IT Help desk technician: first weeks survival guide

Are you thinking about getting a job as an IT help desk technician? Or maybe you already have this job and you find it difficult to handle?

Are you in your first weeks in this position and you feel lost or not ready for the challenge? Does it feel like you will never know as much as your colleagues? Do you have the sensation that the training has nothing to do with the real job? Are you under the impression that you will never be able to handle all the cases that can appear and that you will never be able to master all the applications used in this job? Perhaps you even feel like this job is not for you or that you are not the right person for it. Do you feel scared and anxious by every call? Does the lack of knowledge make you feel like you want to quit after every call?

Well, let me tell you something very important: every feeling described above and any other similar ones are perfectly normal. I would be worried if you didn`t feel this way. I still remember my first days as an IT help desk technician; I was sure that I would fail. You know what, though? I didn’t. As a manager of helpdesk teams, I’ve met people who felt lost in their first weeks. I saw people crying, wanting to give up, but they survived. I would very much like to share with you a little survival guide for your first week as an IT help desk technician.

IT help desk technician

1.    Give yourself time

Every new job has its challenges. As an IT helpdesk technician you learn the art of communication, as well as the perimeter you cover. Studies say that we assimilate about 20% of the information we receive during the training. So, if at the end of the training period you feel like you’ve learned nothing, it`s fine. You`ll see that during your calls, you’ll start remembering everything step by step.

Don`t expect to learn everything from the beginning. No one expects this from you, so don`t be too hard on yourself. I know it`s not funny to be the new kid in town and you are impatient to be at the same level as other colleagues who were there beforehand, but be patient. This job is a continual learning process, one call at a time.

2.    Don’t get discouraged after a bad call

Did you have a bad interaction with a customer? Maybe you didn`t have a solution and he lost patience? I can assure you that even the most experienced help desk technicians have bad calls and bad days. The secret is to not take it personally. Let me put it this way: think about a moment when you called a helpdesk or a customer care number. Normally we called them when we have a problem. When you have an issue you get more impatient than usual, more irritated and you tend to lose calm easier than usual.

If a caller gets angry, keep in mind that there might a big chance he was already mad when he dialed your number. Don’t take his anger personally, be empathic, try to put yourself in his shoes and win him over instead. Maybe you won`t manage to do this right from the start, but if you are constant and keep doing your best, results will eventually appear.

The first calls can be scary. At this stage, you still don’t possess the knowledge nor the experience to deal with all kinds of users. It’s totally fine, just take your time and don’t let the pressure overwhelm you.
Keep in mind that you have colleagues that are there to help you; the best way to face the first calls is to stay calm and try to assure the users that you will find a solution for them. You can always ask them kindly to wait while you do search for a solution.

Don`t be afraid to ask for help.

As I said before being the new kid in town is no fun, but it also has its advantage. No one should get annoyed if you ask questions. Do not hesitate to ask for help. Do not be afraid to ask for confirmation. Ask for more information if something is not clear for you. It`s normal to not know everything and helping each other is what teams do. There are no stupid questions, only people to afraid to ask.

3.    It is not necessary to know everything

Trust me, most of your team mates don`t know everything, even if it seems like they do. Of course, they have more calls and more cases to handle and they seem so at ease with this job, don`t they? Well, the secret to know how and where to find the information.

Each IT help desk technician can develop his/her own “knowledge” organization. Some keep a note book, others Microsoft Word documents with all the cases they encounter. Normally all the solutions and procedures should be in the knowledge base, but since IT is a field that develops rapidly, there are chances you might not find everything in there. What to do in this case? Well, make Google your best friend. Check the oldest tickets to see if a colleague had similar incidents before. The ticketing tool is a great knowledge base as it has all the cases that were previously treated by your team.

And again, do not be afraid to ask for help.

ask for help

4.    Be curious

As I said in the previous point, you have various ways to get the information. Do not limit yourself. Consult the knowledge base you have at your disposal. Search on the internet. Check IT related forums. If you have a case with an error message, copy it and put it on Google. There are pretty good chances that at least one person before you have had the same error message and found a solution.

I know that in the first week it can be scary to try new things, to go beyond a procedure, but this is not an excuse for not being curious. Search for information, try new solutions, think out of the box and learn who knows what on your team.

Usually, in an IT help desk team, each member has a preference and he/she’s an expert in a certain area. Get to know your colleagues, see who knows how to deal with the printers, learn from the one who is the guru of Excel and so on. They will be more than happy to share with you their knowledge as the faster you learn, the better for the team.

5.    Communicate with your leader

When you feel lost and consider quitting, don`t do it. At least not before talking to your team leader. He/She will probably remind you why you were hired and will tell you the story of other team members who had the same feeling in the beginning. He/She can help you identify the causes of your frustrations and solve them.

6.    Don’t quit

Being an IT help desk technician is not easy and in the beginning is almost unbearable. Once you surpass the “critical” period, there is a big chance you will get to love this job. Here you can find an article I wrote about why being an IT helpdesk technician is cool.

Be kind to yourself, take time to learn and do not be afraid of asking for help or even of failing. It`s part of the job!

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