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  • #2274342

    What qualifications are a useful measure of competence


    by dharker ·

    The industry is awash now with qualifications costing a fortune to gain – many in boot-camp guaranteed pass training centres. Meanwhile there are thousands of qualified and very experienced people overlooked because they have all the practical skills and experience without the paperwork to “prove” it. What do you think counts most? Practical and proven skills or in-depth knowledge? What qualifications do you find give the best measure of a persons abilities?

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    • #2700139

      Experience – Experience – Training – Experience

      by jimhm ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      The training whether it is self taught or class room – then the Experience to apply that training. The paper you are going to get – thousands that have the paper and don’t know how to even wipe their butt with it…

      The days of past – Paper CNE’s – ECNE’s – Then it hit the Microsoft world – Paper – had the Cert – but couldn’t do a thing with it. “We didn’t learn that in class!”

      Experience most of the time out wieghts the training – and all the time outweights any paper.

      • #2718395

        Behavioral Criteria

        by stevegantt ·

        In reply to Experience – Experience – Training – Experience

        Neither experience or training will do you any good unless the person can get along with other people. You managers out there need to take a course in behavioral assessment like the C.A.R.E or D.I.S.C behavioral profile. With a little practice you will be able to spot an asset from a “dud”. I think the criteia is
        1) Behavior
        2) Experience
        3) Maturity
        4) Dependability
        5) Formal Training

        Behavior is often overlooked, but it is the most essential component when building a team. People have to the able to work together as a team. Training can be done later, experience comes in time along with maturity, but you will find it very difficult to change behavior.

        • #2718385

          Behavioral Criteria is Correct But….

          by lfhowell1 ·

          In reply to Behavioral Criteria

          …the challenge is that IT managers and recruiters tend to be more comfortable with ultimately focusing the “technical” competencies–whatever that means. Unfortunately, behavioral skills, which includes the ability to get along with diverse people with diverse interests and politics and the ability to inspire people is essential. For example, when you take a look at job descriptions posted and then interview, most of us notice a disturbing trend–the technical skills tend to trump the behavioral criteria. And unfortunately, that is why a large majority of these hires “don’t work out” and yet the criteria and the emphasis on what is learned tends not to change. So, the solution is to focus on different criteria up-front in the recruiting process combined with the ability to “apply” technical skills in real-life settings using scenarios to evaluate how someone can respond. The criteria outlined above is absolutely correct. Cheers!

        • #2718374

          #1 job skill= nice smile?

          by dogdaze ·

          In reply to Behavioral Criteria

          I see this trend everywhere now. Completely charming people come in the door, well versed in interview techniques (there must be a cert somewhere for that too), and nobody seems to notice much less care that the applicant is really just a bag of wind- all talk, no action.
          You end up having to hire, and then fire a really pleasant but ultimately incompetant person, and you become the bad guy.

          Apparently the days of I.T, people being brilliant but quirky are over. In all areas of employment we now tend to prefer milktoast personalities with skills to match. “Oh, he couldn’t fix it but he was so pleasant!”

          Its all about spin anymore isn’t it. I look for ‘dirt under the fingernails’, personally. I’m not impressed with those ten dollar words memorized in boot camp. I’ll hire the intuitive tech who can fix it even when he doesn’t know what its called.


        • #2718207

          Experience Rockz dogdaze

          by rajpatel ·

          In reply to #1 job skill= nice smile?

          A few days back i asked some friends here that i didnt complete my graduation since i need to work and since i was working i cant go to college and get degree i got experience instead and im skillfull without certificates but i can still get the cert. but i cant go to collage and get degree so some one will still hire me as system admin or some relavant post if i really knew the work.
 you rockz man.

        • #2712330

          Reply To: What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

          by christotg ·

          In reply to Experience Rockz dogdaze

          Maturity is useful too. So is the ability to communicate clearly and effectively, regardless of the audience. Realise that, wherever you work, everyone outside the company sees you *AS* the company – if you aren’t a good representative of the company, then you’ll be looking for a new job.

        • #2712248

          say what

          by itiszi ·

          In reply to Experience Rockz dogdaze

          i cant read ure wurdz there4 i wont

        • #3236112

          Yes you can

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Experience Rockz dogdaze

          it’s a lot harder though. Essentially you need to find a back door, the pavement admirals in HR will rarely let you in the front one.
          Presentation and attitude is the key, and it all depends on how much of what experience gained where

        • #2718205


          by annien1 ·

          In reply to #1 job skill= nice smile?

          Someone who see’s it my way. I know how to do it and I don’t buy into all that damn technical jargon. I know how to fix it when it breaks and that is what is important.

        • #2712332

          Yeah, but…

          by christotg ·

          In reply to YEAHHHH!!!

          …fixing something isn’t the most important thing in every situation. If you’re going to be surrounded by nothing but technical people, and report to nobody but technical people – then it’s probably OK.


          Most people, as far as I know, tend to work with non-technical people as well. I’ve had to hire a few people in the past, and these are my criteria:

          1. Ability & desire to learn new things
          2. Personality – can he/she get along with us
          3. Sufficient technical skill that I won’t have to babysit.

          I think of it like hiring a Straight-A student: Don’t. Hire someone who will fit in well, and can pick up the missing skills fast.

        • #2712234


          by dmwoodcock ·

          In reply to Yeah, but…

          Maybe in your profession you could use your 123 criteria. If you are telling me that you are going to roll out 240,000 seats and you are going to use your criteria (1.2.3) then when could one expect to see the first seats come on-line. Every vendor and his brother/sister is coming out with new certifications and it is not the IT folks that want to have to pay for them. Business requires them just like BS/MS/Phd. IT certifications expire and we have to renew them at a cost both in time and money. Now you tell me why someone with a BS from 1980/90 something would have a leg up on an IT professional that has been working in this field. What other professions recruit personnel without technical qualifications because they simply have a degree?

        • #3236108

          Entirely too damn many.

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Confused

          How else would you explain a degree in media studies. Academic qualifications in IT don’t expire as fast as certs, but eventually they can become less relevant. After all us old chaps who learnt how to program, now get supplanted by people who are competent with a mouse. What’s really strange is how someone can decide that a carpenter is incapable of assembling a flat-pack wardrobe because they haven’t got a certification for the use of a 4 millimeter allen key.

        • #2712123

          I agree with your criteria . . .

          by a.techno.geek ·

          In reply to Yeah, but…

          I agree with your criteria, but most companies do not think like you. Most companies will hire on the criteria of grade point average. I have heard, where companies have went to a college to recruit graduating students, pick the guy or gal that had 4.0 GPA. Then hire the person figuring that they are going to be an asset to that company, until that person got into situation that was not a text book problem, when it got hot they walked. Now had that same company had hired say, an average student (Low “B”‘s, High “C”‘s) chances are they would have stayed and seen the problem through. Why? Because when one has to do multiple things, like work and go to school they tend to be problem solvers, troubleshooters. And more then anything else, IT is a business that has to solve problems for their company or clients. I believe that experience and education go hand in hand, but the balance should be on the side of experience. Certification I believe is a scam in a lot of cases to milk money from people into a corporate institution. Case in point, many, many moons ago I had a person with an MBA (she found there wasn’t very much work for a person with an MBA in art) ask me what I thought about going to ITT to pick up IT training (we both were at a Southfield MI, ITT, “why you should give your money to ITT seminar”, it was about 1981, I went there because CETA sent me there for possible schooling). Personally, I told her that she should save her money at the time and go a Community College and pick up whatever certification or Associates in a computer program. Would have taken her just as long and it would be cheaper. But I digress I was only a high school graduate at the time.

        • #2708929


          by cmate ·

          In reply to Yeah, but…

          I started my business in 1982 selling and fixing VIC20’s and didn’t have a clue about PC’s and, over the years built up my business employing 7.
          I only hired those who were prepared to “get a little dirt on their hands and have an open mind” and who could explain their actions in “Plain English” not IT jargon, at the same time getting the job done. Some have now gone on to their own businesses and I now operate successfully as a “one man band”.
          I have yet to come across anyone … in any industry … with a a string of alphabets after their name who have turned out to be nothing more than incompetent megalomaniacs.
          ChrisTOTG, has got it right.

