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Now Hiring: 3 Things to Look for in MSP Job Candidates

Many MSPs face challenges when it comes to hiring. Hiring someone is a significant undertaking, especially for a small business. When you bring someone on board, you make an investment in your organization and in the candidate. You are responsible for training them on your systems and processes, which can end up costing you—both time and money—before the employee can fully pull their own weight. And finding someone new can drive this cost up even further.

Author: SolarWinds MSP‘s Chanel Chambers

To up your chances of getting the right candidate, focus on applicants who can help you address key industry trends—those trends that won’t go away any time soon. Today, I’m going to talk about three areas to consider when screening candidates.

1. Security

Security is no longer the exclusive domain of InfoSec specialists. MSP customers simply want their service providers to “handle their IT” for them. If something breaks due to a cyberattack, they usually won’t let you off the hook—they simply want it fixed. Plus, if your customers face fines or a loss of customers after a data breach, they will wonder why you didn’t protect them up front.

When you hire people, look for employees who are at least familiar with the basics of cybersecurity. They should have some experience on their resume and be able to easily answer questions on fundamentals, like patching practices, backup, antivirus, access controls, and maybe even security monitoring via security-information-and-event-management (SIEM) tools.

It isn’t necessary to hire a full-on security analyst, although, doing so may give you a competitive advantage. At the bare minimum, hire people who have mastered the fundamentals.

2. Cloud Services

It’s no longer accurate to say businesses are moving to the cloud. It’s more accurate to say businesses have moved to the cloud, and will continue expanding their use of cloud services as time goes on. Anyone you bring on board should be well-versed in cloud-service delivery models and their various pricing—as well as the infrastructure components required to support hybrid environments. When screening resumes, look for people who aren’t just familiar with cloud technologies, but have proven experience on cloud-related projects.

3. Automation

MSPs who don’t automate waste significant time on routine, mundane tasks. Taking full advantage of automation lets them increase efficiency, support more customers without drastically increasing staff, and free up their technicians for higher value work. The time you save as a result of automation could even be utilized to expand into new, higher-value services (like more advanced security).

Look for new employees who are familiar with automation tools. It helps to find someone who knows at least one or more scripting languages for automating routine tasks. You could also consider a remote-monitoring-and-management platform, like SolarWinds® RMM or SolarWinds N-central®, that provides a drag-and-drop editor to help you automate tasks without having to know a scripting language (or learn a new proprietary language).

Hiring Considerations

The three tips above will help you in your search for people with cutting-edge skills. Don’t forget to interview for cultural fit. When you run a small business, any hire can drastically change the makeup of the team. One strong personality can bowl over the rest. Someone coming in thinking they’re a “rock star employee” can easily cause the rest of the team to flounder.

Think of hiring like baseball. You can hire superstar homerun hitters, or you can hire players who consistently hit singles and doubles and knock in runs. Frankly, I prefer team players to technical geniuses. I’ll take someone who shows strong aptitude, deep critical thinking skills, some technical skills, and a willingness to work on a team any day.

Your hiring choices can most certainly impact your business’ success. Find someone who will fit well with the rest of your team, and take the time to do it right by pursuing candidates with one or more of the three skills I mentioned. It should pay off in the long run for your business.


Chanel Chambers is senior director of product marketing at SolarWinds MSP. Read more SolarWinds MSP blogs here.

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