10 Reasons A Recruiting Service Is Key To Finding Top IT Talent

To Recruit Or Not To Recruit

With the economy inching upward and once-shelved projects getting the go-ahead stamp of approval for 2013, the hiring trend in the IT channel has been heating up. And with so much riding on the next move a solution provider makes, finding top IT talent has never been more imperative, nor more competitive. As such, many VARs are turning to recruiting services. But, how do you know if a recruiting service is right for your business?

As part of an ongoing series exploring hiring trends in the IT channel, this week CRN spoke with Mark Bier, founding principal, and Todd Billiar, director of channel development, at VAR Staffing, a Richardson, Texas-based VAR consultant agency that specializes in IT channel staffing and recruitment, to learn more about its services -- as well as with solution providers -- to help you determine whether or not a recruiting service is right for your business.

Here's a look at the top 10 reasons why a recruiting service might be the solution to your hiring needs in 2013.

Finding Top IT Talent Ain't Easy

For finding top talent, job boards aren't enough.

"The demand for IT skills is strong, but less people are looking at IT as a career these days," said Wayne Chapin, president of Xerillion, a Schaumburg, Ill.-based MSP specializing in IT support services. "MSPs need an edge when looking for techs to grow [their] business and can't just rely on Craigslist."

"When you run an ad, you're hitting about 17 percent of people, of viable candidates. LinkedIn found that 83 percent of the best candidates won't respond to an ad," VAR Staffing's Billiar said. "Another LinkedIn study, said 80 percent of the people who replied to that survey said they would be open to learning about a new opportunity. How do you close that gap if you're only reaching that 17 percent? How do you reach that 83 percent, where probably the best candidate lives? 80 percent to 83 percent would like to hear about the opportunity, and the only way you're going to reach them is by using a recruiting firm."


Talent From Coast To Coast

The reality is that the top talent may not be next door, and limiting your search based on geography means limiting the talent pool. One major advantage a recruiting service offers is that it's better enabled to expand a search beyond a VAR's local community.

"All we work with are VARs, solution providers, MSPs, integrators, so whether you're a VAR in Miami or Orem, Utah, we have active searches in both communities," Bier said. And, by limiting your search, you're limiting the likelihood of finding the best of the best, he said. "If you're going to hire just whoever answers your ad, you are limiting your candidate pool. You are absolutely limiting it."


Vetted For You

Resumes are vetted for you, and most candidates either have worked with the staffing service prior or come from a well-known source. Cognoscape, an Addison, Texas-based MSP, needed a high-level technical expert to manage the company's complete technical delivery, so it turned to VAR Staffing.

"This is probably the most critical hire that we've made since we founded our company, and they found us a guy immediately. In fact, they knew that guy," said Michael St. Martin, founder and COO. "We were extremely impressed with their ability; [they're] connected enough in the industry to find a very high-level employee that we think will help build and shape the future of our company."

"We've got a very robust database with tens of thousands of channel-specific candidates that we've worked with, within every major market throughout the country," Bier said. "The vast majority of candidates that we approach, whether it's a full-time employee or a consultant or a contractor, we found them."

Wasted Hours

When you post an ad online, you end up wasting a tremendous amount of both time and resource. "We find having a recruiting partner helpful as they can sift through thousands of resumes and send you strong candidates one at a time until you find a fit," Xerillion's Chapin said.

"Ninety-five percent of respondents aren't applicable, leaving 5 percent," VAR Staffing's Bier said. "The time investment it takes for the office manager or the HR manager or the owner of the VAR to sift through the wrong resumes is remarkable. Even if they are able to sift through those resumes, they're going to get reactive candidates as opposed to proactive candidates," he said. "A reactive candidate is someone who replies to an ad. If someone replies to an ad, oftentimes there's a reason why they're not doing well at their current employer's. ... You can't just sit back and hope [the right] person replies to your job posting. You need to be proactive in your search for impact players," Bier said.


Time Is Money

"The amount of time this saves us is well worth the expense," said Xerillion's Chapin. Likewise, Cognoscape's St. Martin agrees the benefits of a recruiting service can outweigh the cost. "When you do hire someone from a recruiting company, it's probably one of the biggest, single outlays for us as a company, except software and hardware. So in our mind, it's quite expensive, but what they've provided for us -- we're absolutely satisfied."

