Solving the IT Hiring Challenge | Part 1: Hiring and Onboarding

We’ve all heard of the customer lifecycle, but why isn’t anyone talking about the employee lifecycle? As an IT service provider, your employees are the backbone of your business—fueling your business relationships and service delivery. Therefore, it’s more than ever important that you learn how to hire the best IT talent and keep them on board. So, where can you start?

This is the first of a three-part series discussing common challenges MSP businesses face when it comes to hiring, onboarding, retaining, reducing employee turnover, and actionable ways to overcome them. I know this process can seem a bit overwhelming, but in this post, I’ll walk you through industry research and best practices for owning the hiring and onboarding process to ensure you are setting new employees and your organization up for success.

The Hiring Headache

First let’s dive into why hiring can be such a headache for most in the IT and tech industry. For starters, the process is slow. A recent article by CIO cited that two-thirds of the non-executive technology professionals surveyed said they would “lose interest in a job if there was no follow-up within two weeks of an interview.” This has unfortunately become a norm in the hiring process, and if that’s not bad enough, candidates’ demands are through the roof. Research has shown that companies miss out on almost 45 percent of top talent because they aren’t able to offer them their desired salary.

So how can your organization combat these common challenges to win the talent without breaking the bank? Here are a few quick wins:

  • Involve key stakeholders from the start, this will help you determine the qualifications and skills you are looking for.
  • Be transparent with candidates throughout your entire hiring process, stay in communication, set deadlines and stick to them.
  • Get social when posting new jobs to ensure quality over quantity of job applicants.
    • Use social media
    • Reach out to affiliated groups
    • Attend networking events
    • Use your existing employee’s networks

Focus on the Benefits

When you’re too focused on finding the right resume or set of skills, IT hiring will become a headache for you. Instead, focus on the benefits of your organization and someone who can appreciate them.

Now, I recognized that the stakes are high and specialized IT workers are in great demand, but keep in mind all that your organization has to offer. Interesting and challenging work is at the top of the list, for example. And, if you’re a Continuum partner, you have the unique opportunity to offload mundane tasks to our NOC technicians, so that your employees can truly focus on the work they’re most passionate about.

Remember that a candidate’s eagerness to learn new skills and be a good “fit” for the company go a long way when hiring great team members. They may not have all the qualifications you are looking for but skills can be taught, attitude and drive cannot.

Another way to stay competitive and retain the right talent is by offering these highly sought-after perks:

  • Flexible work schedules
  • Regular social events
  • Remote working opportunities 
  • On-site or free gym membership
  • A compressed schedule

Setting IT Employees up for Success with Onboarding

Once you’ve hired a new employee, sending them through a structured onboarding process is what must come next. Up to 20 percent of turnover takes place in the first 45 days after hiring, usually due to lack of structure, expectations not being set from the start, and not being a good cultural fit.

Interestingly enough a study done by Leadership IQ found that of the new hires who “fail” or leave, only 11 percent are due to technical skills, 26 percent fail because they can’t accept feedback, 23 percent for inability to understand and manage emotions, 17 percent for lack of motivation to excel and 15 percent due to temperament. Again, this all ties back to hiring for fit versus what looks good on paper.

However, don’t stress, here are a few quick wins to ensure you have a stellar onboarding process—keeping your new employees focused and engaged:

  • Have a structured 45-90 day plan laid out in advance. What should new employees know about the company, the culture, the programs they’ll be working in? What are your monthly goals and expectations of them as they ramp up and what are key resources and readings they should consume? Get to know your employees, what makes them tick, what are their career goals, establish trust and start to foster a positive working relationship.
  • Follow up regularly. New employees often have questions, but also bring a unique new perspective to your organization. Make sure you’re providing them with the opportunity to share.
  • Ask for feedback throughout your onboarding process. This will allow you to constantly make improvements to your procedure.

To recap, transparency and communication are key, and structured plans are beneficial to everyone involved in the process. Networking is essential, and you should always hire for company “fit” over what looks good on paper. And lastly, understand and provide your employees with meaningful work, and constantly look for ways to improve. Your organization has a huge opportunity to dominate the IT hiring process and win top talent, now is your chance capitalize on it.

Now that you’ve effectively hired and onboarded your new employees, how do you keep them engaged? Click here to find out in part two!


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