What do We Look for in Candidates for Our Data Centre Teams?
The number of data centre jobs is ever-increasing and, whilst the necessary base of technical knowledge and ability is rather commonplace, these are not your typical IT jobs in Dublin. Data centres are a completely different environment to what most people are used to and, because of this, the job isn’t for everybody, regardless of technical ability.
Whilst there isn’t a strict science to it, in this piece I’ve highlighted a few areas we focus on, in order to ensure that we’re bringing in the right fit for our teams.
Technical know-how regarding data centres
A natural place to begin since, of course, there’s always going to be a requirement for a certain, base level of technical knowledge.
So, what do we typically look for in our hires for data centres in Ireland?
Your hardware knowledge
This depends on the team but, as a rule, we start with knowledge of computer hardware. Simply put, if you can talk me through stripping a PC down and rebuilding it, not just telling me what you’re doing, but why you’re doing it – you’re halfway there.
Throw in some common-sense approaches to troubleshooting and resolving issues such as, why a laptop won’t switch on, and you’ve probably got the foundations we’re looking for. It’s that simple.
What you might find surprising is that the majority of candidates we have success with, don’t come from a formal, or professional technical background. People who have been avid hobbyists for most of their lives tend to fit the bill more than someone who might have, say, worked in IT for five or ten years.
The knowledge is ingrained, and it comes from years and years of tinkering and pulling machines apart, or building a working machine from several broken ones. This kind of experience also promotes frugality and creativity, which are great traits to have in the data centre world.
My advice here:
If you’re a hobbyist, whilst your knowledge might be etched deeper in your mind, what you might be lacking is a grasp of formal, or industry-standard terminology. No matter whether or not you could do something with your eyes closed, it’s no good saying in the interview, “Well, you take the yoke off and you brush away that stuff there and attach the doo-dad to the thing-a-me-jig…”
Take a CompTIA A+ course, or at the very least study the materials. This will help you formalise your knowledge to industry level. It’s common practice now for candidates to do this and they all say the same, that there was nothing in the materials that they didn’t already know, it’s just now they can explain it more clearly.
Personality and traits
Be a decent person. No, really…
You might say that this is a prerequisite for any job, and you’d be right.
Allow me to elaborate:
Data centres are highly secure environments. Safety and security are paramount here, even more than anywhere else you might have worked or visited. And I mean, anywhere! Because of this, as you might have guessed, everyone inside is that little bit more “on edge”.
Awareness is greatly heightened, which leaves people strung just that little bit tighter. This means it’s much easier to cause tension, or rather, a bad atmosphere is somewhat amplified.
An example I often offer to candidates (or anyone else willing to listen) is, if you imagine a regular office environment with a team of fifty people where there’s one “bad seed”, it’s most likely just a bit of an annoyance or worthy of the occasional tut!
In a data centre though, even just one bad seed amongst any number of colleagues could be a recipe for disaster. Conflict causes tension, tension adversely impacts focus, lack of focus leads to mistakes, and we might as well all go home.
I’m certainly not saying that we all need to be best friends every minute of every day, but there’s just no room for a poor attitude on any level.
My advice here:
It may seem like there’s not much that can be done here. Simply put, if you’re the kind of person who gets wound up very easily and has real trouble listening to others opinions that may go against your own, this role – or rather, this type of work environment – is almost certainly not for you.
A tip for interviews, and beyond would be; Leave your ego at the door. It makes so much more room in your head for all the new things you’re going to learn.
I could go on and on but, here are a few other things that we look for:
Be an innovator. We’re looking for people who constantly look for better, more efficient, or more interesting ways of doing things.
Take ownership. Got a better idea? Put your hand up. Something you did didn’t quite go as planned? Hold your hand up. Always be looking for solutions, not excuses.
Listen. You were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. People aren’t always going to agree with you, and that’s ok. Other people’s ideas might sometimes be better than yours, and that’s ok, too.
We’re looking for learners, and you’re never going to learn anything if the only voice you can hear is your own.
If you’re interested in a career in data centres, there are any number of avenues you can pursue. The best place to start though, of course, is by talking to us! We’ve also put together a handy Data Centre Job Search Toolkit to help you in your job search endeavours.