2009 has begun her decent upon us like a celestial being surrounded by a golden haze and accompanied by a heavenly chorus. The general consensus seems to be that if anything can save us from 2008 it must be the coming of 2009, the New Year. No matter what religion, race, gender or nationality you are, I am willing to bet that like me, you are ready for a new year. I cannot remember a time in my long life, when I wished for another year to be tagged on to the many I have collected so far.
Many CCIEs in the private sector (this parlance refers to those CCIEs who donâ€™t work for Cisco or channel partners) have weathered the storm of bad economic times. Heads down holding their breath as the ranks of their co-workers and friends have been made redundant, down sized, right sized, laid off or simply let go. Racks of routers, switches, firewalls, and telecom equipment have become redoubts, temporary sanctuary even replacing the trenches of old as protection and hiding places for the CCIEs in some enterprises. Some NOCs and TACs have become a bizarre game of whack a mole, (an arcade game where kids score points by striking a mechanical mole on the head with a mallet). They can be seen gazing over their cubicle walls to get a glimpse of the Grim Reaper from HR, lest he sneak up on them unannounced. These engineers can be seen bouncing up and down as they peak over the tops of their cubicles like gophers on the prairie.
Be brave because it is not over yet!
I have often written about the things I hear from CCIEs. What I have been happiest to hear this year is that most of the ones who are with Cisco Channel Partners are doing OK. I was never really worried, but with the constant media attention being paid to all things miserable, it is nice to know I am recruiting in the right space at the right time. For example just this past week I have had some good offers made to several CCIEs and Network Engineers in Southern California and the Midwestern US. This happened while I was away in Europe so how cool is that? My trip to Zurich and London that week confirmed the trend there as well for CCIEs. I confirmed this when I met with several Channel Partners who shared their continued recruitment efforts with me. There is a ripple though with the major telecoms where I am hearing about some movement going on but mostly from the ranks of the contractors they often use. Their permanent staff seems to be secure, except where you have continued shifts of personnel because of a merger or two. In these cases data centers are consolidating and some CCIEs are not selecting to move to other cities to keep their jobs. (Hell who wants to move to Richardson, Texas, isnâ€™t Waco near there where they keep finding gun toting religious zealots who want to kill you for Jesus?) This is not a bad thing, since Channel Partners do pay a competitive wage going head to head with these big organizations. If this kind of scenario is touching you give me and my team a shout. (No not to defend you from the gun toting Texans call 911 for that, or Mexico, remember the Alamo?)
Yes I reflect back on 2008 and wonder what lucky star I am under or what shadow of good fortune I slumber beneath, as I live this dream. The Cisco Partner Talent Portal, the SRS Program and the launches of these in Europe and North America have kept me busy and fueled the growth of my team at Bridge Resourcing Solutions. I am blest and I know it, but as always I take this success with a grain of salt and a prayer of thanks!
The arrival of salvation January 1st, blessed angel 2009 saving us from the past sins which lead us to a global financial meltdown of biblical proportions is upon us. What do you need to do as a network engineer or CCIE to weather this storm until you reach the light at the end of the tunnel? Start out slow and take stock of what you have gathered in the way of skills and certifications. Look at your resume and set it right so it reads well and contains every nugget and nuance of information that an employer might be looking for.
â€œBut Eman, how many pages should I make my resume or CV?â€ AS MANY PAGES AS IT TAKES!
If you need help call a professional and get a second opinion on the resume, just donâ€™t go it alone. (I am always available to add you to my schedule) Often you get one chance to make an impression with your resume, make it count. Save the CCIE â€˜tude for the professionals, because mere mortals donâ€™t understand all that confidence and certainty, treat the HR representative with kindness and donâ€™t forget to be polite to the receptionist as well. They do talk and boy can they talk!!!
So listen, be a good listener when you are interviewing because often the best interviews are more of an audition by the manager who is looking you over and trying to get you to like her or him and their company. So donâ€™t interrupt when they are trying to impress you and if they do impress you, nod your head and make sounds like ooh and ah. If they donâ€™t impress you try not to yawn or snore (remember everybody talks). Smile and ask questions while they are taking a breath. Make sure you have a list of questions that you ask every prospective employer. If these are the same questions you can compare apples to apples and avoid the lemons. When you get to meet your peers as part of the interview, let you hair down and enjoy it.
Some organizations bring in their BIG GUN for technical interviews.
That technical gorilla who hangs from the pinnacles of technology like a modern day King Kong was sent to vet you. Thereâ€™s no need to fear, but be aware that often times this brute will reduce your worth by fencing with you technically. Make friends with the 800 pound primate and remember he may have been devoid of human contact for a while because of over use. Since many channel partners are expanding, you may actually be seen as a life saver instead of a snack to this behemoth.