        • #2706988

          I’m seeing alot of resentment toward certs and good grades…

          by jtakiwi ·

          In reply to YEAH

          Most of the posts on this subject say that experience rules. In my experience, I have to say that experience counts for alot, the more varied the better. However, you cannot say that certs are useless, or just the product of an egomaniacal personality (Hitler was a megalomaniac, I would hope any of us could spot one of those shortly after they sat down for the interview). We happen to have quite a few people running around these halls w/ a string of letters after their names, me included, should they choose to answer emails that way (most don’t). They all seem to be functional human beings who manage to tie their shoes each and every morning. To say, as in an earlier post someone made, that good grades are a bad thing, are you kidding me? All things being equal, you would have to be a moron to hire the person w/ lower GPA or less certs. Come on, not everyone is a paper MCSE. The certs prove to me that you are interested in the field, and have put forth effort to obtain credentials to back it up. They also show a willingness to learn (not a common trait). Certs are not a substitute for actual knowledge, you have to balance the experience and the certs.

          To say; “I have yet to come across anyone … in any industry … with a a string of alphabets after their name who have turned out to be nothing more than incompetent megalomaniacs.” just tells me you don’t get out much. To make such a blanket statement like that, especially if you have 22 yrs experience as stated…

          We conducted a string of interview recently, and the best prospect so far has no certs. Just the way that it is. If he were hired by us, he would have a time window in order to earn certain certifications and see a raise in salary accordingly. The certifications are one of the few ways to differentiate our company from the average computer shop.

        • #2708091


          by vic ·

          In reply to YEAH

          you gotta be kidding

        • #2708090

          Maybe you haven’t been around the industry enough.

          by vic ·

          In reply to YEAH

          Maybe you need to be around the industry more. Making a living fixing pc’s is pretty hard these days. And in defense of those of us who have certs. I can also say that I’ve never ran into any guy claming to be in this field for 20 years without anything to prove it other than fixing pc’s be able to do much more than fix pc’s. PC componets are cheap and easy to replace these days. When we talk about the value of certs, we’re usually speaking in terms of doing more than replacing hard drives, or spending 11 hours at 100 per hour troubleshooting a hardware issue (when the client can buy a new one for 500). Explain the difference to me in OSPF routing vs RIPv2 routing. You can’t put it in plain english because some of what you hear is not just “IT Jargon” sometimes it just is what it is. If you’ve done good fixing pc’s without any cert, without any other form of education or however you have, then good for you and power to you. But to call certified professionals “incompetent megalomaniacs” is down right stupid, pointless, un-based, and evidence of your hiding in a whole the last 20 years. I wonder why your company started ages ago is still a one man band? Look at corporate web sites, and job advertisements buddy. I’d bet my next check from Microsoft, that 90% of the IT positions are asking for some type of cert. Get real, and get with the times.

        • #2706998

          …both are important

          by nicknielsen ·

          In reply to Yeah, but…

          Both technical chops and the ability to work with others are important. Ask the end users who they want fixing broken boxes:
          1. The alpha geek who has the personality of a blunt object or sharp rock, but can fix any problem that has ever occurred in a heartbeat; or
          2. The tech who might take a minute or so longer to fix the problem, but also doesn’t leave his customers wondering just how a bad network connection became their fault.

          I know of one case where a client asked that a certain tech not return to that site because he couldn’t do the job without p_ssing people off!

        • #2708094

          do u know how to set it up right?

          by vic ·

          In reply to YEAHHHH!!!

          Do you know how to set “it” up right the first time? If you know how to set “it” up, chances are you won’t have to fix “it” as often. Come on people. If nothing else you learn something just preparing for the certs. I’ve got tons of certs and I can tell you that even from taking the A+, I learned something. The stuff about registers (not registry), etc. Was completely new to me.

        • #2708092

          do u know how to set it up right?

          by vic ·

          In reply to YEAHHHH!!!

          Do you know how to set “it” up right the first time? If you know how to set “it” up, chances are you won’t have to fix “it” as often. Come on people. If nothing else you learn something just preparing for the certs. I’ve got tons of certs and I can tell you that even from taking the A+, I learned something. The stuff about registers (not registry), etc. Was completely new to me. And just because someone is good at figuring out how to fix something doesn’t mean they are the person for the job. Why would I pay someone 45 to 100 bucks per hour to sit there and “figure out” how to fix it? Why not read a book or get some certs and learn how to fix it right the first time, instead of “figure out because i’m so good with my hands” method. I’ve seen 10 year vets sit there and scratch their heads for hours (while pretending they knew how to figure it out) over simple group policy issues. Some of you sound as if you think it’s going to hurt you to have certs.

        • #2712284

          Reply To: What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

          by brianboatright ·

          In reply to #1 job skill= nice smile?

          But are you the hiring manager or a decision maker?

        • #2712223

          You are one of the few then

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to #1 job skill= nice smile?

          Experience is everything. Certification and Academic qualifications should only ever put someone in a position to gain experience, they are not a substitute for it. Seeing as our industry is effectively about solving problems, the experience you should be judged on is what sort of problems have you solved and what class of tools you used to it. I say class of tool, the difference between say C# and Fortran is n’t the syntax, it’s that one’s oo based and the other is not.

        • #2712047

          Intuition – The Forgotten Attribute!

          by security101 ·

          In reply to #1 job skill= nice smile?


          You mentioned the forgotten attribute that separates excellence from mediocrity: intuition.

          I thought I was alone in valuing this in an employee. Nicely said…

        • #2707296

          very true indeed

          by mandanglo78 ·

          In reply to #1 job skill= nice smile?

          I would totally agree I was really into computers but since I had no paper I could never get hired by anyone so I made a consulting company worked it for a year and then parlayed that into a career I mean if more people looked for aptitude as apposed to paper and fluff I know I would have had a much easier time breaking into the industry and been a lot happier.

        • #2718317

          What Behavior

          by dmwoodcock ·

          In reply to Behavioral Criteria

          What mold do you use for behavior. When you are hiring someone to build servers or program routers/switches or program code, you really don’t have alot of time to socialize. Let me guess, you are not an IT person, but someone that would like people to walk around all day smiling while the servers go unbuilt and your stock takes a nose dive. When will the MBA’s of the world realize that IT people are a different breed and we spend more time working and less time talking about it.

        • #2718276

          I agree..what behavior

          by jsdutcher69 ·

          In reply to What Behavior

          As a network administrator I have NO time to be a social bug because of all the routers, servers and most of all, pathetic end users that i’m trying to fix. In all honesty, I was hired to keep the company safe, up and running not to be the socail butterfly. I would take anyone who knows their work anyday over the political, social butt kisser

        • #2718187

          What behavior? Survival behavior

          by royala1 ·

          In reply to I agree..what behavior

          It sounds like you guys have your “paper”, and would be pissed if someone who didn’t could take your place. Possibly someone without an idea of what being social or representative of your company is might survive your job working with end users, but it would be shaky for the company. You wouldn’t work for me.

          My clients rely on a ‘social butterfly’ who also knows their job (there are loads of those to replace your type with!), it is essential, whether it is in a large or small company or individuals. All clients, both internal and external, deserve more than a grump. They deserve to be teated better than you expect to be treated yourself, because they are all customers. In the end it makes your job better.

          So behavior is VERY important when looking for a service oriented employee, which you are.

        • #2712338

          I agree…

          by is girl ·

          In reply to What behavior? Survival behavior

          The days of IT people being excused for anti-social behavior because they were a necessary evil are over.

          IT people can learn to be civil to their end users and drop the arrogant attitude – just like all the other hard working, highly skilled professionals out there.

          Being pleasant to your co-workers and clients isn’t butt kissing or socializing at the expense of working, it’s social courtesy.

        • #2712237

          Anti-Social Behavior

          by dmwoodcock ·

          In reply to I agree…

          How did we go from certs and technical qualifications to being anti-social, arrogant geeks. No one said anything about being dis-courteous or dis-respectful. Most trades grow and promote their leaders from within the ranks. Why should IT be any different? Does the mechanic that works on your car let you go in the garage and take the time to explain to you why a 25 cent fuse costs you 75 dollars to fix? I don’t think so. If you don’t think that in the IT industry that we have an over abundance of inept non IT middle managers then that is your opinion. I have been in the telecommunications/networking/security industry for over 25 years and have never seen the likes of non IT people try and make good IT technicians fit into some dynamic process control chart. WE can all have different opinions and still respect each other.

        • #2712196

          By the way, you’re welcome!

          by your mom 2.0 ·

          In reply to I agree…

          Check out SNL’s Nick Burns character (played by Jimmy Fallon in the Will Ferrell days) to see what kind of IT guy not to be.

