D&H Partners Turn To Veterans, Technical Colleges To Find Qualified Talent

D&H Distributing partners are leaning heavily on veteran training programs and career colleges to fill account manager and sales engineering roles within their own organizations.

Clearwater, Fla.-based Kynetic Technologies uses Monster.com and other online sites to identify people who have just returned from military services and offer them entry-level positions, said Ken Candela, vice president of the solution provider. Veterans typically understand the importance of teamwork and avoid actions that would undermine the group, he said.

Before turning to veterans, Candela said Kynetic typically hired people that had been employed by one of their IT services competitors, but many of them were bringing over bad habits they had exhibited at their last employer.

[Related: D&H Partners: K-12 Demand For Virtual Reality Tools Is 'Almost Like The Early Days Of Chromebooks']

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Liberty Technology, for its part, began using a program at the start of 2017 that provides high-potential veterans with rigorous training focused on customer-facing IT careers, said President Ben Johnson. The Griffin, Ga.-based solution provider hired two veterans through Tech Qualled six months ago to serve as account managers, and both of them are already carrying annual quotas of between $1 million and $1.5 million.

"As long as that keeps up, I can keep hiring and we can keep back-filling on the technical talent," Johnson said. "There's some really, really just amazing talent coming out of the military."

Liberty Technology plans to go back to Tech Qualled every six months or so and bring on additional veterans, Johnson said. Johnson and Candela spoke with CRN during D&H Distributing's 2017 Fall Mid-Atlantic Technology Show in Hershey, Pa.

NextStep Networking, meanwhile, has aligned its people pipeline with nearby community and private colleges since the graduates recognize their lack of professional experience and therefore have reasonable salary expectations, according to Matthew Worthen, director of educational IT consulting.

Once NextStep is aligned with a career college, Worthen said the company encourages students to intern or co-op with the Cincinnati-based solution provider. Over time, this allows NextStep to build up a story and reputation within the institution, Worthen said, which eventually results in the best students competing to work for the company.

"We want to be a good place for kids to land in their career," Worthen said. "And if we're going to consult with schools, we might as well try and tap into some of that talent as they're coming up."

Other D&H partners had similar ideas, with Liberty Technology bringing in half of its technical staff from career colleges, according to Johnson.

One of the things Johnson found that resonated with prospective employees is offering them the opportunity to go after emerging technologies such as virtual reality, managed conference rooms or SD-WAN, Johnson said. These workers were often previously employed by large IT service providers, Johnson said, where they were expected to follow orders and stay in their lane.

"They're not allowed to chase that stuff in the bigger companies," Johnson said. "It seems like there's a lot of people that are stymied."

Solution providers also are using testing programs to assess their potential employees' personalities and aptitude for the job. Current programs include DISC, a behavior assessment tool focused on traits such as dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness, and Wonderlic, a group intelligence test used to assess the aptitude of prospective employees for learning and problem-solving in a range of occupations.

For its part, Treysta Technology Management is considering having its applicants go through DISC or Wonderlic testing, according to Vice President and CIO Henry Grossman. The Gettysburg, Pa.-based solution provider has found it very difficult to evaluate these soft skills through just a 30-minute or 60-minute interview, Grossman said.

"Once they hit the real application of it, that's where you see them fall on their face," Grossman said.

All told, Grossman said Treysta has shelled out at least $75,000 on recruiting fees for employees the company doesn't have on staff anymore.

Liberty Technology, meanwhile, has a Wonderlic threshold that applicants need to exceed in order to even have their resume reviewed, according to Johnson. The version used by Liberty allows the company to put in the type of job it's hiring for – such as marketing, administrative assistant, or help desk technician – with the final synthetic score taking into account the attributes most important in that position.

The Wonderlic measures candidates in several different subcategories and ultimately scores them based on intelligence, personality and motivation, according to Johnson.

"It has saved me and my staff hundreds of hours of time digging through [bad] resumes," Johnson said.