How MSPs Can Profit from Hiring Underqualified Candidates
A successful hire doesn’t always mean hiring the most talented person. Sometimes, a successful hire is just not making a mistake. That’s because a hiring mistake can pull your managed service provider’s staff (especially management) away from revenue-generating responsibilities. Training new employees is a financial investment and if an employee leaves us unexpectedly, service delivery or professional services might lose revenue that would have otherwise been realized if fully staffed.
Here’s how many successful MSPs approach filling vacant seats on the service desk.
Mitigate Costly Turnover
Hiring mistakes beget turnover and turnover is costly. Employee turnover becomes especially costly when our investment in the employee’s training and salary aren’t recouped in billable hours before they leave us. The problem becomes compounded further if we overpaid the employee’s salary to begin with to “woo” their talent onto our team. Recognize that mitigating normal turnover requires different tactics than mitigating the cost of turnover.
- The first tactic is recognizing you don’t need to hire a team comprised entirely of Michael Jordan all-stars. When we hire the super talented, we can find ourselves overpaying the person or negotiating concessions that end up biting us in the rear if they quit prematurely. Overpaid talent is worth it if we can keep them long enough to realize our investment, but it puts us at risk when we don’t.
Using our Michael Jordan metaphor, while he has set many impressive NBA records, there are still dozens of talented players in the game. Anyone who can get into the NBA is among the top percentage of basketball players in the country. Just because you haven’t heard of them, doesn’t mean they aren’t out there waiting to apply to your job or, with proper training, rise to the top of your organization. Play the numbers game and get ahead of a time-intensive hiring process by proactively posting job ads even when you’re not hiring so you can build up a funnel or strike quickly when you need to scale or backfill a seat quickly.
- The second tactic reducing turnover is recognizing the value in hiring employees who unequivocally feel they are advancing in responsibility – not compensation – their first day of employment. That means, by any comparison, the job opportunity you’re offering feels like career advancement. Hiring employees who feel as though they’re advancing their job responsibilities and job title day one will give you more runway to train and more time to incrementally increase their compensation over a longer period of time, helping ensure they stick around long enough to reach your profitable utilization rate.
Yes, hiring candidates who can’t find better offers advancing their skill set could mean your MSP is potentially hiring someone who is slightly underqualified for the role, but that is the secret — hire candidates possessing MSP skills slightly short of being qualified for what you need, put your trust in your ability to “size-up” a candidate’s aptitude and invest heavily in your company’s training program so that your new hires achieve a useful proficiency in a relative short amount of time. They might not “hit the ground running” as would a Tier 1 or Tier 2 candidate, but you’re mitigating the cost and risk of an overpaid employee turning over before they become useful.
The average tenure for the average MSP professional at a Tier 1 or Tier 2 technical skill level living in a major U.S. metropolitan area is about 20 months (my company, Bowman Williams, has Skyped with more than 5,000 MSP professionals and we do our best to track these data points).
Instead of chasing the top 1% of talent who already have 20 other companies jockeying for their skills, consider hiring candidates that are slightly underqualified but possess enough aptitude to ramp up quickly so that they stay longer than 20 months. This way, your MSP has enough time to …