Cisco Network Engineers from CCNA-CCIE

You’re a Cisco Network Engineer – Now What?

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Gaining a certification as a Cisco Network Engineer is only the beginning of your professional journey, next you need a job. There are literally thousands of Engineers passing CCNA, CCNP and CCIE exams around the world every single year. All those bits of paper look the same; they all tell prospective employers that you did indeed pass the written and trickier lab exams.

You might have a Cisco Certification, but so do thousands more – the question is “Why would an employer hire you rather than the thousands of other equally qualified individuals?” Gaining experience can only be gained by well, gaining experience – so what else can help you become a SUCCESSFUL Cisco Network Engineer?

Professionalism

Any prospective employer and end client will demand a high level of professionalism at all times so you need to consider perception – how does the client or employer perceive your levels of professionalism? Make sure you:

  • Ensure the project scope/SLA agreement is adhered to at all times
  • Have your Engineers tools/kit – Be Prepared!
  • Dress like the professional you are
  • You’re the Technical one, not everyone else so refrain from jargon & being overly-technical

Applying for a job as a Network Engineer is just like any other, you need to portray a good image and one of professionalism. I recently had an online conversation with a Cisco Engineer who appeared on our website with the words “Need Job Mate” – em not from me you won’t, especially as your level of professionalism is shocking!

Communication Skills

Regardless of where you’re from, learn to speak the local language – and well. As skilled as you may be with IT Networks and the technical aspect of being a Cisco Engineer, you need to be able to communicate with clients, employers & stakeholders. There needs to be a trail of the work you carry out from start to finish, make sure you:

  • If you’re running late, tell your boss as early as possible
  • Alert your employer/boss of the time you arrive/leave and report to your onsite contact
  • Take photos before and after your work has been completed
  • Double check your work against the project scope – always focus on Quality of Service

Often external forces like bad weather, heavy traffic or car trouble can’t be avoided, so just ensure that you communicate with your seniors making your movements easier to monitor & track.

More Tracks

Once you’ve passed 1 exam, don’t stop! The more Cisco tracks you have, the better chance you stand of being employed. Technology, business and Cisco qualifications are all evolving – CCNA/CCIE Voice, Storage Networking and Service Provider Operations are now all obsolete – so keep training otherwise your skills will also become superseded. Gaining a certification in R&S is only the start; think about gaining certifications in Security, Unified Communications and Wireless – none of these tracks are likely to be retired anytime soon. With the birth of IoT, BYOD, Big Data and Cloud computing then skills for Unified Communications, Cybersecurity and Wireless will all be in high demand.

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Responsiveness

To become an in-demand Cisco Engineer – be responsive! If your employer calls you and asks “can you be in London/Paris in an hour?” put down your knife and fork, grab your kit and get moving. Respond to trends in the marketplace, less focus on Voice, more focus on Unified Communications. Less focus on Storage Networking and more on Data Storage and Cloud computing. Recently there have been some high profile security breaches with Sony, JP Morgan Chase and AOL and in 2015 75% of CIO’s intend to increase their IT Security expenditure, therefore be poised to respond to the trends happening in the world of IT Networking.

Housekeeping

Leave the site exactly as you found it. Ensure the communications cabinet is securely closed follow all in-house security protocols and don’t leave a mess. You’d be surprised as to the big impression you can make with small gestures of housekeeping.

Being a Cisco Network Engineer requires greater skills than the ability to rack, mount and stack a server or two. There’s an estimated 600,000 Cisco Certified Engineers worldwide, so if your professionalism, communication and housekeeping skills are lacking – then you won’t be stacking and racking. Since gaining your Cisco Certifications what problems have you encountered when looking for a job? As a client, what skills do you think Engineers lack/excel at? All comments are welcome 🙂

9 replies
  1. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    The problem I’ve encountered in my city is the way of thinking. I’m female and employers hire just males! Because they think just men can do jobs like this. They say “jobs related to network and cisco is just for men and women can’t have these jobs”.

    Reply
    • Jason King (BA) Hons Cert DMP
      Jason King (BA) Hons Cert DMP says:

      Hi Sarah, thanks very much for your feedback. You raise a relevant point about the lack of female Engineers, but such short-sightedness from employers will be to their detriment. We have female Engineers who receive excellent feedback about the quality of work and the quality of customer service they provide. We also think that there is a lack of women in IT and even less female Network Engineers. Whilst there is a lack of young women interested in IT Networking at a younger age, the problem being raised here is about the backward attitude of potential employers for Engineers. If these companies display a sexist approach to their recruitment, then is this really the type of company you’d like to work for?

      Reply
  2. amine
    amine says:

    Hi,

    I’m a beginner at the networking technology world and I want to ask you sir what is the chance to find a entry level job in the networking field after I get CCNP and without any degree or experience.What are your suggestions and advice for me ?

    Thank you

    Amine

    Reply
    • Jason King (BA) Hons Cert DMP
      Jason King (BA) Hons Cert DMP says:

      Hi Amine,

      Thanks for reading our blog and taking the time to ask your question. Firstly I wouldn’t worry about a degree, CCNP then progressing to CCIE will ensure you’re gaining the skills sought by employers.

      Specialise in specific disciplines such as Security, Wireless or Unified Communications – whatever subject you’re good at and enjoy the most. If you concentrate on a subject you enjoy, then you can be passionate about the work you do.:)

      Reply
  3. Ian Kakuba
    Ian Kakuba says:

    Hello,
    I would like to ask what my chances are to get a job in the UK when am from Uganda. Am a CCNA R&S progressing to CCNP R&S. I am also a degree holder in IT and I have five years of working experience but in my country Uganda.

    Regards

    Ian

    Reply
    • Jason King (BA) Hons Cert DMP
      Jason King (BA) Hons Cert DMP says:

      Thanks for your comments Ian. I would have to be honest and say getting a Visa to work in the UK would be rather difficult unless you have a company to commence employment with. In the UK we already have thousands and thousands of qualified and experienced CCNA’s, CCNP’s and CCIE’s therefore there is no skills shortages here in the UK. If you want to find out more about Visa’s it’s best to consult with the UK and Ugandan governments

      Reply
  4. anushri
    anushri says:

    I’m a novice at the systems administration innovation world and I need to ask you sir what is the opportunity to discover a section level occupation in the systems administration field after I get CCNP and with no degree or experience.

    Reply
    • Jason King (BA) Hons Cert DMP
      Jason King (BA) Hons Cert DMP says:

      Hi Anurshi, education and certification are still very much a pre-cursor for many organisations looking to increase and evolve their internal network teams. That said a CCNP certfication is very much highly regarded when achieved in conjunction with a varied network background experience. In short, as with many careers, experience and verifyable “trade” related history will stand a candidate in good stead. Perhaps contact any local Cisco Partners your may have and offer your services as a technical intern, this can be offered in return for the varied experience required, a LinkedIn referral and a written letter of reference for any future employers. Good luck with your career.

      Reply

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