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As your small business grows, so does the sensitive data your business needs to store. With so much information in your systems, from consumer credit card numbers to health plans for your employees, you’re realizing that it’s time to start hiring IT professionals.

But what characteristics should you look for in the right person or firm for the job? Let’s look at how to find the professional that you’re looking for, from beginning to end.

Understand What You’re Looking To Accomplish

Look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what goals you’re trying to achieve as a company. What are the primary roles an IT professional needs to play to help you achieve those goals?

As an example, it might be more cost-effective to hire a student without much professional IT experience. But they may not be familiar with the business challenges they’ll face, forcing you to hire another specialist down the road even though you were able to save a little money now.

You Might Need More Than One Person

You might need to hire more than one IT professional

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that one individual can do the entire job. While this may be true in some instances, it can be difficult for one person to wear every potential IT hat. There is a lot more that goes into the technical side of your business than you think, and making sure you have the right amount of people to get the job done is important.

IT and IT security involve a wide knowledge base. It’s incredibly rare that one person will be an expert in all areas. That’s why some of the best IT consulting firms have teams of specialists ready to take on any challenge. With any IT consulting that you use, make sure they have the right amount of people on the job to help your company in the best way possible.

Skill And Talent Are Different

A top-level IT professional needs to be more than just technical. They need to have a deep understanding of what problems can happen, why they happen and how they can be avoided.

Small business owners sometimes make the mistake of hiring IT professionals simply because they are experienced in a specific technology or tool. But this same individual might not have a good understanding of core processes and procedures.

Find a firm that understands why specific breaches might happen and how they can prevent them before they become a problem. Don’t spend too much time focusing on if they’re certified in your specific firewall brand. It’s so easy to get certifications these days that don’t mean anything so make sure they have actual work experience that is applicable to your needs.

A firm that understands the “why” will be able to learn specific technology requirements. They will be able to understand your needs and provide better services.

Experienced And Certified

Experienced and certified IT professionals

A certification only demonstrates a very baseline knowledge level. It doesn’t replace real-world experience. It’s more important to hire experienced IT professionals who are also certified.

Even those with the longest lists of certifications sometimes lack the experience your small business needs. There are also many IT services out there that aren’t going to meet your needs to take your time to choose what is going to work for you.

Perform Reference And Background Checks

Never skip this step when hiring IT for your small business. The people who take on this role will have complete access to the most sensitive data in your company. You need to know that you can trust them with it. There are some great tech experts out there but you want one that is going to be loyal to your company. You also want to make sure that they have good references from their previous employers, as a lazy worker is not going to help you.

Of course, make sure to obtain references legally and perform background checks in accordance with the law.

Ask The Right Questions

If you’re not an expert in technology when it’s time to hire IT, bring in someone from the outside who is. They’ll be able to ask more specific questions during interview sessions.

It’s important to get an overall sense of how a candidate troubleshoots and organizes. You also want to gauge their ability to prioritize tasks and focus on the customer.

Does the firm fit your approach to security? Do you know what they enjoy about working in IT? What frustrates them?

Open-ended questions like this will help elicit broader answers that reveal potential red flags.

Red Flags To Avoid

If you notice any of the following red flags when you’re hiring IT, it’s time to take your search elsewhere:

  • They use a lot of buzzwords – if they talk over your level of knowledge or can’t communicate technical ideas in an easy-to-understand way, they’re not a good fit.
  • They have strong opinions regarding specific technologies – positive or negative options about a particular technology is normally a sign of a candidate who lacks the knowledge you’re looking for.
  • A bad attitude about non-tech-savvy users – a good IT professional understands that the ability levels of users vary widely.

These are common red flags to look for when hiring IT.

Making The Right Choice

Even if you’re not a tech whiz, you can follow these techniques to help you find the IT professional your small business needs. They’ll be able to keep your data safe and your business running on all cylinders.

Categories:  St. Louis Small Business

About the Author

James McMinn

Senior Digital Strategist

James is a savvy digital marketing specialist with a Masters of Science in Internet Marketing. For the past fourteen years, he has been specializing in SEO, PPC & Marketing Strategy. He has a super sharp analytical mind and a finely tuned creative eye for marketing initiatives that optimize brands.

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