So you’ve recently changed jobs, and you have a very extensive linux skillset. Your new job doesn’t include or require this skillset. Does that mean that experience will not serve you in this new role?

Absolutely false. The most valuable thing these experiences give us is perspective. The ability to see things from a unique point of view makes you a unique and valuable addition to any team. This is a strong reason for my advocacy of the Unified Skillset.

I will say this - a great tactic when looking for a position is asking the hiring position how easy it is to fill multiple roles from a technical perspective. Some have the internal org structure that allows you to work on technical projects outside of the core skillset you may have been immediately hired for. This is a really good way to keep your blade sharp in multiple areas.

Will my 6 years of experience doing software development (I miss programming) really have a direct impact on my ability to configure a Cisco switch? Likely not in the most direct sense, but it still provides a perspective that many others with the same Cisco skillset cannot have (This is all regardless of the growing trend of automation, and SDN). It is not up to us to judge the value of either our own or others’ technical history and figure out if the skillsets match exactly, especially if you’re in the position of looking for engineering talent on the market. Such a pursuit is relevant on the surface but will likely lead to a bad working relationship.

I’ll leave you with some of the best advice I’ve ever received: Hire people, train engineers. Get comfortable with proactively looking for personalities that fit the culture of your own organization, rather than engineers that meet a technical need right away. You’ll have much better luck with the former.


Matt Oswalt

Matt Oswalt is an all-around technology nerd, currently focusing on networking, software development, and everything in between. He is at his happiest in front of a keyboard, next to a brewing kettle, or wielding his silo-smashing sledgehammer. He spends his days diving deep into the intersection of networking and software, and likes to blog about his experiences when he comes up for air. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedIN.