To be a successful IT technician, first of all, you need to be a people person. You need to have a deep desire to want to help people. That's absolutely necessary.
One of our corporate values is to be humbly confident. You need to be confident, but humble, so the client doesn’t perceive you as arrogant. We call it a “desk-side manner,” like the bedside manner in the medical field.
Humble confidence is important, and so is a poker face. The last thing a client wants to see is when he asks his IT technician about a problem that he's having. He doesn't want to hear “I don't know.” And he doesn't want to see a deer-in-the-headlights expression on your face when he’s paying hundreds of dollars an hour.
You need to be able to respond to those questions and say, okay, I think I understand the problem, let me go investigate further.
You also need the skillset. If you're going to put yourself out there as an IT consultant, you’d better have the experience under your belt to support that.
How Can Businesses Identify Experienced IT Technicians?
Unfortunately, companies often can’t pick out inexperienced technicians until it's too late because they don't know what questions to ask.
Some companies or employees are a little more tech-savvy than others, but there's generally an expectation that if you say you're an IT consultant, you know what you're doing. You should be able to take care of my network and I shouldn't have to worry about it any further.
That's really not the case. You really have to be careful when you're hiring an IT consultant. We actually have a white paper on our website, 21 Questions You Should Ask Before You Hire an IT Consultant, which explains this further. It’s a very good overview of what you should ask for, like references from the other clients.
You should also ask a prospective IT technician to talk you through a hypothetical emergency situation. Let’s say that the servers are down at three o'clock in the morning and your business day starts at 6:00 AM. How would they handle that?
Also, as we mentioned, ask for references. And ask them if they have cybersecurity insurance. What kind of training do they have? Do they ask you to sign a nondisclosure before they start asking for passwords and getting into your network? Do they have a contract?
If you have somebody come out to work on your network and fix just one thing, there should be some sort of terms-of-service agreement that says how you’re going to do business. And this is how we expect to be paid in case something goes bad. You need that document to fall back on.
Regulations & Online Presence
You can also do an online search for the IT consultant. IT support companies should have multiple employees. You should be able to find reviews. You should be able to find posts and information on the company online.
If it's an independent IT consultant, however, they may not have a website. They may not do any advertising. Generally, if you find anything, it's probably only because it's bad. Someone was unhappy and posted something.
The IT industry is not regulated. That's kind of a dirty little secret. There’s no regulation or requirement for any specific kind of training or certification. So it's important to also ask the IT consultant to tell you their origin story. Questions like:
- Who have you worked for?
- What type of work have you done?
- When, and why, did you decide to be an IT consultant?
- What companies have you worked with?
- What type of training have you had?
We ask these questions as part of the hiring process to vet candidates.
Hiring The Right IT Technician
For our team, we start by posting job ads on the web, ZipRecruiter, and other places with a list of qualifications.
Through the interview process, we ask very specific questions about what candidates have done, what they have, and who they worked for. We’re looking for specific things, like longevity at previous jobs versus hopping from one job to another.
Tests & Personality Profiles
We also do a thorough background investigation, including drug testing and DMV screening. It's important for us to make sure that when we bring people into our organization they will adhere to our rules and regulations.
We also want to confirm that they'll respect their access to client data and exposure to client systems the way we do.
We also have a set of tests that we ask all applicants to go through. The first one is a personality profile called a DiSC assessment. That gives us information on that person's temperament and if they're suited for the position that we're putting them in. We've had enough experience with that over the years that we can typically tell if someone will fit in that specific role based on those results.
There are other tests, ranging from typing tests to aptitude tests to specific IT tests and technology that we may need IT technicians to be proficient in.
A lot of times, situations with clients can be challenging because the client doesn't understand their own IT. They don't realize how much they rely on it to run their business until it's not available anymore.
It's very important for us to understand going in that part of the job is to exude confidence. The IT technician should make the client feel that the problem is fixable and provide peace of mind that it's going to be taken care of.
Solving the Problem
When the technician does the work, of course, they must have the skills to solve the problem.
We've had multiple situations where clients have been down, and we've sent someone out and they've been able to bring the system back up very, very quickly. Getting to the root issue should bring the client back online right away.
Sometimes they're minor things, sometimes they're not-so-minor things. Clients call or send testimonials thanking the technician, thanking our company, saying what a great job the technician has done.
Finding the Problem
We’re onboarding a client who came to us with a problem. They had been asked by one of their clients’ insurance companies to perform a cybersecurity audit. They sent it off to their existing IT provider, who didn't respond to it well. Their IT technician may have just checked some boxes, thinking that the auditor may not look at it.
In the past, some IT technicians could get away with that, but insurance companies are much savvier now. They look much more closely.
The insurance company came back and said that there are some inconsistencies that we're not comfortable with, and we want to ask your IT provider more questions. The client put them in touch with the IT provider and the IT provider couldn't answer the questions properly. The insurance company also discovered that some of the questions had been answered improperly.
The insurance company came back and said that the IT provider didn’t have the technical capability to manage the cybersecurity or network, so they were recommending to the client that they terminate the relationship.
This client lost a major contract, and they called us because they were looking for a cybersecurity consultant. They weren't necessarily looking for a managed IT provider. They were looking for an IT security consultant.
When we went did their audit, we were able to show them that through proper network management and managed services with an extreme focus on cyber security could get them to a secure status quickly. They would be able to pass the audit and possibly reclaim that client.