You can tell when the interview is over when they ask you if you have any questions.
Questions! (Damn were you sleeping? I was!)
Start out slow donâ€™t hyperventilate or step on your own tongue. Ask the same questions of all prospective employers so you can rate their answers against each other properly. What is important to you? If you are in the USA donâ€™t ask for a company car, if you are in England donâ€™t ask for an American car, if you are in Fiji donâ€™t ask for too little money, if you are in Dubai ask for more of everything, if you are in Finland donâ€™t ask to work from home, if you are in China donâ€™t ask for an American car, if you are in Russia donâ€™t ask for Chinese food, if you are in India donâ€™t ask for less than a 14% increase, if you are in Brazil donâ€™t ask for more holidays, if you are a CCIE in prison for killing your wife donâ€™t ask for Eman!
Salary negotiations are tough and this is where it is always good to make sure you have a solid understanding of your worth. Just because that last company you worked for was paying you a certain wage does not mean you will be able to make more than that there now. (Honest, why would I lie? I published the CCIE Salary Survey.) If you are in Georgia (USA not Russia) and you were getting paid $150k by an employer who moved you from New York City to the new spiffy corporate offices in Atlanta, but now you are faced with downsizing, the local economy might not support that level of salary to stay in the area. If you have been that corporate King Kong flinging interviews around the room like gnats you could be in a world of hurt! A good example for you is a recent migration I was a part of from Alabama to the Midwest. A certain appliance company (not Maytag) popular in the small backup modem and router market recently raised their wages to retain talent they were losing because I move several of their staff to Channel Partners back near their birth places and family. For these CCIEs the salaries offered where a substantial increase over what they were getting paid in the south. So this was a great story but donâ€™t expect to take a NYC base salary and go south and be able to achieve that level of compensation simply by telling the employer you used to get paid a lot more there. In the case of my help migrating these CCIEs to the Midwest the wages were a substantial increase. Remember these were CCIEs it was my duty to see them rescued from the ravages of BBQ, country music and Rodeos. Salary negotiations are the essence of a good agentâ€™s world. The CCIE Agentâ„¢ will help ensure that the top dollar is offered. (No, no need for a shout out here itâ€™s my job) Salary negotiations are often steeped in secrecy and mystery with hiring managers, HR, finance, CEO, CIO and any interested party slugging it out for every nickel. When more often than not it is a simple phone call I get from the HR representative or hiring manager asking what the bottom line is. This is when I remind them that an offer letter to a CCIE is so much more than just a single page with the wages and start date on it.
What I ask for in an offer letter to a CCIE.
You would never hire a quarter back just because he owned a football, would you? Then why hire a CCIE because he has a certification number! Even more important is why would you as a CCIE just accept an offer package that does not take into consideration the following points;
Base salary clearly stated (not mired in other incidentals, remember the base salary is just that, the base bare of all other considerations)
Bonus structure is clearly understood (it may be complicated but you want to be clear of how you will earn it)
Commissions (these are often a new beast for many of you, remember this is a percentage of revenues based upon your participation in helping close business or expand it in a client you are working with)
MBO (this is what is expected of you to earn all the above variables and base. Make sure to understand what is expected of you) Many employers leave this area vague and you might find yourself faced with expectations that were never clearly stated. So make sure the expectations of your achievements and performance are mapped out.
Benefits 401k, health, dental and prescription drug plans are important so donâ€™t forget to get these details in writing. Some companies offer different level of plans and retirement options.
Probably the most controversial of my discussion points is a statement of releasing the CCIE number for use with the CCIEâ€™s next employer. If things do not workout for whatever reason many CCIEs find that their CCIE number is tied up for a year after exiting a Channel Partner. Ask for a written clause to the effect that if you should seperare from this employer within a given period of time that they will issue a memo to you or your next employer of their intent to release your number for their use.
Day one on the new job is too often a day to make up for.
Arlo Guthrie once celebrated the night before a trip to the armed forces induction office in New York, with libation and numerous inebriants to avoid the draft. He did this to avoid going to Viet Nam. So he wanted to look like the all American boy from New York City and he was hung down, brung down and hung over to make that impression. Make sure you donâ€™t start off by making a bad impression, and the night before is important.
GO TO BED EARLY! DONâ€™T GO TO THE BAR!!!
Be fit that first day, show up early and over dress for success. Really! A tie caught in a tangle of connectors is a good impression. A tattooed, hung over, blue haired, overly pierced, jean clad zombie is a bad impression. Get it? Let me try again, just in case you didnâ€™t. Show up dressed better than the folks who interviewed you. OK?>)