Where Do You Find Your Next Hire?
At 28, I started my first company, focusing on SQL Server and Great Plains Software (specifically, Dynamics C/S+ for MS SQL Server). At the time, everyone around me was roughly 28-35. Today, I am 46. Everyone around me is roughly 46-53. Yet, the industry has grown, the deal sizes are larger, and the expectations for continued revenue growth is higher. So why is it I keep seeing the same familiar faces, the same resumes and the same “senior level” skill sets which are really just 5 years of experience repeated 4 times?
Its because we haven’t, as a group or industry, created an engine to deliver to us our next new hire. Law has law schools. Doctors have med school. CPA’s have university accounting programs. We have…well, nothing really. We sometimes take people out of our customers. We outsource some overseas. We sometimes hire someone that took the exams on their own. But, overall, we just hire senior people from other companies or watch larger companies absorb smaller ones and reduce the number of companies in our space. And, as a result, we are left with the following:
- Continued downward rate pressure from clients
- Continued upward salary costs from potential staff
- Sub par skill sets on available candidates as compared to their salary requirements (Over $100K for a GP Consultant with 10yrs experience who only knows Financials and Distribution and doesn’t hold any certs? The same price tag for an AX financials consultant with 3 years experience? Really? Pass.)
Why are we in this situation? Here are my thoughts:
- By and large, the majority of equity owners in this industry focus on results for today, not two years down the road. They either want to close a major deal then immediately hire the most senior staff they can find to work it OR grow EBITDA to hit a liquidation event. In either case, they are not investing in their future labor pool.
- Most services managers and equity owners think the investment in anything other than a traditional senior hire is too expensive.
- We expect Microsoft to solve the problem for us at no additional cost to us. As evidence of this, harken back to the old GP Bootcamp days – that was cheap but it failed to lack of interest.
So, what’s the solution? There is more than one. My particular favorite is recruiting and training college hires. At my current employer, at the end of June of this year, we will have officially trained 15 shiny new college hires in the last 3 years. We take them onboard in June, do 90 days in the classroom, then put the onsite for 9 months under strict senior supervision. The first 6 mos of their total tenure is usually non-billable, but we get tons of valuable work out of them in terms of internal development (like keeping work papers up to date) or project work (meeting scribe, task do-er, etc). The last 6 months, we expect the revenue numbers to go up dramatically. In the 3 years we’ve done this, we have ALWAYS more than made back our investment in the first year. And, perhaps more telling, we have NEVER had a client give us anything but glowing reviews on our recruits.
I have other techniques, including remote services, near-shore consulting operations and career changer targeted hiring. I’ll probably write about them later, but the college hire initiative is by far the most fun and successful.
To get more information about how to start, try the following:
- Students to Business: http://www.microsoft.com/studentstobusiness/home/default.aspx
- Partnersource: They’ve added great content around staff development.
- Microsoft Dynamics Academic Alliance: http://www.microsoft.com/education/highered/faculty/curriculum/dynamicsaa/default.aspx