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Amid Talent Crunch, Focus On ‘Non-Traditional Avenues’ For Hiring: Sherweb Execs

The shortage of tech talent has been hitting MSPs hard, but creative approaches—such as looking for candidates in the online communities they participate in—can yield results, Sherweb executives said.

At Network Solutions Provider, Vice President of Information Technology Miguel Zamarripa said he’s seen the difficulty of finding quality talent increase substantially during the pandemic.

The Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based MSP’s most recent opening took an entire month’s worth of interviews to fill—with many candidates either not as good as they claimed on paper, or not having the personality needed to interface with clients.

“We try to hire the right people. And those people are harder and harder to find—and they demand more money,” Zamarripa said.

[Related: Sherweb Intros Cybersecurity Services For Microsoft 365]

Zamarripa spoke with CRN on Monday after attending a talk by two executives at Sherbrooke, Quebec-based cloud services distributor Sherweb, on the subject of hiring and retaining workers during a massive talent shortage. The talk at the NexGen+ 2021 conference, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company in Anaheim, Calif., included a number of tips for managed services providers and other solution providers to land the talent they need to keep their business moving.

Michael Slater, head of sales-marketplace at Sherweb, said during the session that he has “gone everywhere” looking for talent. “I’ve done everything you can imagine to try to get people in the door,” said Slater (pictured right). Sherweb currently has 1,250 employees, up from 400 in 2017.

“You need to focus on non-traditional avenues to find more people. You’re never, ever, ever going to find something doing things the standard way,” he said.

While looking on LinkedIn is of course an avenue that shouldn’t be entirely ignored, it shouldn’t be relied upon either—because many technology workers don’t use it, Slater said.

More promising, in terms of online networking, is Reddit, he said.

“I’ve gone to Reddit to find MSP techs that have quit their jobs and are looking for new opportunities,” Slater said, including on the r/MSP subreddit.

“Go to the communities, go to the places these people are a part of, go to GitHub,” he said. “Try to find places these people are, and bring yourselves to them—attract talent that way.”

Marc-André Fontaine, vice president of sales and marketing at Sherweb, said during the talk that in addition to pay, it’s also crucial to focus on issues such as branding and culture when seeking to attract talent.

“People aren’t always looking for a number—they’re looking for an experience,” said Fontaine (pictured left). “One thing I suggest doing is, go back to your team, and ask them what’s fun about working with your team? So basically, what’s the culture behind your company? And expose that on social media.”

Fontaine also suggested measures such a referral program—which could include things such as trips, in addition to monetary rewards—along with allowing prospective employees to work-from-anywhere. Hirers should also be working to build a strong talent network over the longer term, he said.

“Invest in your community. There’s a lot of schools, a lot of people eager to learn—[and] you have probably a lot of knowledge that can be shareable,” Fontaine said. “So be proactive. Don’t wait to have an open position to start doing these things. All these things are super long term, but people will get to know your brand, people will get to know you as a company. And this will pay off in the next six, 12, 24 months.”

Zamarripa said he has definitely seen the increased need for promoting company culture in order to attract talent.

“You’ve got to really try to sell them to come work for you—because there’s another MSP down the road that’s wanting to hire them also,” he said.

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