Cisco skills shortage is baloney, expert says

Brad Reese contends that Cisco is manufacturing the so-called skills shortage to appease its sales channel.

Brad Reese recently appeared as a guest for Network World chat. Brad operates BradReese.Com, a portal that matches Cisco professionals with jobs and with refurbished equipment and writes the extremely popular Brad Reese blog for Network World's Cisco Subnet site. Reese hotly contends that no skills shortage exists and has evidence that some behind-the-scenes funny business takes place with Cisco's channels that keeps qualified employed Cisco pros from finding new jobs. Brad also revealed what he thought of the new CCENT and some sure-fire methods for employment nirvana.

Brad Reese recently appeared as a guest for a Network World chat. Brad operates BradReese.Com, a portal that matches Cisco professionals with jobs and refurbished equipment. He also writes the extremely popular Brad Reese blog for Network World's Cisco Subnet site. Reese hotly contends that no job shortage exists for Cisco professionals and has evidence that some behind-the-scenes funny business takes place that actually keeps Cisco pros from finding new jobs. Brad also offered some sure-fire methods for any network pro to find employment nirvana.

Brad_Reese: Hi everyone.

Moderator-Julie: While we are waiting for questions to come in, here's a pre-submitted question: Do employers really understand the difference between a qualified network design engineer or architect and a CCIE? Some people have both, but many are not good engineers.

Brad_Reese: I think employers understand what they need, but it is rare for one person to possess aptitude in both requirements. Being able to translate business requirements into technology is what Cisco itself is constantly trying to master. So how can a single person be expected to do it? A jack of all trades and master of none so to speak (like yours truly!).

joey: How is the industry implementing Cisco network access control? What is your opinion for the future of Cisco NAC in the data center or enterprise?

Brad_Reese: Most experts have told me that Cisco has been a failure in NAC, do you agree?

servergirl: I have been working in networking for a couple of years now. But my role and company IT structure limits me to local LAN technologies. I do not have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with WAN or firewall technologies. As I look at job opportunities online, pretty much every posting requires good experience with everything under the sun. So even though I have gotten my foot in the door of networking, I still feel stuck. How do I overcome the experience requirements gap? (FYI, I do have my CCNA, and am currently working on my CCNP.)

Brad_Reese: This question is my cup of tea indeed. Upload your CV/Resume to BradReese.com and clearly state on your CV the technologies that you are interested in pursuing and whether you will relocate to pursue job opportunities that match your interest. Don't be shy about letting prospective employers know where your technology interests are at heart.

greenie: What do you recommend for a MCSE and MCSA person that has the CCNA and wants to move into more Cisco certification. What will be best area to study to give me a leg up for future jobs? I am presently studying for the CCNP.

Brad_Reese: Pick the technology area that interests you the most. If VoIP bores you then don't pursue it. Don't chase money. The money will chase you if you're very good at what you do. So when a technology area is becoming "hot" look into it. But if the technology bores you and/or does not get you excited, don't pursue it. Stick to what gets your blood boiling, to what makes you excited about getting up everyday!

doordie: Brad, I'm curious. Have you noticed any trends in the resumes posted on BradReese.com? By trends, I mean the types of skills people bring to the table or the types of goals/jobs they're looking to find, as well as demographics -- age, etc.

Brad_Reese: Doordie, I see that worldwide Cisco Certs RULE! Cisco Certified Network Engineers need to let the world know that YOU are available and what your career goals are. That way employers will CONTACT YOU. Most of the trend that yours truly is seeing is that Cisco Certified Network Engineers are looking for new challenges. And unfortunately, Cisco is trying to keep those individuals with their current employers and NOT facilitating new opportunities for those engineers with other Cisco channel partners or even Cisco customers!

jrensink78: Are you seeing a current Cisco skills shortage in the industry as some have mentioned? How do you see the 5-10 year future of the networking job industry shaping up?

Brad_Reese: No, I see Cisco manufacturing the "image" that there is a skills shortage!

Bobcert: On the subject of shortage of skills (or not), we are seeing lots of open opportunities in the market not being filled. In your opinion what is the reason? Is it not because there is not enough qualified professionals out there?

Brad_Reese: Bobcert, Cisco makes it impossible for highly qualified Cisco Certified Network Engineers to "jump" to another Cisco channel partner!

CP3: Why is Cisco saying there is a talent shortage?

