This article is part of Stronger Together, an in-depth look at diversity, equity, and inclusion in IT from the upcoming October issue of our magazine.
HIRING QUALIFIED TECHS has long been the top pain point for MSPs. Finding diverse talent is even harder still. Here are some proven best practices and methods to help you solve both pain points and build out your bench.
Start by working your network. At Clever Ducks, we have had great success finding candidates through our employees. We always ask our team first if they know anyone, and specifically if they know of any diverse talent. We pay a bonus to thank them—$500 for a successful hire after 90 days. All of those referrals have been terrific.
We also look to the local community college and high school by talking to computer science instructors about their star pupils. We host an open house for their classes and get to know the students. We send a thank you note and maybe a gift card to the instructor and tell him or her about successful hires. They are in the business of educating, yet rarely get feedback from the workforce. This helps us stand out and be top of mind for next time.
Always be on the lookout for hires too: at the coffee shop, auto parts store, through your kids’ friends, or your social circle. Keep an open ear and an open mind.
Also, be sure to take the time to talk to people if they walk in or send a resume, whether qualified or not. It's an opportunity to share your brand and your values. We give people a gift if they come by the office, such as a free software trial or a logo item. That will also set you apart. Even if you don’t hire that person immediately, he or she could be a potential future hire, adding to the tech talent pipeline in your community and perhaps opening the door to a new customer for your MSP business.
Now for true confessions: I recently had an “aha moment” listening to a podcast called Business Casual with Edith Cooper, the head of human capital management at Goldman Sachs. She's also on the board of both Etsy and Slack. She really summed up the problem: We all always just naturally recruit out of our existing social circles and our spheres of influence, and if our network isn’t diverse we won’t find diverse job applicants. Cooper encourages you to go outside of your network to find other talent.
So how can you do that? One way would be to partner with CompTIA’s pipeline of workforce development efforts and training programs such as IT-Ready.
Remember, no hire will have everything you are looking for. You’ll have to invest in training employees on your methods and stack. The longer your list of requirements, the less likely you are to find anyone who fits them. Look for technical skills, a love of technology, customer service prowess, and the ability to learn.
One thing we insist on at Clever Ducks is that everyone has or earns the CompTIA A+ certification in their first three months on the job. That shows they have the basic block and tackling for the help desk and the ability to study for and pass an industry exam. CompTIA’s Creating IT Future’s eight-week boot camp screens for ability, gets participants through the A+ exam, and places them in help desk roles. Retention rates are extremely high. You can learn more about this program at creatingitfutures.org.
Finally, look for people who are able to continually learn and grow. If you can find staff who have a servant’s heart and want to help others, you will be on your way to building a great team.
AMY KARDEL co-founded the IT services firm Clever Ducks with her spouse. Their chain of business successes led her to a seat on the board of directors of CompTIA, the world’s leading IT trade association, including two terms as chairwoman. Along this journey of continuous training and learning, she also earned a law degree. Today, Amy serves as CompTIA’s vice president, strategic workforce relationships.