Top 10 Tips for Hiring Computer Network Professionals

If you’re a business owner or hiring manager, choosing the right people for your staff is a critical task. From reviewing resumes, to interviewing candidates and negotiating offers, consider these essential tips for hiring computer network professionals.

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Source Candidates From the Right Places

Online job boards are a well-known way to find resumes and job seekers, particularly for technical roles like network engineers. However, the quality of talent varies greatly and even promising resumes can get drowned out in a sea of others, many of whom are looking for different roles and job locations. Before going too broad on a candidate search, try exhausting local options first such as referrals from other employees and participating in nearby job fairs.

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Clearly Define Each Position of Need

Hiring managers sometimes neglect to take the time to write a proper job description that clearly outlines its expectations. For example, candidates want to know the extent a given Network Administrator position involves installation and configuration of new networks versus maintenance of existing networks. While it might seem convenient to write generic descriptions that can be re-used for multiple roles, strongly consider creating specific descriptions tailored to each unique open position. This also forces managers to think through exactly what they are looking for from a new hire.

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Plan Well for Interview Rounds

Some managers and staff are more naturally skilled than others in interviewing outside candidates. In fact, the most technical engineers often struggle to conduct an effective interview simply because they are too close to the subject matter. Invest time in taking a technical staff through interview training if they will be regularly involved in hiring efforts. When scheduling an interview round, take care to select the right collection of interviewers who are best prepared to conduct the sessions. Ensure everyone understands details of the specific position to be hired. Assign specific focus areas to each of the interviewers to help them focus and avoid asking redundant questions.

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Always Interview More Than One Candidate

Even if a candidate makes a great impression during the interview process, they may not be the best qualified for the job. For example, a particular engineer might demonstrate good QoS knowledge during interviews, but the next candidate may actually possess much a deeper experience level in QoS, even though both had listed it only as brief bullets on their resumes. Taking multiple candidates through the interview round for one position helps managers to better size up each person through comparison and contrast.

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Probe Sufficiently Deep on Critical Skill Areas

Properly screening candidates for computer networking positions requires sufficiently deep technical discussion. Some hiring teams make the mistake of only superficially questioning prospective hires on the technical qualifications of their resume. People write their resumes inconsistently, some more clearly articulating their true skills better than others. Allocate sufficient time in the hiring process to properly evaluate the full extent of a candidate’s technical background. If possible, even consider arranging hands-on session: Have candidates sit in front of an administrator’s console or whiteboard and lead them through some pre-arranged problem solving exercises related to real situations in the work space.

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Discuss Network Certifications At Lower Priority

Many in the networking industry gravitate toward certifications like Cisco CCNA or CompTIA Network+ as a means to measure candidates’ skills. While certs are worthwhile and help hiring managers sort out candidates at a basic level, it’s easy to fall into the trap of fixating on them too much. Hiring managers should compensate for this by placing more emphasis on other aspects of the hiring discussion: Past hands-on experience, career interests, and behavioral.

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Look for the Ability to Learn New Tech

An organization might have an immediate need to hire someone who is strong in Microsoft Exchange, but in a few years’ time the same employee might be asked to support SNMP instead. Employees that are readily able to re-train and ramp on new technologies are essential in most organizations given the rapid pace of change in the wireless and computer networking field. Interview and hire candidates in view of their interest and ability to learn new things, not just the knowledge they possess today.

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Offer Good Pay (Consider a Hiring Bonus)

Organizations need to pay their new hires competitively in order to attract good talent. Offer too little of salary, and the best qualified professionals are likely not to apply. Offer too much salary, and the business financials are significantly impacted for the worse. Research what other firms doing similar kinds of work pay their employees. Consider offering a one-time hiring bonus: Bonuses can help land a key hire and increase morale at the start while avoiding the ongoing cost hit to company salaries.

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Be Patient

While the team might be technically overloaded and seemingly desperate for help, fight the temptation to hire the first person that comes along. Hiring should be viewed as the first step of a long term investment. Rushed hiring decisions often backfire and can be costly mistakes.

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Listen to Intuition

Sometimes there is no clear winner after all the evaluations are done. Two or more candidates may rate as roughly equally qualified when taking everything into account. When opinions of the interview team are evenly divided, usually no amount of deeper analysis will break the impasse. Often the decision comes down to subjective factors. Don't be afraid to follow one's intuitive judgement in these cases