          It’s kind of a running joke with the users at my company when I have to perform a helpdesk-type duty for them and arrive “in character”, complete wth the obscure computer jargon & condescending attitude. It’s funny because I’m not like Nick Burns, and the users seem to appreciate that I recognize that I try to not be the stereotypical computer nerd.

          If your job involves working with people at any level you have to learn to get along with them.

          Remember that there are hundreds or thousands of people who can do what you do and not be a complete tool while doing it. No one is irreplacable.

          People remember you when you help them. Always keep in mind that the people you interact with now may one day be promoted or get a better job & keep you in mind when something better opens up because of your helpful attitude and previous relationship.

          Bottom line is that no one is responsible for your career success except yourself, and if you’re like most people you work because you need to make money. No sense in shooting yourself in the foot by being rude or uncooperative to the people who may one day be in a position to either offer you something better later on or can you.

        • #2706984

          I have to agree…

          by jtakiwi ·

          In reply to I agree…

          It isn’t such a hardship to be nice when you are fixing whatever the problem is. The ability to politely explain what happened in plain english and how to avoid it in the future is a huge plus in any industry, not just IT. Should we settle for less? Why? For every “brilliant” anti-social, there is another “brilliant” sociable IT person waiting to take you job. Keep it in mind. I can teach you the technology, I cannot teach you to have social skills. Your mother should have taught you that.

          True story, I went to a custom pc shop in Florida to purchase a pc for my mother. I walk in, and am immediately hit in the face w/ attitude from the techies. You would have thought I walked into a biker hangout to see the attitudes and swagger of the little 120 lb soaking wet types in there. I don’t look like the typical techie, so they assumed I had no idea what I wanted. I made the mistake of actually purchasing something there (they were the only option at the time, and time was a bit short). Turns out, attitiude cannot fix anything, as my poor mother found out. So, basically, lose the attitiude, and you can come work for a professional organization instead of hanging out at a fix it store or comp usa trying to look cool.

        • #2712325

          Reply To: What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

          by christotg ·

          In reply to I agree..what behavior

          I wouldn’t hire you, or the person to whom you replied. IT people are so arrogant that it’s embarassing.

          Remember that you have been hired to perform a service for your company, not to complain about “pathetic end users”. There are MANY people who are technical, intelligent, and pleasant.

          Let me put it another way: The vast majority of successful people have charisma.

          Here’s another way to look at it: If you have so much technical skill that you can afford to be a dick, imagine how far you’d get if non-techs actually liked you.

        • #2712319

          All true Chris!

          by jakeadmin ·

          In reply to Reply To: What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

          This is someone who is going past the mark of techie into successful career.

        • #2712254

          Geek or Professional?

          by gaijinit ·

          In reply to Reply To: What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

          Given the choice, I’ll take the person who can document and prove on the job ability over someone with a certificate. If I can get them, I’ll take those who have both, if for no other reason than keeping their certs updated demonstrates that they care about their career enough to go that extra step over the competition. For every cert, there are at least 10 self-study applications available to prepare for them, and most of them are like interactive ‘Cliff’s Notes’ – they’ll make sure you pass the exam, but I have seen some peole with certs who would hurt themselves if given a screwdriver.

          Rant time:
          I believe Chris says it just about right. So many people posting replies here complain about getting stepped on by business managers who consider IT people clueless outside their technical environment, then these same IT people express their intolerance of those who don’t have the same technical skills they do!

          How about a little tolerance and mutual respect? Maybe the managers really don’t understand your work (who said they were supposed to?). On the other hand, do you think you could chair board meetings with investors and customers necessary to keep a company in business? Not without some attitude adjustment first.

          IT is a service job, and that means giving your best to representing and protecting the company’s interests, not just running your IT ‘kingdom’ and being left alone to play with your toys. Every company needs cooperative people who enjoy working with others in the office, not a bunch of prima donnas pursuing their own agendas. If you can’t work with others, start your own business, then you can be on the other side of the fence – you might be surprised to see just how far your technical skills can’t take you without adding some social skills and business sense.

          Being civil is nothing more than being professional. Just because you have technical skills, certified or not, doesn’t give you license to act superior to your co-workers and the company’s customers. Without customers, the company has no income, and without income, there isn’t much need for an IT department. Attitude DOES count.

          Rant #2(I know I’m asking for it here):
          Would some of you people PLEASE try to express yourselves like adults or at least learn how to spell? You’re so proud of your technical skills, try using your word processor’s spell checker sometimes. Or at least proofread what you type before hitting the ‘Submit My Comments’ button. If you have the time to go on line and participate in this forum, then at least show some pride in what you post from yourself to the world. Typing mistakes are one thing (I am a poor typist), but what I see here sometimes makes me cringe. If you can’t communicate any better than that, how can you expect to have anyone take you seriously? If you want others to respect you, respect yourself and what you say first.

          Fire away.

        • #2712205

          Reply To: What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

          by arleenw ·

          In reply to Geek or Professional?

          I think your missing the point. IT people are misunderstood because “pathetic end users” don’t have a clue as to what goes into our job. We may look like we’re not doing much, but everyone in the company’s job depends on how well we do ours. The fact is we need to concentrate, and when we’re deep into something we will seem rude and moody because we’re either ignoring the interruption or impatiently dismissing it so we can concentrate on the task at hand. In that one split second it takes to make a mistake, it could take a whole day or more to fix it. All because we’re expected to be “social” and answer the insipid question that the inquirer probably isn’t going to understand the answer to anyway. And guess who will be inconvenienced the most and be the rude one then? End users aren’t so friendly and respectful when their computers aren’t working properly.

          Don’t get me wrong, no one has the right to go around snapping at people or treating them in a condescending manner. Everyone should treat everyone with courtesy and respect – and that goes for all walks of life. (Believe me, I’ve seen some real jerks in restaurants and grocery stores “beating up” on the workers). In most businesses, the whole place shuts down when the computers go down. Give us a break and let us do our work, so you can do yours.

        • #2706983

          Non-geek agrees.

          by jtakiwi ·

          In reply to Geek or Professional?

          Just letting you know there are those of us out here who agree w/ you.

          P.S., I used the spell checker.

        • #2712321

          This is an example of who will not get hired

          by jakeadmin ·

          In reply to I agree..what behavior

          Buddy, you can’t treat the people like “pathetic end users” many of them sign your checks… You’re just living up to the stereo typical techie from Saturday Night Live. I so agree with your work ethic though. Many days are straight out brain fry. That’s what we get paid to do. But show a little patience for those others and remember that you probably couldn’t do their job just like they can’t do yours. Communication, clarity, competency, and results = more money for new projects and better vacations.

        • #2712091

          Remeber the ‘Big Picture’

          by jeff ·

          In reply to This is an example of who will not get hired

          You should keep in mind too that most companies aren’t selling IT services, or have it as an asset, rather it is a support service to enable the core business to make money.

          IT is very important, and so are the folks in accounting, marketing, manufacturing, planning and so on – if they weren’t important for business operations, they likely wouldn’t be there. Common respect and an understanding of the importance of everyone from the cleaning crew to the president/owner can go a long way towards keeping things on keel, this goes both ways. Most times, you must give respect to have it returned. (resulting in a great rapport between IT and the user community)

          This is one of the key concepts I try to instill in new hires I’ve trained over the years.

        • #3236098

          Respect is a key to all professions

          by tony hopkinson ·

          In reply to Remeber the ‘Big Picture’

          It’s not particular to IT or even service industries. Anyone you disrespect ‘knows’ you aren’t going to do your best work for them hence you’ll get no respect.
          Certifications, qualification or wadges of experience don’t rate respect, being able to do what you claim you can and then actually following through is what gets you it in my book.
          For an initial contact always give them the benefit of the doubt. That in itself should get you the best from someone who’s capable of it. If it doesn’t they’re a w@nker who isn’t worthy of your time.

        • #2712090

          What de Fogg is Behaviour

          by drakeeula ·

          In reply to I agree..what behavior

          Let me tell ya what is Behaviour…its sitting in the server room for hours…now, that ‘s what an SA is supposed to do…what social skills do we have? Forget the social skills and cut the crap..just get your job done ! That’s what matters…not social butt kissers, yeah!

        • #2712257

          I’d hire you

          by lumbergh77 ·

          In reply to What Behavior

          Good post.

