When it comes to IT hires, you get what you pay for

A new employee's rookie mistakes raise questions about his qualifications, experience -- and the manager's hiring standards

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In over his head

I had the shift after Jim's, and he would sometimes turn over simple problems to me. There was the time Jim set up a new employee's computer and left a note saying it was done except for a couple of items with email. When I looked into it, I discovered that Jim had almost established the email account for the person, which I finished as he'd requested. But he hadn't created a user profile on the computer assigned to the new employee or a new VoIP phone and virtual machine box, all of which was standard procedure and he should have known to do.

There was another time when scan-to-email wasn't working for a user. Jim said he'd tested it, and it came through for his email, but not the user's. He narrowed down the problem in Outlook: The user was getting the scan-to-emails, but they ended up in her Deleted Items folder. Jim said he didn't see any applicable rules and couldn't figure out the problem.

I quickly exported and deleted all the user's rules, and the user was able to get the scan-to-email items in her Inbox. Contrary to Jim's conjecture, there was a rule moving the items into the wrong folder. It worked fine, and Jim was surprised to learn of my solution.

There were other simple details Jim didn't know. On one occasion, he had to work with a vendor who asked him to log in using the local admin account of the machine he was diagnosing. That way, Jim could troubleshoot the issue and see if it was related to the domain admin account.

Toward the end of his shift, Jim told me he wasn't able to log into the computer with the local admin account, a task that proved no problem for me. It turned out Jim didn't even know he had to specify the localname/administrator to log in as the local admin.

Out of curiosity -- and a lot of frustration -- I decided to chat with Jim about his work history the next time our shifts overlapped. It turned out he used to be a mechanical engineer and had a few years in IT under his belt, but his experience wasn't what we called progressive. Rather, he had mainly held various entry-level IT positions.

What was the manager thinking?

At that point I couldn't get too upset with him -- it wasn't all his fault. But that made me wonder what the hiring manager had been thinking. Did he merely hire the candidate with the lowest-asking salary and a few years of IT experience? But Jim was a nice guy and very willing to stay after his shift to learn, so I spent the next couple of months helping him catch up.

It's amazing how better a department can function by getting the right person with the right qualifications for a job -- and how painful it can be when such is not the case. I left shortly afterward to get a position with more "normal" hours. Hopefully, by now Jim is up to speed. But I also wonder who they hired to replace me.

Correction: This blog as originally posted incorrectly identified what kind of admin account was being logged in to. The blog has been amended.

This story, "When it comes to IT hires, you get what you pay for," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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