What do you look for when hiring new people to staff your IT department? Experience is always a good thing to look for, but there are different levels of experience to bear in mind. Figuring out how many years somebody has in the field is a good start, but that hardly tells the whole story. You should look at breadth and diversity of experience, areas of specialty,and more. Consider the items presented here as a starting point when deciding on a new IT candidate.
One important item to keep in mind is that software suites change frequently. At the same time, similar programs often have similar operating methods, regardless of the company developing it. For this reason, it is often a good idea to find somebody who has experience in a range of different software suites. Even if you use a Windows server, for example, having somebody who is also familiar with Linux or Mac OS X is a good idea if you can find them. Not only will that help make the transition easier if you ever change operating systems, but it also gives your personnel a diversity of experience. People who are familiar with multiple systems have a better chance of finding outside-the-box solutions.
Years upon years of experience won't help you at all unless the candidate you are looking at is familiar with the particular software suite you use in your business. For example, somebody who has worked primarily with Windows servers won't do you much good if your company relies on a Linux configuration. Make sure you hire somebody who knows how to work within your current system, even if they have more experience with something else. Additionally, you should make sure that any level of experience is something fairly recent, preferably within the last five years or so. As long as the candidate is familiar with the recent developments related to the software, you should be in a good situation.
Many candidates in the IT field get their college degree and never look back at school. While on-the-job experience can't be beat, there is still some value in seeking out additional training. Just as doctors and educators need to continually pursue occasional continuing education courses to make sure they remain current with all new practices and updates, people in the IT field should seek out additional training from time to time to make sure they know about the newest changes and trends within the technological world. While somebody who hasn't sought out additional training isn't a bad candidate, it shows initiative and awareness of the industry if somebody has some extra training in hand.
Even if your company uses cloud computing, virtual desktops, or other remote access tools right now, it is undoubtedly true that you will someday need to make the switch. Remote tools are increasingly common in businesses of all sizes, and the IT landscape is shifting increasingly to handling server issues and other major technical support jobs from afar. For this reason, it is essential that you hire IT personnel who have experience in working with remote tools. Whether it is simply troubleshooting an already existing cloud structure or helping you to virtualize your server down the line, the question of needing those skills isn't a matter of if but rather of when.
If you are reading this blog entry, you probably have an IT team of some sort already in place and are looking to expand or replace somebody who has recently departed. In that case, hiring somebody who will work well with that team's existing set of personalities is important. You might even want to consider having some key members of your existing team present at interviews. If you are in the minority here and are looking at this blog as a starting place for building your own IT team, you will still need to make sure that the person shows a good ability to work with a team. Very few businesses last long with having only one or two lone IT techs, so being able to work with others is absolutely essential.
In addition to these tips, you should also be willing to trust your own hiring process. You know what you need, so make sure to find the person that suits those needs the best. Combined with the advice above, you should be able to find just the right candidate to suit your needs.