          I am an IT business owner, and I find it amusing that so many people are jumping on you for your views. You’re right – IT workers who are actually getting things done don’t have a lot of time to socialize. The business depends on the network and you’re paid to keep that network running at all costs. You’re exactly the type of employee that I would hire. You seem to love the work that you do and I’m sure you bust your ass for that paycheck. It isn’t your job to make people laugh or inflate the egos of insecure people who don’t have enough work to do.

          That said, this is a service orientated business and a tech MUST be polite, friendly, and helpful when dealing with end users and co-workers. But a “charismatic” employee who walks around spending half his/her shift BS’ing is a liability, not an asset. Actions speak louder than words.

        • #2712252

          Individuals can be both, but it is rare

          by patricia.hubbard ·

          In reply to What Behavior

          I agree with you to a certain degree, I worked my way up to an IT director without a degree, then I got my BS, JD and I am now working on my Masters in Information. While I have the technical ability, I found that so many executives were lacking some of the leadership and ethical decision making skills that are so critical. So IT people in my opinion are really not all that different and should learn to be more interactive with others for many times when IT is involved with a project rollout, there really is a lack of communication that can lead to a project failure.

        • #2718289

          Experience w/experience

          by revblugenes ·

          In reply to Behavioral Criteria

          After managing PC repair, I have had to train four A+ certified people how to build a PC from scratch. And I am not certified at all. Two tech’s had no certification and could do it all. I am sure certification has it’s place, but experience really counts.

        • #2718287

          I Agree w/Experience w/experience

          by andglycol ·

          In reply to Experience w/experience

          What good is it if you have your papers and no experience to back it up. It takes time and a lot of hard work to become a good IT person who can fix, and build PC and understand whats going on when something breaks or goes wrong. Hats off to all those IT people who have worked without certification and can still manage to get the job done and done correctly.

        • #2718259

          Experience, but will HR let them get an interview?

          by gordonuk ·

          In reply to Experience w/experience

          Most would agree that experience counts for a lot more than qualifications, but if you work in a large company you may never see those experienced people.

          HR departments can get so many applications for a post that they throw out applications simply for not having a qualification.

          I’ve seen it happen….

        • #2712340

          Experience, but will HR let them get an interview

          by hand2hand ·

          In reply to Experience, but will HR let them get an interview?

          Excellent question. In general experience comes first, only the ignorant Mgr. thinks a Cert will automatically be the answer.
          (BSc. Software Engineer – CAD, IPC, Client/Server, Data acquisition) (No Certs.)

          Besides the need for experience goes back to my first year out of college. We all scratched our heads on that catch-22.
          Whats ironic is that a Cert. only measures the retention of the contents of the tests. no Cert. measures intangible experience. Industry is nuts and never knows what it wants they live on hair trigger reactions to the latest buzz words and ideologies. Yet I would hope Mgt. Would have the sense to carefully weigh out both Cert.’s and experience together, 20% Cert. – 80% Exp. Yes I think 20-80 is fair since I busted my ass for 15 years!!!( Manager shmucks) you would think I new something. But soon Certs won’t even matter because a Cert. in New Dehli works for less.

        • #2718239

          where do you find experience

          by charles.madsen ·

          In reply to Experience w/experience

          I agree that Experience is important, but where can you go to get that experience. I went to school and got those Certifications and Degree, and when I was done and looking for a job all anybody wanted was experience. Where is somebody suppose to get experience at. I got lucky after about 2 years of searching I have finally found an IT position willing to take a chance on somebody with knowledge, but not the experience.

        • #2712336

          Great Story.

          by itgirli ·

          In reply to where do you find experience

          During my last week of tech school I was at my part time job and got to talking with a customer about computers. He kept asking me troubleshooting questions. I thought maybe he was having computer problems at work. At the end of the conversation he tells me he is an IT recruiter. I interviewed with him formally two days later. Two days after that I interviewed at the company he was finding for. When I went in for the interview at the company, the interviewer was running late. I got to talking to the receptionist and she explained that she was having a problem. I fixed the problem just as the interviewer got there and went up to the interview. That was on a friday. I started the following Monday as the system administrator for this small company. I had a year of schooling (maintained a 4.0 gpa)and no certs. I count the year of school as active experience, but personality helps too. (so does fixing their stuff before you even talk to them.) I got seriously lucky.

        • #2707655

          would trade AA for experience

          by marimar60 ·

          In reply to Experience w/experience

          I recently recieved an AA in IT, and to tell the truth, I don’t know half as much as I should. I recieved my degree at a community college. While the college had excellent labs and every thing a person would need to learn what they need, there just was’nt enough time; 50 minutes per class is not even enough time to install an OS. Not once did we tear a computer down and rebuild from scratch. I feel like I wasted 2 years and $13,000+. I would gladly trade my degree for experience. It’s going to be really hard to get a job when there is so much competition with lots of experience, and I really don’t want to get stuck in some low-paying help desk position. What I really want, but probably won’t happen, is some nice tech to take me under his/her wing and tech me everything they know about repairing computers.

        • #2718232

          I agree but rank differently

          by blueknight ·

          In reply to Behavioral Criteria

          I totally agree with your comments regarding a prospect’s compatibility with current employees. That’s the first thing I look at when making my initial assessment of potentential candidates. It helps avoid many of the problems that could make the team less effective – even fail, and I don’t have to worry about the person becoming my headache.

          The next thing I want a person to have is experience. If they don’t have as much experience as I’d like, then I take a look at their training. These two factors are then confirmed in an interview by asking questions that the candidate *should* be able to answer.
          The more senior, or critical a position, the more emphasis goes to experience.

          Next, I want someone who is dependable, that is, they will show up for work when they are expected, and perform the work on time – and so that it doesn’t have to be redone later.

          My ranking would look more like:
          1) Compatibility
          2) Experience
          3) Training
          4) Dependability
          5) Maturity (especially for supervisory prospects)

        • #2712273


          by jeff.allen ·

          In reply to Behavioral Criteria

          Agreed: Behaviour is number one. This comes from being confident in your own ability to help the customer. A re-assured customer is a happy customer who treats us well. Nothing suceeds like sucess!
          Training IS important as long as it’s relevant. I have completed MCSE, MCP, A+ etc, and found they try to cover all bases. In most shops the need for knowledge is far more specific.
          Experience: over 35 years in this industry has taught me that most manufacturers do their stuff in much the same way, so experience in brand “A” certainly helps when confronted by brand “B”.
          Attitude: Even when confronted by something I have never seen before, being friendly, open etc, can win over the customer and they will tell me all the relevant facts. Usually this leads to a sucessful repair. If I am rude or gruff, they will clam up and I wont get anywhere.
          If I am employing someone, I will look for honesty, do they represent MY company well? Appearance, general technical ability and experience, because I can always train them to do specific jobs.

        • #2712088

          Well put!

          by jeff ·

          In reply to Knowledge=Confidence=behaviour…

          I agree.

          (35 years, that’s back in card and spool days!)

        • #2712238

          Behavioral Criteria

          by cromei ·

          In reply to Behavioral Criteria

          Steve you are absolutely right. I have experienced more lost productivity from highly qualified technically competent social misfits than from merely competent techs. I find that over the long haul personnel aware of their environment and able perceive my company’s structure perform just as well as their acerbic bretheren and keep us up and running. If my needs exceed their current skill I sub it out, a very rare occurence but aprice I am willing to pay for a harmonious work place.

      • #2718394

        Reply To: What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

        by richfairfull ·

        In reply to Experience – Experience – Training – Experience

        Good morning.

        The original question was how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

        Have a conversation with the recruit. Begin with the first job on their resume and work your way forward.

        Ask about the wrok they performed then drill into the details of the work. You will quickly be able to make a judgement about the depth of their knowledge. For example if someone lists on their resume MSSQL admin ask if they have installed it, how they installed it, and what they installed it on. While talking about the MSSQL host ask about CPU, disk subsystem, RAM requirements, etc. From their you can branch off into the subject of RAID, etc. I like to try to keep it light, like a conversation about baseball or cars.


      • #2718341

        my personal experience

        by luis_a_delgado ·

        In reply to Experience – Experience – Training – Experience

        I have found that experience teaches how to and training teaches the why. I’ve been unable to train for 4 years running around converting our shop to cisco, migrating to windows and migrating our email to exchange, and putting new branches online. I have the hands on knowledge, but only an MCP and CNA. Still I can troubleshoot my way around almost any problem. I know of people with many certs that can’t even troubleshoot their way out of a room.