Brad_Reese: CP3, Because Cisco is artificially restricting the movement of Certified Professionals between Cisco channel partners.

NetSavvy: Actually I believe it is widely reported that the demand for networking skills outstrips the supply worldwide. Do you believe that this is true?

Brad_Reese: NetSavvy, Cisco is widely reporting the shortage. Is it real when Cisco itself is NOT doing what it can to facilitate opportunities for engineers unhappy at a current Cisco channel partner and want a new opportunity? Cisco is protecting the "bad" employment policies of its channel partners and penalizing the "good" policies of other channel partners by NOT facilitating the movement of certified engineers among channel partners.

doordie: So, can we expect to see some sort of backlash to Cisco's support of its channel partner's bad employment policies -- and how that impedes people from moving from one job to the next? Or, is this more of the same -- with people taking it because Cisco IS networking?

Brad_Reese: Doordie, yours truly had a Cisco Gold Partner ask me to REMOVE a resume/CV of one of its employees without that employee's consent. Yours truly REFUSED. Would Cisco refuse such a request from a gold partner? Doubt it!

doordie: I don't get it. Why does Cisco care whether a CCNE moves from one employer to the next?

Brad_Reese: Usually a pay increase is involved too. Guess when your channel partners are "margin challenged," Cisco feels the next pocket to pick are those of Cisco Certified Network Engineers. Yours truly has stated numerous times that this a DANGEROUS GAME that Cisco is playing!

servergirl: If I wanted to apply for a job overseas, how hard is that? Do companies in India and China want U.S. network folks?

Brad_Reese: Not hard. At BradReese.Com, we currently we have CVs from Cisco Certified Network Engineers in 55 different countries.

Nisse: Do you think manufacturing the "image" of the 80's -- will it get too big for itself?

Brad_Reese: The only entity that can kill Cisco is Cisco. At some point Cisco might succeed at killing itself, or at the very least severely wounding itself. Yours truly believes that network professionals are much better at adapting than Cisco. The single biggest problem Cisco needs to overcome in order to stay competitive is being Cisco. Will Cisco be able to adapt as quickly as network professionals? Only time will tell.

doordie: I read about virtualization everywhere. What do I need to know about virtualization at the network level? Do I need to understand this technology in order to further my career in networking?

Brad_Reese: You need to understand it and understand it well, and you already appear to know that.

CidI: I am currently working in LAN/WAN and I am wondering if a move to security is a good move? I am concerned about not getting as much variation in the equipment I work with though. I am interested in both, just looking for a smart future.

Brad_Reese: Why not test the waters before committing to anything? Upload your resume, indicate on your CV what technology areas you wish to pursue and see what happens.

Moderator-Julie: Pre-submitted question: What's your favorite Cisco scandal? What does it say to you about the company?

Brad_Reese: Formerly it was the $830 million tax evasion scandal in Brazil. Today my favorite scandal is the gradually evolving Cisco worldwide talent shortage misinformation campaign being orchestrated by Cisco. 

Rus: What is your take on certified skills pay (versus non-certified)? As the gap narrows, do you feel that certification, overall, will become less relevant in terms of career value?

Brad_Reese: Rus, most employers are still using the certs to eliminate your CV/resume, at least online. So they are still valuable. You need the certs as a way of getting past the first fortress wall.

CP3: Do you see more demand for security pros rather than general network engineers?

Brad_Reese: Every employer is different, if the employer needs a general network engineer than you better know more then just security.

tony: Hi Brad. I took my CCNA training about year back and could not sit for my CCNA exam. I have an institute certificate from where I took the training. Also I want to have job as soon as possible. Is there any way where I can join as a trainee or intern and after having entry-level experience get the certification? Or is there any other way or path? I want to work on technology as soon as possible. Is my institute certificate helpful in any way getting entry level job?

Brad_Reese: Tony, send out your resume and indicate what you are trying to accomplish. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised by the response from prospective employers.

tony: Thank you for all your guidance. I also want to know the difference between CCENT and Network+? Which one should I study at this point? And can I contact you if I need further guidance?

Brad_Reese: Tony, yours truly has yet to receive (out of 445 CV/Resumes) a single CV that indicates a CCENT. However, lots of Network+ Certs are on those CVs. Does that help provide direction?

Moderator-Julie: So, while Brad types answers to questions, he has asked me to ask your opinions on a few items. What do you think the hottest skills will be for you in your area? What do you think of IPv6?

