In the last few years internet technology has exploded bringing us intricate gadgets that are mainly designed to make our life easier if not more interesting. Along with this phenomenon called technology careers in this field have multiplied, from regular Joes working behind the scenes in big corporations to millions of freelancers around the world offering their skills and knowledge in this industry.
As technology has become more approachable to people and businesses, IT careers have exploded. Like the internet, freelance technology careers have become more common to the extent that the average client has lost the appreciation and at times the respect IT professionals deserve for their vast knowledge and skillset.
Of course there are cases in which IT people may disappoint intentionally or unintentionally but there are still many IT people, developers/designers etc out there that work very hard and present a very legitimate service that is often overlooked by potential customers.
These are some items I have encountered in my experience as a freelancer that led me to believe most people out there have this notion or in another word, “perception” of IT professionals:
- We literally work 24/7
I am not talking about those clients we deal with overseas and in different time zones but instead a client that calls without realizing we are out for the night. I am talking about the next door lady who calls at any given moment of the day and expects us to pick up the phone or return the call right away. I am also talking about the owner of that shop that texts us when we don’t answer the phone, email us when we don’t answer the text, skype us, Facebook message us or decides to show up in our office because “we haven’t gotten back to him right away”. Of course we don’t have a support agreement to be that responsive either.
People often forget IT professionals have families, doctor visits, and other clients. Most importantly “we have schedules”. Like any other professional we have schedules we must stick to in order to complete our many tasks and/or projects.
We also understand that emergencies happen, when this is the situation we respond to emails or return calls right away if not the rule of thumb is usually within an hour or two.
- We don’t celebrate holidays
This one is a little frustrating. Even the least religious person acknowledges holidays such as New Years, Thanksgiving, Independence Day or most importantly, their loved ones birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
If it’s seriously important clients should resort to email first, we tend to check emails before we check our voicemail.
- We know everything
This one is a funny one. Years ago my step father wanted to learn “the computers” and asked me if I could give him a few lessons. I set time aside to sit with him and teach him computer 1:0, I started by the power button and how to operate the mouse. Before he could even get over the battle with the mouse arrow he started asking me how to login to his bank account, how to check bills, etc. I thought it was good that he wanted to learn right away what this computer can do for him. Next thing I know I’m calling Colombia trying to reset a password because my step dad kept saying “how come it’s not working? I thought you knew?”
As years go by, I realized that this ridiculous perception about IT people is bigger than people care to admit. The moment someone sells his/her services as a programmer, webmaster, and/or web designer people assume that we know everything, literally. I have designed a website and delivered it to a happy client only to receive demanding calls later because “his email” it’s not working. Or something else broke that is completely unrelated to the work I did. Most people do not understand the work we do, that is why they hire IT professionals to do it.
The other thing that bothers me the most is when companies post jobs in places like monsterjob.com or jobs.com looking for a candidate for their webmaster, content manager, programmer, social media, software developer position and they want this person to know C++, Java scrip, AWS, CMS, Infusionsoft, Cisco, how to get everyone back on Wi-Fi when it’s down and why the coffee maker makes that rattling noise?
We don’t know everything that does not mean we don’t know or can’t figure it out. At the end you really want a professional that is capable to learn or find ways to solve problems that he/she has never encountered before. The goal is to work with someone that can find ways to resolve problems before you assume that if we don’t know everything we must not know anything.
- We can fix everything
Technology is tricky and stubborn at times, websites, programs, software and even hardware malfunction eventually. When you work with any of these you can sort of predict or diagnose the problem and then fix it. With this said 99.9% of the time when something breaks or does not function properly and you don’t know why people believe it’s because you simply don’t know the technology well.
Why is it ok for Doctors or Mechanics to tell you they don’t know what’s wrong before they run diagnostics but when IT professionals say they need to investigate first, they get the stinky eye? We will be asked to give a price quote when we already know that the extent of the issue can be either huge or small.
As I said before you really want someone competent enough to find a solution or tell you honestly it is not in their expertise but when we try to help do not take it as we do not know the technology.
