Friday, January 18, 2013

Cerrtifications my thoughts on the matter

The IT community has been hot with the need for certifications.

This is great ideal, but I would like to speak my mind on the whole certifications strategy, and how it plays with jobs and candidates selections.

1st off, I've been active within the IT certifications field,  going back at least 12+ years. My 1st certification  under takings,  was that of a Sun Solaris Administration (1998 ) and Cisco Networking CCNP ( 1999 )

But certifications is  not the  final win-win  defacto selector. We all should look at the continual expanding of our knowledge, skills, and formal education. Certifications within a specialize sector is great for the following reasons;

* it shows possible recruiters your level of  IT knowledge
* it gives an ideal of your advancements
* shows recognition of your achievements

Ideally a recruiter and/or potential employer , would use the information within the resume, and any formal education and certifications to help determine if this candidate is suited for the role. The face-2-face interview,  just  completes & finalize the deal.

Basically over the last  decade or so, I've been noticing that candidates are  showing up with certifications and having  zero knowledge, or any hands-on in that sector of specializations. This hurts the IT  communitiy (IMHO ), since we now have recruiters only focusing on candidates with "certs", but not of the critical essentials ; practical experiences,  hands-on demonstration, or practical knowledge.  A lot of these recruiter will pass up the more suited candidate that has experience, if they see no certifications listed on his/her resume. Now we flood the market with the certs only guys/gals and the best candidate is shown the door.

I myself could careless if a person had CCNA/CCNP for example,  and studies their rear-end off, but I rather prefer a individual that  could demonstrated or show past experience within that area of specializations.

The proper format for any potential employers, is to look for candidates with both cert/education and experience, & the certifications should just  enhance or back the recruiter candidate as a possible selectee.

The main advantage that a certs should have is to ; "increase yours chance of being notice by a hiring manager or recruitment firm", but in reality you have candidates with no knowledge or practical skills in  that area of their certifications. These candidates are typically from the same crowd that buys a book or two, study and brute-force the exam(s),  use a fast-train, or have an Associate or Bachelor degree in IT, but they couldn't explain "how something as simple as ARP or DNS & how it works".

In one case, I ran across a individual that was a microsoft certified engineer, and he had never installed Microsoft OS on a box :(

So keep that in mind when your obtaining a certification, and for anybody interviewing a candidate and bypassing those without certifications in their title or resumes.

I myself like to look at experience 1st. Persons that has a practical knowledge, hands-on, and past  working experiences that can be validate, .........are easy selected over individuals with just a cert or formal education imho.

Now here comes the chicken-and-egg issue;  "How do we get person with experience , if we ignore those with no certs?"

What I mean by this; " at one of my places of past employment, we picked up a  person with a basic CCNA, 1 year of work internship experience,  just to get the individual in the door  & for him to gain experience". I called it a gut feeling or investing into that person.

So stay focus, get some training,  get certifications, stay in touch with new technologies,  but never over look experience  against certifications.

Ken Felix
Freelance Security & Network Engineer
kfelix  at hyperfeed d-o-t com

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