"Time is money, and that is one of the greatest things we can provide," VAR Staffing's Bier said. But, the real question for VARs is: "Can you afford to get that wrong? If you're going to hire just whoever answers your ad, you are limiting your candidate pool," Bier said. "Think of the clients you can lose. ... The No. 1 thing that can separate one VAR from another is the talent they bring in. It's not just who they get; they need to get the right people." And, most recruiting services, like VAR Staffing, offer guarantees: You don't pay unless they find the right candidate.

Scalability: Fast And Furious

As the economy continues to trend upward to meet growing customer demands, many VARs need to scale their teams quickly.

"We've been growing year-over-year for the past three years," Cognoscape's St. Martin said. "And we're looking to see quite a bit of growth next year, ... multioffice accounts, a ton of different offices and 200-plus new users in the span of just a few months. The resources and the way we support our clients, there's a ratio and you need so many people to support those users," he said. "The reason why we considered a staffing [service] is because we're still a very small, growing company, and you're always weighing the expense of using a service over the value. ... In this case, we were kind of strapped. We needed really good people, and we needed them in a hurry," St. Martin said. "What we found [with VAR Staffing] was an immediate response to getting good candidates to us as soon as possible."


What About Contract, Freelance Or Part-Time Positions?

Filling a temporary position can actually prove more difficult than a permanent, full-time position, simply because the VAR needs a candidate who can jump in and hit the ground running and who will mesh with others on the project. Although most recruiting services specialize in full-time positions, they've often got a virtual Rolodex full of contract or part-time candidates.

"They're a little more difficult to fill, but our system is the same," Bier said.

"When it comes to contracts, we have a deep database of contacts. They like being the contractor or the freelancer, and that's the type of work they want," Billiar said. "When we call them with an opportunity, they know that we've vetted the opportunity as well." That means the candidate has not only been thoroughly screened, but that they are accustomed to working contract positions and have experience delivering with known clients.


One of the top reasons many solution providers turn to recruiting services is for anonymity: Using a third-party agency allows VARs to not only limit the number of candidates who can view the job posting but also puts them in the position to steal away the competition's top talent. And, most solution providers don't want to be known as "that business," the talent poachers.

"The best person who works for Coke is someone who works at Pepsi, right?" Bier said, and the same applies in IT. "They don't want to be known as that shop. But, as an independent third-party, we can go do that. It's a way for integrators to access talent and not get mud on their face. We have clients say 'I would love to take someone away from our competitor.' And as a recruiting firm, yes, we can, and we do."

Insider Knowledge

Using a recruiting service that specializes in the IT channel yields better results. "We work with a variety of [recruiting services], but what I think the added value that they [VAR Staffing] bring to the table is their knowledge of the industry," said Paul Whalley, vice president of Whalley Computer Associates, a CRN SP500 company based in Milford, Mass., that has roughly 150 employees. "And of the recruiting firms, I think they've got a big advantage for the VAR simply because that's what they do -- they specialize in it. They get to know the people, they know the industry, and I think that makes a difference."

"I myself was an engineer with two different VARs, so I have 10-plus years' experience working in that VAR world. That gives me the knowledge about the little things that make a difference that a regular recruiting service doesn't have," Billiar added. "That intimate knowledge of the VAR workspace and VAR environment allows us to really screen the candidates much more thoroughly than the standard staffing agency would."

Community Ties

Some recruiting services are involved in the channel community, giving them a distinct insight into hiring channel positions. "We take great pride in aligning with the communities where the most progressive VARs, MSPs and integrators reside," said VAR Staffing's Bier. "We are particularly proud of our partnership with Varnex. Varnex is Synnex's peer-to-peer community of industry-leading VARs focused on the SMB space, providing its members valuable resources and support access to drive business, increase efficiency and productivity. Some of the other industry-leading communities we work with include
"We had seen VAR Staffing at a number of different [events], whether it was boot camps, trade shows, conferences, etc. They were really the only ones we've ever seen at any of those types of shows," said Cognoscape's St. Martin. "They were at Varnex. And that's what they do, and they do a really good job" Whalley Computer Associates' Whalley said.