Feature Story

Cisco's employer brand puts employees first

life at cisco

"Technology doesn't drive innovation, people do"—it's not just a slogan, it's something we live each day.

This is a guest post by Jill Larsen, Senior Vice President, Talent Acquisition, People Planning, and Services HR

Did you know that, according to LinkedIn's 2017 Talent Survey, that the first – and last – thing that a job seeker does in the job search process is talk to an employee at that company?

That just goes to prove how important Cisco's employees are in finding the next group of Cisconians!

Employees are so important at Cisco, that we created an entire values proposition with them at the center. It's called Our People Deal, and it essentially outlines what employees can expect of Cisco, and what Cisco expects from them. It's there to get us through good times, and bad. It's about treating everyone as the unique individual that they are and working with each other using respect and honesty, and allowing each person to be their authentic self to drive change. We like to say that technology doesn't drive innovation, people do. And it's not just a slogan, it's something we live each day.


Cisco's Talent Brand team has spent the last year or so changing the way we present ourselves as a great place to work to the talent of the future. The approach is quite special, and I think is really changing the way people think about Cisco as a place to change the world, and have a little fun while doing it.

The approach consists of amplifying employee-generated content and stories, and empowering employees to be the voice of Cisco, plus, communicating in a way that is conversational – like co-workers sharing a cup of coffee.

Take, for example, the WeAreCisco Snapchat channel. (If you're not following along, you're really missing out on some great stuff. Go follow now! I'll wait.)

Each day features a takeover BY AN ACTUAL REAL-LIFE EMPLOYEE. Snapchat has become so popular because of the nature of the raw, real-time content it features, so the WeAreCisco Snapchat is about as close as you can get to real-life here.

And what I love is that it's not scripted. The Talent Brand team does a brilliant job of managing the program and providing guidance and support, but the employees are allowed (encouraged!) to use, let's say, a dog-face lens or a fun geofilter to tell their story. The benefit is not only that prospective candidates can get a glimpse into Cisco life, but that current employees can feel the trust and value from the company! Take a look at what one employee posted on her social feed about the program.

It's not just on Snapchat, either. Follow any @WeAreCisco social platform – (Instagram, Twitter, the Life at Cisco blog) and you'll see posts from the Talent Brand team that they've sourced from employees. Employee photos, employee stories – these aren't made up! It's hard to believe, I know, that employees could honestly feel this way. And the Talent Brand social team sees comments all the time. On one post, someone commented that they were sure an employee was a model, and the marketing team made up the story. That was, until the real employee popped in and commented that she wasn't fictional.

This spills over into hiring events, where Cisco shows up like the fun, cool, techie-oriented business we are. And candidates respond with "Wow, THIS is Cisco?" (That makes us happy.)

When we launch our new career site in early 2017, you'll see this philosophy carry over there, too. The photography on the new site features employees in many ways. First, those won't be models you see in the photos, those are actual (and very stylish) Cisco employees.  Some employees even shared their talents as  photographers by taking some of the photos used on the site. I can't wait for you to see it. You'll want to apply on the spot! (And we will welcome you!)

Look, no company is perfect. We still have work to do. We are taking a look at many programs such as how to individualize benefits, how to highlight great teams and model great team behavior.  I can see how far we've come, how we talk to potential job candidates, and I can see it mirrored in the way employees share in social media. It's also reflected in all the Great Place to Work awards and the recognition that our Talent Brand team gets. (They won a best use of social media award this year. #ProudBoss.)

It's just one example of many on how Cisco's culture is being presented to the world.

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