Data center technicians can be tough to hire. Good technicians need to bring a broad set of skills to the table. Finding people with the right expertise and dynamism to help run a data center can be challenging.
But with the right approach, data center operators can find the skilled technicians they need to keep their facilities running smoothly. This article discusses tips for hiring data center staff who can do the job well, no matter which type of data center they need to support.
Why Data Center Technician Hiring Can Be Hard
Before diving into strategies for hiring data center technicians, let's first discuss why finding top talent for this type of role can be tough.
There are several factors at play. One is the fact that, compared to other types of roles in the IT industry, data center technicians require an especially diverse set of skills. They need to understand how to work with computing hardware, software, and the various systems (like cooling and power) that data centers depend on. They must also be familiar with networking concepts and infrastructure.
In some cases, data center technicians may also require specialized knowledge in domains like operating systems and cybersecurity – particularly if they play a hands-on role in supporting software environments in addition to managing facilities and equipment. Finding people who possess all of these skills is not easy.
A second factor that complicates data center technician hiring is the fact that most technicians have to work in person. That means employers can't typically rely on remote or hybrid work arrangements to attract data center talent, as they can for many other types of IT roles.
Data center technician work also often requires being on-call to respond to incidents during non-business hours or weekends, another issue that may drive some qualified applicants away.
On top of the above, there's the challenge that data center technician salaries are not especially high, making it all the more difficult to attract talented staff.
How To Find and Hire Data Center Technicians
To work through these hiring challenges, data center operators may need to take a more creative approach to finding and hiring technicians than employers typically adopt when filling other IT roles.
Don't require degrees
Not setting formal requirements regarding college degrees or other educational prerequisites can help broaden the pool of data center technician candidates. Given that there are no formal degree programs in data center management, and that there are so many distinct skills at play in data center technician work, it doesn't make a lot of sense to assume that job applicants need a specific degree to do the job.
Instead, look at prior work experience and prioritize it over formal educational background.
Consider data center certifications (but don't obsess over them)
Looking for candidates who possess data center certifications does make sense in many cases. But again, it's not a best practice to set strict requirements. Relatively few people obtain data center certifications, and some certifications address only a subset of the responsibilities of the typical technician. It would therefore be a mistake to refuse to consider applicants who don't hold specific certifications.
So, while there's nothing wrong with writing in job ads that data center certifications are a plus, don't make them a rigid requirement.
Offer flexible on-call scheduling
Although on-call hours may be an unavoidable part of data center technician jobs, employers who are more flexible about scheduling them will have an easier time attracting candidates. For example, data center operators can let technicians choose their on-call hours instead of being assigned a rigid schedule. They can also compensate for time that technicians spend responding to problems during off hours by providing more paid time off.
These practices won't eliminate the pain of on-call rotations, but they'll make them more tolerable.
Allow remote work when feasible
Many data center technician tasks have to be performed in-person. You can't do things like set up new servers or replace power supplies from home.
But some responsibilities, such as monitoring equipment using remote management systems, don't require technicians to be physically present in the data center. Data center operators should consider giving technicians the option of working remotely when performing this type of work. Doing so is another way to attract skilled employees.
Be transparent about data center technician salary
While data center technician pay is relatively low, it can range widely. Without publishing salary data, employers may miss out on qualified candidates who assume that technician roles will pay under $50,000 a year, when some pay considerably better.
If you can't increase pay, at least be transparent about what you're offering so that you attract the right candidates based on the responsibilities and compensation of the position.
Hiring top data center talent can be hard, not least because data center jobs tend to pay less and be less flexible than other IT roles. But with the right strategy – which includes being flexible about hiring requirements, offering remote work options when feasible and being transparent with regard to salary details – data center operators can optimize their ability to attract the technicians they are looking for.