How starting from scratch can help your ICT business gain the skills it needs to grow

Investing in promising candidates who are new to the ICT sector is good for them and for your organization as well.

GUEST OPINION by Lisa Papli, Marketing and Sales Operations Manager at Somerville: Will the tech downturn that started late last year make it a little easier for Australian businesses to recruit and retain staff ICT experienced?

In recent months, we have seen a series of providers, here in Australia and around the world, reduce their workforces, in response to uncertain economic conditions and a slowdown in demand for their services.

Pessimism about their prospects worries young workers, with one in five Australian ICT professionals aged 20-30 expecting to be made redundant due to the recession, according to research published by HR tech provider HiBob, late 2022.

According to the research, only a third of individual contributors believed their skills were essential and their positions were secure, while those in non-technical roles were most concerned about falling victim to cost cutting.

Desperately looking for skilled workers

It was certainly a very different story in early 2022, when my employer, Somerville, embarked on an initiative to boost customer retention and revenue by expanding its inside sales team. Candidates with industry experience were rare and very expensive, especially when recruiter fees were added to the tab.

Our efforts to secure the talent we needed on our own, by advertising on LinkedIn, Seek and other job boards, also failed to elicit a significant response from employees. well-qualified individuals.

Until we changed tack and decided to hire for attitude and skill, rather than months and years in the high tech game.

By expanding the network, we were able to connect with people who had strong customer service skills, minimal sales experience, and no prior exposure to the ICT industry. Friendly and driven, they had worked in healthcare, finance and the pool and spa chemical industry and they knew they faced a steep learning curve. All the candidates showed a desire to break into the dynamic but intimidating world of ICT and were ready to work hard to achieve it.

From zero to hero

Investing time and resources to upskill the new team has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my career as an ICT sales and marketing leader.

Thirty days into a 90-day onboarding and training program, our rookie recruits were up to speed on our brand message, go-to-market strategy, and offerings from our various business units.

Building on the knowledge they had gained through supplier certification courses and in-house training, they were able to begin adding value, taking orders and creating quotes for customers. Over the next few weeks and months, they grew stronger and stronger, quickly becoming knowledgeable and respected members of our inside sales team.

Fast forward a year and the team remains with the company, engaged, excited, hitting their KPIs and anticipating the next chapter of what we anticipate will be long and rewarding careers with the company. Opportunities arise in cloud services, cybersecurity and project management, in roles they didn’t know existed before we took the plunge together.

make it work

Could other local ICT organizations that have struggled over the past two years on the hiring front benefit from a similar approach? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’, but only if – and that’s a very big ‘if’ – they are willing to really invest in the people and the process; support and mentor new recruits during the first weeks and months.

I’ve learned that people learn best by doing and giving your new faces the opportunity to fit into a team, working alongside old ones who will coach and encourage them, is key to maintaining motivation and the moral.

Conversely, give newcomers minimal knowledge and throw them all out and there’s a good chance they’ll drown – or move on to another organization that offers a work environment. more favorable.

After investing time and money in bringing new people up to speed, it’s also essential to offer them attractive career paths that give them a reason to stay long-term.

Collect the rewards

The right people are the lifeblood of any business and in times of economic uncertainty never again. If finding them has been difficult for your ICT organization in the past, investing time and money to train and develop talent in-house might just be a great investment.

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