        • #2718332

          I hear you

          by jeff ·

          In reply to my personal experience

          I have simular cert’s (No Degree) and have spent the time instead teaching accredited IT courses, engineering wide-scale global deployment processes and solutions, creating standards, providing engineering feedback and solutioning to MS and our clients and creating solutions for real-world issues not addressed with existing technologies…

          Certifications/Degrees would be redundant in the face of experience and accomplishments.

          Not that they don’t mean anything though. In view of the fact that for myself, I was fortunate (? ;-)) enough to get into the field when it was still in it’s infancy (outside of Mainframe systems) and was able to grow with the technology, new people don’t have that opportunity, so taking the courses and certifications is the only realistic way of getting their feet in the door
          and beginning a career in the field. The trick comes down to being able to seperate those that ‘know it all’ from those that are willing to learn and listen from those with the experience.

      • #2718314

        Experience Is The Key

        by lutterwortht ·

        In reply to Experience – Experience – Training – Experience

        Experience is key without a doubt. I’ve been in I.T. for 10 years but experience stretches to 18 years. I have no “techie” qualifications and time and time again have been amazed at how little consultants (with loads of qualifications) know! I’ve often dug such people out of holes when they’ve been paid 3 times my salary! Look for experience and achievement not bits of paper. ARH

        • #2718278


          by wiggy1948 ·

          In reply to Experience Is The Key

          If experience is the key than why can’t I get a job. I have over 23 years of experience at the Kennedy Space Center working as a Technical support analyst for four different contractors. I don’t have a BS degree or any certs. I was laid off almost 2 years ago and despite posting my resume with numerous online sites and applying to hundreds of positions I still have not even been called for an interview. It appears that they all want both a degree and certs.

      • #2718269

        what gets you hired

        by steve v ·

        In reply to Experience – Experience – Training – Experience

        I have 6 years EXP in the field now. I started as a PC tech and now I run a helpdesk. I only have 2 certs NT4 and Win2kPRO. I have learned that I have been able to get jobs not based on my certs but on my EXP. Companies want to know what you have worked with and how you have handled certain issues and situations. A lot of past interviews I have seen a greater deal of scenario based questions. “How would you handle A if B happened”. If you have worked with the product before in the past you should be able to answer the question. Trying to seperate the wheat from the chaff can be troublesome if you do not know which kind of wheat you are looking for. I feel that the best thing to go for is EXP. If I had to choose from a young college grad with a BS in Comp Sci, and 1 or 2 certs W/no EXP. Versus a 21-22 yr old kid with 5-6 years hands on EXP and no formal education; I would take the the latter. The college grad might be smart and have the ability to learn, but then you have to take the time out of your day to teach this will result in loss of productivity. It is better to have someone that can hit the ground running.

      • #2712240

        attitude is everything…

        by gauravbahal ·

        In reply to Experience – Experience – Training – Experience

        An ability to learn fast and apply it to situations is called for….attitude. Being able to see the big picture even when solving a relatively ‘stand-alone’ problem is important. The person should be able to see how his work / situation effects the project in its entirety.

        The person should have good communication skills (cross-cultural work environment are a norm these days) and should be able to put forth ideas and also shoot down ideas if they are detremental to a project. Tech skills usually take precidence over communication skills- look for referrals from ex-clients / collegues / etc. Not written letters but probably call them.

        Giving the person a situation and seeing his approach to solving it can be good gague of his thought process.

      • #2712184

        Certs…Certs…and More Certs…What Next?

        by wrap2tyt ·

        In reply to Experience – Experience – Training – Experience

        My whole problem with this industry is the weight that is put on having a certification. I think to much is decided on whether a person has that “paper” that says you are a certified and card carrying member of whatever training that you took. I finally took the MCSE and CCNA, years after I’ve worked in the field, and I got to tell you, “it don’t mean nothing” that’s all perfect world stuff, nothing happens like that. With the CCNA Cert and the training I think I might use about half of what was taught, and let?s not talk about the MCSE versus real life.

        I think there should be an apprentice program that documents a specified amount of time that an IT worker needs before taking certification tests, and all of these application and hardware vendors need to have standards placed on them, because there are just too many certs out there now.

        We’ve all seen them, the people with every IT certification they can get training for, and they get the high paying job because someone in HR or an ITO who reads some magazine that says these are the folks you want running your shop.

        Now my career path has changed and I’m moving toward IT Security, and all of the experience I’ve gained (not the certs) is my foundation, although I do plan to do Security+ as a buildup to the CISSP, more certs…

        I had a job interview once and they asked the typical “how would you solve this…” questions, one question was something like, ” A user is logged into the system, but cannot get any connection to the internet, what would you do?” There were about six of use trying to get this job, and I knew I was the only person that did not have any certs, I know this because I overheard them all talking about their certs, so as everyone gave what they thought was the answer my turn came and I said that I would first verify that the PC had a valid IP address and I would try to ping a gateway or DNS server, try to eliminate the obvious. Long story short, I got the job, but only because that company believed in results not people who flashed around the “paper” like it was a diploma from Harvard or Oxford.

        Please don’t get me wrong, I think there is a place for certs, I just think there needs to be a limit on how many there should be of any brand. How many guys do you know with all kinds of certs under their belts and they do Helpdesk?

    • #2700136


      by jamesrl ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      It struck me as I was conducting interviews for a techie recently that there were a lot of people with a lot of impressive certs who couldn’t do the job. All a cert tells you is that someone can study and take a test well. Thats not an indication of well someone can apply the knowledege. Give me someone who has a good approach to troubleshooting and I won’t worry about his/her cert being up to date. If I had two candidates who I thought were both reasonably competant, I would not use a cert to break a tie – I would look at soft skills.

      We have all seen people in jobs they weren’t meant for – people on the help desk with good knowledge but bad attitudes and communications skills, desktop techs who I wouldn’t let open the case of my computer, people who can’t break down a problem. I have to figure some of these people got their through certs.


      • #2700133


        by stress junkie ·

        In reply to None

        Ever since I started to prepare for this work in college
        I’ve noticed that there are some people that just don’t
        get it. They just don’t understand how the computer
        works. You can walk these people step by step through
        troubleshooting and fixing the problem in front of them
        but they can’t apply what you show to them when they
        confront their next problem. They apparently don’t
        comprehend how all the parts form a system. It’s as
        if a car mechanic didn’t understand that a car’s engine
        only runs if the fuel reaches the engine and is dispersed
        evenly to all of the cylinders and has to be ingited by
        the spark plugs, and it all has to work at exactly the right
        time in the right amounts. All of the parts have to work
        together for the system to operate properly. Some people
        just don’t or can’t understand that principle.

        • #2718402

          Been there, seen it!

          by ole88 ·

          In reply to Agreed

          I’ve seen exactly what you describe both in college and at work. I was the one in class that ended up assisting the instructor in helping others grasp what they were seeing. A few would get it and then be able to apply it, but many others couldn’t tell a SIMM/DIMM from their aunt Fannie’s bobbie pin. It’s the ones I run into at work that bother me, no matter how many times I show them something the lightbulb never gets any brighter. We have one guy on our team that came from a non-IT background and has passed many MCSE cert tests and is still trying to figure things out. He has implemented a few things we have no use for just to prove he learned it in cert class.

          If you want to hire competent professionals, look for the ones that have an IT/IS degree and 3 or more successful years of experience in the industry.

        • #2718390

          Most definately – Experience!

          by jeff ·

          In reply to Been there, seen it!

          I’ve been in the IT field for a long time (about 15 years), before there were normally even dedicated positions for Desktop support, and one of the things I find disappointment in is the ‘Paper Techs’ that get ground out of ‘Boot Camps’ and college with no clue on how to apply their knowledge to the real world. This can normally only be gained by experience.

          Things to look for:

          * Progressive job history – has the person advanced within his field and responsibilities at previous employers?
          * Personability – is the person able to work with other team members and/or the clients?
          * Practical job knowledge – Given a sample real-world problem (from something experienced at your location previously, suitable for the position being filled) have them work out the resolution logically and see how they would solve it

        • #2718357

          Paper Lions

          by rosaticrew ·

          In reply to Most definately – Experience!

          I am also of the ilk of expereince without the multitude of certs. I tend to take the courses for whatever it is I am in need of. Courses with certs as has been said can be passed without ever stepping into a real life experience.

          Most companies and HR people tend to favor the paper before the experience or worst yet will hire the paper lion who has had a multitude of perm positions but is out for that next pay increase that they wouldn’t have gotten staying put.