- If it doesn’t take long it has to be cheap
Sometimes we can fix something within minutes that does not mean it was a piece of cake for us. When we charge by the hour what we are really charging for is the time it took us to learn what we know. We might still have loans for our education, and we might have to pay employees, office space, other bills, time and effort to get where we are right now. Here is the kicker, we also need to pay for continuing education and trainings so as to have a fighting chance to keep up with the ever changing word of technology. If we can fix something in 5 minutes it’s because we worked very hard to retain knowledge be able to fix it in those 5 minutes. We were not born knowing technology, we must be paid by the project or the hour because nobody charges by the minute or has the time to calculate those minutes. We want to be respected and appreciated for what we do and not question when something appears to be small and insignificant.
- The guys overseas can do the same thing 10x cheaper
Yes they can and not because those few dollars are millions in their country but they do it because it will be a mediocre job, it will most likely never be finished, and there is nothing you can do to them if they take your money and run. Most of those guys do know technology but often are overselling their services and you end up with half done jobs or very quick and unprofessional looking websites. I have heard of people being burnt on Fiverr more than once. You have to do research and look carefully if you want to hire someone overseas or save your time and look at someone in your town or city. At the end you know your budget but keep in mind that if those guys will do it cheaper the guys here won’t.
- If you don’t have an office you must not be serious
Internet technology does not require a physical location and nowadays meetings are not as productive as people would like them to be. IT professionals do not necessarily need a physical location and when they do acquire a spacious and professionally looking office without really having the need for it you can count on their service prices to go way up, someone has to pay for that office right?
When you contract the services of an IT professional you are mainly focused on their experience and expertise, the rest is complimentary.
- We are all the “Computer guy”
This is as bad as calling a Daycare teacher “babysitter” or telling a stay at home parent “you do nothing all day”. IT professionals whether they attended school, college, training school or just years of experience, we have put a great effort into this title. We do not just “do computers” we create things in a virtual universe that most people do not understand. What we do seems invisible for most people but it is very powerful when you can understand it. Technology moves the world and we need the respect and recognition we deserve.
- We like to barter
No we don’t. We don’t want a haircut in exchange for a website. A small business does not necessarily qualify as a charitable organization that deserves our free services. We do not want to do any free work in exchange for a mention in your portfolio and a footnote in your website. When we start to exchange services and don’t put a money amount on it we can easily fall into a web of confusion in which either party feels they did not get their end of the deal. One of the two would almost always feel that they were not valued or did something on the cheap. Bartering can be good but it would be rare and is not a way to run a responsible and successful business.
- Everything it’s our fault
I covered this one earlier, most clients don’t understand technology and we end up being blamed for them, here is a list of things that aren’t our fault:
- Your website got hacked. (Unless you pay us to make it secure or pay extra to your hosting provider to make it secure.) Here is an analogy, a contractor builds a home, do you hold that contractor responsible if a burglar breaks in?
- We couldn’t restore your website because you never wanted to pay for monthly back-ups
- You uploaded large oversized media (because you tried to DIY or paid someone in another country) and now the site is slow
- Your website grew quickly and its attracting many visitors but it keeps crashing because you don’t want to upgrade your server
- You never review your content and your site looks outdated
- Your website doesn’t necessarily climb to the top of the search engines on its own, you have to pay for SEO (that’s what we IT folks do for pay of course) So no don’t give me a cut of future profits in exchange for SEO
- If the hosting company has an outage your site will go down
- If the hosting has problems with emails your emails won’t work
- You forgot your password, we didn’t change it
- You want technical support you have to pay for it, it doesn’t come with the site and it doesn’t last forever
- You were not clear with your instructions
- No it is not as simple and quick as you think it is.
What we do might seem simple and fun but it requires patience, time and effort and skills acquired over a period of time. We do not like to undersell our skills and be constantly compared to other IT that can do it cheaper.
Give us your thoughts in the comment field bellow. Do you have more to add? personal experiences? we want to know!