Winxnet chief executive Chris Claudio is only half joking when he says he wishes that everyone would stop talking about creating jobs.

He is having enough trouble as it is recruiting software developers, systems engineers, network engineers and help desk professionals to work at his IT consulting and outsourcing firm in Portland, despite the fact that salaries generally run well above the average Maine household income of nearly $47,000.

“Talent is hard to find and bring up to speed,” said Claudio. “It’s a tight marketplace.”

Solving that problem has become a big priority for Claudio as his 15-year-old company experiences meteoric growth. Winxnet’s revenues swelled by 189 percent between 2009 and 2013, and are projected to hit $15 million this year. The company was twice named to Inc. magazine’s list of fastest-growing companies. Two years ago, Claudio hired 20 new people.

This year, the company has been on an acquisition tear. In April, Winxnet bought InfoSecurus, a Portland-based information security firm, and made two acquisitions in New England that could more than triple annual revenues by 2016.

The hunger for high-level talent was one of the driving forces behind those acquisitions, as the transactions allowed Winxnet to get a foothold in markets like suburban Boston, and tap into much larger labor pools than the one in Portland.

“Our assets are our people,” said Claudio. “Having good people is paramount. Without them we can’t grow, and we can’t succeed.”

Still, there’s an ongoing need to recruit employees to work at the company’s Portland headquarters. Right now the company – which has 115 employees – has eight positions to fill.

Often that means drawing people to Maine from other markets, and competing with big-city wages and lifestyles. In order to increase their chances of success, Claudio keeps an eye out for job candidates who have Maine on their resumes – because they have a family, academic or career connection to the state and might be likely to want to put down roots here.

But Claudio isn’t just trying to fill positions with people who have a Maine pedigree or degrees in computer science. His new hires must possess qualities that are arguably more elusive than anything that could fit on a resume.

“People must have an ethical fabric to them,” said Claudio. Because the people he hires are managing different aspects of relationships with the company’s 500 clients, “they must be people of integrity who really understand customer service and the softer skills they don’t teach you in college,” he said. “Unethical activity isn’t going to be tolerated from leadership or anyone else. And our customers appreciate that.”

Character isn’t something you can vet in an interview. In the past, Claudio has tried using recruiting firms, and even incorporated personality tests into the interview process. But these days, he gains the most benefit from talking to references who know job applicants outside of their work lives, and can talk about the kind of people they are.

“They have to be nice,” he said. “It’s core to our culture.”

One of the most effective tools has turned out to be $1,500 referral bonuses for his workers, which he started about five years ago. The initiative pays off for his staff well beyond their bank accounts.

“Our employees get a chance to work with people they know and like,” said Claudio. “You spend most of your day sitting in your office working with these people – you want to like the people you’re working with.”

Claudio is proud that his company has been named to the Best Places to Work in Maine list three years in a row. The list, compiled by the Society of Human Resources Management Maine, is a testament to the pleasant work environment at Winxnet.

“We have a responsibility to our customers, employees and community to be a profitable organization that offers a quality product,” he said.

Claudio said that he was once asked if, given the opportunity to double the size of his company, he would relocate to Boston. After all, he might not have to labor as hard to find good labor there. But his answer was unequivocal.

“Absolutely not.”