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Ease the MSP talent acquisition process with these tips

For Eric Hobbs, the key to the talent acquisition process is to recruit prospective employees early and often.

Hobbs is CEO at Technology Associates, a managed service provider (MSP) in Cary, North Carolina. Finding qualified candidates to fill MSP slots is a chore in virtually any part of the country, but Technology Associates has the added challenge of hiring in the Raleigh-Durham area, home to companies such as Red Hat, SAS and IBM.

The task of finding the right candidates for managed services provider jobs can take months, even under the best of circumstances, and, potentially, years. Hobbs noted Technology Associates, at one point, took two-and-a-half years to find and hire a virtual CIO.

The way to avoid seemingly interminable candidate searches is to make the talent acquisition process an ongoing, day in and day out regimen.

“You can’t wait until you need somebody to start looking,” Hobbs said, speaking this week at MSPWorld 2018. The conference, held March 5 through 6 in New Orleans, featured a discussion on cybersecurity.

Technology Associates has turned talent acquisition into a regular activity. “We post all of our positions every month, whether we are hiring or not,” Hobbs said, noting the company uses job boards on such sites as Glassdoor, Indeed and LinkedIn to do so.

The frequent posting gives Technology Associates a jump on the talent-finding and resume-review process, enabling the company to “build a bench” of qualified job candidates, Hobbs said.

Even top performers may unexpectedly leave a firm, so it’s important to maintain a bench for all positions. Posting every job also eliminates the guessing game in which employees assess a single job posting and try to determine which employee is on the cusp of dismissal — that could lead to a rather Hobbesian workplace.

The talent acquisition process doesn’t end with full bench, of course. The entire process from resume collection to the job offer needs to be defined and documented for the sake of consistency. The roles and responsibilities for each job must be clearly described. And once the managed services provider jobs are filled, a company must have an employee assessment and feedback process in place.

Hobbs has a couple of other talent acquisition tips for MSPs. He advises companies to use an automated applicant tracking system and not try to build their own. Technology Associates uses ApplicantStack, which costs $95 per month, he said.

In addition, MSPs posting openings should make sure jobs titles are actually what applicants are searching for. For example, Technology Associates didn’t get much of a response when posting an opening for an InSight engineer. InSight is the company’s service brand, but job seekers “didn’t know what it was,” Hobbs said. “They are not looking for your verbiage.”

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