New Orleans, Marcus Luttrell and Talent Acqusition; three seemingly random topics that intersected for me in early March. See, I was fortunate to be invited to speak at MSPWorld®, the premier conference for managed services professionals (MSP). The conference was created by MSPs, for MSPs, and driven by those with real-world experiences and successes in the managed services industry.
It is always a good thing when we make the time to break away from our day-to-day responsibilities and connect with others in our industry. Every time I participate in a conference or event with my peers, I always come back to the office with new ideas, perspectives I may have yet to consider, and different ways to serve our customers. That’s what these conferences allow us to do; share our knowledge and gain from the knowledge of others.
At the start of the conference, I had a front row seat to hear Marcus Luttrell of Lone Survivor fame; it was a very powerful talk. Something I didn’t know is that Marcus has a twin brother who was also a Navy Seal and who has since gone on to become a Neuroscientist – pretty darn impressive!
Anyhow, I was asked to speak on talent acquisition and retention in the IT industry. The topic itself is tricky to say the least. With stout competition flooding the technology industry, and the seeming endless shortage of talent, attracting and retaining IT talent is a challenge in even the best of times. But that’s not to say that finding great talent is impossible. Here are some of the highlights from my presentation, which can be applied to nearly any and every industry.
Hiring is not something you do only when you need to add or replace staff. Hiring must be a regular, ongoing part of business. Think of hiring more so as a hunt for talent. Whether you need them on staff today or next year, the hiring process of business should be an ongoing activity. Even if you are lucky, going from a dead stop to a good hire could take months. If you make the wrong hire and don’t have someone on the bench, you could find yourself right back at square one.
Build your talent bench a little each month. With a few calls, a few emails, a few meet-and-greets over coffee, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll build a bench of qualified candidates.
Tools And Technology
Tracking candidates in email gets messy fast. You never know where to start, so you redirect your attention to something easier to cross off of your to-do list. Spend a few dollars and get the right tools to make this process easier. We’ve been using an application tracking system – ApplicantStack – for years. At $95 per month, it’s easily proven its value.
A system like ApplicantStack allows you to create templates for nearly every part of the hiring process, which helps the process become as automatic as possible. Everything from drafting an ad to posting on job boards can be point-and-click; driven by someone other than yourself.
Clearly Defined Process
Document your hiring process and stick with it, don’t take shortcuts or work from gut decisions. Define each step a candidate should go through while eliminating subjectivity. By having a clearly defined process in place, you’ll also keep candidates engaged because they know where they are in the process too.
This step should also include carefully laying out questions to ask in your screening calls and interviews as it pertains to the position the candidate is applying to.
Need an example? During an interview for a project engineer, we ask questions that help us understand how the individual previously addressed and worked their way through complex and complicated customer projects:
- How did you get started?
- Did it go as planned?
- Why or why Not?
- What would you do differently if asked to repeat this project?
Roles And Responsibilities
You must have clearly defined roles and responsibilities before you start looking for talent. Without understanding the role that needs to be filled, how do you know the right talent to look for?
Define and document roles and responsibilities, and then use them as the foundation to help paint a picture of what success looks like for the individual. It will take time to put these descriptions together, but it will also provide clarity for both you and the prospective employee.
This doesn’t need to be an operations manual – quite the opposite. All you need is a one pager that lists the specifics of the position, key responsibilities and what success looks like (in numbers if possible, like calls placed, clients served, or widgets boxed).
Assessment And Feedback
Make regular, ongoing feedback part of your process and use the roles and responsibilities as a guide. Your companies core values needs to serve as the framework for your employee feedback. Hold regular one-on-ones or check-in meetings. Even when you don’t have agenda items or something that must be said, these meetings often allow others to open up about what’s on their mind.