Channel recruiter Robertson Sumner is seeing an unprecedented demand for sales staff in 2018, according to managing director Marc Sumner.
Sumner said that in the first six weeks of 2018 the firm has seen a 54 per cent year-on-year rise in vacancies for IT sales workers - the highest leap in his channel career.
The MD said that the rush for sales staff is highlighted by one reseller featured in CRN's Top VARs, which is looking create a whole new team of 20 salespeople by the end of March.
"It's crazy numbers," he said. "In the 18 years I've been recruiting in the IT channel, I've never seen demand for IT sales staff as high as this.
"It is a completely new territory, as not only does it seem that every partner and service provider in the UK is looking to add to their headcount, it's multiple hires at the same time."
Sumner said that the recruitment drive will likely stem from a combination of players like Misco going out of business, and newcomers like PCM entering the UK market.
"The major players in the top 100 that have stability and money to spend are thinking that this is the time to strike," he said.
"If they don't do something now they're going to get left behind. At the moment I think if you're not growing at 15 to 20 per cent you're not standing still, you're actually going backwards, because the channel is moving at such a pace."
The high recruitment activity may show that the channel is thriving, but Sumner said that resellers still need to be educated in new ways of recruiting staff, rather than poaching them from competitors.
At a time when the IT skills gap in the UK is well documented, Sumner said that partners are getting better and better at retaining staff.
To have a better chance at recruiting the employees they need, he said organisations need to invest their employer branding and talent attraction, and also be willing to look outside of IT for candidates.
"The days of putting out an advert and getting applications have sadly gone," he said.
"There are people in insurance and financial services who'd love a chance to get into IT but aren't given a chance. They're all looking at IT because it's a very well paid industry.
"We have loads of people coming to us asking to get into IT sales but our clients won't look at them.
"They either want a book of business or a fresh graduate. There are a lot of people with good skills that aren't getting a crack of the whip."
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