Good on Paper

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2007-07-25 Print this article Print

Good on paper Many applicants look good on paper, but putting their knowledge into practice in the real world is a different story, according to channel employers. "Many of these training companies churn out these MCSEs [Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers], but its just paper training," said Doug Ford, president of IT Pros, a San Diego-based computer and network consulting company. "They dont know what they dont know."
"I go through so many interviews—I must have had 10 in the last two months—and I sit across the table from people, and talking doesnt help, so I show them a scenario: How would you build this network? And they cant explain it to me," said Ford.
Those who are highly trained in a specific technology are also of little help to channel companies, which need well-rounded staffs. "We find that big IT organizations are oftentimes segmented," said Ford. "You work in infrastructure, the help desk, etc. Well put a post on [job-related Web sites] Monster or Craigslist and sit down and talk to them, and theyll know only one thing very well. We need a breadth of ability; we need someone who knows Exchange, Active Directory and all those things we do on a daily basis that are difficult." When and if these too-specialized IT professionals are hired, often they dont have enough to do. "Its very hard to have people on your staff who are extremely limited in their skills, who are too specialized," said LAN Associates Cohen. "If I have someone with too-specialized training, they sit idle a lot." Meanwhile, those with high-end skills that VARs need the most—such as CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert), PMP (Project Management Professional) or CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)—and who also have interpersonal and business skills are hard for channel companies to find. Channel companies on the prowl for acquisitions Click here to read more. "This is where the shortage is," said Jason Beal, group manager for Santa Ana, Calif., distributor Ingram Micros Services Network. "VARs are desperate to find these folks. Theyre investing in this kind of talent and trying to hold on to it. As VARs move into higher-end work, they need these people with high-end certifications—people who can sell a product, sell a solution." Left behind Channel companies arent like larger, well-known technology employers, which makes it harder for them to hire in a tight IT labor market. In addition, said Celia Harper-Guerra, director of talent at Cisco Systems, in San Jose, Calif., channel partners typically dont have the size or the human resources investment to attract recruits. Often, theyre in smaller towns, far from the coasts and the talent epicenters of Silicon Valley and the Northeast. "We have a number of partners in remote locations, and theyre struggling to find talent," Harper-Guerra said. "They really need to think more about building talent in their own backyard." Without the brand recognition of the big shots, VARs struggle to reach university-level recruits. "VARs can have a hard time picking talent up right out of universities," said Ingram Micros Beal. "People in college may not know what a VAR is; they go for the big names. Once they start working in the channel, they learn what VARs are, and the jobs that they can do." While a large technology company can afford the overhead of investing in the skills of a neophyte, this is too expensive and time-consuming for most solution providers. "They cant afford training," Harper-Guerra said. "They cant take raw talent out of the university and train them for a year. A Microsoft can have a one-year training program to become a systems administrator or an engineer. But a small company cannot afford to have a person out of work for a year." Page 4: No Talent: Solution Providers Despair Over Job Seekers.


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