Job Market, Undiscovered Cable Tribes, and IP SCTE member since 1986 Title: Co-Founder, Director of Sales & Business Development, BroadbandCareers.com Broadband Background: Clancey began in the trenches, so to speak, as a construction trainee at Storer Cable TV in Calif., worked for a time as a contractor, and eventually founded Coaxial Communications. Moving to the recruitment side, Clancey was a third-party headhunter before launching BroadbandCareers.Com with his wife in 2000. What are the hardest positions to fill in the industry? On the broadband network operations front, headend technicians and engineers, VoIP engineers and program managers. Area technical operations managers are in big demand. There are a lot of positions where telephony switching experience is required, carrier relations managers, etc. And, of course, system technician positions are available all over the country. In huge demand right now: trained installers; premise contractors are begging for them. And these are not your father’s tech and installer openings either because the skill sets required for today’s "triple-play" networks demand prior vocational training at the minimum and, preferably, SCTE certification. As for network equipment suppliers, one of the hottest areas is sales. Road warriors that can sell and support CATV products right now should have nothing less than three offers if they’re looking for a fresh opportunity. Those with contacts in both cable and exchange carrier markets are gold. Most are virtual office opportunities where the person can base from home. Network engineers looking for a second career should also consider converting to product evangelist. Those with both engineering and marketing backgrounds, who have good field experience, are well suited for business development opportunities. What percentage of cable operators are looking to bring on IT and/or IP folks? Out of the companies advertising their job openings on the Broadband Careers Network, one hundred percent. Of course, there might be some previously undiscovered, indigenous cable tribe that hasn’t deployed TCP/IP in one form or another, but I doubt if they’re hiring. What is the most available type of position currently? The more things have changed, so to speak, the more they remain the same at the base of the cable workforce pyramid. System technicians and installers will always be in big demand because those are upwardly mobile positions and offer opportunity for advancement early and often. When the best of the breed are advanced, openings are created and the cycle begins anew. Staff turnover will always be the largest single driver for recruitment and hiring in this dynamic sector that is broadband. Growing new talent from the bottom up, however, always seems to be a challenge for operators. Unfortunately, most don’t advertise their installer positions because, believe it or not, they still rely on entry-level walk-in applicants. But I don’t think that strategy is sustainable, as customer installs become more complex and wireline competition starts knocking on the door. What skills are cable operators looking for compared to a few years ago? Without hesitation, Internet protocol. Everybody in the industry should get certified in this medium. Convergence demands everybody, from the bottom up, be more than just fluent in the TCP/IP stack and related protocols. Here’s just one example why: Recently, we added wireless to our office network and had trouble configuring the new, best-of-breed router to allow us to VPN into the BroadbandCareers.Com servers using our various emulation tools. After more than five hours of technical support and troubleshooting over several days, plus hammering the manufacturer’s knowledgebase, turns out we had someone right here in our own company who knew exactly what the problem was and fixed it in less than five minutes. What new positions are being filled due to technological advances? All things IP. Up until recently, high-speed data has been the key driver. But now the telcos have decided to stem their losses of voice revenue by taking another swing at triple-play. And this time, they’re serious about it. SBC’s IPTV plans alone, if more than just a twisted-pair dream, will place big demand on a limited talent pool of expertise in digital headends and hub sites. The company that just acquired AT&T’s backbone is planning two super headends, seven regional headends and 141 hub site/headends—all IPTV. Why do I mention that and why should cable care? Think about it. Where’s this talent going to come from in SBC’s markets? They don’t have it, can’t grow it fast enough and so will target their local competitor’s human assets—they already are. Are MSOs increasing staff? In what areas? Well, I don’t know if they’re necessarily increasing overall staffing. But they had best be taking inventory, now, by looking at their people and identifying those individuals who are critical to their corporate and system operations. Then interview them to see how they are doing, what they need in order to do their jobs to the best of their abilities and what they need to make them happy. Competition in last mile, wireline networks is going to cause everybody some disruption in staffing. Those managers who take the competitive threat seriously now by reviewing their operation bottom to top, with a sharp focus on key personnel, will be able to compete toe to toe. From your perspective, can you tell anything about where the industry is headed? I’ve been out of technical operations for some time, but from where I’m sitting on the recruitment side, the trend is clear. Broadband networks are evolving into a packet-based medium. If VoIP completely supplants circuit-switched voice, then video will be next. And if the phone guys don’t strike out again (pun intended), the speed of convergence to an all-IP medium will become exponential. The two incumbent networks into our homes then will be indistinguishable and competition will further fire innovation. How has competition from the telcos changed the job market? For the job seeker, it’s all good. Competition has started to shrink already tight talent pools in some metro areas, mostly Verizon’s, particularly for fiber deployment people. Competition gives the industry’s technical and engineering ranks choice that did not exist before. Some people I’ve talked to are a bit leery, though, because they don’t want to make a major career change and then be blackballed later if the phone companies walk away from video again. But hiring managers that take that for granted do so at their own risk. For system operators, competition will change how they currently do business with their employees. That change can either be positive, if managers take a proactive stance as I mentioned above, particularly with respect to training and equipping their ranks even better than their competitor does. Or it will be their worst nightmare as their best people take a chance on their own future and go down the road to greener pastures.