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Looking for Character: How to Hire Telecom Talent

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Finding the right candidate for the job
Image: Monster Ztudio - stock.adobe.com
I overheard an IT manager once ask his staff member, “Do you know why I hired you? Because of your character. I’ll teach you everything you need to know in this department. But I can’t change your character.” I’ve never forgotten this conversation, and it’s front of mind when I interview others.
 
Integrity, initiative, drive, perseverance, curiosity, grace, communication skills, flexibility, cooperation, patience — these are traits that should be fostered and exemplified by parents at a young age. Interview first for these things. Skills such as coding, troubleshooting, editing, or accounting can be taught in school or the workplace.
 
Replacing a veteran employee who leaves with years of knowledge and experience can be an incredible challenge. On the other hand, this provides a huge opportunity to bring much-needed change to your department or simply a new and fresh perspective. In large organizations, staff members generally complement each other. Each team member fills a role and has unique strengths. A well-run organization will cross train team members to share responsibilities, provide upward opportunities, and adapt to meet the business needs.
 
If you feel like there is a weak member on your team, I encourage you to carefully analyze the situation and identify the person’s strengths and weaknesses. Do their strengths align well with their role? Do they have the support, time, and resources to meet the expected goals? Are the goals measurable and realistic? Answering these questions isn’t always easy, and it might take some time to get to know a person’s aptitude, personality, and background.
 
In a previous life, we had a particularly weak engineer in a very technical position. From my perspective, she generally struggled in a lot of areas. Compared to the others on her team, her work was slow, she wasn’t happy, and few wanted to work with her. One day the team got a new manager. Within a few months, the manager reassigned her to be a general project manager (PM) for the entire team. Within a few weeks, the department radically changed for the better. She was thrilled and doing an excellent job. The other team members could better focus on the technical aspects, which is what they preferred, and she could focus on coordinating projects. As a result, everyone’s work pace accelerated, and job satisfaction increased. And because she did have the technical background, she made a better PM than any officially certified PM I have ever met. It was a huge success because someone took the time to get to know her and figure out what made her tick.
 
Retention is preferable to hiring, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Filling a position typically involves screening resumes for experience and interviewing for character — at least that’s my method.
 
Soliciting talent for any position is a chore and is especially cumbersome within a specialty niche such as telecom. Roles can vary widely and hiring managers who may not have a background in telecom may struggle to write a job description that fits will within their organization. Your company may be in the call center business or value-added reseller, but I’ve provided a generic telecom technician resume below for your use as a starting point. Most large companies will hire several telecom techs and engineers to support their systems across multiple campuses.
 
To help you fill a position, I’ve provided a mid-level telecom technician job description as a springboard for your process. Obviously, you will need to modify it to suit your role.
 
Telecom Technician
 
Requirements:
  • Read, write, and speak conversational and technical English
  • Work 8 AM to 5 PM Central U.S. time, Monday through Friday
  • Must be organized, attention to detail, and able to multitask
  • Work in a fast-paced environment.
  • Willing to occasionally work off hours and periodic weekend
 
Required experience:
  • Supporting several different enterprise phone systems
  • Managing IT projects
  • Working with diverse, international personnel
  • Hosting audio and video conference calls
  • Interpreting data and running reports
  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Troubleshooting basic telecommunications problems
  • Your email platform and common tools (i.e., Gmail and Google Workspace)
  • Microsoft Office — using formulas in Excel
  • Auto attendants, hunt/ring groups, time-of-day tables, announcements, VDNs, music on hold
  • Installing analog telephone adapters to support peripheral devices to VoIP service
 
Required knowledge:
  • Cloud-based VoIP experience
  • VoIP, ISDN PRI, Centrex, 1FB POTS, toll-free services
  • LAN, VLAN, DHCP, switching, and networking technologies
 
Nice to Have’s:
  • Prior experience migrating enterprises from legacy voice services to the cloud
  • Prior experience working with U.S. carriers
  • Understanding of rate centers, international circuits, & voice services
  • Call center support
  • Prior experience supporting Windows desktops
  • Familiar with basic networking standards
  • Administration with Audio codes
  • Installation and support of international circuits
  • Nortel and Avaya experience
 
Role Description
Company A is seeking telecom technician to help support a fortune 500 company to help run multiple voice migration projects to the cloud and thereafter provide ongoing support. Must be able to work independently, run projects, and perform tier-2 support with some level of autonomy.
 
This individual will be responsible for the maintenance, installation, and support of Company A’s voice services systems. These systems include Google Voice, Verizon VCE, AT&T Collaborate, BluIP, NEC, and Avaya Enterprise PBX systems, providing telephony services for about 300 remote facilities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
 
As a member of the voice services department, this individual will also work closely with other teams, such as network engineering, field IT services, and the business, often in a project management role migrating legacy systems to cloud-based VoIP solutions, following industry standards and telecommunications regulations.
 
Minimum Qualifications:
5 years of experience as a telecom technician supporting medium-to-large companies
 
Obviously, you will need to make adjustments to suit your company’s environment, but I hope this provides a solid starting point to draft your telecom technician’s job description. Keep in mind, rarely will you find someone whose skills and experience match perfectly to the job description. Skills and knowledge can be taught. After screening resumes, I would encourage you to interview instead for character. Try to make sure the prospective employee has values that match you and your company.

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