It may not be easy to find a great IT job, but unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to lose one. For IT employees, there are quite a few reasons you could be instantly fired — most of them having to do with the crucial nature of IT to just about every organization, and the potentially disastrous consequences of a technical screw-up.
The kinds of situations that can lead to immediate dismissal for IT workers range from negligence, to incompetence, to misuse or abuse of your technical power. Here are some examples you should be aware of, so you don’t make these terminal mistakes on the job.
Failing on backups
Keeping data backed up is absolutely critical for any company. So if you’re in IT and responsible for backups, make sure they’re kept up to date at all times. This means not only ensuring that your backup solution is functional and performing as expected, but also that you test the system occasionally to make sure it’s actually creating and saving backups.
Slacking on backup is a common problem in many IT departments. There are many ways this can become an issue, from simple forgetfulness to assumptions that backups aren’t that important, to no one knowing who’s actually responsible for data preservation. If you want to make your job, make sure you have an airtight backup solution that will prevent your organization from losing millions of dollars.
Covering up an issue
As an IT professional, there’s no doubt you’ll run into problems that can and will affect your company’s infrastructure. But if you have an issue and try to cover up the mistake, it’s likely to backfire — and cost you your job. Especially when that mistake costs your organization substantial revenue.
For example, a mistake at a financial institution cost nearly the entire IT staff their jobs when a vendor shipped the wrong disk tray for a storage array — and the staff installed it anyway, without waiting for the vendor to send a tech for the installation. After a catastrophic failure with the array, the bank’s entire system was offline for nearly a week and the organization not only lost millions, but suffered damage to their reputation. But the real issue came when the IT staff tried to blame the vendor instead of fessing up to the mistake. Only one team member told the truth about what happened — and he was the only one to keep his job.
Spying on the boss
Many IT pros have the ability to access information that others in the company aren’t allowed to see. But with this power comes the responsibility to use it wisely — which means only accessing privileged information within the parameters of your job. However, not all IT employees hold up this responsibility, and abuse of power can quickly lead to termination.
Email is a common issue here. Approximately two-thirds of tech employees have access to staff emails, including those of top executives. And while it may be tempting to find out what the CEO, the CFO, or the chairman of the board is discussing in private, this type of tampering can have career-destroying consequences.
Speaking out to the wrong authorities
Historically, there has been serious conflict in many organizations between “the techs” and “the suits.” Top executives hand down orders and make seemingly impossible demands, and IT employees must follow those directives, no matter how petty or uniformed. But like any employee, tech pros must choose their battles carefully, or risk being canned.
It’s difficult to deal with executive influence when that influence comes from someone who has no idea how technology operates, or what kind of work goes into various functions and aspects of an infrastructure. This is why soft skills are so important for today’s IT professionals. You must be able to discuss technical topics with people who don’t necessarily understand the language, so you can explain why you really can’t shorten your release cycle from 90 days to five days, effective immediately.
Using work resources inappropriately
There’s checking your personal email on a work computer — and then there’s playing StarCraft. You may be surprised at how often this happens, simply because many IT employees know how to get around the filters, restrictions, and policies put in place to prevent employees from accessing this type of material.
But whether it’s watching videos or playing games, the end result is the same: You’re fired. So keep in mind that some personal activities are better suited for home consumption.