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Solve IT recruiting challenges with nontraditional candidates

If you’re a channel firm faced with recruiting challenges, perhaps it’s time to look outside the traditional talent pool.

That’s the advice of partner executives who are adopting innovative approaches for hiring tech talent. Channel firms are addressing IT skills shortages in a number of ways, such as launching IT apprenticeship programs.  But the most basic means for overcoming recruiting challenges, they said, is to broaden the scope of possible candidates.

“There are only so many strategies for addressing [the cybersecurity] talent gap, and one of them is definitely to look at nontraditional candidates,” said Eric Foster, CISO at Fishtech Group, a cybersecurity specialist located in Kansas City, Mo.

“I would definitely advise people to throw a lot of your preconceived notions about what the right candidate looks like out the window,” he added.

Revise your IT hiring paradigm

Foster said channel firms should look beyond standard work and educational qualifications to evaluate “a much wider range of candidates.”

He said Fishtech years ago decided to remove almost all requirements from job openings, including educational, certification, or work experience requirements.

In Fishtech’s staffing efforts today, Foster said he now looks for “attitude and aptitude” in candidates. “I will take that over experience, over certification, over the rest,” he said.

Amy Kardel, co-founder of Clever Ducks, a managed services provider based in San Luis Obispo, Calif., held a similar view on hiring tech talent. “We can train the technical skills. It is the attitude and soft skills, I think, that sometimes are the hardest to find,” she said.

Fishtech’s training methodology aims to accommodate new hires that lack conventional cybersecurity backgrounds, Foster said.

‘Always be recruiting’

Kardel advised channel firms to look for talent everywhere, especially out and about in everyday life. She is always in recruitment mode, she said. That includes when visiting coffee shops, where a barista might show desirable customer service skills.

“I think Uber drivers are another great pool,” she noted. “I have a friend who is always recruiting Uber drivers, because obviously they are showing hustle, too.”

Foster said Apple’s Genius Bars and Best Buy’s Geek Squads are great recruitment grounds. Those employees tend to have solid experience working with customers and trouble-shooting problems.

“There are a lot of [everyday situations] where you can always say, ‘Hey, there is opportunity over here. Come take a look,’ ” Kardel said.

“You know that line from Glengarry Glen Ross: ‘Always be closing’? The analogy to that is, ‘Always be recruiting,’ ” she added.

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