Cisco Careers: What You Need to Know

Cisco careers span a wide range of job types: engineering, sales, IT, human resources, security, customer success, supply chain, cloud, collaboration and more. The company was founded in 1984 by a husband and wife team who were employees at Stanford and today it has over 70,000 employees. (The founders left the company somewhat early on and invested some of their funds in philanthropic endeavors.)

Currently, about one-third of the company’s employees work at the headquarters in San Jose, CA. With dozens of locations around the world, there are also many in North America, so if you are interested in working at Cisco you have many places to choose from. In other words, you don’t only have to work in Silicon Valley if you want to pursue a Cisco career.

How do I get a job at Cisco?

The first place to start is at the Cisco careers page or the one on LinkedIn. Typically, there are hundreds of job opening listed on these sites. Once you have identified the ones you are interested in, check out the locations and see if they are enticing or acceptable.

When you have at least one role in mind, try reaching out to anyone in your personal and professional networks to get a referral from someone on the inside to boost your chances. The competition at tech companies can be fierce so having a referral can be a significant advantage. One Cisco employee applied to 7 different roles over nearly two years before he got an offer. If you don’t have anyone to contact, you could try your connections on LinkedIn. If that doesn’t work you could also try getting a referral on Blind.

Insights from Blind

“Cisco asks leetcode medium questions for phone screens! My interviewer copied/pasted 2 questions straight off leetcode. This was also for a senior software engineering role but still.” Feb. 12, 2019 (read more here)

How is the compensation?

The average Cisco employee salary is $167,016 according to Paysa, and the average software engineer salary is about $160,000. 

Insights from Blind

“current yoe is 7 yrs 150k, planning lateral move from cisco BU to cisco sales for Grade 10 in bay area. How much base salary should i expect? I know sales can make more in terms of bonus, but still base should be solid imo.” Feb. 6, 2019 (read more here)

“Is moving to Cisco in Seattle from Microsoft a bad move. The salary hike would be approx 13 percent. From 150k base to 170k base. People scare me on blind abt regular layoffs at Cisco. waiting for full offer to arrive at TC.” Jan. 11, 2019  (read more here)

“Could someone share salary details and experience for a Grade 8 uiux designer at Cisco? Tco : $125k, bonus 8%, no rsu.”  Jul. 23, 2018 (read more here)

“I’m currently in Grade 8 with base salary 118k and no RSUs. I worked for almost 2yr and my manager said he is planning to promote me to grade 10.” Sep. 19, 2017 (read more here)

“I recently lost a 2+ years guy to them and he got 135. I believe he went in as a 6.” Aug. 15, 2017 (read more here)

“I have a offer from cisco for software engineer, grade 8. The hr is asking me for salary expectations. Not moving ahead unless I give a number. How do you handle that? Where to start? Any tips to negotiate? Current tc:160k.” Feb. 20, 2019 (read more here)

“I have worked 2 years in Cisco India. I am joining back Cisco in San Jose after my Masters. They are offering me Grade 6 at 117k base+ 6% bonus and 9k relocation. Should I ask them for Grade 8 with 135k, 12% bonus?” Apr. 4, 2018 (read more here)

“Is this a good offer for Cisco L8 position? Base: 150k, Bonus: 12%, Joining bonus 30k, Location: San Jose,m yoe: 4 years.”  Sep. 28, 2018 (read more here)

“I got offer from Cisco. Joining as grade 8, sw-3. What is Cisco’s pay structure? I did not get rsu at joining. What is ideal joining bonus for Cisco? I have 4+ years of exp. TC 150k- base + 12% bonus.” Aug. 30, 2018

You can find more information about compensation at Cisco here.

How is the company culture?

Cisco company culture is based on six values: changing the world, customer focus, innovation, winning together, always do the right thing, and respect/care. According to Great Place to Work, 94% of employees say Cisco is a great place to work. Cisco is also known for its CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs. For example, the company made a commitment to pay $50 million dollars to help end homelessness in Silicon Valley. It also set a goal to eliminate one million tons of greenhouse gas emissions from their supply chain.

Insights from Blind

On a question about the WebEx part of the company, one answer on Blind was, “The culture is much better than other BUs, but comp is of course lower than most companies as is the norm with cisco.” Aug. 26, 2018 (read more here)

“I worked in collaboration for 5 years. There are some horrible leaders there, but a handful of gems.” Aug. 24, 2018 (read more here)

“I’m on a team building a service for the Webex Teams ecosystem. Generally not impressed overall. The cloud platform (SPLAT) is a dumpster fire. I’ve not been technically challenged here. I am considering a move but my skip manager is actively making good changes.” Feb. 20, 2019

“Meraki definitely has more of a younger startup vibe. Better benefits, catered lunch and dinner every day and Lyft credits. Salary less structured than Cisco, more dependent on what you negotiate on the way in.” Jun. 23, 2018 (read more here)

“We’re not that bad! It’s a great company for work-life balance and collaborative, relatively laid-back culture (depending on your team). You can WFH frequently in most teams. The drawback, as always, is that it’s a big company with way too many managers and things take forever. If you have any questions, feel free to ask one of us. We’re pretty friendly.” Aug. 6, 2017 (read more here)

More information about company culture at Cisco is available here. 

