The more tools you have, the more power you have to prime your performance and succeed in your field. In today’s marketplaces technology massively underpins the ability of a company to optimise productivity and keep ahead of the competition. But it is the skilled and honed usage of the tools available to us that is the key to delivering success, and rising to the task of recruiting and retaining support superstars equipped with appropriate expertise is a business-critical activity which for many managers, particularly those from a non-technical background, can be a challenge.
Hiring is a process and hiring IT support staff starts with the same type of analysis that is required for all specialist recruitment: you need to clearly identify the skills and qualities that the successful candidate must possess. Build a list of essential skills and a secondary one for ‘nice to have’ ingredients.
The staff you’ve already recruited who are working with the tools can prove to be the best sources of information here, not just simply in identifying the technologies in which they are currently skilled, but in helping you to understand their functionality and significance: after all, you will be required to conduct an interview and ask the probing questions which will filter out the fluff. For more I.T support tips you may check 360ict.co.uk they are serious and motivated in delivering an excellent service.
Your recruitment representative may already possess good quality job descriptions which you can revisit and tweak with input from your existing support team and other stakeholders. If you are starting a team from scratch and don’t have the ability to tap existing in-house knowledge, you might consider approaching the support software vendor that you have selected for guidance as part of their customer support service to you.
A survey of online job descriptions from other companies using similar technologies and seeking support staff can also provide useful clues in your efforts to define exactly what you are looking for in your winning candidate. As part of establishing the ideal technical repertoire, you will also need to decide whether specific knowledge of your industry is an essential pre-requisite or simply a bonus.
Technical skills may be extremely important but they are not worth much if the candidate doesn’t exhibit qualities that suggest a capacity to use them to greatest effect. Your person specification needs to account for personal characteristics and soft skills which indicate an ability to interact effectively and empathetically with IT support service users.
If these users are customers then the IT support representative is the first point of interaction with your brand and is heavily influential in creating and maintaining its impression. You need to find candidates with a determination to solve the problems of others and who can handle issues with patience and a friendly, reassuring attitude. Fitting in with the existing team and effective team-working are further considerations. A team that pools its problem resolutions and shares knowledge reduces time and resource wastage but is also a happier, more supportive environment in which to work. A happy employee is an employee who will stay with you and safeguard the investment of time, energy and budget you have made.
If you are a global company operating 24/7, location may be a further issue. Deploying support staff in your regions brings them closer to your customers, and saves you from the burden of running a nightshift rota here in the UK. Additionally, your regional staff will be able to support your users in their native languages.
So, you’ve created a person specification that fits your current IT support team bill. The next step is knowing where to look for the right candidate. Having a large volume of inappropriate candidates is an administrative nightmare that any recruiter should seek to avoid and might be the unintended effect of using generalist, national sites and even your own website. Again, a good starting point is harnessing in-house know-how: ask your existing support staff where they would look for a job and your recruiter where they sourced your best support employees.
If these options aren’t available to you, use a search engine to find sites being used for this purpose by your competitors or by other companies using similar IT support technologies. If industry knowledge is mission-critical, you may want to seek out specialist sites which attract candidates in your particular field. When posting, make sure your ad is in keeping with your brand so you attract applicants to which it appeals and who are more likely to fit in with its ethos. It’s a good idea to ask for a covering letter both to provide an introductory overview and to display the written communication skills that will be used when interacting with your support desk users.
Hopefully, your in-tray will soon stock a healthy but honed stack of suitable applications. The next challenge is to select the best candidates for interview. Look for error-free content and a coherent layout, indicating attention to detail and information presentation skills. Naturally, you will be looking for CVs that stand out as a skills and experience match with your person specification. Don’t forget that the personal traits mentioned earlier are as important as technical ones.
A first interview by telephone will be of further assistance in recognising candidates with those traits: look for a friendly manner and tone, enthusiasm for the opportunity and your company, and an ability to respond appropriately to questions. Telephone is an important channel in IT support and this should give you a clear indication of how the candidate is likely to perform in this aspect of the role.
The interview itself is the final filtering mechanism. It is fairly common in the IT world to prepare an initial selection test, the responses to which can form part of the interview discussion. You could, for example, provide your candidates with a real-world ticket that can be successfully resolved by implementing troubleshooting information from your existing documentation system. This will bring great insight not only as to their overall competence but also their approach to problem-solving and ability to communicate. The panel should consist of representatives from the various parts of the business impacted by effective IT support including customer-facing upper managers, support peers who will work with them and are best placed to evaluate whether they will fit in with the team, and humble, but critically important, internal service desk users. Questions should be probing but provide an opportunity for candidates to fully express themselves. Encourage reference to real-world examples and situations, and seek for further information where needed. Provide feedback on the selection test results and gauge reactions which indicate how constructive criticism is handled. Bear in mind that an informal and friendly atmosphere is more likely to elicit a good interview performance.
Deciding who to hire for your crack IT support team boils down to identifying who most strongly meets the requirements of your carefully constructed person specification. Some candidates may be outstanding and your decision may be simple. If not, the panel should attempt to collectively agree a score for each candidate in each aspect of the spec which in the end adds up to an overall rating.
Hopefully, through this carefully considered and collaborative selection process involving everyone who has a stake in IT support, you’ll hire yourself some clear winners who will become potent masters of your corporate IT tools.