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The following piece of advice will be for those aspiring for an IT service desk position:

When companies are looking to hire service desk agents, they're primarily looking for socially skilled people with strong communicative skills, rather than primarily technically skilled people. When I first joined the IT world, I went on different interviews for that position and across all of them there was one truth: all the interviewers were eyeballs-focused on my social and communication skills and a mere thin layer of technical skills was required (depending on how technical the service desk). In fact, I immediately got aggressively dismissed twice for two of those when I filled in a Myers-Briggs personality test according to my Sheldon-type personality (selfish, condescending etc). Conversely, when I applied for a new position and I faked that test into answering everything focused positively on the social aspect, I was an immediate top candidate.

Here's a definition from the ITIL Foundation course, chapter Service Management: Because of how lateral the function of the service desk has become today (not only used to solve technical issues, but also company-wide issues), the most important and valued skills when hiring a service desk agent are fully focused on empathy and soft skills and none of those are technical skills. This is because the service desk has people that are the front window of your company and thus you can't make social mistakes as to protect your company's reputation. That risk has to be minimized and you need the ideal people. The people who in fact solve the technical problems are behind a back-office and they are contacted by the service desk agents.

In the beginning, when I did my first service desk job, I also thought: "Oh, I'm going to have to convince them I'm this technical wizard". In the end I got hired for being able to explain technology in human language and because in the interview I successfully communicated and explained ideas to both the team manager and the CEO, not because I knew what goes on inside a computer. This is a very important distinction.
My friends have also been in service desk positions and ironically they were the most successful when they were empathetic slimeballs (saying: "of course, anything for you" while not meaning it, constantly making jokes), rather than people with integrity (those got fired for telling the customer they were wrong while being unfriendly).

I hope this helps.

Comments
  • 2
    Not tryna be a dick at all, but I thought this was common sense already lol

    Technical skills are a lot easier to teach than social skills, therefore, it's easier to hire a social person with less technical skills and train them than it is to hire a really technical person with no social skills.

    But solid advice nonetheless!
  • 1
    @Stuxnet I thought the inverse was true. Social skills are often easier material to process than technical skills that are typically backed by strong and elaborated principles, laws and documentation. Technical skills take years to mature.

    The way I see it, if you're going to be the front line of customers who have technical problems, shouldn't that require you to have a strong foundation of technical knowledge? I mean, what else are you going to do? Entertain them? Yes, I know you're going to log their issues and pass them on.
  • 0
    If that job required service desk folks to have technical competence, they would need to have it - and then they wouldn't do such a crappy and low paid job. D'uh.
  • 2
    @CaptainRant

    Changing ones behaviour, habits and social routines can not be taught, it is something said person must want to do and throw them selves into the deep end and come out the other end a different person.

    Remembering low key tech skills or reading documentation... anyone should be able to do.
  • 1
    @CaptainRant @C0D4 hit the nail on the head. It could take years for someone to develop the necessary social skills.

    Working a retail (or really any job where you're the one customers interact with) job early on definitely can help you develop the skills and somewhat quickly. After a few days it was a lot easier to interact with customers for me.
  • 1
    @C0D4 I learned straight from uni on how to change my behavior though. Pavlov conditioning and operand conditioning and of course all the other aspects of psychology which to me are logical enough to adopt.
  • 2
    @Stuxnet 😨a fellow salesman from a previous work life!!
    Damn we are a small breed in this industry.

    But totally right, customer facing sales or warranty... that was a life lesson area too,

    It's probably the one job that you can "learn" well more throw you into the deep and work out how to be social. It's either that or get fired right, Got to hit those sales targets somehow.
  • 1
    @CaptainRant I'm pretty sure that's our equilivent of "it works on my machine"

    Not every one is going to take a psychology unit in uni, and not everyone is going to be able to put to practise what they learn by doing such things.

    It comes down to the core personality and mental abilities of the individual, or being throw into the ocean and watch them swim or drown.

    Again, not everyone will swim out.
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