Making a Help-ier Help Desk: Is This the List?

Your comments in a previous blog post were a huge help in identifying some of the areas where you think incoming entry-level help desk job candidates need education. My basic question is, “what should a new help desk job candidate know on day 1?”
Communication skills was a common item on many lists, and although that’s certainly a difficult topic to teach, it’s included in the below attachment. I’m calling that one out specifically because… well, there’s a lot of personality involved that just can’t be taught easily. Some people are just naturally more patient than others, whether by genetics or by upbringing. But, there’s no doubt that it’s important to cover.
Anyway, have a look at the attached. Ignoring Linux and Mac for the moment (not that they aren’t important, just that they’re not where I started), let me know if this draft list seems to be missing anything major.
Keep in mind that we’d all love for new job candidates to show up fully educated and ready to roll – but we mostly know that doesn’t happen. That’s why they’re called ‘entry-level’ jobs, of course! So I’m trying to not make this list comprehensive, but rather include just the things that a brand-new, young IT person could be expected to know their first day on a new job.
If there’s anything missing, drop it in the comments. I know some of these don’t have a super-ton of detail, so if there’s a majorly important detail that you think might be missing, feel free to leave that also.
Audience-wise, I’d love for this material to be available to high schoolers, anyone considering a two-year career college (in IT administration, of course, not other tracks), and so on. So I’m trying to keep the material at that kind of level. Not that a high schooler is dumb, but I’m not going to hit them with the full ITIL right out of the gate, either.
I’m not trying to target the material to someone who’s merely enthusiastic about computers, but not necessarily considering a job in them. This is for someone who’s goal is to get a job in the IT department of a company or other organization.
Technology Fundamentals Draft

You might also like

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.


by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Hi Don,
I think it will be good if you include something for virtualization (VMware, Microsoft, Xen), desktop virtualization and maybe something about remote desktop services and Citrix. Some basics for thin clients would be useful too.


Interesting. I'll have to wrap my head around that a bit. Are you thinking the help desk would really just need to understand the concepts of these things? I mean, I'm not expecting my help desk to spin up new VMs, right?


Not VMs but some organizations are moving to VDIs for example and I think helpdesk guys should know what it is and what questions should ask to collect as much as possible information and then to know which team should work on that issue. Maybe they should know how to connect to VMM and VC client and check if there is free space on the machine for example, they may need to do some aplication updates, reboot hang VMs...
I had clients with large Citrix metaframe farms /remote desktop servers with all their applications installed there.They also used thin clients connecting to citrix servers. Also, these companies had a lot published applications in a web browsers. I think that a helpdesk guy should be aware of the basics and to ask the right questions to collect as much as possible information.
At some point in the future almost everything will be virtualized and automated.


Don, I think this is an excellent starting point to formulating a basic learning roadmap for possible entry level IT candidates. I looked at it a few times now and can't think of anything else to add right as a category or subject. The first two things I looked for was troubleshooting and then the human interaction side. It looks like you have both of those handled with Technology Troubleshooting Essentials and Help Desk Essentials, which are two top things for me when teaching others.