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An Open Conversation about Recruiting Engineering Talent

July 19, 2019 Steve Tadevich


NSI's Kimberly Glowacki recently sat down with CCIE, and NSI Practice Manager, Brad Lierman to discuss the challenges of recruiting and some of the skill sets required for qualified engineering candidates.

Kim: This plays really well into the conversation that we're having about how technology is changing today, and what that means. 

How do these rapid changes effect us as a value-added re-seller and a partner with Cisco; and what is that doing for our customer Partners?

The national unemployment rate is approximately 3.6%.  At the end of May 2019, it was teetering between 3.5-3.6%.  Rapidly changing technology, and low unemployment are a challenge to growing organizations trying to attract technology talent.   

Audio:  Listen to the Conversation


Technology is developing at a ridiculous pace!  Think about artificial intelligence and machine learning and all the data analytics advancements that we're going through…IoT!  

Brad, you manage two very strong practices for us with our Collaboration Practice and with the Advanced Support Services team.

What does that mean for the industry from a recruitment standpoint?

What are we doing from a talent acquisition standpoint?

Brad: Okay, so from a recruiting standpoint, for two different teams, with the unemployment rate being so low, it's obviously making candidate selection slim. Some of the candidates will come in with less than required skills thinking this is their opportunity to get that big jump, but they're not quite qualified.  Some of these candidates just have to be flushed out because they're not qualified.


Kim: So, do you think that this has anything to do with the whole movement of having generalists?  We used to hire generalist.  It was great.  If you had a route/Switch person you could teach them collaboration?  It was great to have a route/switch person because then teaching them security wasn’t far away.

Now, the technology stacks are very intricate, having the ability to understand route/switch is a prerequisite.

Brad: Absolutely.  The assumption is that you'll have what we used to consider your foundation. You can't even step in the door without basic route/switch knowledge and a solid understanding of the IP stack.  Route/Switch crosses all our practices as a foundation.  Not just for a specialization within that group.  So it's it's changed.  We no longer look for the generalist to grow into specialists.  They have to start from a professional-level in a specific technology and then advance to the expert level.

Kim: Right, already having expertise specifically in that area of technology. 

I’m going to pick on collaboration because I know that's your technology.  I don't think it's any different from our other technology stacks.  Collaboration used to be called, "voice", back when you were doing it 20 years ago.

It was really just about "pick up, speak up, and hang up", to make a call using voice over IP. Now, It's far more intricate.  It's contact centers, and omni-channel.  You're dealing with so many more features. There's video, and and its to the desktop, and to the conference room and mobile phone.  So you have to have an understanding of all of these different pieces in collaboration.

Brad: Right.  It has to expand out beyond collaboration. We're seeing it in other products too, not just on the Cisco pieces.

As you mentioned, 20 years ago, we were replacing PBXs with an IP-enabled PBX.  It became dial tone for dial tone.  You now had to manage it on your Ethernet Network, and you then had a web GUI versus the terminal to get into a PBX. As that stabilized and evolved they started adding additional applications. Instant Messaging with Presence came along and the video started to take off.

You mentioned the omni-channel.  Call centers are bringing in contact points from social media, chat sessions, online specialized apps.  Outbound dialing that initiated from the billing system, and to whatever it becomes.  These all become parts of the workflow for the communication system.

Now its ERP, and we touch all these different systems and how they communicate with one another to make that workflow as seamless as possible.   

We've had to expand our knowledge-set and find people that know not just the collaboration piece, but have an understanding of the business practices, and all the different systems.

For a new recruit, the skill set has to be there.  There is a lot of complexity.  A single person can't do it all.  We have a lot of very strong experts handling a lot of different pieces complementing each other's skill sets.


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