Low unemployment is good, right? It can be, but for MSPs, a lack of talent can jeopardize success goals such as scaling and team stability.

In fact, when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in June 2019 that the unemployment rate for technology jobs in the United States was at a 20-year low of 1.3%, industry association CompTIA cautioned that the talent squeeze could start having a negative impact on the industry. In an analysis of the report, Tim Herbert, EVP for research and market intelligence at CompTIA, remarked: “The data confirms what employers have been saying for months and even years—the demand for tech talent has reached historic levels. However, there is now the very real prospect of tech worker shortages affecting industry growth.”

How Can You Overcome the Talent Squeeze

Identifying top-grade talent has always been a challenge to MSPs. Sometimes it is a struggle to find the right combination of tech know-how, other times it can be the hurdle of raising salaries caused by a hot job market. With unemployment adding another layer of competition, hiring only gets more difficult.

Let’s be honest: checking over some resumes from an online ad isn’t likely to solve the problem when talent is in such high demand. Plus, the best candidates may not be responding to ads, or even recruiters—they are too busy at their current jobs.

Turn a Potential Negative into a Positive

How do you solve this talent challenge? One way is to make the most of what you have to offer as a services business that often deals with innovative tech. Most technical professionals are hard-wired to learn new skills or explore new technologies. So, when you find a candidate that has 80% of the experience for your open position, remember the 80/20 rule. That 20% experience or knowledge they lack can make your position more interesting to them. The opportunity to learn more or new skills is likely to be intriguing to candidates if you’re willing to invest in their development.

What’s in it for you? That 20% “learning opportunity” often helps improves employee retention. Professional development has long been foundational in businesses with strong cultures that drive high engagement levels. Showing a willingness to grow together is enticing to candidates who may be sifting through multiple offers.

You can often uncover the inclination to stretch into new opportunities by asking a candidate about persevering in previous situations where they lacked experience. This helps deepen your understanding of a candidate’s willingness to push out of his or her comfort zone as well as provides insights into their analytical and learning capabilities.

Create a Clear Definition of Professional Development

Before you take this approach, a word of caution: Be sure you have a clear definition of what skills need to be developed, and how your business is going to support that skillset development. For example, some professional development may be overwhelming to smaller companies, such as training on bleeding-edge technologies. Certain training may be harder to provide to a remote hire. You should have a solid grasp on what you can do, how you are willing to do it, and where the investment ROI point is for your MSP.