Hurricane Sandy Leads To Hiring Spike, Says VAR Staffing10:05 AM EST Mon. Nov. 12, 2012
Finding and retaining good technical and sales talent has become a critical concern for VARs looking to grow their businesses as the economy improves.
More VARs are looking to hire full-time staff after looking more to engage contract workers for projects over the last couple years, according to Todd Billiar, director of channel development at VAR Staffing. Billiar spoke to CRN's Scott Campbell at ConnectWise's IT Nation 2012 conference in Orlando about hiring trends in the channel and what VARs – and employees—should expect in 2013. The following are excerpts from the conversation.
In the Northeast, we've heard that many solution providers are looking to add both full-time and contractor staff because they're seeing a spike in business following Hurricane Sandy. Are you seeing that same demand?
We've had a number of folks come up to us. There's a serious jump in workload and they need to add quickly.
Is that mostly contract work or are they looking to hire full-time?
Some I've talked to say 'I'm ready to grow.' They were borderline before the storm and that's pushed them over the top.
In what areas are you seeing demand for post-Sandy work?
Where we see the most demand is around virtualization, security practice, [system] architecting. Mid to higher-end positions.
I've talked to a lot of MSPs here at IT Nation and many of them mentioned how tough it is right now to find good talent. If they're having difficulties, how are you guys able to find the people to help them?
As economy is recovering, it's become easier. We don't run ads. You won't see ads from us on Monster.com or anywhere else. We use a proactive model. Because we have channel experience [Billiar worked at a VAR for many years], we truly understand what they are looking for. Our company was co-located inside a VAR in Dallas for 3 years. We go out and approach candidates who are working in the enterprise space. They're working for a large corporation or a very large VAR where there is not the mobility [to move up]. They want be more than a number. They're going out hoping to make a career move.
LinkedIn ran a survey of users and found that 80 percent if approached with the right opportunity would consider a move.
That's for permanent positions? What about for freelance jobs?
For contract positions, we have a database of more than 30,000 people.
Is most of the demand from VARs now for contract work or fulltime?
If you asked me that question last year, I'd say it was close to 50-50. Now it's probably 70 percent permanent and 30 contract. I think a lot of partners were not confident in the economy for full time hires so they would bring in contract hires. Now they're seeing sustained growth, sustained income, and they canjustify bringing in someone fulltime.
NEXT: Tech Salaries On The Rise
Which markets and which technology areas have the biggest demand?
The major metropolitans: Chicago is tight. The Bay Area is very tight. New England is tightening up. Tampa, believe it or not, is a very tough market to recruit on. As far as [technology], anything related to the data center is incredibly hot: virtualization, unified communication. Cisco RNS, anything around security. Anything related to data center is in such unbelievable demand. The folks in those skill sets, a year ago if you got them an offer, they couldn't sign fast enough. Today, you give them an offer and they have multiple offers in hand and they play them against each other. It's almost like bidding on a deal today.
Are VARs looking for entry-level positions or more senior-level positions?
A lot of times, they don't come to us with entry level because they don't want to pay the fee. It's the mid and higher level. The lower level they can fill through word of mouth. That's not to say we don't get help desk type role but our bread and butter is the mid to high end.
What are some other trends you see in the job market today?
Salaries are going up. The battle for impactful players has become more intense. The founders of this company have been at this 12 to 13 years and they tell me this is the tightest labor market they've ever seen. Even more so than the dot-com days.
Is it just technical talent or are VARs looking to you to fill other roles too?
It's sales, marketing, operations. Anything related to that VAR. We're seeing a lot of uptick in the requests for executives, the sales management-type roles. Companies see the growth and they need the right person to drive it.
There's been an increase in M&A activity among VARs the last couple of years. What impact has that had on hiring and on technical employees looking for jobs?
What we see from M&A is that engineers that were working for a small to midsize firm are being swallowed up by big firms. But they want to be more than a number. They proactively approach us and say 'Hey, if something pops up….' They want to be sure to stay where they are recognized for their value.
What advice do you have for VARs looking to bring on additional, strong technical or sales staff?
Have a clear, concise vision of what you're looking for. Act quickly. Good talent is not staying on the market. If you go three or four days without sending an update to a candidate, you'll probably lose that candidate. When you make an offer, don't lowball them. The market has shifted. It's a candidate market. Come with your best offer off the bat. Do the soft things like communicate with the candidate. Make them feel part of your team. After you e-mail the offer, call them and tell them you're looking forward to start building that relationship.
NEXT: Advice For Companies, Employees On Hiring For 2013
How about from the employee side? What advice do you have for someone looking for a new job?
Make sure your resume is clean. Don't overstate your skill set because you will get called on it. Be communicative. Stay in touch. If someone is on the fence and not sure they want to make a move, it's safe. It's their market. Now is a great time to make move if you're in the market.
Finally, how important is corporate culture to an individual looking to make a move today?
You want to make sure the person is the right fit for their environment, especially smaller, family run shops. If someone move around a lot, that shoots up red flags. Take the candidates to do a half-day ride along with someone on your staff. See how they interact with clients. You can get a pretty decent idea for what that person's really like.