer, you must have strong frameworks in place to transition them to a role in your company.

“You simply cannot expect to throw somebody in and do the job,” Grundke says. “You can’t expect that your expectations are up here and you bring somebody and say, ‘Go do this migration or go install these PCs.’ Without the structure, without the parameters and without the mentoring, you’re going to be perpetually frustrated and your business will flounder.”

While not directly linked to the hiring process, ensuring you have a strong support and training system is crucial for the employee onboarding experience. First impressions matter. Providing a supportive environment from day one will encourage new hires to give their best effort and set a positive tone for the job.

Making the most of your MSP team

When you go about building your MSP team in the right way, you’ll find great talent that will help you better serve your clients. Perhaps even more importantly, you’ll be able to cultivate a strong workplace with a positive culture—a place where your employees want to stick with you for the long haul. 

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