The managed services market is growing rapidly—with an expected value of more than $257 billion by 2022, today’s IT service providers have an opportunity to build a position in this lucrative service ecosystem. The hard part is finding and keeping quality talent.

Service providers differentiating themselves in a competitive market are always looking for better ways to service their clients. That means offering new and expanded offerings. Many top VARs and MSPs have begun augmenting their ranks, looking to build an on-demand workforce of independent contractors with expertise across the IT spectrum, everything from security and infrastructure to network and communications.

Companies don’t always have the luxury of being picky when it comes to staffing. Historically low unemployment rates of 3.9% have created an employees market, giving candidates the upper hand when negotiating contracts. Many IT contractors job-hop due to competitive offers, making it difficult to maintain and grow talent.

Many VARs and MSPs I speak to currently use staffing firms or partners to expand their workforce with contractors or subcontractors. As OEM and larger enterprise customers look to consolidate their vendor relationships, it is increasingly important for today’s IT service providers to grow and diversify their workforce in order to remain competitive. Here are four strategies they can employ to access new sources of talent:

1. Create a thriving work culture

Even for an independent workforce, company culture can still play a critical role in attracting and retaining top talent. Service providers that make the proper investments to ensure their team’s success (arming them with mobile capabilities, ensuring they get paid on time, etc.) will reap rewards. As an added bonus, happy contractors act as walking business references, representing the company and attracting similar, qualified talent.

2. Grow talent from within

It can be difficult to find a broad selection of professionals with relevant experience, especially when competing against large IT companies. Growing talent from within can tailor employee development to fill gaps. Encouraging internal growth also ensures employees that a company is invested in their future, which can increase loyalty and contribute to a stronger overall culture.

3. Find outside talent

In order to remain relevant in today’s talent wars, it’s important for service providers to leverage external sources. The trick is to broaden the search beyond traditional recruiting. Staying engaged in the local community and demonstrating market leadership will help them drive awareness and attract bright, local talent. Working with local universities and associations is another way to uncover new and diverse sources of talent.

4. Use a variable workforce model

The meteoric rise of the freelance economy has been timely for service providers battling talent shortages. By tapping into growing freelance marketplaces, such as WorkMarket, IT service providers gain direct access to top contractors around the country but also are able to organize their current W-2 and vendor workforce.

This allows service providers to utilize the right labor mix all within one software platform. A solution like WorkMarket even allows service providers to automate large portions of the vetting and dispatch process ensuring candidates have proper certifications, relevant work experience, and compliantly use the right worker at the right cost. Overall companies adopting software like WorkMarket have been able to reduce labor costs by 42%, decrease dispatch time by 75%, and improve CSAT scores by 40%.

The current IT service landscape is more intense than ever, and today’s service providers looking to stay ahead of their rivals would be wise to invest in talent and technology to remain competitive for years to come.

To learn more about today's top IT service providers are addressing their talent shortages, check out our use case page!