As demand for qualified employees increases, solution providers have become increasingly creative in how they attract and retain top-quality IT talent. And while technical skills certainly are important, other less-tangible factors play an expanding role in who gets hired – and in who stays.
A recent Forbes report shows just how intense the demand is for IT workers. The magazine found that for the top 10 major companies hiring right now, “many of the positions available require data or information technology backgrounds” for jobs at companies that include Apple, Microsoft, IBM and HP.
For Scott Anderson, president and CEO of solution provider Core Business Services in Medford, Ore., communication skills are key in candidates for positions in his company.
“I think it’s easy to find somebody who has 12 Microsoft certs, but really our business is about relationships and starting with asking ourselves whether our clients will like to work with this person,” Anderson said. “We place a big emphasis on being personable, which means we have to do a decent job training. We definitely look for communication aspects before technical ability.”
At Centre Technologies in Houston, business development manager Patricia Gonzalez agrees. “We struggle a little bit when it comes to finding that specific role, so if you can’t find it, it’s time to train it. You want to bring in the talent you can train.”
Because customer service in this sector of business is so important, Anderson said his company values professionals who communicate well but also possess a sense of urgency while remaining calm. “It’s hard to find those two things together,” he said.
At Sierra w/o Wires in Pittsburgh, Penn., CEO Bruce Freshwater has a slightly different approach. He said the company conducts highly technical interviews from the start to determine ability as well as personality interviews to gauge a candidate’s communication skills.
Freshwater’s take on communication is simple. He prefers “someone who looks you in the eye when they speak and when you speak.” And he insists quality communication builds a better staff. “We do teaming a lot better than most companies. We listen to opinions and adopt those opinions.”
Qualities solution providers say they seek in candidates include:
- Communication skills
- Ability and desire to learn new skills
- Technical skills
- Calm under pressure
- Task and deadline focus
How do they find candidates to consider? In many cases, networking is the key.
Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global in Westborough, Mass., says his company avoids online job boards. “What we’ve never really done is gone the traditional recruiting route. We put the word out in our network about the kind of person we’re looking for.”
And at Cumulus, Falcon and his managers look for intangibles first.