        • #2718279

          i agree also

          by lwilliam ·

          In reply to Agreed

          I have always said it takes a certain “orientation” toward the world of computers to be successful and truely enjoy the field. The ability to troubleshoot and understand the whole data/pc/network/infrastructure process is an intangible that people either have or they don’t.

      • #2718348

        Experience, then qualify it with the cert.

        by csobott ·

        In reply to None

        First measure the person.
        Second measure the experience
        Third measure the education
        Fourth measure the willingness to verify all the above

    • #2700117

      Paranoia at its finest

      by i call it as i see it ! ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      It is indeed a crazy world we have come to live in. I worked in IT for many a year from the early 90’s on and was able to do so without one certification. Over the past two years things have changed quite a bit. While a lot of jobs have been lost due to econonmics, corporate america has become obsessed with certifications.
      There was a time I could send out one resume and get 20 calls, now I send out twenty resumes and get no calls. The art of hiring by corporate america has been left to so called technical recruiters and computer wannabees who at best can’t spell computer. We are however left at their mercy to be chosen or not for whatever positions are out there. In the event your are selected to be “presented” to a client you still have to get past the hiring paranoia. In that I mean you sre generally are being interviewed by someone who is in fear of losing their job to the person they might hire. So does the best man win. NO. I know even as a consultant I was asked to do interviews for prospectice hirees. Most employees are not capable of conducting an fruitful and unbiased interview and most are simply untrained in the art of the interview.

      • #2700108

        There is some paranoia here – yours!

        by jamesrl ·

        In reply to Paranoia at its finest

        As a former techie who is a manager of techies, I am not at all paranoid about hiring someone who might be able to replace me. Any manager who does have at least one person in their group who could step up to the plate if needed is not doing their job. You can’t get promoted if there is no one who can replace you.

        My company does do a lot of training in the interview process. We do have good interviewing techniques.

        But the interview isn’t usually about technical skills – that should be evident on the resume. The interview is to uncover soft skills – how well do you work with others, what are your work habits, how do you handle conflict. I’ve seen some technical geniuses hired at other companies who were fired for being abusive towards their peers – you would like to think you might uncover some of that kind of attitude before you hire.

        I too struggled after being laid off in 2002. I applied for the few managerial jobs out there – didn’t get many calls. I applied for technical jobs, but because I had been a manager for a while, they felt I wasn’t up to date technically. I finally got a contract doing business process analysis. That got me through until my current job opened up.

        If you aren’t getting hits from your resume, change your resume. Look at the examples at – I did a workshop with this guy and my hit rate improved a great deal.

        When I was working with a major corp, my job was outsourced and I was promoted. Then they experienced issues with the quality of the new hires the outsourcing company brought on board. To improve this, I sat in on interviews for all of the new hires for this group for the region. Having done the job, I had a good perspective. 9 times out of 10, they were focussed on the wrong things – like certs, and not on the right things like time management, follow through and customer service.


        • #2718386

          There is some paranoia here – yours!

          by nosreppih ·

          In reply to There is some paranoia here – yours!

          Could not agree more. I learnt two importantr things from my management courses here in the UK.

          The first is that good management is delegation – never be afraid of hiring someone who knows more than you, your job is to build a team not be the team, your job is not to know but to know who in your team knows.

          Second thing is that Delegation is not the abrigation of duty – delegate but you must manage that delegation.

          This means you employ people ‘with dirt under their finger nails’ not that just the theory.

      • #2700011

        I’ve seen it – called

        by jimhm ·

        In reply to Paranoia at its finest

        I’ve seen that – I Call it level setting..

        Where a 3/4 knowledgable manager will look to hire a 2/3/4 knwledgable worker (so that the manager isn’t shown up)…

        Where a 8/9 knowledgable manager will look to hire a 8/9/10 knowledgable worker – to do the work.

        This has traspired because management – hire the lower paid technical people… I am in the position right now – the boss that hired me was a 9/10 – I am 8/9 – the new manager is a 3/4 – and has me hidden – so I don’t show them up in meetings…

        I am just waiting – directors and managers come and go like yesterdays news…

        But it’s not being paranoia – its the truth – seen it and lived it..

        • #2700594

          My favorite analogy of certs

          by pgm554 ·

          In reply to I’ve seen it – called

          Certifications are like using shine on the bumper of a car to measure how well it works in an accident.

          Little, if any, correlation.

          I knew that taking the SAT’s would come in handy one day.

        • #2700518

          Bad Company

          by jamesrl ·

          In reply to I’ve seen it – called

          I’ve worked in some pretty high tech companies; software, telecom and nuclear, and all of them acknowledge that managers are supposed to manage – they aren’t expected to be as technically competant as their staff. The reality is that there was a time when I was as techie as my staff but without neglecting my management duties, I couldn’t possibly keep up – one of the reasons I am here in TechRepublic is to keep up to date.

          Are you sure the reason you are not invited to meetings is that you show up the manager? Or is it your opinions are not always phrased in the most polite way. I have had similar situations where a senior techie is seen and not heard because they tend to be disruptive. A good manager will coach someone in that sitaution – a bad maanger will just not invite them.


      • #2718363

        Look Beyond Experience

        by steven.c.kienle ·

        In reply to Paranoia at its finest

        A lot of posts here have discussed both technical and behavior aspects. I just want to emphasize the personal part again.

        There are no projects which are completed by only one person. So I approach the hiring practice by using technical and experience aspects to help weed out the obviously wrong candidates. And I don’t use certifications for this. Experience in my business area is also a very strong plus.

        Once I have the shorter list, my interviews mix proving technical ability and “project ability.” By this I don’t mean project management, but:

        Will the person’s personality fit well into your existing team? The best technical knowledge does you no good if no one can work with them.

        How flexible are they? The best technical architect will not work if they cannot accept constructive comments.

        How well do they communicate? The best technical people are ineffective if they cannot explain themselves.

        One way I’ve used to help identify some of these traits is asking the following question at the interview: Think back to the worse project you’ve worked on; explain what went wrong and how you might have been able to prevent it? The answer to this often helps me understand if this is a person who can help solve the business need rather than someone who can just produce really good code which will never be used.

        • #2712231

          What Kind of Quesiton is That

          by dmwoodcock ·

          In reply to Look Beyond Experience

          What if the person never worked on a “worse project” and who would have programmers produce really good code which will never be used? You have got to be kidding.

      • #3236115

        Eh ?

        by tony hopkinson ·

        In reply to Paranoia at its finest

        I like to be interviewed by people with no training at interviewing, they always go away thinking they’ve heard a great deal of sense, mainly through answering my questions. My last interview they gave a damn good grilling, all of my taking control tactics failed miserably. Still got the job mind, but they made me work for it.

    • #2700588


      by black panther ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      A degree is just a background or base knowledge. The sooner management realise that it is not the be all end all the better.

      It is a shame that most Govt jobs have mandatory qualifications such as a degree.. sometimes the degree has no relation to the actual job.

      Give others a chance…. experience in IT, such as life is far more valuable than a degree.

      People who work they way up, have the correct attitude and are willing to learn are a far more postive asset that a person coming out of UNI with a degree, a bad attitude thinking their sh.t don’t stink.

      ***no degree***

      • #2718388

        You got an “AMEN” from the congregation

        by theundertaker ·

        In reply to None

        I also do not have a degree, and I find it interesting that “work experience can be substituted for degree”. The silliest one I recall is 2 years hands on experience for one year of degree. So… given guidance, a person with 8 years of hands on, real world, firefighting experience is qualified to attain an entry level position beside a 4 year degree’d man. whee…
        I am amazed at the IROC’s I used to interview that NEVER loaded the operating system much less could answer even basic questions on troubleshooting, but responded with foolish drivel about college.
        Now before the flame wars start, I give total respect to anyone that completed a degree (I admit to given more creedence to those degrees that are more technical like engineering, but that is just me). All I am saying is give us 15-years-of-experience types consideration along with those that attended college. That is all…

      • #2718379

        Degree Matters More Than Anything

        by mkeilen ·

        In reply to None

        Technical skills are so vastly abundant today that they are viewed by management simply as commodity and a cost of business. Information workers are the “factory rats” of the modern age. I have worked in IT for 12 years and have a bachelor’s degree in business as well as various IT certifications. Since the boom days of IT have ended, I have noticed a dramatic improvement in the interpersonal and cognitive qualities of IT workers – not from a technical perspective but from a business perspective. The desired IT staff members today are those with excellent communication skills, the ability to manage projects, and the savy to navigate the often complex politics of the corporate world. My view is that anyone complaining about certs and degree requirements is just not getting it. It’s not about the knowledge gained from those things per se that matter. Rather it is that they demonstrate an ability to follow through with something to completion, to think in a logical and rational manner, and a desire to do more than play video games in their spare time. It is interesting that those who voice disdain for degrees are invariably the ones whose postings are the most littered with poor grammar and misspelled words. Folks, the days of the hip IT dude who knows it all and arrogantly sits around judging those who really make the business successful are gone – thankfully. U.S. corporations need business minded people with tecnical aptitude to fill their IT strategy positions. Asia is filled with highly qualified technical drones to do the grunt work.

