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What to Look for When Hiring System Administrators

What to Look for When Hiring System Administrators

The best of technology, automated technology included, will fail without skillful human intervention from time-to-time. Since it is humans who have to configure these systems in the first place, it is important to have the best talent to create and manage your data infrastructure, especially when it comes to data protection and security.

System administrators and IT managers play crucial roles in the smooth and efficient functioning of critical IT operations in an enterprise, including backups. Here are some factors to consider when hiring system administrators and IT managers.

  • What to Look for When Hiring System AdministratorsExperience: Nothing beats practical hands-on experience. However, do not look for experience just by the number of years. Look for experience with hyper-critical or disastrous situations: being present in a situation where the system crashed, setting up a system in a hurry or troubleshooting under severe time pressure. Be familiar with what exactly the system administrator would face in the course of their job with your organization and seek out relevant experience accordingly.
  • Ability to Learn Quickly: Hiring for experience alone would be ineffective for the simple reason that those situations rarely recur and every organization has its own unique systems, procedures, configurations and needs. In any case, in the world of IT, technologies change by the day, rendering previous technologies and processes obsolete. The key criteria is whether the candidate has the ability to learn quickly and to transfer their knowledge from one subject matter to another. Rather than consider experience as an end in itself, the best candidates consider experience as a valuable tool and a means towards developing competence. Successful system administrators also keep updated on industry developments.
  • Basic Skills: The importance of basic competence in the subject area can never be understated. Experience and additional learning can only be built upon a foundation of basic skills. Apart from core subject areas, also look for problem solving skills and basic industry knowledge. A good idea of the nature of business would also help. For instance, it is expected that Linux system administrators have basic knowledge of: all aspects of Linux, a working knowledge of at least one of the upper tier language, basic storage technologies such as FC, NFS or iSCSI, basics of configuration management, skills with application monitoring tools, knowledge of how to operate a virtualized VMWare server and more.
  • Attitude: Hiring by technical skills alone is a big mistake. A system administrator or an IT manager needs to have soft skills, such as interpersonal skills, and should also be someone who excels at teamwork — keeping the end objectives of the organization in mind rather than considering IT as an end in itself. Furthermore, they also need to know how to do what is required and have the ability to delegate without trying to do everything themselves. Other desirable traits are hard-working, the ability to self-motivate and an inquisitive mind. Finally, system administrators also need to have traits of patience and flexibility; the ability to continue working on something in a sustained manner without giving up, along with an open mind to improvise or try something new if one approach is not working, is definitely important.
  • Communication Skills: An understated skill for system administrators and IT managers is the ability to communicate. It is crucial for them to be able to communicate effectively with their team and also other departments to get their message across and to also document effectively.

With automated technology and a vast amount of tools in the IT space, human resources are what make a different now. A skilled system administrator or IT manager can make the difference between a normal run-of-the-mill IT system that experiences downtime and an IT system that works seamlessly to power the company’s core operations.

At STORServer, we make system admins’ jobs easier by providing a simple, scalable solution the integrates seamlessly with your current data infrastructure that you system admin has worked so hard to build and maintain. Our backup appliance solution can be installed and running in one afternoon, and it is automated so system admins have time to focus on their core responsibilities for the organization. In you’re interested in learning more about our backup appliance, contact us or download our “What is a STORServer Backup Appliance?” white paper:

Download White Paper     Contact STORServer

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