This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Any IT professional must be able to diagnose and quickly resolve tech-related issues your company faces. Since so many types of IT professionals exist, you need to narrow down what you need the employee to do so that you can find the right candidate. Our guide will help you find and hire the best IT people, as it covers steps from determining the type you need and salary to offer, to reviewing applicants, running a background check, and making an offer.
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Step 1: Determine the Type of IT Professional You Need
Before you can write a job description and post a job ad, you have to know what type of IT professional you need to hire, as information technology encompasses a wide range of talents. Here are a few of the most common IT job titles with brief descriptions. Within each of these categories are even more specializations.
- Computer Network Engineer: They design and build networks and intranets to manage your company’s technology. You might need a computer network engineer if you’re connecting offices or remote employees.
- IT Project Manager: They are responsible for planning and executing IT projects. They often manage a team of technical experts who do the actual work and communicate with executives to ensure their vision is carried out. Besides having technical skills, IT project managers must also have essential people management skills, to help guide their team to push a project to on-time completion.
- Web Developer: They build and maintain your company website. They may have creative skills to add unique flavors beyond their ability to build a website that your customers and clients can use. Even small businesses today find themselves hiring in-house web developers to help expand their online presence.
- Database Administrator: They build systems and processes to store your company and customers’ data securely. In addition to keeping confidential and proprietary information safe, they allow access to certain information to employees within the company. Database administrators are often responsible for troubleshooting any issues with data retrieval and working to recover any corrupted or lost data.
- Network Systems Administrator. They manage your company’s computer network and provide support to your employees to help them set up their system and fix any issues, ensuring data integrity and security. The network systems administrator also plays a significant role in today’s remote workforce by assisting remote employees in setting up and using their technology.
When deciding on the type of employee to hire, you have options—full time, part time, or even temporary.
Step 2: Write a Job Description
After narrowing down the skills your required IT professional should possess, you can write a job description. Hiring a network systems administrator will require a slightly different job description than a web developer, so tailor your job description to the position you need.
In every instance, however, note some key skills that will be required:
- At least two years of experience in IT
- At least one year of experience doing similar work
- Advanced computer skills
- Detail oriented
- Ability to keep information confidential
- Knowledge of different operating systems and technologies
- General knowledge of IT best practices and procedures
In your job description, make sure to mention whether the position is a new one or a replacement and if there are any existing technology projects or issues someone will need to address right away. But don’t get too deep into the weeds; you want to keep your IT professional job description concise. You can share more details in the interview.
Step 3: Decide on a Salary
Depending on the type of employee you want to hire, you’ll need to adjust your salary range. That’s why this step comes after writing a job description—by this point, you’ll have a better idea of the type of worker you need, which will lead to a more accurate salary range.
The average salary for all IT professionals is around $65,000. That amount will vary depending on the type of IT professional you need to hire. Some of the most experienced workers will command salaries well above $100,000, while entry-level web developers will be below the average. The salary you’ll need to offer will depend on many factors, including the experience required, your location, and the type of work you need completed. Read our guide to the best salary comparison tools to help you find a suitable range for your open IT position.
Compliance Tip: If your business is hiring an IT professional in certain states, you may need to put your target salary range in your public job posting. Check your state laws to see if you need to comply. Additionally, make sure you are aware of whether asking about a candidate’s past salary is even permitted in your state.
Step 4: Post Job Ad & Review Applicants
Now that you have your job description written and determined a salary range, it’s time to post a job ad online.
You can post your IT job to one our top job boards or a tech-specific job board, such as:
If you don’t know where and how to post a job, we highly recommend using ZipRecruiter. It posts on over 100 job sites to help you find the best candidate. Learn more about it in our beginner’s guide to What ZipRecruiter Is, as well as our in-depth ZipRecruiter review.
Your IT professional job posting should return results quickly. Within a day or two, you’ll need to begin reviewing applicants to see how their qualifications line up with what you need. No applicant will match completely with your job description—and that’s OK. Make a list of your nonnegotiable skills, however, and make sure any applicant you move on to the next step matches those traits.
