BUILDING MXOTECH to a $5 million business is a direct result of recruiting, hiring, and retaining the right people who are committed to our core values. The key is to continually recruit even when you’re not hiring, proactively seek candidates from both traditional and nontraditional sources, adhere to a careful hiring process, create career paths, develop from within, and then trust people with the responsibility you’ve given them.
That last bit of advice was particularly important for me, as I did not have a formal business education when I launched MXOtech in 2005. In 2012, after attending Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, a program for entrepreneurs, I reevaluated both the kind of company I wanted to run and the people I wanted to work with. We adopted the managed services model, let go of staff who weren’t helping us grow, separated with vendors that weren’t supporting the business, and parted ways with clients that weren't a good fit. I also joined a marketing organization where I learned how to market my business.
After buying out my minority-share partner four years ago, I put a leadership team in place to take MXOtech to the next level. Most of them are longstanding employees we promoted or consultants we had been working with. Everyone was a referral, which is why it’s important to have strong networks in both the IT industry and the business community.
Now the leadership team is responsible for hiring as well, adhering to the MXOtech process we developed internally. It includes templates for communication with candidates and job descriptions with a focus on our culture. We target candidates who want to grow their careers, make an impact, and be part of a family… not just a job. That’s why every viable candidate goes through three interviews: a phone screening, an in-person interview with a manager, and a group interview. The group scores the candidate based on how well he or she fits with MXOtech’s core values.
Certain positions have additional tests. For example, business positions like account management require demonstrations on our wall white board. Development positions require writing a custom application for their favorite hobby, and help desk positions go through a workflow diagram and explanation of situational events to assess their customer service skills.
Hiring the right people also helps with retention, as does creating career paths. Our help desk engineers can grow to system admins and project engineers, lead-gen staff can move to business development, and developers can grow into project managers. We also give people opportunity to advance their technical skills within a position.
Even with the right process, though, finding skilled employees in this tight labor market can be a challenge, which is why MXOtech proactively turns to nontraditional sources in addition to networking and recruiting via LinkedIn, Indeed, and social media. Moreover, since MXOtech is a 100% woman-owned business, and I came to this country from Poland as a child with my parents, it’s important to me to build a diverse workforce and give back. So we joined two organizations: Year Up, which brings together businesses and people from underserved communities and trains them for the workforce; and Upwardly Global, which helps immigrants and refugees rebuild their careers in the U.S. So far we’ve hired four people from these organizations and are actively adding more.