When it comes to prestigious technology companies, few are as renowned, secure and admired as Cisco. Founded in 1984 and generating revenues in excess of $50 million, this US-based company is a world leader in technology infrastructure and digital communications equipment.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that jobs at Cisco are in high demand. Cisco’s Our People Deal ensures that employees are looked after at every stage of the employee life cycle. The company’s career progression opportunities, equal opportunity monitoring and salary packages are second to none. Consequently, Cisco strives to hire the best of the best, so expect a thorough and comprehensive recruitment process.
This article takes you through the process of getting hired by Cisco, with some tips and tricks along the way.
1. Research Cisco’s values and ethos
Finding alignment between who you are and the company you work for is a critical element of job satisfaction. Cisco’s purpose is “To power an inclusive future for all”, underpinned by its three core values:
- Inspiring leaders
- Creating change
Take some time to reflect on these and the other top-level strategic commitments by the company. Ultimately, you want to know if Cisco’s purpose resonates with who you are and how you like to work. If it doesn’t, or you feel that the company might not be the best cultural fit for you, then it might be better in the long run to look for careers elsewhere. Alternatively, talk to Cisco employees and see what they think.
2. Research the roles that Cisco offers
Next, look into the divisions and departments Cisco has, and whether these work areas fit with your experience or aspirations. The good news here is that Cisco operates on a huge scale, with 274 offices in 96 locations.
The company offers opportunities in customer-facing roles, engineering divisions, operations, support services (such as HR), and sales and marketing. Take a look at open vacancies, as well as in-demand roles in the technology space. If you see there are roles which could be a great fit for you, then start preparing your job application.
3. Set out your red lines
It’s important to understand what you’re looking for from a role. This could be in respect to many different factors, such as salary expectations, benefits sought, working pattern (such as full or part time) and whether you need certain time off or expect remote working.
These are questions which are likely to come up in the application process, maybe even as part of Cisco’s pre-screening on their career website. Know in your head what you would expect or what might cause you to withdraw your application. One thing to be aware of here is that in the US, Cisco mandates all candidates to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This requirement might be different in other countries the company operates in, depending on local law.
4. Find internships or graduate programmes
If you’re just starting out in your career and like the sound of working for Cisco, consider exploring internship or graduate scheme job offerings. Cisco offers plenty of structured university programs across all areas of its organisation. As with all its roles, competition for internships and graduate placements is fierce, but these are a great way into the company and, if you do well, could result in you being likely to be retained.
5. Network with recruiters and Cisco employees
Networking with Cisco employees isn’t just a good idea to find out if the company is a great fit for you. You might also be able to make some lasting connections who might facilitate your application.
Reaching out to employees, introducing yourself and what you’re looking for, and asking if they can spend some time with you over a phone call or a coffee to discuss the company and opportunities might be a big ask and result in a lot of unanswered LinkedIn messages, but it can work. As long as your approach is polite and not intrusive, you might find dialogue with someone who will, ultimately, be happy to recommend you to a role. Referrals are a great way to get noticed, and have your application pushed to the top of the pile.
6. Align your résumé and cover letter
Cisco job applications offer a lot of information on what to expect in each role, as well as expected minimum and desirable requirements for each role. Based on this information, your next step is to write your résumé and cover letter to ensure that these documents reference — word for word — the skills and job requirements.
Editing your résumé and cover letter in this way has two main benefits. Firstly, you will appear well-aligned to the role in the eyes of the recruiter. Secondly, your application will be filtered positively by Cisco’s applicant tracking system, an automated program designed to filter applications using AI and keyword matching.
7. Work on your skill gaps
If you have looked at the job requirements as posted by Cisco and feel that there are some areas you need to work on, then there’s no time like the present. Do all you can to get trained and plug skill gaps.
This might require extra training in the role you’re in, or using external courses to get trained, often at your own expense. This investment will be worth it to ensure your job applications at Cisco are as aligned as possible, and that you have examples to talk about when it comes to technical and skills-based questions.
8. Apply online
Cisco requires all applications to be submitted online through its career website. This means that you’ll need to grapple with some comprehensive form-filling, maybe even submitting a cover letter as part of the process. Ensure that you complete the online application form thoroughly and accurately.
You will need to upload your résumé, and this will generate a job application. Check that your résumé information has pulled through correctly, and amend any errors. Ensure the language here matches the job description in order to align with the ATS criteria.
For some roles, Cisco will likely require you to undertake an online psychometric assessment. This will vary from role to role, but it will likely be intense and timed, and require a lot of concentration. Prepare yourself accordingly, and allow uninterrupted time to complete these assessments, as well as having a pen, paper and calculator handy.
9. Preparing for the interview
The Cisco interview process is quite thorough. Although the interview stages might vary from role to role and by seniority, Glassdoor has identified several key stages every applicant can expect to go through.
After the online assessment, there’s a telephone screening call, usually with HR or a manager. This lasts around thirty minutes and consists of simple questions ascertaining fit for the role, as well as salary expectations and other screening information.
After this, there might be a skills-based interview, if you’re applying for a technical role such as software engineering. Afterwards, there will be a behavioural interview with the hiring manager. There may be subsequent interviews with senior leaders.
Prepare for these interviews by reviewing your knowledge of the company and the role as above. Prepare for behavioural questions by reviewing the role requirements and job description and preparing examples of achievements related to these from your previous roles or current experience. Finally, have a list of questions ready to go so you can discuss these with the interviewers. This demonstrates how engaged you are about the role.
10. Prepare for what comes next
After the interview, remember to round off by asking questions and thanking the interviewers. After the interview call has ended, follow up with a “thank you” email. Always respond to follow up emails (for example, invitations to subsequent interviews) promptly, and express willingness to be available for calls.
If you’re offered a role, don't be afraid to negotiate the package if you feel it’s a bit low. Cisco’s HR department is professional and will be accustomed to working with sought-after candidates on finding a happy middle-ground. They will understand that this isn’t rude and will be viewing you as their ideal candidate. Therefore, they will do all they can to find an agreement that will seal the deal.
Applying for a role at Cisco is not easy, and you’ll be in competition with a lot of people as equally talented as you. No amount of preparation will guarantee you a role, and many people will find that they need to try, fail, get feedback and try again in order to secure a dream role with this company.
Your best bet is to ensure that every element of your preparation, application, interview and follow-up is well-researched and executed to the best of your ability. Putting thought into your Cisco application will maximize your chances of success, demonstrating to the hiring managers that you’re emotionally invested in the company, as well as being a good fit in terms of your technical knowledge and experience.
If you put effort into each stage of the process, ensuring that your application stands out for all the right reasons, then hopefully your aspirations of working for this renowned company will turn into reality. Good luck!
Got a question about applying for a job with Cisco? Let us know in the comments section below!
Originally published on December 13, 2014.