It isn’t easy to run a small business.
Before you establish yourself and start growing, profit margins will be razor thin, sometimes it’s a struggle to break even, and during especially lean years you’ll have to cut any expenses that aren’t absolutely necessary just to survive.
One area of your budget you may be looking to trim is your IT expenses. You need a reliable and secure network for your day-to-day operations, and it takes a considerable investment to maintain your network. College-educated, highly-skilled prospective employees will expect a salary of at least $50,000, often more.
When you have an open IT position and some high school kid applies expecting half as much money, why not hire them instead and free up some room in your budget for other needs?
But will an inexperienced high school student actually be effective enough to justify ignoring more qualified candidates?
If disaster strikes and you need a solution right away, do you want your IT infrastructure to be in the hands of a high school kid who works part-time and is still learning as he goes, or a team of experts with decades of experience?
The potential savings are tempting, but there are plenty of reasons why hiring a high school for IT is not a wise decision.
- Lack of experience
Many high school-aged employees don’t have much of a skill set and don’t act very professional. Some are just going through the motions because they their parents want them to get a job, others are simply clueless. You’ll get kids who show up to an interview in a dirty T-shirt and cargo shorts and only ask questions about how much they get paid and how many breaks they get.
But not all of them are like that. Some bright young prospects take advantage of the resources that are available to them and validate their talent with respected certifications: CCNA R&S, Security+, A+, etc.
Even then, an impressive spread of certifications doesn’t guarantee a candidate’s is truly qualified. There is no substitute for real-world experience.
- Less developed
It’s important to keep in mind that precocious and professional high school workers are more the exception than the norm. Sometimes stereotypes are stereotypes because they’re true: the majority of workers in their late teens are indeed less mature and will need more training than workers with more experience.
It’s not their fault: according to MIT, brains don’t even finish developing until they reach their mid-20’s. Young employees need more time to develop before they can truly be productive.
- Less professional
Unfortunately for high school students who manage to be as skilled and composed as their older counterparts, they still have a significant disadvantage working against them.
They just don’t look professional.
You don’t want your clients to think that you’re skimping on your IT support. When clients call in already frustrated that the service they’ve invested in is being interrupted by technical problems, they will just get further incensed if they don’t think you’re hiring capable employees. Fair or not, teenage tech support just doesn’t appear professional on the surface.
Most high school students plan on going to college, and many of them will attend a university out of town or even out of state. Their long-term plans are more likely to change (and change quickly) than older employees who are more settled.
Hiring someone before they really know where they’ll be in the next 1-2 years means that you risk having to go through the whole hiring and training process again far too soon.
- Significant consequences for poor performance
IT support is a serious responsibility. If you make the wrong hire, you could end up setting yourself up for serious problems down the road.
The scary thing is that if you make the wrong hire you won’t know right away. At least if it was obvious that your new employee was underqualified right off the bat you could get rid of them before any damage was done…
No, your high school kid will probably be able to Google his way through any unfamiliar territory for a couple months with decent results. Over time the cracks will show: security software goes unpatched and new viruses take advantage, dangerously outdated hardware is ignored until it fails. Without the attention to detail that an experienced IT professional brings, you’ll eventually face a full-blown disaster and extensive downtime.
There are alternatives that allow you to maintain a reliable and secure network without investing in an in-house IT staff. Most small to medium businesses don’t have to bother with hiring their own staff at all: our fully managed IT services provide you with all the benefits of having your own IT department at a much lower cost. Contact us at (888) 505- or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.