Hiring a Database Administrator

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The career of a database administrator has been occupied by more than 108,000 people in the United States by 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Simply put, the Database Administrator (DBA) is the person assigned to all the data management functions of an company. These responsibilities include purchasing and installing database products, managing database related development projects, database security, database back-up and recovery processes, disaster recovery planning and testing, and planning for future database requirements. A DBA would most likely report to the Chief Information Officer (CIO) of a company, and be in charge of all the database management operations and other database professionals. Given the central role of data management in most businesses, hiring the right person for this job is a important decision.

  1. Planning – The new hire is probably going to take over all or some responsibilities from someone who has announced they are leaving the company, moving to another job, or scheduled for retirement. Working back from the scheduled departure date, allow for at least eight weeks to complete the hiring process. This would include two to three weeks for advertising the job; two to three weeks for the short-listing and interviewing process; and another week or two to complete the background checks. If you have more advanced requirements that would complicate the search process, you should allow even more time for the search.
  2. Interview Team – Organize a selection committee that has the proper technical background. If possible, include people who understand database management systems, database concepts, and recent database projects. This will help during the interview process to make sure the candidates have the proper experience and training for your specific requirements.
  3. Job Description – Once you understand the specific technical needs for the position, you can document the job description. This is important for the eventual job posting, as well as to help the candidate know what skills are required even after they are hired into the position. You’ll need to note the specific skills you need for the DBA, including what database skills you are specifically looking for from the candidates. If the candidate is missing a specific skill you have listed, it doesn’t mean they are automatically disqualified, but it could mean training might cause a delay as they learn the required skills.
  4. Job Posting – It is important to advertise both internally and externally, even if you don’t fell there are any qualified candidates in the company. The internal posting could lead to a qualified referral, and that could abbreviate the candidate search. If you have a relationship with a recruitment firm that specializes in information technology, involve them in the job advertising process. If a recruitment firm is involved, that usually means you will have to pay a fee if you select one of their candidates.
  5. Collect Resumes – Track the resumes received in response to your advertisement or from a recruitment firm. Prepare a short list of no more than three or four of the most qualified candidates. You should make sure you have a resin that each selected candidate is better than the others.
  6. Resume Review – Discuss the interview process with the selection committee, and review each selected resume with the team. They need to decide on a general list of areas to explore with the short-listed candidates. The team should conduct the interviews and select the prime candidates.
  7. References – Once a candidate is selected, ask for a list of references and request permission to conduct background checks. Conduct these checks before making any offer or noticing the other candidates they were not selected.
  8. Written Offer – Offer the job to your top choice, if they have passed the background check. In most cases, this involves sending an offer letter and requesting that they formally accept or decline the position. There may be some negotiations on salary, stock options, bonus, start date, etc.
  9. Orientation – Conduct an orientation session by first introducing the DBA to the other database team members. This is especially important if it is an external hire, because you would need to allow for a transition period for the new member to get acquainted with his peers and the company operations. You will want to formally introduce the new hire to the people they will interact with on a daily basis, and encourage the entire team to help the new hire learn the processes required to get them up to speed a quickly as possible.
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