Avoiding Bad Hires: 6 Top Tips for Awesome MSPs & Inhouse Tech Teams

Jun 2, 2024

We can all imagine the cost of a bad hire for an IT or MSP firm. It can often be more than a year’s salary. And that does not include the lost productivity and damage that a bad hire can have on team dynamics, workplace culture and customer relationships. In this month’s blog, we explore Wildcat Careers‘ tactics as your Talent Partner in avoiding bad hires for MSPs and your firm.

Tip 1: Creating Detailed Candidate Profiles for MSPs

The first step in preventing bad hires is understanding exactly what an ideal candidate looks like. In our case, we take you through a deep discovery session that understands what the ‘persona’ and capabilities of the candidate profile look like. Understanding what behaviours, competencies, and capabilities your ideal candidate possesses is critical; creating a well-defined profile is your first step to success.

It’s also improved to think about what the ideal job profile looks like. What hours will you be offering? What do you favour, an onsite, remote or hybrid workplace? What is your budget range for a new hire, and the potential career progression plan for the role? Creating a clear picture of the talent you want to attract also helps how you impart your Employee Value Propositions (EVP) and Employer Brand. Essentially, we’re seeking to attract the right candidates that synergise with your needs, and research shows that a well-defined candidate helps hiring managers make informed decisions beyond the application, including Virgin Media who estimated that bad candidate experience was once costing them a whopping £4.4million a year.

It’s essential to get the very first steps of candidate attraction right.

Tip 2: Create Accurate Job Descriptions and Effective Marketing for MSPs

Job descriptions are your first interaction with potential candidates. It is crucial that these are not only accurate but enticing. They should clearly state job responsibilities and the qualifications needed, but also highlight the company culture and what makes your company a unique place to work. Including key search engine optimisation (SEO) terms can help your listing appear in relevant searches, ensuring it reaches the right audience​.

In the UK, accurate job descriptions are essential not just for operational efficiency but also for compliance with local employment laws, such as the Equality Act 2010, which mandates clear definitions of roles to avoid discrimination. They are a fundamental tool that enhances clarity and sets expectations within the workplace. Accurate job descriptions also attract suitable candidates and slash recruitment mismatches—a common issue where a mismatched hiring decision can cost employers up to 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings, according to ACAS.

Recruitment marketing is a critical strategy in the UK, where the competition for top talent is fierce across many industries. Effective recruitment marketing not only enhances a company’s visibility but also positions it as a desirable employer in a crowded marketplace. In the UK, where job vacancies are currently at close to 900,000 according to the Office for National Statistics, standing out is more crucial than ever. Recruitment marketing campaigns that effectively showcase a company’s culture, values, and employee benefits can significantly increase the quality and quantity of applicants. Companies with strong employer brands are reported to reduce turnover by 28% and cut their cost-per-hire by half, as highlighted by LinkedIn’s research on global recruiting trends.

Furthermore, in the context of the UK’s dynamic job market, recruitment marketing plays a vital role in targeting specific skills and industries. For instance, with the tech sector growing at 2.6 times faster than the overall economy, targeted recruitment marketing strategies are essential to attract specialised talent in areas like AI and software development. Additionally, effective recruitment marketing strategies align with digital trends, leveraging platforms where potential candidates are most active, such as LinkedIn, which has over 29 million users in the UK.

Tip 3: Design a Structured and Strategic Interview Process for MSPs

Structured interviews, where each candidate is asked the same set of questions, are essential for fair and objective assessment. This approach minimises biases and allows for better comparisons between applicants. It’s also beneficial to incorporate behavioural questions that provide insights into how a candidate might handle real-world scenarios they would face on the job.

Example: Asking a candidate to describe a time they solved a complex IT problem can reveal their problem-solving skills and ability to handle stress.

By standardising questions and procedures, structured interviews significantly reduce bias, ensuring compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and enhancing fairness across the board. It can bolster predictability in candidate success, crucial for sectors like MSPs and technology where precision in skill and fit is paramount. Research supports the efficacy of structured interviews, noting they are up to twice as effective at predicting job suitability compared to their unstructured counterparts.

Moreover, a well-organised interview process improves the candidate experience, particularly when a negative hiring reputation can deter potential applicants—indeed, 69% of job seekers would reject an offer from a company poorly regarded, regardless of their employment status. With the high cost of a bad hire in the UK, estimated at three times the salary for the position, the importance of efficiency and accuracy in recruitment practices is key.

