If, like many MSP business owners and managers, you come from a technical background, you may not have much formal experience when it comes to hiring employees. This is especially true for smaller MSPs who have worked as one-person shops or with very small teams previously, and are now looking to scale up.
To provide some guidance, this article walks through the essential steps of hiring a new employee, with a focus on the special requirements faced by MSPs hiring technical staff.
What to consider before starting a hiring process
Hiring a new employee is a big deal that represents a huge commitment on the part of your business -- not just in terms of the time required by the hiring process, but also because of the resources necessary to maintain a new employee.
You must therefore be methodological about deciding when and how to hire. If you have a hunch that it’s time to make a new hire, carefully assess your business environment to validate whether that is, in fact, the case. If you see team members who are truly overburdened with work to the point that they cannot keep up with regular duties, or if a lack of team members is preventing you from taking on new clients, it’s a sign that it’s time to start the search for additional employees.
Further reading Think You’re Ready To Hire Your First Employee?
Another factor to consider from the get-go is the timeline of your hire. Are you looking for a permanent, long-term employee, or a temporary hire (who could be converted to a permanent hire later)? Decide this upfront, rather than assuming you can make a determination once you’ve interviewed the candidates. The latter strategy does not work, because there is a different recruitment process to follow for each type of hire.
Think, too, about the resources that your business can devote to the hiring process. Can multiple team members be involved in selecting candidates and running interviews, or will it be a one-person operation? Who will handle the paperwork? Who will respond to candidate questions and make sure that all applicants (including those whom you decide not to interview or hire) are notified of the outcome?
Further reading Hiring Funnel for MSPs: How It Works
Working with HR firms
Faced with these requirements, some MSPs turn to outsourced HR firms or recruitment agencies to guide them through the hiring process. While this is always an option to consider if you truly do not have the in-house resources to handle recruitment, it’s generally not the best approach.
The reason is that no one knows your MSP business’s unique needs as well as you do. Outsourced agencies also usually lack expertise in the nuances of the MSP ecosystem and market. Even recruiters who specialize in hiring for the technology industry tend to have more experience in finding personnel to fill programming and cloud computing roles than locating the technicians who power MSP businesses.
How to create a job post for technical roles
Once you’ve decided that it’s time to start a hiring process, the next step is creating a job post. This may seem straightforward, but a good job advertisement is very hard to write -- especially for technical roles. Not only is there a great deal of information to convey in a short ad, but it’s hard to guarantee that applicants will read the ad in its entirety when they are poring over dozens of job posts per week. You therefore need to ensure that the most relevant information is easy to identify.
Define the role and the job duties
Make sure the ad starts with a clear and concise description of the job role and core duties. Some employers make the mistake of opening ads with lengthy descriptions of their companies, or narrative summaries of why they are hiring for the role. Avoid this, because it may cause some qualified applicants to skip over information that would attract them to the role.
Instead, identify in a few sentences what the role entails, which types of experience the hire should have and how tasks will be performed.
Describe the technical skill set
Next, the job ad should list the core technical skills that the applicant must possess. Resist the temptation to identify every possible skill that the employee might need; instead, focus on the most essential technologies, tools or platforms that he or she should know.
Keep in mind, too, that depending on the seniority level of the position, many technical skills may be able to be learned on the job. For entry-level technical positions, it’s most important to focus on listing “soft” skills -- such as the ability to work with a team and take ownership of assigned tasks, and a willingness to learn new technologies. The “hard” skills required for entry-level positions are typically limited to areas such as basic operating system setup and troubleshooting network connectivity issues.
When writing job ads for mid- and senior-level technicians, in contrast, it makes more sense to dive deeper into the specific platforms that the technician will be expected to support. You can also mention desired certifications and minimum requirements in terms of previous experience of working in the IT industry.
Further reading Best Certifications for IT Pros
Job descriptions for non-technical roles
Although most of the employees at a typical MSP business are technicians, there is also a need, of course, to hire for some non-technical roles, such as salespeople./p>
For these types of positions, as with technicians, it’s important to distinguish between entry-level and more experienced roles, and write job ads accordingly. The more senior your hire is, the more specific your requirements should be regarding experience level, knowledge of certain tools (such as Salesforce, for instance) and so on.
Job ads don’t always include information about salary, and there are some benefits to employers in not stating this information within the ad.
However, it’s generally wise to include compensation details in the ad, especially for MSPs whose main goal is to make a good hire as efficiently as possible. Including compensation information will help avoid applicants whose salary expectations or career track are not a good fit, so that you don’t waste time reviewing their applications and interviewing them, only to find out later that they won’t work out.
The compensation information you should mention includes not just salary information, but also benefits and potential promotion opportunities.
Further reading MSP Sales Compensation Plans – The Catalysts of More Revenue
Where to post job ads
Once your ad is created, there are a variety of places where you can circulate it in order to reach qualified applicants:
- Facebook (if you’ve created an account for your company on Facebook, you can create a sticky post containing all your company’s openings and update it regularly).
Also consider circulating job announcements on relevant email lists. For example, if you belong to a local business organization or technical users group, you could distribute ads there (as long as the organizations allow the use of their email lists for this purpose).