Right Resource for the Right Problem

I was recently asked about my hiring philosophies when building IT support teams for clients.

The philosophy I follow – “You can teach skills, but you can’t teach personality.”

If you want to reduce your stress as a manager, it’s critical to hire the right people for the position. To illustrate that point, here is one of my recent hiring success stories.

I joined CanvasIT after a decade with Apple, Inc.  My first client had 32 employees, 27 of who had previously worked at Apple, so I immediately understood the mindsets that were in place. This company did not have a centralized IT support team, so I needed to hire and develop a team of five to become the front line for IT support tickets for this firm.

120 applicants responded and the process of vetting them down to the five perfect candidates was no easy feat, but here is how I managed it:

First, I knew exactly what I was looking for. Working at a help desk, the right candidates need great people skills and the ability to communicate technical information to the lay person. Attitude and personality were at the top of my list. They also need to act as a cohesive team, so I look for people who are:

  • Coachable
  • Humble
  • Collaborative

I quickly tossed out any application without a cover letter or that used catch phrases like “more details available upon request.” The candidates who stood out had done their research on the company and let it show in their cover letter. I needed a well rounded team, so I hired for specific skill sets, like knowledge of Google Suite and Mac.

I kicked off the interview process with a one hour face-to-face and used this time to get to know the candidate and to find out how well they handled unexpected questions like, What was the one interview question you prepared for, that I didn’t ask you?” Their responses showed how readily they could adapt and do something on the fly—an important skill when you’re dealing with customers.

The process then moved on to a second, third and fourth interview with various team members at CanvasIT and my client’s team. It took two months to complete. At the end, I had an incredible, self-managing team. The team works remotely four days a week and is consistently turning support tickets around in less than 9 minutes.

The team is averaging about 1,000 support tickets per month. And recently, the team of five handled 800 support tickets on their own, while 26 team members at the client’s company also handled 800—so they are more than proving their worth.

Some final tips about hiring:

  • Make sure you know what you want before hiring
  • When you hire the right people, you’re able to coach the people and manage the process


Micah Laughlin

Micah Laughlin is the founder of Canvas IT and a leader in technology management services, supporting organizations of all sizes and helping them to thrive in spite of IT challenges and organizational changes. His first-hand experience with Service Desk Outsourcing companies led him to create a better way of doing IT outsourcing, the way he’d want it done. Today his philosophy carries on at Canvas IT as he creates a custom solution for each client just the way they’d want it done. Micah’s service desk management philosophy has supported dozens of growing businesses, adding value to the IT services they provide. Prior to founding Canvas IT, Micah spent more than 24 years managing IT operations – with 18 spent balancing the need for open, flexible systems with the restrictions of the highly-regulated healthcare industry.

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