Step 5: Conduct Interviews
After reviewing applicants, it’s time to narrow down the field and conduct interviews. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many interviews—keep it to fewer than a dozen. This will ensure you interview only the best candidates.
During your interviews, ask similar questions of each applicant. By doing so, you can compare the answers based on those questions. Consider using real-world examples in your questions, too. If you’ve had a recent group of new remote hires, consider asking how the IT professional would manage technology for a distributed workforce. You may also want to tailor your questions to the type of IT professional you need to hire.
Here are some sample questions you may find useful when interviewing an IT role candidate:
- How do you stay current on your certifications, and do you find them valuable?
- Tell me about a time you had to explain a technical problem or process to someone with limited technical knowledge. What did you do?
- What tools or processes do you use to prioritize your work?
- What do you do when a deadline is approaching, and it looks like you won’t meet the deadline?
- How do you manage a situation where you need to troubleshoot software you’ve never used before?
- How do you handle challenging situations or colleagues who need more frequent IT help?
Step 6: Call References
This is a step that many small businesses overlook. Whether they don’t see the value or are too pressed for time, they’re missing out on detailed insight about a candidate. Calling a candidate’s references can verify your decision or help you avoid a bad hire.
After you have finished interviews, you should be able to reduce the eligible candidates down to fewer than a handful. Ask for references from each of them, making sure you get at least three supervisory references. Speak with each one and ask some common reference check questions that give background to the candidate’s skills, work abilities, and what it was like to manage them.
A candidate will only give you references they know will speak highly of them. However, references are also likely to be honest with you, so ask them if there were red flags or difficulties managing or working with the candidate. This information may not disqualify the candidate but is good information to have.
Step 7: Run a Background Check
Having a background check policy in place is important, as it can help uncover a candidate’s criminal history and ensure that you do so within reason. Having a criminal history may not be an issue for some jobs, but for an IT professional who is responsible for sensitive company information and may see confidential employee information, it could be disqualifying.
Make sure you check your state laws on background checks. In some states, background checks can only be conducted after a formal job offer has been accepted.
Regardless of when you run your background check, you must first get the candidate’s approval to do so. If you partner with a vendor who runs your background checks, they can provide you with an authorization form for the candidate to sign.
Step 8: Make an Offer
Hiring employees doesn’t have to be hard, but you do need to follow a structured process. After you’ve conducted interviews, narrowed down your list of candidates, and contacted references, it’s time to make a decision.
The first step is to call the candidate you want to hire. Have a brief conversation with them and tell them the good news. Make sure to hammer out any additional details, like start date and salary.
After all those details have been finalized, include the information in a formal offer letter sent to the candidate for them to review and sign. Give them at least three days to review the offer and get it back to you.
In the offer letter (use our free offer letter template), make sure you include all relevant information.
- Job title
- Reporting structure
- Whether the position is exempt from overtime
- Start date
Also include the job description, and have the applicant sign off on their ability to do the core duties of the position. After this is complete, you can welcome your new IT professional to the team.
How to Hire an IT Professional Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What skills should I look for in an IT professional?
This would depend on the needs of your business, but here are the basic skills you should look for:
- Advanced knowledge of different operating systems
- Intermediate networking skills
- Advanced cybersecurity knowledge
- IT hardware troubleshooting
- Database management
Should I hire a freelancer or a full-time IT employee?
Your choice depends on the needs of your organization. However, it’s recommended that you find a full-time employee if you want someone to take care of different projects of your business over time and grow with the company. Alternatively, you can get a freelancer for shorter projects.
Is it OK to hire a remote IT professional?
If your organization’s needs don’t require on-site work, then it’s all right to hire a remote employee. Hiring remote IT employees gives you the benefit to choose from a wider talent pool and the access to highly qualified employees.
Hiring an IT professional may seem daunting at first, but when you follow a structured process, it becomes much more manageable. To make things even easier on you, use ZipRecruiter to expand your potential applicant pool and get access to qualified candidates instantly.