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How Successful MSPs Win Top Talent

Co-Author: Axcient/eFolder’s Tom Watson

James Bier, co-founder of VAR Staffing, and Tom Watson, former MSP owner and VP of MSP best practices at Axcient /eFolder, tell you what you need to do to win the war for top tech talent.    

Often, landing top talent gives a solution provider the competitive edge needed to secure important business over their competition. Conversely, losing a top performer can be catastrophic to a practice, allowing that same competition to displace existing clients. MSPs are particularly vulnerable because employees often handle the needs of dozens of clients, putting business owners in a difficult situation when an employee departs the company. The learning curve is steep and expensive, making it imperative to bring in the best talent and retain them.  As Heather Margolis first wrote on July 13, 2018 – “…assembling the right team is key.”

For many years now (in fact, beginning in 2010), unemployment has crept downward from a high of almost 10% to just 4.1% in December 2017. The Federal Reserve defines this unemployment level as “full employment.” In May of 2018, technology unemployment came in at 1.9%, making it the most competitive job sector in the country. In other words, qualified candidates in the technology industry have much greater influence regarding positions, compensation expectations, and job duty definitions while possessing the ability to change jobs quickly.

As the talent pool in technology dries up, you need to have a go-to strategy to land the best candidates quickly and cost-effectively.

Here are some best practices VAR Staffing and Axcient/eFolder have seen top MSPs and VARs use to win and retain top tech talent:

1. Engage a professional staffing organization. Professional staffing organizations have the expertise to assist with the recruiting and hiring process. Their skill and industry knowledge will result in a more efficient process and exposure to more qualified candidates.

2. Actively sell the upsides of your opportunities. At every stage of the hiring process – from initial job posting through offer acceptance – be your company’s greatest cheerleader. In tight talent markets, candidates aren’t simply looking for a job. They’re looking for a great job, a great environment, and career enhancement.

3. Promote the upsides of your available positions, including:

  • The unique opportunities and culture your organization offers
  • Highlighting dedicated labs/config rooms that are available for training and testing
  • Promote that the work will be challenging with the opportunity for advancement
  • Opportunities for paid continuing education and technical certification
  • Flexible work schedules and work from home options
  • Frequent performance/salary reviews
  • Incentive based bonuses throughout the year
  • Flexible time off and increased PTO with seniority and accomplishment
  • Generous benefit plans with little out-of-pocket costs
  • Paid time off for volunteer work

4. Train interviewers to handle objections. If a great candidate has reservations about your company or the job, your team must know how to ferret them out and ease the individual’s concerns, and ultimately keep top candidates interested in your opportunities.

5. Accelerate your timetables. The longer your hiring process takes, the more time applicants have the freedom explore other job options.  Don’t hesitate to bring top candidates in quickly and consider combining first and second round interviews into a single event. Checking references early on helps to expediate the process. Don’t hire recklessly, but don’t have an aimless or unstructured interview process either. Follow up with top candidates soon after interviews to create assurances of your interest in them. Within reason, whatever you can do to shorten your time-to-hire (without sacrificing quality) will prevent fewer candidates from dropping out of your interview cycle.

Bonus: To learn more strategic tips around hiring strategies and winning top talent, register now for VAR Staffing and Axcient/eFolder MSP Ignition! webinar, “Recruit & Retain the Best Staff for Your Business”. We’ll be giving away VAR Staffing’s Winning the War for Top Talent in the VAR / MSP Community eBook!


Tom Watson is VP of MSP Best Practices at Axcient/eFolder and heads the MSP Ignition! Best practices program. Read more eFolder blogs here.

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