What issues are there?

One common concern is layoffs because many tech companies are prone to volatility simply because technology undergoes rapid shifts sometimes. There are many news articles about layoffs you can easily find. One thing to keep in mind is that the news can have a negativity bias so the reality might not be as bad as the news reports make it out to be.

Insights from Blind

“The layoffs have been ongoing since early 2000s. They aren’t really that bad. The real problem with cisco is that it’s a complete shit show internally full of mediocre people who can’t do better. It’s where your skills go to die and where it’s a given that you should do ten PM calls with some team in India and 8AM meetings the next day. Also infinite blatant nepotism.” Jan. 20, 2019 (read more here)

“I’m actually a member of a killer team at Cisco. My learning resources are practically limitless, my management is great, I like and respect my co-workers, the compensation is good, and work/life balance is whatever I want it to be. The layoffs themselves aren’t so much to reduce headcount as they are to eliminate unsuccessful areas and pivot to others. It’s been working, as the CSCO stock chart will point out.” Jan. 20, 2019 (read more here)

How are the perks?

Cisco’s perks are not as lavish as at some other Silicon Valley companies like Google and Facebook. It is also not a startup or young company so perhaps that’s to be expected.

Insights from Blind

“We have access to a PerksAtWork site where you can book travel and purchase things at a small discount. Not very noteworthy imo.” Feb. 11, 2019

How diverse are the employee ranks?

In 2018, Cisco had 3.6% African-American employees, 5.4% Hispanic, 0.3% Native American, 37% Asian and 53% Caucasian. About 25% were female.

Insights from Blind

“8 Indian, 1 Chinese, 1 American. Indian Manager. Welcome to Cisco, diversity is the best. 2/11 identify as Female.” Feb. 18, 2019

How much is housing in Silicon Valley?

The average apartment rent is about $3,000 per month, and you might be able to find a very small two-bedroom house for a little more, but most houses rent for far more than that. The median home price is around $1.3 million. The cost of buying a home is so high in Silicon Valley that many tech workers can’t afford to purchase. If you look on Craigslist for a shared living situation, you might find a room in a house or apartment for about $1,000 or more.

Insights from Blind

“And I seriously regret passing up on a 1.25M Milpitas house 3 years ago, which is now 1.6M now. FML these are the shitty tradeoffs you have to make while living in the Bay Area.” Oct. 2, 2018 (read more here)

“We got ours by watching houses with recent price reduction and got lucky on one of them that fit right under a million for 2 bed. It took however an year of disappointment of losing houses left and right. We mostly got down payment by waiting like a 3-4 years and selling Espp and rsu. Hope it helps.” Jul.5, 2018 (read more here)

“How do you honestly buy a home here in the Bay Area? I make 195k TC but don’t have the 300-400k to make a down payment on a $1.3 million dollar home without depleting my retirement (I’m 38 yrs old so I’d rather keep my retirement savings). I also have two kids. How the hell do people do this? If you have a home, what sacrifices have you made to afford payments and still save for retirement?” Jul.5, 2018 (read more here)

More information about housing in Silicon Valley can be found here.

What are some advantages to Cisco careers?

Cisco is a very well-known brand and an established tech company with a very long history. At the moment, some job seekers don’t consider it a top tier tech company so working at Cisco might be better for building your resume if you are young or if you are older and want some stability.

Also, if you have been rejected by some of the top companies you might face less competition when applying to Cisco. If you well aware of what this company makes and does Cisco careers might be just what you are looking for. Some people are very interested in engineering and they want to work at a company that makes physical products — not just an Internet company.

What are some disadvantages?

Because it’s not an Apple or a Google there might be a perception of not being a ‘cool’ or innovative place to work. If your goal is to work at a top tech company having Cisco on your resume might not be the best way to go about it. Cisco careers won’t appeal to everyone — if you can do your homework carefully and develop your self-awareness it will probably help you decide if this company is right for you.

How is the traffic in Santa Clara?

As you might imagine, it’s dense, but Cisco provides a free annual pass for the Santa Clara Valley Transit system for some employees. There are also Cisco shuttles to connect employees with public transportation. If you drive your own vehicle, of course that’s more comfortable. Depending on what route you take you might be traveling at a fairly slow pace so riding a train and bus might actually be faster and you can nap or be on your phone watching videos or listening to music.

What is there to do in Santa Clara and San Jose?

Levi Stadium is a huge venue with a capacity of at least 68,000 so it draws many entertainment events and of course sports competitions. Valley Fair mall is also located there and it has about 270 shopping outlets, and food court and movie theaters.

Santa Clara has a population of approximately 127,000 so it’s a medium-sized city with the kind of retail and culture you might expect. Santa Clara University is also local and there are a number of sporting and cultural events staged there. Naturally, if you have your own vehicle it’s very easy to visit many other places in the Bay Area which is known for its natural beauty.

San Jose is another beast altogether; it’s one of most populous cities in California and has many of the big city amenities you would expect to find. To sum up Cisco careers might work well for you depending on your circumstances. There are obviously many considerations to take into account but one should not dismiss Cisco because it is an ‘old school’ tech company.

Coolcaesar, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

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