Trouble Finding Good Network Engineers

This is going to be a rant so I just want to apologize beforehand. I want to express my concern with the current state of network engineering applicants. I have had the displeasure in trying to find a few more guys to fill our team of network engineers. At first I thought, “Oh this will be fun!” But wow I was wrong. The applicants we have had so far has really made me realize that there is a serious problem in our industry. That problem being PAPER NETWORK ENGINEERS! If you have read my blog at all your know that I am a huge supporter in getting certified. But c’mon some of these guys we interviewed are CCNPs and can’t even answer simple subnetting questions! WTF! Oh its gets even better when we have someone that claims to be a CCIE candidate. Jesus Christ I just facepalm every time. The questions we ask are not even difficult. Were not looking for a superstar, just someone that loves networking and also can back up what they write on their resume. Simple VTP questions stump some of these guys. VTP the protocol we all learn about in CCNA stumps CCNPs….somethings gotta give.

Either we have been very unlucky or we are just getting braindump’d network engineers.  This is why most companies only take referral candidates. All these people that can’t back up their certs ruin the job market for the rest of us when we apply without a referral. My company goes through a lot of network engineer applicants since we are always looking for talent. We get FLOODED with resumes daily. It’s not wonder that most of the people we actually hire are people that were referred to us. One word of advice to the people applying for network engineering positions. BE HONEST. Really that’s it, be honest on your resume and don’t claim to know something that you’ve worked with once. Don’t be the CCIE candidate that we interviewed who claimed to know Nexus yet couldn’t explain VPCs or VDCs. Literally these applicants give me a headache, it’s so hard to keep my cool and not burst out at them and say “STOP BRAINDUMPING AND LEARN YOUR SHIT!!!” lol

/end rant

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  1. Jeff

    What were the VTP questions that you asked them?

  2. David Richards

    haha, your rant is what my (i thought) employer to be at my local firm said to me when i went for my interview, yes i cried myself to sleep that night

  3. Dan

    I agree with everything you say but it can be difficult getting that first job sometimes.

    In my case, I started to go on the cert path last year, I got N+/CCNA. My ultimate goal is to become a network engineer. But in the area where I live there are a lack of anything Networking. This is my fault in a way, I can’t move away for another year but I thought I would use my time to get certified and learn the tech so when the time comes I will be better for it.

    I bought Cisco equipment, and passed the exams fair and square. I did not want to start CCNP for the fact that I don’t yet work in networking yet. So I started another entry cert, MCSA Server 2012 as there are a few of those jobs about and it could lead to networking or be relevant experience.

    Now if a job came up in my area for CCNA networking position now, I’m sure that a lot of what I learned would have gone out my head. I would of course study before the interview but when you are not practicing every day, the knowledge starts to leave you.

    I sort of worry now that my CCNA was a waste of time. I will be moving away in a year or so and may recertify myself or read up again.

    Everyone’s situation is different and getting a job harder in some places. Had I lived in London or Manchester im damn sure I would have an entry position by now.

    Oh by the way I agree the CCIE that doesn’t know his stuff is crazy. Clearly cheated because doesn’t it take a year or 2 of hard study to gain CCIE?!

      • Dan

        Yeah I’ve actually had some news the last few days, which might mean I could move to a city (Manchester, England) by September, which would be amazing. So my plan would be to finish the MCSA by May (Already paid for so may as well finish), then do a month CCNA refresher and start on CCNP. There are tons of Networking jobs in the city so hopefully I could land a junior one…

  4. Dan


    I decided to drop MCSA and start studying Cisco again, god it feels refreshing! If I want to be good I need to focus and be specialised. Reading your blog is sort of like a plan for me!

    Just studying up on the Cisco CCNA topics for a few weeks, on to Network Warrior for 2 weeks then starting CCNP studies. Hopefully by the back end of the year I will have a job and be ready to take Route…

  5. Jason Barnes

    Are you crazy? After reading the rant why would you want to waste your time on Cisco? Didn’t you notice his comment: he gets FLOODED with network resumes every day! In other words, there is literally a flood of unemployed CCNPs who can’t find a job.

    And the one interview they can land is with this guy- who doesn’t appear to hire anyone, but instead gets his jollies wasting the time and dashing the hopes of the unemployed in an already down economy.

    Add in the Army’s very real efforts to retrain those hundred thousand people they are kicking out of the service to be network engineers first, and it only looks worse in the near term.

    I would suggest spending your time studying something more profitable, like programming or Chinese.

  6. Jason Barnes

    My apologies, if you are hiring lots of people, or even one person, then I shouldn’t have included the snub. And to be honest, as a former hiring manager myself, I have certainly echoed your rant. :)

    But for anyone reading this and deciding to go into networking, I still want to point out that from an applicant’s perspective, there are tons of people who put the very real time, effort and money into obtaining a CCNP certification, and yet still don’t have the basic skills you desire. (Aka, what I thought to be the whole point of the “What gives?” rant. )

    I don’t want to count myself in the statistics because I’m a horrible interviewee when it comes to tech jobs. I know it. I would probably flub your softball STP question. It sucks, but it’s on me.

    Nonetheless, I’m not entirely convinced that a complaint about applicants such as myself leads to the conclusion that one should study even harder for a career track where the certification apparently doesn’t land them a job. Particularly when one could instead focus on remaining a SME within the Microsoft arena.

    I should probably elaborate and explain that the network jobs in my region seem to have vanished this winter, and that a CCNP and CISSP won’t even land one an interview (here). And I should explain that out of my old coworkers, the Microsoft team found jobs within a week or two, while the Cisco group either struggled or are still looking.

    Meanwhile, I’m covered. Between endorsements from previous managers and brushing off old skillsets, it looks like I will be taking job as digital design program manager. (Even though I would prefer to be a cisco expert to pushing papers. Wah wah as you say :)

  7. Jason Barnes

    Caught your reply on the phone, but have been on travel for the new job. I just wanted to say thanks for the tips (and that yes, you are right).

    I’m going to follow your suggestion for going on practice interviews – that’s a good idea.

    Weather might have been an issue. I’m hearing that everyone’s phones started ringing two days after the weather warmed up. I knew most job activity happened in the Spring and Fall, but had no idea that it would be quite so dramatic. (Maybe I should have wintered in the Caribbean and returned for Spring!)

    Also, even though I’m not in DC, I’m apparently close enough to be affected by cutbacks at the Pentagon and NSA. I’m told their drawdowns are causing a temporary ripple effect in neighboring states. (I can compete against a CCNA, and even many fellow CCNPs, but not necessarily against someone who has been writing and cracking encryption algorithms for the past decade. wow!)

    The new company seems open to relocations, so I might be able to transfer in a year or two.

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