The CCIE Certification is an extremely sought after certification not just from an engineering perspective but also a Company perspective. In order for any company to become a Silver or Gold Certified Partner with Cisco, they must have 2 CCIE’s full time for Silver and 4 CCIE’s full time for Gold. This requirement cannot be waived and this makes the CCIE valuable to companies because when companies have Silver or Gold partnership status they get certain benefits from Cisco such as discounts, access and etc…
If you just passed the CCIE Lab exam there are several things you should know prior to jumping into the job market looking for that big fish job offer. Many people go after the CCIE certification for the six digit paycheck, some people do it for personal goals and the big challenge and some people just do it just because they can. In any case there are two terms that you should know as a CCIE prior to job hunting and you should also know how to protect yourself from companies that want to leech on your talent and asset(s).
The Anti-Poaching clauses that Cisco have implemented into their policy causes some unintended problems in the industry when it comes to talent acquisition. Cisco has put in a clause to the CCIE agreement and Partnership agreement that gives companies the ability to continue to use your CCIE number for partnership status for 12 months after you leave a company. This clause is vague and does not specify any reasoning for your departure.
So with all that said lets take a look at the two most important things you should know as a CCIE when job hunting.
What is CCIE Poaching?
CCIE poaching is an industry term used to define the method at which companies attempt to recruit CCIE engineers from other Cisco Certified Silver and Gold Partners with the intent of becoming a Cisco Certified Silver or Gold partner themselves. The Anti-Poaching clause was added to the partnership agreement stating that companies had the right to use the CCIE number of any engineer departing the company for a period of 12 months.
This type of language makes it impossible for companies to recruit CCIE’s from other companies for the sole purpose of the CCIE number. However, it does not prevent the recruiting of talent but it prevent the use of the CCIE number in a partnership status.
As a CCIE, the big part of getting a job is because you have the CCIE and companies want your CCIE number to use for partnership eligibility. While this is not always the case, its typically the case when it comes to companies paying extremely big bucks for a CCIE because its something that need, not because its something they want.
Some companies hire CCIE’s just because they need them to become a silver or gold partner. Silver and Gold Cisco Certified Partnership gives the company several benefits such as discounts. If a company can hire four CCIE’s at 600k a year and they save 10 million a year in hardware/software cost because of the partnership than it is stupid not to hire them right? The company would make money just by employing those people and having them sit on their ass watching television but of course managers would never allow that to happen because of the greedy nature of humans in general. Ultimately the company gets a huge deal by having the Cisco Partnership and the expert level talent at their disposal while effectively not paying a penny if they balance their business right.
What is CCIE Sniping?
CCIE Sniping is a term loosely used in the industry when it comes to the involuntary termination of a CCIE. Because of the anti-poaching clause in the Partnership Agreement, there is nothing to protect the engineer from malpractice from companies who are greedy and just want to get a leg up in the industry.
So what is to prevent a company from hiring a freshly minted CCIE and using their CCIE number for the silver or gold partnership status, only to let them go after the partnership status as been established? Because of the Cisco agreement, the newly minted CCIE cannot use his CCIE number at another company for another 12 months thus this puts the CCIE in a bad position as it prevents him from obtaining any jobs that REQUIRE the CCIE certification. Indirectly this method devalues the CCIE certification and it’s the fastest way to piss off a CCIE.
It is because of this industry malpractice, you must protect yourself from greedy snipers.
IE Sniping is not a common practice in the United States however it does happen on occasion. This type of business malpractice is more common in developing nations. In any case you need to protect your digits.
How to protect your digits!
If you have recently passed the CCIE Lab exam or you have the CCIE number that has never been registered with a partner then prior to accepting a job you need to ensure that there is protection in the employment agreement for your CCIE number.
For example, the easiest way to protect yourself is to ensure that the employment agreement states that the company will relinquish the use of the CCIE number for partnership status in the event of a non-performance related involuntary termination. This is the safest way to ensure that you’re number is not at risk if the company decides to terminate you because you don’t like the color blue or because they just want to save money. If this type of agreement does not exist than your CCIE number can be tied up for 12 months regardless of the termination reason.
You should note that this does NOT protect you if you are terminated for performance related reasons. Performance related termination is an extremely fine line and its best to have performance based termination defined in the employment agreement.
For example, just because you’re late to work, does not mean that you’re not meeting performance requirements. As long as you complete all work and achieve all work related goals on time than legally speaking you have met the conditions of the agreement.
This type of agreement also protects you against non-performance related terminations. For example you’re terminated for inappropriate language, sexual harassment, stealing, so on and so forth. Rather or not the company policy was the reason for your termination, it is not a valid reason for continued use of the CCIE number as set forth in the employment agreement based strictly on performance therefore the company would be legally required to relinquish the use of the CCIE number. While I would advise you never to break company policy because that is just common sense, there are many cases where people have said something that was offensive to others that could be classified as sexual harassment and could lead to termination. For example, telling a racist or dirty joke at work.
You would not want your company to terminate your position because of your performance and not give you a warning to correct your performance related issues. Before accepting any position that requires the CCIE certification, you should make sure that any performance based termination requires a 30 day written warning prior to termination in the employment agreement so you have the ability to correct your problems and meet performance expectations. If the company terminates you without warning because of performance related reasons then the company must immediately relinquish your CCIE number from the partnership. This plugs up the loophole that exist by the
You must look at your employment agreement as a legal document and as such you must protect your own ass as much as the next guy.
The safest way to protect your CCIE number is to require that upon termination, voluntary or involuntary, the Company is required to relinquish your CCIE number from any partnership status. This however may make it harder to get a job requiring the the risk to the employer is higher and it indirectly shows that you’re more concerned about yourself then the job opportunity however this is your decision and this should be negotiated at the time of the employment offer and prior to signing the employment agreement with any company.