        • #2718351

          Degree or not??

          by stubby ·

          In reply to Degree Matters More Than Anything

          It is a shame that you blindly judge all of us who don’t have degrees. In fact you called those of us without degrees, arrogant and illiterate.

          It is your arrogance that shines through in your posting and whilst some of what you say is true, it is lost amidst the obvious distaste you have for those you consider to be “lower down the educational ladder”.

          For my part I don’t have a degree due to circumstances (yes I’ll tell if you want to know but for the thread it isn’t important) – I would have loved to have one and to have sat around on my arse for an extra 5 years or so from my O’s to achieve this elite status you drivel about. I would have loved to get a higher salary just because I stayed at school and can pass exams.

          Instead I worked damn hard for a pathetic wage and have achieved what you probably fell into “just because you have a degree” but not, real world experience.

          Please, don’t judge me or any other non-degreed folks based on what you think is right.

          Where does a degree give you the real world experience that is so necessary?

          Where does it give you the inter-personal skills that are so necessary – it may do this, but it is not a mandatory part of a degree as you can be a recluse or party animal and still get a degree.

          Where does it give you project management skills?

          How does it teach you about complex office-politics? etc ….

          I’d wager that the only place you learn most of these skills is in the hard fought front of the office itself.

          OK – that’s me vented.

          FYI, I am literate; extremely well read; can speak Latin (yes still); can run multi-million pound projects and ones that paid nothing but gave a huge local benefit; manage people and still get on with them. I have no degree, 4 O’s and umpteen certs BUT above all I value my experience and that of others (call it real world knowledge if you like) above and beyond anything.

        • #2718345

          Would You Like Fries With That?

          by gsquared ·

          In reply to Degree Matters More Than Anything

          (Ironic that a post that contains within it a complaint about grammar and spelling has typos, punctuation errors and a complete lack of that basic concept known as the paragraph.)

          Saying that a person with a degree automatically can be assumed to have the persistence and strength of character to pick a goal, stick to it and carry through on it is only partially true.

          I’ve met many a college graduate who had a degree simply because parents and/or the state were picking up all/most of the tab, and four years to a BS was easier than 4 years in the job market.

          Sure, there are universities that turn out competent or even brilliant graduates. If you can afford to hire such, by all means do so. (Most have very high expectations on starting salary.)

          At the same time, a vast number of people with degrees are just barely good enough at work to be able to remember to ask if the customer wants fries. (A degree in philosopy, while potentially very personally rewarding, isn’t an indicator of competence of any sort.)

          Interpersonal skills may matter comparably to technical skills if we’re talking about a help desk person. If we’re talking about a network admin, I’d much rather have an experienced but surly high-school dropout who can keep the network up 99.9% of the time than a highly personable Ph.D. who can only keep the network up 99% of the time. (99.9% = 8.5 hours of unplanned downtime per year; 99% = 85 hours [3.7 days].) For a customer contact position, I’d never even consider the surly guy, no matter how much technical expertise he had.

          In conclusion, I’d say the qualifications depend on the job. Blanket statements about degrees, certs and experience that don’t take into account all of the skills needed for the job at hand are nearly useless.

        • #2718222


          by mkeilen ·

          In reply to Would You Like Fries With That?

          I agree with your comment regarding the surly but highly skilled network engineer. However, if one can get a network engineer that keeps the network up 99.9% of the time and also has a degree along with a sunny disposition, then that seems like the person to hire. And in this job market, that isn’t so hard to find.

          Regarding some of the comments of other posters, the point is not that a college degree in and of itself provides qualifications (and who the heck mentioned Philosophy?). I think it demonstrates a higher probability that the candidate has his or her act together.

          As we all know, it is a buyer’s market for labor. If it is fairly easy to find candidates with degrees – which it most certainly is – why not use that as a screening criteria to reduce the stack of resumes from 500 to 280? If you do not have a degree, my opinion is that in many cases it implies a lack of commitment to your career and maybe to yourself. It seems apparent from these boards that everyone in IT knows by now that a degree has become important at least as a screening tool. If you know it is important, why don’t you go out and at least start trying to get it? You are not going to change the reality of the business climate and hiring process by being angry and/or bitter about it. If you think it’s just a game, then learn the rules and play or get off the field.

          Those without degrees seem to think college is like Animal House. Maybe it is one or two nights a month. However, it takes hard work and dedication to get a degree from an accredited university and most of the heavy partiers – except for maybe the really smart ones and the football players – do not make it all the way through.

          That’s my opinion and you are all certainly entitled to yours. My apologies for offending anyone – degree or no degree.

        • #2712211


          by stubby ·

          In reply to Agree

          OK, I’ll try to remain pleasant this time and not have another outburst!

          You are correct – it is a buyer’s market for labour, but it is their loss if they blindly elect to shorten the list by taking someone with a degree. My manager is one of these people and he wanted to hire someone, almost on the spot, because of his degree – until I pointed out it was in Theology and it had no relevance to IT. Now I’m going to allow you the presumption of meaning IT degrees, but my point is still valid none the less.

          I work daily with degreed people who have clue zero about the job they are employed for. Conversely I work with others with no degree that have ALL the skills I need and more. Personally I would rather spend a little extra time at CV sifting time to find those who have the right skills – degree or not.

          You mention I (or those like me) should go out and “start trying to get it”. Again I would love to, but at my stage in my career I am happy with where I am and with what I have – that coupled with the realisation that I simply don’t have the time or an employer willing to allow the necessary day release, means I am unable to do so. Oh and don’t even get me started on my personal situation as to why can’t I do an OU degree or similar – I have three children and would much rather devote my time and energies to helping them get on in this narrow minded world we are living in.

          “Animal House” – I presume you might include me in that description. I don’t think this, I have been assured of this by others I know who have attended college or university. I elect not to blindly state facts I think are true, I prefer to get first hand information from people I know and some I trust.

          I wasn’t offended by your opinion but by the belief you had (have?) that non-degreed people should put up and shut up and are less likely to have ” his or her act together” than us mere mortals who don’t.

          I’d love to know what you do for a living and even for whom and what degree you have. But it is not necessary …….

        • #2718333

          Spelling and Grammar?

          by jkstill ·

          In reply to Degree Matters More Than Anything

          It’s ‘savvy’, not ‘savy’. 😉

          Your argument that those possessing a degree have proven the ability to see something through to completion is somewhat muted by many degree holders.

          When it comes to a surprise to you that your co-worker has a BS in CompSci you have to ask yourself “What was he doing all that time in school”?

          When a graduate student has to get an undergrad to help create a Makefile, it gives one pause, doesn’t it.

          This seems to be more prevalant with technical degrees than other, giving rise to the notion that some folks are looking for the sheepskin that is worth the most in the open market.

          Aside from medical and law degrees of course, they just require too much time and effort. Too long to market you know.

        • #2718313

          Mr. Degree you have 2 typos or are they misspellings?

          by dirtylaundry ·

          In reply to Degree Matters More Than Anything

          run-on sentences “It’s not about the knowledge gained from those things per se that matter. Rather it is that they demonstrate an ability to follow through with something to completion, to think in a logical and rational manner, and a desire to do more than play video games in their spare time.”
          misspellings : savy )it’s savvy), “business minded people with tecnical aptitude” (oops a typo)
          misuse of word: ” Since the boom days of IT” it’s boon not boom

          and by the way, I am not degreed. I build stable, working computers, and have been in the “business” for 12 years – not one corporate company would hire me based on the fact that I do not have any degrees, and I am constantly playing “catch-up” with those that are papered and then receive further on-the-job training and schooling. I have also worked in the corporate world in various departments such as mailroom, order processing, proofreader, and accounts receivable for 9 years. I cannot afford college and am 35 yrs old. What I know has been self-taught. I do lack knowledge and experience in Networking and that may be my biggest drawback, but nothing that couldn’t be remedied with support and subsidizig from a worthy employer that is not caught up in degrees. I have not been that lucky.

