Simply looking at resumes is a really bad way of deducing who’s the right candidate for that new  opening in your MSP. And disqualifying applicants because they don’t look good enough on paper will make you miss out on a great new hire. Why?

MSP staff hire, application process, resume, testing

Judging who to interview and hire based on resumes does not represent the level of creativity, intelligence and quality of results needed for the unpredictable MSP environment. The resume alone also does not reflect an applicants’ actual skill set. 

As a result, an MSP can end up hiring incompatible or incompetent staff and miss out on great technicians, making this approach a bad practice.

Think about it… When you post job ads, everybody comes out of the woodwork and sends you their resume. They all have the same thought process in that if they look good on paper, that’s the best way to get a job. That’s why this traditional approach won’t help you identify who the best people are. 

From our experience here at Support Adventure working with over 40 MSPs, we know that the individuals who thrive in these environments are not necessarily the ones who have the most certifications. 

Let’s take a closer look at why that is. 

A spine-chilling story to caution MSPs about the dangers of looking good on paper

Over the years, we have helped many MSPs scale by improving their help desk operations. In speaking with our clients, we’ve heard numerous interesting stories about unsuccessful hires as a result of resumes that seemed promising. 

Here’s one of those stories.

The certificate-heavy, 12 year-experienced misshire

One of our clients hired an IT chief in the US Navy who had worked on government and civil contracts for 12 years. He came with a bevy of certifications and managed networks for years. 

Sounds impressive, right? So far it seems like this person has all the skills needed to do well in an MSP.

What the client found out however was that when he was working on an MSP help desk, he could not even do basic level one troubleshooting! The Navy and the MSP environment were too different and he lacked more real-life skills and traits needed to thrive in the unpredictable MSP environment. This was overlooked as a result of his impressive resume.

Now here’s another story of someone fitting well in an MSP environment without IT certificates. 

From events manager to level 2 technician   

A heartwarming story is that of a former events manager who was hired as an MSP dispatcher due to his supervisor and coordination experience. He proved to be a great success thanks to his creativity, intelligence and go-getter attitude. 

He eventually advanced to become a level two tech in his second year working. He had the right agility of knowledge to be able to research solutions and provide tangible results to clients fast.  

This is the name of the game. Recruiting only for people who are certified in technologies like VM, CCNA or whatever else will get you just that–someone with a certificate. But a certificate does not promise adapting well in the MSP environment. 

The best way to hire staff, testing results

Resumes don’t reveal the whole truth and nothing but the truth

The take-away from the above anecdotes is that a resume can’t adequately relay an applicant’s capabilities in an MSP environment. Resumes don’t reflect:

  1. How intelligent someone is when using different resources. 
  2. How intuitive they are when learning a new software.
  3. How they utilize workarounds to create results.
  4. How they problem-solve under pressure.

These are the nuances of everyday reality in an MSP. It’s an environment that is constantly evolving and upgrading for the purpose of bringing the best service to clients.

A great staff member can keep up with this fast-paced environment without relying on their former glory, experience or certifications. 

Test candidates and hire those with great results

There is no better way to discover the true skill and potential behind an applicant’s resume than by testing them practically and assessing their results.

You can do this by pairing a potential staff member with one of your senior help desk technicians. After signing an NDA, the candidate can shadow and assist the senior tech for a day and look at the actual work taking place on the helpdesk.

The input the candidate gives and the results they produce is a great way to judge their adaptability level for the MSP help desk.

You can also observe the progress they’ve made throughout the day. If they are less experienced, make it five days and track their results across that period. This way, you get hard evidence of their ability and compatibility that is otherwise impossible to gather from words on a piece of paper.

Also observe the candidate’s use of VMs, RMms, ticketing systems and documentation platforms. These are an integral part of an MSP. If a candidate does not show that they are navigating through them well, then they are not a good hire for you.

Situational Test Candidates

Another testing practice we employ with great success is conducting situational interviews. You can use hypothetical support scenarios to gauge a candidate’s reaction, way of thinking and awareness. This will give you more information than any resume ever could.

Here’s an example of a situational scenario:

 A CEO calls up and explains that they can’t print a document. They have a meeting in five minutes. What do they do?

A quick workaround would be for the CEO to print the document using the printer of someone else in the office or building. A more permanent solution would be for the CEO to schedule a call with a technician so that they can remote inspect what is going on. 

The quick workaround is not as obvious as the permanent solution, and that is why you need to test candidates in these types of situations. 

The candidates that are clever to think of and utilize quick workarounds and produce results at the same time are the ones that will thrive in the MSP environment.

MSP staffing agencies, tech resume

The resume approach to staffing can create more headaches

Credentials and certification-heavy staffing solutions can be a disaster for MSPs. 

Those with many certificates are good at doing things that they have been specifically trained to do.

The problem is that they don’t always think outside of the box, nor do they have the ability to see the big picture when there’s a problem outside of the context of what they were trained in.

For example, one of our clients hired staff from one of the classic big outsourcing destinations. The staff was polite and did their tasks in a timely manner. However, the problem was that they did not have the capacity or initiative to see the big picture.

Our client used the below analogy to explain this mismatch:

A waiter would come to our table and take an order. We would order a soda and they would bring it to us with a smile. But when we would look back in the kitchen, we would see the fridge left wide open! If we were to ask why the fridge had been left open, the answer would be, ‘You only told me to get you a soda. You didn’t tell me to close the door of the fridge!’

Many staffing solutions, outsourced or not, are outdated in their approach to hiring. That’s why MSPs end up bringing on board the wrong people. 

What are the key elements to look for when hiring staff for your MSP? 

There must be a high level of awareness about what to do… a so-called common sense about the helpdesk. But this common sense trait for the MSP environment is just not universal among all candidates. 

You need to be able to find a way to test for people who can see the big picture and think outside of the box. You need people who can think about the needs that are beyond the task at hand.

A resume with all their experience just doesn’t reveal enough in that regard.

Even if someone has five years of experience working in an MSP, there is no way to know:

  • What is their work culture like?
  • Did they follow documentation procedures?
  • Are they consistent in their service?
  • Was there accountability and order?

In speaking with our clients, we’ve found this to be a great issue. 

Luckily, we are always able to improve their MSPs. Our testing and training program allows us to have a keen eye for talent that will thrive at an MSPs. Check out our testimonials and reach out to us to get the best staff now!