IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Hire Power

IT Assurance built a recruiting and hiring engine that fuels growth and retains a diverse, highly skilled workforce. By Zac Cramer

WHEN IT ASSURANCE hired its first employee, we made every mistake: We wrote the wrong ad, screened the wrong way, and asked useless interview questions. No surprise that I had to fire Employee One, who had stopped taking my calls and still had a customer’s (unrepaired) computer that I had to retrieve and fix myself.

Fast forward 10 years. We tweak and improve our hiring process constantly—because our company and our market constantly change—and now we far more often hire the right people and have built a talented, diverse, and inclusive workforce with near-zero turnover. Here are some things we’ve learned.

First, if you're firing people in the first six months, that’s a good indicator that you need to hone your hiring methods. So often we’re in a rush to hire, which leads to making the same mistakes again and again, ending up in the same hole. Before advertising a position, think about why the last person didn’t make it, and then change the job ad to attract a different type of individual.

Your job ad must appeal to desirable candidates. If you’re still simply saying, “We have job openings; here are the requirements,” then think about this: There are two openings for every qualified IT professional. So you better be telling candidates why they should choose you, rather than why you will choose them. 

How you write your ad is particularly important for building a diverse, inclusive workforce. Start by removing numerical requirements like “five years’ experience” or “a four-year degree”; white men will apply for jobs even when they don’t meet the requirements, but other groups won’t. Instead, write personality statements like, “I never give up” or “I love to document things!” Also, downscale titles. When IT Assurance advertised for an entry-level Tier 1 Technician, we got all white male applicants. We changed the title to Tech Support Intern and 50% of applicants were women and people of color.

Once you’ve received resumes, screen with personality testing to compare candidates. We use an automated system called HireSelect (part of Criteria Corp.), which puts the applicants through pre-employment tests that allow us to compare candidates on a level playing field. We barely look at resumes! Many good employees have no idea how to write one, and plenty of bad employees have their mom write theirs.

When it’s time to interview, be sure to ask everyone the same questions so you can compare answers, and take notes so you don’t have to rely on memory when discussing the candidates. Also, tell candidates in advance that you’ll reserve 20% of the time for them to ask you questions. Look for questions that indicate they want to work for you.

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