Tip 4: Comprehensive Screening Techniques

Implementing rigorous screening methods including skills assessments, background checks, and even social media reviews can help verify the qualifications and character of candidates. For example, technical tests can assess specific IT skills, while reference checks can provide insights into the candidate’s past work behaviour and ethics​.

It’s important to go beyond traditional interviews to include background checks, skills assessments, and personality tests, providing a holistic view of each candidate. Such thorough screening is crucial in sectors where trust and reliability are paramount. According to a report by HireRight, their survey revealed that 78% of UK employers (including MSPs) have found discrepancies in candidate applications, underlining the importance of rigorous screening to ensure candidate transparency. Moreover, the use of advanced screening tools can help organisations align potential hires with both role requirements and company culture, significantly reducing turnover rates. The CIPD suggests that effective screening can enhance employee retention by ensuring a good job fit from the outset.

By incorporating extensive background checks, companies safeguard themselves against potential legal and reputational risks, a crucial consideration in today’s tightly regulated UK job market. Adopting comprehensive screening strategies in MSPs can therefore streamline the recruitment process, mitigate risks, and contribute to the sustained success of an organisation.

Tip 5: Competitive Compensation Packages at MSPs

Offering a competitive salary and benefits package is essential, but understanding the market standards and expectations can give you an edge. Ensuring your offers are attractive not only in terms of monetary value but also opportunities for career progression and learning, which are highly valued in the IT and MSP sector​.

Compensation goes beyond basic salary to include bonuses, employee benefits, and long-term incentives. According to a survey by Glassdoor, about 79% of UK employees would prefer new or additional benefits to a pay increase, underscoring the importance of a well-rounded compensation package. Moreover, the impact of a competitive salary and benefits package is substantial on employee satisfaction and retention. The CIPD’s UK Reward Management Survey highlights that organisations with strategic, comprehensive compensation packages report higher employee engagement and a lower turnover rate.

In an economy still rebounding from the effects of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, robust compensation strategies are more important than ever, particularly in MSPs. They are key to fostering a loyal workforce and can enhance their organisational appeal and competitiveness in a global market.

Tip 6: Emphasising Workplace Culture Fit in MSPs

A thriving workplace culture attracts top talent and reduces turnover. Candidates should be assessed for their fit with your company’s culture, which includes their alignment with core values, work style, and potential for contributing positively to the team environment. Promoting a positive workplace culture during the recruitment process can also enhance your employer brand​.

In the UK, where job satisfaction and employee retention are critical business metrics, emphasising workplace culture fit has become a pivotal aspect of recruitment strategies in MSPs. Research indicates that 47% of UK workers consider company culture before applying for a job, underscoring the importance of aligning personal values with organisational ethos. A strong culture fit not only boosts employee satisfaction but also directly impacts retention in MSPs; according to a Deloitte survey, 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success, with those well-aligned reporting higher job satisfaction levels.

This is particularly crucial in the UK’s dynamic job market, where sectors like tech and service provider industries see high turnover rates and fierce competition for talent. Additionally, the shift towards remote work, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has made the intangible aspects of company culture even more significant. Employees now seek organisations prioritising wellbeing, flexibility, and inclusivity, with 34% of UK workers saying they would pass up a job offer if the company culture didn’t meet their expectations. By effectively communicating their culture and demonstrating a commitment to values that resonate with prospective employees, UK companies can attract and retain talent that is not only skilled but also a good fit, fostering a productive and committed workforce in the process.

Ensuring Success in IT & MSP Hiring

The stakes are high when it comes to recruitment in the IT and MSPs sectors, where the cost of a bad hire can significantly exceed a year’s salary, not to mention the potential negative impacts on team dynamics, workplace culture, and customer relationships. As your Talent Partner, Wildcat Careers is committed to implementing robust, innovative strategies that not only prevent these costly mistakes but also enhance your firm’s overall recruitment success.

From creating detailed candidate profiles and accurate job descriptions to conducting structured interviews and comprehensive screenings, each step is designed to align closely with your company’s specific needs and culture. By focusing on competitive compensation packages and emphasising cultural fit, we ensure that your new hires are skilled mesh well with your team and contribute positively from day one.

In today’s dynamic and challenging market, these practices are not just recommendations for MSPs but necessities for maintaining a competitive edge and securing the very best talent. Our approach, backed by industry insights and tailored strategies, aims to build resilient, efficient teams that are fundamental to your firm’s success and growth.

As your recruitment and career coaching partner, Wildcat Careers is committed to helping you achieve these goals through expert guidance and industry-leading practices.

Let us help you build a stronger, more competent team that drives your business forward.

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