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  • Jose

Top 5 IT Skills you NEED

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

5 IT Skills you won’t learn in College/Certifications, but you NEED! Are you studying for Certification tracks or in a College Degree Program and would like to get into the IT Field? Maybe you are applying everywhere, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc. You might even have your first interview scheduled! You are nervous and double downing on the skills you just acquired. Read this first. You will need more to obtain that first/junior-level IT job. Here are the top 5 Skills you WILL need to get through those interviews and succeed at your newly acquired position. 1. Communication: So, this skill is crucial, and it is becoming a trend for small/medium-sized companies. You will walk into your interview and start a discussion with your potential Supervisor, Manager, CEO and within a few minutes, I guarantee you they will say "we are working on our communication" or "We need someone who has great communication skills". Now, what does that even mean? Is it as simple as just talking to your supervisors? Being more expressive? I have narrowed it down to three key sub-skills that make you a great communicator in IT. Writing emails, Creating and Updating Tickets, and Express Ideas. a. Writing Emails: Why is this important for an organization? It simply creates a paper trail. It shows what you said on a specific time, how you said it, and who you said it to. How does it relate to IT? You need to leverage this in your role. When you provide direction to contractors or requests from end-users or even upper management, you need to be clear and concise. Topic Related subject line makes sure you always include a “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening”, Have a signature (Keep it Simple), and a short intro sentence. Then a list of things needed/instructions, and a conclusion. Get used to sending emails after every ticket, site visit and ensure you follow-up with users after a week to ensure no other issues occurred. Tech tip, if you follow-up with end-users you are doing two things, building a relationship and creating proactive tickets. Often, end-users do not want to send an email or call you for requests. They wait until you are onsite to ask. Then you get hit with 100x questions in a building with 5 people. This slows down your onsite productivity. Trust me, no CEO wants you onsite for 6 hours solving "I can't send an email", "how do you merge a cell", or “I can’t open this program”. These are remotely related tasks. You need to free up your time to solve physical related tasks such as replace PCs, installing hardware, checking on the physical conditions of the server room, document changes that happened while you were gone, log into devices you weren’t able to previously and set them up to allow remote access. A follow-up to increase productivity and end-user relationship building. Emails become even more important for Projects, trust me. When you have 100 moving parts in a project, emails save your job and can even put you in a position for promotions. Be as detailed as you can the week/few days before the project date and involve EVERYONE related to the project. Send the scope, deliverables, who is doing what and when. b. Tickets: These guys are really important. Why? Imagine three techs working on the same issue for 6 months. One tech in January, another in August, and another in November. All solving the same issue that required onsite visits, etc. As a business owner/supervisor you have no idea how frustrating that is. In IT the reason why there are backlogs is that the organization lacks ticket management. This begins and ends with TICKETS. Updating and creating tickets consistently is extremely crucial to your success. Not only are there for performance reasons but because almost all MSPs use tickets for billing. If you don't create and place your time with details of what you did MSPs will not be able to bill for the work. Not creating tickets is the worse thing you can do for your career. This becomes even more important when you're on the helpdesk. Learn how to use the ticket system to your advantage. Whenever I start at a new company, I ask 100 questions about the ticketing system. Knowing your environment and working well in it will lead you to your success and enable you to start learning hard skills within your job requirements. c. Express Ideas: Why is this important? CEOs love it! Most of the time they have no idea what is going on in the field. Managers and Supervisors do not care about the overall performance of the company, usually, they are too focused on each project performance or daily numbers. CEOs love when you express your ideas out loud so they can see how committed you are to the company. Now I would advise being cautious about when to express and what ideas to express. The key to this skill is to show your potential. You may be a slightly overqualified Helpdesk Professional looking to become an Engineer or Administrator. This skill gets you there; You are a tech, it doesn’t mean you are a robot. Get used to expressing yourself and show your passion for your career. 2. Backups: Network as a Storage is a topic within your College Degree path, HOWEVER, what isn’t is the types of devices and how to use them. There are no labs out there that have you log into a Synology and work on setting it up for network accessibility in a College Course. I haven't attended every University in the world, but I bet that isn't the case. Research backup solutions. Yes, you know the concept but this is the real world. Learn to use it. Research Datto, Shadow Protect, Synology, QNAP, ReadyNAS, etc. I know what you are thinking, what about SANs?! Okay yes, SANs are super important, but SANs are covered in college courses and SANs can be expressive to lab up. NAS isn't too bad and a 20-minute video is enough to get you through an interview. 3. Customer Service: This is a learning curve for techs. The idea of working with computers stems from "I don't want to work with people". If you are trying to get into IT and not work with people, get into another career. IT professionals must work with end-users ALWAYS. So, develop Customer Service skills, be nice, courteous, and ensure they know your goal is to help them get back to whatever they need to get done. They do not care how you did it or the awesome skills it took for you to solve the issue. All they care about is if the issue will re-occur again or if they will lose anything during the process. Give them an estimated time of completion and if you do not know, let them know you don’t. Be honest, say you will do your best to inform them once you get an idea of what the root cause of the issue is. 4. Multi-Tasking: Now this one plays towards the small/medium-sized company where you are understaffed and as my friend would say “Technical Debit up the A**”. You will get days where you have a user that is unable to gain access to their hosted services, another reporting that her computer crashed and another saying "no one can log in". Answer the calls, create the tickets and solve them from most important to least. Try to work the low-level ones while you solve the priority. Do not panic in these situations, document and document even more. Take your time asking questions, if you don't ask the questions you won’t understand the scope of the issue. The end-user will be upset regardless. So ask now and resolve quickly instead of asking later after you’ve been working on it for several hours. I have seen tech's work on one issue for hours while we have 50 + tickets in the queue's and calls coming in. I watch these techs crack under the pressure within a few months, don't be that person. Practice multi-tasking. 5. Proactive, not Reactive: Every company would love you if you create proactive work! I can't repeat this enough. If you log into servers, find logs of errors, and find a solution, make sure you present it. Work on issues that you can solve that don't impact the client during work hours. This is how MSPs make money. If an MSP can create an environment where their techs continuously look for issues and stop them from occurring before they become a problem, money comes in and clients experience ZERO downtime. When renewing contracts and attempting to increase the revenue conversations regarding downtime will come up. It is up to you if it will be a good conversation or a bad one. Look at logs, via your servers/monitoring systems. Check backups ensure no issues with images. Resolve domain issues that relate to the day to day problems that occur for the end-users. For example, last month users have been reporting high amounts of mapped drive issues, I have downtime right now. Let us look into those errors before it becomes a bigger problem and affects every user in the company. No matter big or small, these skills are key for your success as an IT professional. Interview questions WILL be based on these soft skills as well as your daily performance as an IT professional. Read over this and gear your conversation in your interview towards these topics. Also, if you're in a role but not performing well, I would guess that the reason could be that you lack one or more of these 5 skills. It's not a big deal as they are easy to learn. It just requires day to day changes in your workflow. Communication, Backups, Customer Service, Multi-Tasking, and Proactive, not Reactive. Be a successful IT Professional!

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