Moderator-Julie: In answer to questions about hot skills and the future of IPv6. Nisse: says that IPv6 will be cold for another 2-3 years still. Tony: says security and IPv6 are the hottest skills and IPv6 will be a revolution in technology which will open many closed portals. Tony says it is his dream to be an expert in security and understand IPv6 completely, but doesn't know how to begin. Tony, try starting with Jeff Doyle's blog on Cisco Subnet. He's an IPv6 guru and he's written a couple of books on it. 

BT: Hi, I am a beginner to the world of networking! I am currently pursuing my Master's in electrical engineering and have dealt with lot of theoretical stuff about networking but I still feel I don't have the practical skill set I need. I am working towards my CCNA now, and I would like to have some advice on what would be the best path to choose. I am interested in LAN/WAN administration.

Brad_Reese: BT, start by letting the world know of your plans by putting your resume out there and specifying that you have an interest in LAN/WAN administration.

jake: What role does a Bachelor's or Masters degree have in the future of IT jobs?

Brad_Reese: Degrees are becoming more of a requirement everyday, so they are extremely important!

Nisse: What do you think of Cisco using more and more different OSes in various equipment? I thought CatOS was enough ;-)

Brad_Reese: Cisco is obviously trying to meet customer requirements and creating the OS to meet those requirements. Is it pretty? NO! But Cisco needs to be responsive to their customer demands and that of prospective customers.

prodigy: An article in Network World showed how Cisco was pointing on Juniper IOS and Juniper was pointing on CISCO IOS. What do you have to say about that? 

Brad_Reese: Prodigy, any good competition for Cisco is good for Cisco and Juniper is great competition. Cisco and Juniper need each other to keep themselves from becoming like the U.S. automobile industry.

servergirl: How do you compare the market for CISCO versus Juniper? Are more employers looking for Juniper skills -- are more network pros saying they have Juniper skills on their resumes?

Brad_Reese: The demand is definitely for Cisco talent, however, Juniper Certs give you extra value and if Juniper technology excites you, go for it!

Nisse: Is CCIE still worth it to pursue for an experienced network engineer?

Brad_Reese: Nisse, CCIEs carry a lot of prestige wherever they go. If YOU enjoy the technology go for it. If YOU don't, concentrate on what interests YOU!

NetSavvy: Do CompTIA certs carry any weight when looking for an entry level networking position? Thinking of Network+?

Brad_Reese: NetSavvy, it must because tons of CVs uploaded to BradReese.Com indicate prominently their CompTIA Certs.

Moderator-Julie: NetSavvy (and everyone else), the topic of which certs to take next (particularly security ones) was also addressed by Adam Gordon in a recent Network World chat. Check out the transcript

mk: Brad, what is the networking/security job market in Denver, CO like. Planning to move there if I get a similar position. yes, I will post my Resume on bradReese.com

Brad_Reese: Indicated on your CV where you would like to relocate to and also the technology that YOU wish to pursue. That way YOU will have a leg-up in letting prospective employers know that YOU are motivated!

prodigy: I am working as a software integrator, but I wan to move into WAN Networking/Technologies. I do have CCNA certification, but it expired last year. My question is how can I get the CCNP if I don't have a valid CCNA certification? Also how do I enter WAN security -- do I have to take a PIX or CSSP test and if yes, what are the pre-reqs for that.

Brad_Reese: I recommend that you ask this question in the Cisco Training Forum at Cisco's NetPro website. 

Moderator-Julie: Our time is up. Thank you for coming! Please remember to join us for our next chats, all of them begin at 2 p.m. ET, at www.networkworld.com/chat.

-- Monday, April 28, Why the iPhone (and gadgets like it) harm the Internet with Internationally famous Jonathan Zittrain 

-- Monday, May 5, When it comes to Network Access Control, what's truth and what's fiction with security guru Joel Snyder 

-- Thursday, May 15, Open source and its changing role in the enterprise with Stormy Peters Upcoming topics will include how to detect fraudulent network gear, Crimeware and how to stop it, The most important IT trends coming to your network … MANY MORE! If you have an idea for a chat, please e-mail editor Julie Bort at jbort@nww.com

Brad_Reese: Thank you everyone, enjoyed this opportunity to chat with you! I've mentioned BradReese.Com quite a few times. The actual URL to post Cisco resumes is http://www.bradreese.com/cisco-resumes.htm. Hope to hear from you!

Also check out these recent chat transcripts:

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