CXO

TechRepublic members sound off on certification

In a recent column by Bob Weinstein, we asked you how much weight you gave certifications when hiring and retaining your staff. Here's what you told us.


In a recent TechRepublic column, “Certifications: The CIO perspective,” Bob Weinstein took a look at certifications and the role they play in the enterprise. He examined how CIOs should expect their hiring staffs to use certifications as a yardstick for job candidates and discussed the realities of using certs as a retaining mechanism.

At the end of the article, we asked readers how much weight they gave to certifications during the staffing process. Many of our members told us that they placed little value in certification and that experience was what they valued. Here’s what else they told us:

Train, train, train
In an e-mail from John Mikla, he suggests that certifications are appreciated, but are “far from the deciding factor” when trying to hire a new person. However, those that come with both certification and experience will move ahead of those without certification.

Mikla also commented on using certs as a means of retention. “Paying for employees’ certifications is certainly a scary business [practice], yet not providing appropriate training will most likely be the reason they leave,” he wrote. “Our experience is that trained employees are generally happier and more productive. They have greater mobility within the company without having to leave it.”

Certification and experience
Ycanham, one of our South African members, said that any young IT worker would be greeted with skepticism if they had certifications but little experience.

“Without practical experience, what are they worth other than an accolade for studying so diligently and successfully?” Ycanham wrote. “Experience plus certification is the key.”

Don’t discourage certification
Another reader, Gene Tietz, took us to task for “pushing experience so much” in the column. As someone who is pursuing A+ certification, he found the article discouraging.

“It will damage entry-level access to tech jobs in the computer support area,” he said. “If we are to believe all the media hype about the critical shortage of IT and other computer technicians, employers should be jumping for joy to have anyone with certifications onboard.”

Work first, cert later
TechRepublic member kochr worked in IT for years before gaining certification. Kochr advised others to do the same and didn’t mince words when describing those with certification only.

“Those people that think certification will guarantee them the high-dollar jobs need to wake up and smell the coffee,” kochr wrote. “They have no clue what they are doing, and then they have to explain why they can’t fix the problem…”

One member, Michele A. Liberty, who is the manager for computer systems for the American Chamber of Commerce Executives in Alexandria, VA, described a work experience with a consultant who had earned a certification but had little experience:

“The whole issue reminds me of the time that I hired a company to move our Exchange from one server to another, and we were down for two weeks! But [this consultant] was certified and had passed the Exchange test! Experience is what counts, not certification!”

No more certs
TechRepublic member Linuxian is giving up on trying to pursue certifications. Linuxian said that, despite earning several certifications, “I still feel like an entry-level person. I know nothing compared to a five- or 10-year veteran.”

As a result, Linuxian has begun a crusade against training centers that “claim immediate, overnight success by simply obtaining the latest and hottest certifications.”

Linuxian, as well as another member, j_granger, advises anyone trying to break into the IT industry to earn a certification that is in demand, and then get a job that demands that knowledge while working to pursue other certifications.
Have you made a leap from one career to another and used certification as a stepping-stone? As a CIO or CTO, did you start your career with a certification? Post a comment below or send us an e-mail.
In a recent TechRepublic column, “Certifications: The CIO perspective,” Bob Weinstein took a look at certifications and the role they play in the enterprise. He examined how CIOs should expect their hiring staffs to use certifications as a yardstick for job candidates and discussed the realities of using certs as a retaining mechanism.

At the end of the article, we asked readers how much weight they gave to certifications during the staffing process. Many of our members told us that they placed little value in certification and that experience was what they valued. Here’s what else they told us:

Train, train, train
In an e-mail from John Mikla, he suggests that certifications are appreciated, but are “far from the deciding factor” when trying to hire a new person. However, those that come with both certification and experience will move ahead of those without certification.

Mikla also commented on using certs as a means of retention. “Paying for employees’ certifications is certainly a scary business [practice], yet not providing appropriate training will most likely be the reason they leave,” he wrote. “Our experience is that trained employees are generally happier and more productive. They have greater mobility within the company without having to leave it.”

Certification and experience
Ycanham, one of our South African members, said that any young IT worker would be greeted with skepticism if they had certifications but little experience.

“Without practical experience, what are they worth other than an accolade for studying so diligently and successfully?” Ycanham wrote. “Experience plus certification is the key.”

Don’t discourage certification
Another reader, Gene Tietz, took us to task for “pushing experience so much” in the column. As someone who is pursuing A+ certification, he found the article discouraging.

“It will damage entry-level access to tech jobs in the computer support area,” he said. “If we are to believe all the media hype about the critical shortage of IT and other computer technicians, employers should be jumping for joy to have anyone with certifications onboard.”

Work first, cert later
TechRepublic member kochr worked in IT for years before gaining certification. Kochr advised others to do the same and didn’t mince words when describing those with certification only.

“Those people that think certification will guarantee them the high-dollar jobs need to wake up and smell the coffee,” kochr wrote. “They have no clue what they are doing, and then they have to explain why they can’t fix the problem…”

One member, Michele A. Liberty, who is the manager for computer systems for the American Chamber of Commerce Executives in Alexandria, VA, described a work experience with a consultant who had earned a certification but had little experience:

“The whole issue reminds me of the time that I hired a company to move our Exchange from one server to another, and we were down for two weeks! But [this consultant] was certified and had passed the Exchange test! Experience is what counts, not certification!”

No more certs
TechRepublic member Linuxian is giving up on trying to pursue certifications. Linuxian said that, despite earning several certifications, “I still feel like an entry-level person. I know nothing compared to a five- or 10-year veteran.”

As a result, Linuxian has begun a crusade against training centers that “claim immediate, overnight success by simply obtaining the latest and hottest certifications.”

Linuxian, as well as another member, j_granger, advises anyone trying to break into the IT industry to earn a certification that is in demand, and then get a job that demands that knowledge while working to pursue other certifications.
Have you made a leap from one career to another and used certification as a stepping-stone? As a CIO or CTO, did you start your career with a certification? Post a comment below or send us an e-mail.

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