Hiring For Your Tech Team? Look For These Top 15 Qualities

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Building a strong tech team from the ground up takes a recruiting effort that tracks down people with a wide variety of talents and backgrounds. You might think to limit your search to candidates with broad technology experience, but by also looking for candidates with highly niche or nontraditional skills, you can improve the diversity of thought and ability on your team—a must for success.

So what qualities should you be looking for in the search for your first tech hire? We asked a panel of Forbes Technology Council members for their advice.

1. A ‘Team Player’ Attitude

When making the first hire for a tech department, what’s most important might not be which sector the candidate comes from (given that they have the skills necessary for the job) but whether they are a team player or not. Teamwork is essential to the success of any project, so hiring those who are going to be ready to work in a team will ensure that the processes run as smoothly as possible. – Daria Leshchenko, SupportYourApp Inc.

2. A Mix Of Business And Technology Skills

As a CTO, hiring someone with a mix of business and technology skills is important. While technology is key, having an understanding of how to run a division is a whole different ball game. Human skills, managing IT like a company with profit and loss, and understanding the behavior of the team is critical. – Bhavna Juneja, Infinity, a Stamford Technology Company

3. Multidisciplinary Engineering Skills

The first hire must be a multidisciplinary engineer—someone who is a strong architect with a wide skillset to work with a cross-functional team. This person must be able to identify weak spots and offset any missing elements to build a strong, comprehensive team. – Dave Priscak, ON Semiconductor

4. An Enterprise Architecture Background

My first hire as CTO would be an experienced technology business analyst. More than ever before, IT needs to align with business leaders and build a symbiotic relationship with the lines of business. A strong technology business analyst with an enterprise architecture background can build bridges, communicate clearly and bring feedback to the CTO to formulate strategic technology investments. – Sean McDermott, Windward Consulting Group

5. An Understanding Of Cloud Capabilities

Looking at where the world is today, an understanding of how the cloud works and its capabilities is hugely beneficial because it touches so many aspects of the technology sector. It’s also important to hire someone who understands application security and knows how to migrate customers from old technologies to new technologies—and do so gracefully. It’s all more difficult than it seems. – Steve Cochran, ConnectWise

6. User Experience Design Skills

Including experience design skills within any technology team is a great place to start. Team members who advocate for the end-user perspective have never been more important, as end-users have never been more diverse and demanding. – Bob Bruns, Avanade

7. Education Or Entertainment Experience

Currently, many tech companies are reducing their hiring ventures and switching to remote work. We recommend looking into the education and entertainment sectors, as demand for both of those services has skyrocketed. You want employees who are flexible and can work rapidly on various projects to handle a changing world. – Arnie Gordon, Arlyn Scales

8. A Focus On Product

The first hire lays out the groundwork for the rest of the user story of your product. Your momentum will be built on the team you initially build out, so it can be a make-or-break situation. The sector should be focused on product, so look for either an account executive or product leader. Without product, there’ll be no momentum and no company. – WaiJe Coler, InfoTracer

9. Experience With Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning

Every tech company should consider bringing on engineers with AI and machine learning experience. These technologies are transforming the world, and they’ll continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Whether you’re on the receiving end of this disruption or are the one doing the disrupting will strongly depend on how well you’ve incorporated AI technology into your fold. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC

10. Curiosity

A desire to learn is paramount in this day and age. More and more companies are moving away from degrees and experience and want people who are adept at change. If you can bring on a team of employees who know how to think on their feet and are curious to learn all the time, there’s no knowing the heights they can reach! – Irsa Faruqui, RetroCube – Software and Mobile Application Development Company

11. Cybersecurity Skills

Your first hire today should be a cybersecurity specialist. You need to protect your internal systems and your intellectual property from theft, hacks and other kinds of criminal activity. With all the cloud solutions and IoT devices available today, criminals have more entry points to your organization. Protect your systems, devices and data. That should be your first priority. – Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

12. Good Communication

When making a first hire, it is a good idea to identify individuals who have good communication skills, a decent understanding of the industry and a strong analytical background. Being able to communicate effectively while approaching problems scientifically will give them the ability to bridge business and technology. – Abishek Surana Rajendra, Course Hero

13. DevOps Experience

In the current environment, a strong DevOps skillset will go a long way. As the team scales and engineers are forced to work remotely, having a smooth development experience will significantly increase team productivity. Additionally, a strong DevOps hire will ensure users always get the best experience when accessing your tech. – Shub Jain, Auquan

14. The Ability To Overcome Setbacks

Past performance is an important indicator of future success, but the trajectory doesn’t have to run in a steadily ascending line. Give a fair hearing to how candidates overcame setbacks, displayed resilience and recommitted themselves to their profession. Listen for the openness to learn and the willingness to collaborate. That give-and-take will determine whether you invite them to come—or go. – Meghann Chilcott, XIL Consulting

15. Any Skills Your Existing Team Lacks

CTOs need to know what they have before they can determine what they need. If they are building a new team from scratch, the first hire will need to hit the ground running, which means they’ll need to be someone who is knowledgeable about the kind of environment the organization uses. When building out an existing team, knowing what skills are lacking will help guide the search for complementary hires. – Saryu Nayyar, Gurucul

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