July 22, 2021

Finding joy in the jigsaws of people – Cisco

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Finding the right person for the right role can be a bit like a jigsaw as practitioners seek to support people to find the right fit. We spoke to Stephanie Norris, Talent Acquisition Manager at Cisco Australia and New Zealand, who shares her background, what it’s like to work at Cisco and why she loves building people and communities. We also asked for her top three tips for people looking for roles.

At Cisco, there is a refreshed focus on unique ways of recruiting, through skills based assessments, and highlighting the ways the organisation works to support people to find fulfillment outside of their typical role, such as providing paid days off to volunteer.

Stephanie has worked with Cisco for almost 10 years. Her curiosity for the technology industry helps her to attract diverse and amazing people to the organisation. On top of that, she is also passionate about giving back, and connecting with local communities.

“I worked as a recruiter in agencies for several years before taking on my first role here at Cisco. I have always wanted to work for a global company and had a background in recruiting in the technology industry. The best part about working for Cisco is that I have been able to get involved in many passion projects around diversity, CSR, and coaching and have been supported to take on exciting responsibilities outside of my role. One thing I love doing is training and facilitation, and helping to provide tips and tricks for employees and candidates on how to navigate the search for roles.”

Helping people to find the right roles

We asked what drives Stephanie and what she loves most about being in recruitment. She shares,

I enjoy talking to people. It’s like a jigsaw – I get satisfaction in getting the right person into the right role.

Last year, Great Place to Work recognised Cisco as the #1 Best Workplace in Australia for organisations with more than 1,000 employees. Cisco moved up the ranks over the last few years, from #3 in 2018, #2 in 2019 and now, #1!

Cisco’s approach to recruitment is refreshing, with the overall goal to bring in the best talent while minimising bias in the process. This is why Cisco has a skills-based hiring approach to technical roles. Once the initial assessment is done, resumes are intentionally not shared with the interview panellists.

We found more women were coming through to the interview process because of the skills-based assessments. We also have a diverse panel to interview, which means we can minimise bias even more.


Enabling flexibility through technology, and time to give back

During the pandemic, Cisco employees were well supported. It helps that Cisco is a leading tech company that allows employees to work from home almost seamlessly.

One of the things I value most about working here is the flexibility. During the pandemic, our leaders really supported us with things like a ‘day for me’ in which all employees had the day off for ourselves.

In addition to her role, Stephanie’s commitment to diversity is able to flourish as she offers career support for anyone.

“There’s lots of flexibility here and support in my role to be a mum and also follow my career aspirations. We’re given stretch assignments and lots of coaching to set us up for success. It’s also great to have that sponsorship from leaders here to put in a good word for you. If you do a good job, there are a lot of opportunities.”

For a long time, I’ve been very passionate about supporting women to consider a career into technology. It’s so valuable to be able to work flexibly so I can pursue my role, my passions and my life.


Top three tips for job seekers

We asked Stephanie to share with us her top three tips and tricks for jobseekers:

  • Review your CV: “The whole point of the CV is to get an interview. You don’t want it too long. Make sure it is clear and concise. Limit it to three pages at most. If you’re early in your career, then leave it to one page. For women, sometimes they don’t see the transferable skills, but I recommend applying anyway. Know your worth and your skills. Understand your strengths and just give it a go.”
  • Don’t take it personally: “So many times you won’t hear back from the recruiter. It’s the reality because there are hundreds of CVs. It’s almost impossible to get a personalised reply. Please don’t take it personally. Instead, review your CV and make sure you have all the keywords. Don’t give up.”
  • Have your questions ready: “For interviews, both virtual and in-person, think about a bank of scenarios and know them off by heart. Have all your questions ready to ask. Know your why and purpose and how it is aligned with the organisation.”


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About the Author
WORK180 promotes organizational standards that raise the bar for women in the workplace. We only endorse employers that are committed to making real progress so that all women can expect better.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.