Channel hiring requirements naturally reflect technology trends and three of the hottest right now are transition to cloud-based managed services, end-user computing (EUC), and converged datacentre infrastructure.
The past few years have seen a big increase in traditional box shifter and professional services type resellers expanding into these areas.
This has resulted in increased competition for candidates with the right skill sets to support new managed service, EUC and converged infrastructure businesses. Many resellers are building cloud-based datacentre offerings to provide hosted services and need technical expertise to design and implement the technical infrastructure, with skills such as VMware vCloud in vogue.
Project and service management staff are needed to manage the end-user transition from an in-house/on-premise infrastructure to cloud, whether that be a managed private, public or hybrid cloud. We are registering increased demand for project managers with broader skill sets, specifically with experience managing transitions into a hosted managed service.
Also in demand are ITIL-focused service delivery managers with a technical background. Mid-tier resellers in the £20m to £100m turnover bracket have been in the market for these individuals for a little while, and we’re now seeing a move from the bigger resellers for the same candidates.
The same is true of the EUC space. It’s not just about being able to support VDI anymore, it’s about the bigger picture. Individuals who can design and implement solutions around workspace, mobility and security, with skills in desktop-as-a-service (DaaS), mobile device management (MDM) and products such as Citrix XenMobile and Netscaler or VMware Horizon Air are hot right now.
These are valued over and above traditional strongly in-demand skills such as Citrix XenApp, XenDesktop and VMware Horizon View. Converged datacentre infrastructure is another area in which we are seeing increased demand for channel experts.
Once again, providers expect individuals to have a broader skill set than they may have done previously. Offerings from Cisco, NetApp, EMC and VCE use storage from EMC or NetApp, virtualisation from VMware and Cisco switches. Typically individuals will have one or two out of the three skill sets, but if you boast the holy trinity on your CV and with products such as Flexpod, VSPEX and vBlock, then you are incredibly valuable, and able to command a larger salary and greater responsibility.
While the channel expects more from its employees than ever before, we are really only just beginning to see salaries reflect this reality.
Resellers have typically felt they can offer the same remuneration for better staff, but this just isn’t the case at the moment when looking to secure these skill sets, so some are being left behind. With these trends across the channel, everyone is looking for the same people with the same skills, so salaries do make a difference, but it goes even further than this.
It’s also important for channel companies to consider their overall place in the market. While bigger players can make acquisitions to secure the talent they need, mid-tier and larger VARs need to consider what makes them an attractive proposition for the best talent in the market.
Conversations with MDs and hiring managers often result in them telling me that they are a gold partner with a great culture, but this might not be enough when there are platinum or better tier-one partners offering the same or greater salaries, a better client base and vendor alliances, which are still struggling to secure these in-demand staff. Then again, being a top-tier large partner might still be insufficient if the talent is looking to be part of an exciting growth opportunity rather than a cog in a bigger machine. It’s important to explore what makes you attractive beyond what everyone else is offering and to examine what your USP is to candidates in the market – increased salaries help, but that is not always enough.
It’s a candidate market and counter-offers are rife for niche, in-demand skill sets; current employers will just match whatever you are offering. Unless you know where you sit in the market and what your unique sell is, you could struggle to recruit the best-fitting candidates for your business.
Tim Davey is director of channel infrastructure recruitment at Stott and May
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