Information technology is a crucial part of any business, even more so for startups. Unless you’re an IT expert yourself, hiring an IT professional is one of your first priorities. But, hiring for a startup is different from hiring for an established corporation. Your new business needs the best professional to successfully handle both online and offline technology needs.
Here are five qualities to look for in a person to find the perfect IT professional.
1. Big picture thinker
At a new business, it’s imperative that everyone shares the same vision. As the founder and owner of the business, you probably have a clear vision of your goals and values. To avoid having that vision diluted or derailed in the first few months or years, hire people willing to embrace and support your company’s mission. You should probably pass on the IT applicant who likes to keep her or his head down and write code all day. Instead, hire the candidate who shows passion for your startup and wants to get in on the ground floor.
The first wave of hires at a startup must be adaptable. Your IT person might spend just as much time answering customer emails and ordering office supplies as securing and developing your network. Not everyone is cut out for a loose and ever-changing job description. Ask potential candidates to describe a time that they volunteered to do something extra at work and how effectively they juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities.
3. Breadth of knowledge
In the early stages of the game, you probably don’t need someone with super specialized skills as much as you need an IT professional who can do a little of everything. At a startup, your IT person will likely be responsible for everything from website maintenance to your company phone plan.
Look for candidates who not only have a varied IT work history, but also people who show a willingness to take on tasks outside their expertise. For example, such an applicant is great at help-desk tasks and networking, but also knows where to look to find affordable freelance app developers.
4. Common business sense
For the most well-rounded candidate, look for applicants with a business background or a management information systems degree. You need an IT professional who can think beyond simple functionality and about the future needs of your company as it grows. Talk to candidates about your current set-up and your prospective growth. If they offer suggestions about how to improve your current use of technology, they probably belong on your short list.
5. Strong Communication
When a company is small, you need everyone to get along and work productively. Your IT professional needs to support other employees and speak professionally with you and clients. Startups rely on teamwork, so it’s a good idea to take your time in the hiring process and be sure that your IT professional will mesh well with everyone at your company.
At a startup, your IT professional has the power to launch your startup into profitability and make your vision a reality. Be thorough. Bad hires are not just an inconvenience; they waste time and money.