Getting the best people for the job.

Face it, in IT we tend to be snobs and think the whole world revolves around us. Don’t believe we are snobby? Then ask yourself why the Linux guys don’t talk to the Windows guys. Why the Windows guys envy the Mac guys (according to the Mac ads at least). And why we attach more importance when reviewing a resume to which version of a particular software package we want to see instead of an individuals hobbies and responsibilities. One of the problems with being so technology focused is that we sometimes forget that technological skills can be trained into an individual relatively easily, but that their people skills are a whole other problem. That means when we evaluate a role, we focus almost exclusively on the technology and not on the people skills that are needed.

Lets be honest, for the most part; we IT folks couldn’t strike up a decent conversation with a stranger if our life depended on it. Unless they have a cool digital camera, latest IPOD phone or laptop that is.

The profession has attracted a certain class of people. They are people who are good with their hands (think hardware guys) or live in their brains (think programmer). People who are good with people, well we hope they are on helpdesk somewhere but since we never call it, we wouldn’t know.

This has been a tough battle for me over the years. I maintain that in IT we unfortunately hire the wrong people for the job most of the time. So for you folks out there looking to hire your next junior staff member here is my top three sources of people when I go hiring;

  • Level 1 Helpdesk – Hands down, I hire ex-receptionist. They are naturally good with people, multitask well, follow directions almost to a fault and are use to using a wide variety of equipment since they usually get tasked to do all kinds of jobs when sitting at reception. If you don’t believe how tough this entry level role in your organization is, go sit by reception for an hour and see if you could keep up. Once on helpdesk, just watch your user community perception of the department soar.

  • Level 2 Field tech – Trades people. The classic field tech job is all about doing the impossible with nothing on hand. Overall people who are coming in from trades are people who are very good with working with tools, have very good troubleshooting skills, and are used to working un-supervised. Best yet they tend to love being outside or on the road. These people know how to get a job done and are used to being paid piece meal. That means they are efficient and focused. Your resolution times will plummet and your hardware replacement costs will flatten like you would not believe.

  • Level 3 Supervisor – Little league/soccer/hockey coaches, or educators. Very few people in IT are mature. Take a look at your own desk and tell me there isn’t at least one toy or joke item on it. Professional coaches and educators have a natural knack for sorting people into the doers and the followers.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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