Win The Talent War With Out-Of-The-Box Strategies To Find And Keep Rockstars

Demand for MSP services is at an all-time high, but if you can’t get butts in seats to do the work, you can’t grow your business. And if your competitors are beating you in the talent war, your customers may go elsewhere.

Finding and keeping talented workers is a challenge keeping many MSP business owners awake at night, according to a recent MSP Success reader survey.

Still, there are many job seekers in the market looking for the right opportunity. Indeed, more than 40 million workers engaged in some job-seeking activity during the past three months, according to the January 2024 Job Seeker Trends report from IT industry organization CompTIA. If you’re not finding them, you may be looking in the wrong places.

It’s time to explore out-of-the-box approaches to finding and retaining employees. It could determine whether you win or lose in the scramble for talent.

Want To Hire Better Fish? Find New Ponds

“If you fish in the same places you’ve always fished for talent, you’re going to find the same people,” says Amy Kardel, senior vice president of strategic workforce relationships at CompTIA. But you don’t have to travel far to find new ponds; most are in your own backyard.

Amy Kardel

Kardel says employee referral programs are among the best ways to find new talent. It works by asking employees to refer candidates. If the candidate is hired and retained for a certain period, the employer rewards the referrer (usually with money or a gift).

This has been a successful strategy for IT Voice, a managed IT, security, and cloud services company headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. CEO Will Slappey says IT Voice gives employees $1,000 bonuses for referrals who stay on at least 90 days. “Last year alone, we had at least five, maybe even 10 new hires from that,” he says. When you consider the cost of placing job ads and time spent recruiting, he says the reward is well worth it.

The results are better too. “When someone comes in from referral, your probability of success goes way up,” Slappey says.

Additionally, tech workforce programs for military veterans and underserved communities—such as NPower and others—may have facilities close to you. Many regional colleges offer pathways to employment for graduates too. Consider hosting open-house nights at your MSP with classes from local colleges to create a “bench” of interested candidates, Kardel adds.

“Think about who is training talent in your neighborhood. Make yourself a friend there,” she says.

Tap Into Learning Pathways

Channel vendor programs and internships that train people for IT careers are another source of talent.

For example, Kaseya’s Remote IT and Security Management (RITSM) certification program offers two pathways for learners to get started in IT or upskill. The program also connects graduates to employers, including Kaseya MSP partners, who can post job openings for RITSM students.

Unlike other online IT courses, RITSM is designed with MSPs in mind. “We tried to take it a step further and provide the technicians going out into the job market a general understanding of what an IT technician at an MSP will have to do,” says Xavier Gonzalez, chief communications officer at Kaseya.

Xavier Gonzalez

Kaseya also partners with universities and colleges worldwide to include RITSM in their curriculum. “We’re trying to get as many people trained as possible to help address this hiring and retention issue,” he explains.

Miami Dade College in Florida recently deployed its first RITSM course. “We see the real need for talent with this type of certification, and that’s why we created a class that didn’t exist before,” explains Antonio Delgado, vice president of innovation and technology partnerships at Miami Dade. “We want to help potential employers by creating the pathways and support mechanisms to help companies find our students.”

Apprenticeships are another way to nurture talent in your business. “An apprenticeship is nothing more than a growth plan followed by mentoring and instruction to get to the next level,” Kardel says. You can plug into an existing program like CompTIA’s Apprenticeships for Tech or use their guidelines to create your own.


If you’re strapped for more experienced workers, you can outsource remote engineers, Kardel suggests. There are a variety of models MSPs can take advantage of, from offshoring and near-shoring (the worker essentially becomes your employee) to US-based firms that assign workers to you.

But be wary, cautions Kardel, because it can disrupt the growth ladder in your company. “I would like to see MSPs grow employees organically because that motivates your team internally,” she says.

Build An Employment “Brand”

Kardel stresses that one of the most important things you can do for both hiring and retention is to develop an employment brand and promote your company’s unique culture. Is the best coffee shop in town across the street? Do you barbecue on the patio? Do you roam around the office with a snack cart in the afternoons?

“I would think a lot about employment branding and telling your story for the people that already work there to remind them how cool it is,” Kardel explains. “For people who aren’t there yet, tell them the story of what it’s like.”

Hold On To Your Stars

Once you’ve landed great talent, you want to keep them. Competitive pay and benefits consistently rank high for job seekers. Still, employee experience—like work-life balance and career development—is extremely important, according to CompTIA’s Job Seeker Trends report.

Give Employees Growth Plans

Kardel emphasizes that the best thing an employer can do for both hiring and retention efforts is to use growth plans for all employees. Have plans for training or professional development. Not only are you up-skilling your team but you’re also attracting employees with growth mindsets.

“People with growth mindsets are attracted to that kind of thing,” she says. “Growth plans can be an effective filter for finding somebody who wants to learn and grow—that’s the kind of person you want on your team.”

Have Retention Interviews

Want more ideas on how to make your company more attractive to employees? Ask your team three to four “retention interview” questions such as “What’s working?”, “What’s confusing?”, and “What’s wrong?” The responses you receive will offer valuable insights into employee satisfaction.

Be open-minded with interview feedback, Kardel says. “Be open to being vulnerable for asking for input. Nobody’s perfect. You have to have a continuous improvement mindset that says, ‘I’m creating a better place to work.’”

Invest In Your Team

Hiring and retention aren’t simple, but the payoff is significant for those willing to try new approaches to the talent war. “Hiring and growing people is the hardest part of any business,” says Kardel. “Don‘t expect this to be easy. But the investment is like farming—it pays off, but you have to tend the crop of people.”

Allison Troutner is a freelance writer and ghostwriter. With a master’s degree in cultural anthropology, Allison bridges the gap between complex technical subjects and the human experience. She’s helped authors become Amazon best-sellers and works with nationally ranked universities and B2B companies to create engaging narratives that cultivate a better understanding of how science and technology are intricately intertwined with our lives.



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