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Why Network Infrastructure Needs a Networked Hiring Approach


Let’s face it, there’s no industry immune to buzzwords. They’re the shiny objects that capture our imaginations -- and then linger as familiar comforts even after their luster has tarnished. “Design thinking” comes to mind. “Side-hustle” had a good run. We’re enchanted by the notion of “ecosystems.” Today, more people talk about the “digital world” than the “technological world.” The brilliant minds behind our evolving computer science want to push us toward “machine learning” rather than “AI.” But for all that, some iteration of “network” enjoys a perennial renaissance: networking, social networks, networked teams, the network effect, and so forth. But what about the physical networks that power the “ecosystems” of this “digital world?” They’ve become more important than ever before. And their talent acquisition challenges have, too.

Scalability Challenges in Scalable Network Solutions

Data centers are accelerating their efforts to overcome bandwidth constraints. As enterprises feverishly plan the expansion of their digital strategies, IT infrastructure must mature at a breakneck pace to match the momentum of user demands. That’s why the network has become more imperative than ever. Connectivity issues will continue to skyrocket with the unprecedented proliferation of mobile workforces, the Internet of Things, and cloud applications.

In its 2018 State of Infrastructure survey, InformationWeek found that 55% of organizations plan to increase spending on scaling their networks. Meanwhile, systems integrators confront their own struggles with scalability -- finding the right talent to tackle mission-critical projects.

As Christopher Donovan observed in his post for CyberSearch, “The fact that cloud computing has so rapidly grown into an essential business tool is pretty much old news. But the challenge of strategizing, scaling and hiring for cloud based infrastructure, services, and platforms is an ongoing problem.”

The predominance of cloud computing contributes heavily to the situation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), IT occupations are projected to grow 12% over the next six years. For DevOps positions, we’ve seen a 60% increase in the call for programmers who specialize in skills such as Puppet and Chef.

In February 2017, Gartner predicted that worldwide public cloud services would grow 18%, totaling $246.8 billion: “The highest growth will come from cloud system infrastructure services (infrastructure as a service[IaaS]), which is projected to grow 36.8 percent in 2017 to reach $34.6 billion. Cloud application services (software as a service[SaaS]) is expected to grow 20.1 percent to reach $46.3 billion.”

Back in 2015, Cisco pegged unfilled IT security jobs at the one million mark. Even more distressing, Cisco discovered that 63% of internal security teams spent all of their available time addressing issues rather than concentrating on strategic planning to address near-future developments. Three years later, not much has changed.

Obviously, opportunities abound. Economists and analysts seem positively giddy about the potential for network infrastructure businesses -- but they may be overlooking a critical element in this surge: finding skilled talent to implement new technologies, maintain infrastructure, provide user support, and ensure the heightened levels of security needed in an era of crafty and hyperactive hackers.

Network Infrastructure Hiring Headaches

For the boundless possibilities of network infrastructure, there come plenty of aches and pains. The skill sets required are vast and diverse. Even if a company overcomes the hurdle of locating candidates with the required domain expertise and know-how, other obstacles persist.

On-demand or Speedy Ramp Ups

Competition in the space is ferocious, and top performing companies know they can’t rest on their laurels or plot out lengthy implementations at their leisure. Projects come fast and furious. Client expectations run high. Companies must deploy quickly, across multiple geographies, and build a variety of solutions catered to project parameters. Given all this, it’s nearly impossible to think that anyone already has teams in place to tackle each new contract -- or be prepared for every nuance. Gathering the right people requires scope, reach, and a deeply skilled candidate pool from which to draw -- practically in real time.

Location, Location, Location

Network infrastructure leaders often find an eclectic array of opportunities to pursue, spanning project management, security, procurement, data center build outs, new construction initiatives, systems integration, installation, and more. At issue, of course, is where the needs lie. Your offices may be in California, but your client has decided to break ground on a facility somewhere in Montana. Now let’s up the ante. Pretend your client has tasked you with concurrent projects across four states. You may not have hiring capabilities in all of them. You may not have staffing relationships in all of them. Your existing supply base might not operate in other geographies. Sourcing, vetting, and onboarding new staffing firms takes time you don’t have the luxury of spending.

Skills Degeneration

“But the biggest problem with the rapid advancement of these next-generation technologies is that the number of tech professionals who are able to keep up is simply lacking,” Donovan noted. “Factors that were once easy to categorize or work around in the hiring process, such as seniority, certifications, time out of work, etc., are now trickier to handle unless that individual or their current employer makes intentional and significant effort to adapt, train and experiment.”

The gist of Donovan’s assessment is noteworthy. It’s not that a skills shortage plagues the industry, it’s that skills age, decline, or reach a state of obsolescence before they can match the progress of innovation. Here’s another way to explain this pickle. Consider a typical lane expansion project on a freeway. By the time the years-long nightmare concludes, the population of commuters has steadily increased to a point where the highway reopens to similar congestion.

The Network Approach to Network Staffing

How can businesses leaders conquer the beast that stalks their talent acquisition challenges? Conventional wisdom and traditional methods would suggest that they augment their internal recruiting teams or conscript an army of staffing firms. Adding serious headcount to source candidates and manage the expanding supplier base can bloat overhead costs with uncertain outcomes.

A well-orchestrated vendor management program delivers a lot of essential benefits to network infrastructure companies. Think of skills deficits. Employers may not have the time or resources to support education or development. But talent who’ve worked many assignments gain new skills and refresh their expertise with each project, making them more valuable and qualified as time goes on; they don’t stagnate.

More Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and their staffing partners are developing partnerships with trade schools that support the skill sets employers are desperately seeking. An MSP-type model would also give network infrastructure businesses a wide scope of staffing suppliers, mores scale and reach, vendor management support, and the technology to process requisitions and measure performance. The problem is that MSPs have generally been designed for large enterprises with substantial spend. A great deal of network companies and systems integrators fall into the mid-market range; an MSP is often inaccessible or can’t drive the same value. But there is a solution.

Some thought leaders in the staffing industry are unifying the fractured marketplace into platforms that connect and unite clients, talent suppliers, and candidates in an online hiring ecosystem. New exchanges are emerging where companies can search for, negotiate with, and directly engage qualified candidates through a VMS. However, that still presents issues with identifying the right candidates, getting access to the technology, and employing the workers directly.

We believe in a universal approach that offers specific benefits to clients in small and mid-market spaces -- a web-based platform with no barriers to entry, which powers a multi-sided marketplace that connects hiring organizations, talent suppliers, and exceptional candidates in one ecosystem.

  • 150 million qualified candidate profiles and a vast network of motivated talent suppliers across every specialty and geography.
  • Intelligent job distribution that expedites requisition-to-hire for incredible outcomes.
  • Advanced algorithms that match candidates to requirements in hours, not days.
  • An intelligent machine that identifies niche, skills-focused talent suppliers with candidate pools that mirror the workforce needs of network infrastructure businesses.
  • Dedicated talent advisors who personally validate every submission to ensure the best fits.
  • A single agency serving as the employer of record for contingent talent, removing the burden of labor compliance, assignment management, and payrolling from clients.

Tapping into the power of groundbreaking talent acquisition solutions shouldn’t be a privilege exclusive to large enterprises, or require cost-prohibitive technologies. Learn more about the endless possibilities of a networked hiring approach today.

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