        • #2718284

          Since when did education hurt?

          by csobott ·

          In reply to Mr. Degree you have 2 typos or are they misspellings?

          Fine, then get some schooling – either in a Community College, University at night or on weekends or even online. Those who are too lazy to devote the time deserve what they get. Education pays, lack of it does not. It has been that way since the begining and only since the downturn in IT has it hit home. IT is not the way to circumvent the lack of a degree that it once was. Now you have to do it the old fashioned way – earn it.

        • #2707660

          I think he really did mean boom

          by anne.powel ·

          In reply to Mr. Degree you have 2 typos or are they misspellings?

          Although it’s easy to pick out words that are spelled incorrectly, it’s tougher to decide a person’s meaning.
          I believe the man did mean “boom days of IT”, as in exploding and growing, “a period of rapid economic growth”. The use of boon in that context would have been incorrect as a boon is a favor granted, or in another context a convivial companion.
          Perhaps our grammar discussion would be better suited for a discussion on resumes and communication than a discussion on job qualifications?

        • #2718245

          Degree not all that Important

          by steve v ·

          In reply to Degree Matters More Than Anything

          for the reasons of this posting. A degree is not related to making a good decision to hire someone. What matters most when trying to bring someone in for a position is their prior knowedge related to the role the will be filling. If a comapny needs a SQL person they will not hire a someone that has only cisco EXP. If a company needs a helpdesk tech to support 6 different apps then they will look for someone that has prior EXP with those 6 different apps. If a person has a degree, all that tells me is that you went to school for 4 or 5 years. It doesnt tell me that if a office user has a corrupt PST file I can tell you to go run scanpst on that and you will know what I am talking about.
          When I started in the IT industry I had no prior work experience in the corporate world. I had to learn all those “complex politics of the corporate world” by myself. Want to know what i used to accomplish that? Common sense.
          I went to work and I treated people the way I wanted to be treated. With respect and professionalism. It didnt take sitting in a classroom and hearing some dude lecture me on interpersonal skills to do this.
          Also the ability to think in a logical and rational manner also falls under the common sense area. When you work with networking and PCs you will learn that everything works in steps. You can’t do B without doing A first. If it takes a person 4-5 years to learn this concept, then by all means stay in college and get as many degrees as your logical and rational heart desires.

          A degree would be necessary if you have a desire to move towards the corporate management side of things. But if you have a desire to remain in the trenches where the actual work is done. Then it can be overlooked.

        • #2712118

          Arrogant and Jealous

          by dmwoodcock ·

          In reply to Degree Matters More Than Anything

          Your comments amuse me, …arrogantly sits around judging those who really make the business successful are gone…most littered with poor grammar and misspelled words.

          “U.S. corporations need business minded people with tecnical aptitude to fill their IT strategy positions.”

          I guess you are one of those people that couldn’t spell technical must less do it.

          Don’t be so quick to judge people because their comments are not in APA format.

    • #2700587

      You have to think like an HR person

      by garion11 ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I absolutely agree that practical proven skills and experience is LOT more important than any piece of paper out there. But the HR people that hire these techs don’t know any better. They want to see the paper first. An MCSE is like a college degree for these HR people before you even walk in the door. In some cases a college degree is more important (of which I partially agree) than an MCSE of which I am finding out (I went back to college).

      So if you have the experience and skill set, get that certification. It won’t hurt and it shows your knowledge on paper.

    • #2700275

      Same old argument

      by rr-travis ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Degree vs Cert will this ever get laid to rest?

      We’ve all seen the college grad who couldnt troubleshoot IP to save his life. And we’ve all seen the paper cert without the conceptual overview. Even more unfortunate we’ve all seen the guy with years of experience who coulnt match wits with the previous two.

      To get in the door you need all of the above or to know somebody.

      Most of the degree holders I work with (CIS) dont have a clue. But thats because their trained as programmers and many of the skills they offer to the position dont apply to managing the network.

    • #2699899

      But what qualification(s) are a good measure?

      by dharker ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      As said in the replies we have all seen the guys who have excellent theory and no practical… and vice versa. I agree you should go out there and get the paper if you want to have the best chance. With the certification process getting more complex and costly though what qualifications do people have high regard for in for example the networking/computer support arena? Is MCSE the Holy Grail? Or is something like Network + more practical and trustworthy? What about the MCSA and MCP qualifications?

      • #2718396

        Certs are just icing

        by jfister_state of nh ·

        In reply to But what qualification(s) are a good measure?

        Practical experience is paramount, while certs are just icing on the cake. You should make sure the interview process asks questions based on history of experience. This approach will decrease the chance you will get “snowed” by the jargon or personality.

      • #2718393

        Thinking outside the square

        by youngri ·

        In reply to But what qualification(s) are a good measure?

        There used to be a saying that those who could
        were CNE qualified, those that might were MSCE

        One of the most important qualities in a
        candidate now is their ability to approach an
        issue with a business focus. The days of techies
        that sit on information, who don’t share or
        provide documentation are long over.

        A prime candidate is one who has worked within
        several different industries with a variety of
        software platforms. They have usually had to
        work on interoperability between these disparate
        systems and as such can think outside the square.

        Microsoft qualifications can not possibly tell
        the whole story, and people who have only
        specialised in them are generally limited in
        focus and vision.

        You need to look for people who if a workstation
        appears to be non responsive are more likely to
        check that the cleaner hasn’t unplugged it rather
        than attempting to reach for the re-imaging disk.

        Just my two bobs worth.


      • #2718392

        Depends on your shop…

        by ole88 ·

        In reply to But what qualification(s) are a good measure?

        I would say that the certifications, experience and background you need to look for depend on your architecture and the job openings. If you are hiring a network engineer and you run Cisco equipment, you don’t want to hire someoneone to manage that gear that has an MCSE – it won’t apply – get at least a CCNA. Microsoft’s certs that cover networking are flawed from the Cisco or Nortel standpoint – they only apply to Windows based systems. Look at how long they have been working in IT. The biggest problem I see with degrees is that hiring managers will bring graduates of their alma matter on board before they bring someone with experience. Also, if you are hiring for entry level, go for the good candidate that just graduated and/or just got their cert – you can mold them.

        • #2718380

          I Agree

          by rob.lay ·

          In reply to Depends on your shop…

          I’m not gonna start preaching, I’m not in a position to do so. I’m 22 and been working in computers for 3 years, so I have some experience, I know how to go about troubleshooting, have some practical skills. BUT – I learnt alot of what I know from other people who you can’t be sure are doing it right, and also does experience always guarantee an understanding?? I don’t think it does, I had to go and study for the CCNA before I understood how networks worked properly (in the basic sense of course) and I now realise that what I learnt didn’t really ive me an indepth knowledge. I’m now studying for the MCSE and have found that some of what I have learnt from other people isn’t right. When I come to look for a new job I hope that people will look at both my experience (what little there is) and then say “ok, well its good that he has the certs to back up his experience”

    • #2718403

      Useful qualifications depend on context.

      by dshaw1 ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      It depends on the job context. In my very specialised IT area, several years of front-line experience is necessary before you can be productive. So, in hiring, I look for those scars. I don’t care how you won them.

      In other areas, paper credentials are more important. Overall, I always look for people with a problem-solving mentality and a business orientation. Both of these are rare.

      • #2718389

        Useful Qualifications

        by makariusdc ·

        In reply to Useful qualifications depend on context.

        I agree in both cases, howerver given the candidate has some of the experience, has the paper credentials, technical, and business skills, what about self motiviation and desire to learn. These are often forgotten so I always look for these before the others, along with the problem solving, and business skills which contribute the over all health of the organization.

      • #2712297

        plus nous and a ‘Can do’ attitude!

        by gordon.tomes ·

        In reply to Useful qualifications depend on context.

        Whole-heartedly agree. Front-line experience plus a strategic focus on the business along with the scars of ‘Having a go!’shows me they have a problem-solving mentality backed by a ‘Can Do!’ attitude followed-up by a willingness to learn and share from mistakes, does it for me.

    • #2718397

      Best practices – applicant/HR

      by dannomanno1 ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I am an individual with a varied employment background in the computer sciences and information technologies. As we all would like to be “seen” as being someone with something to offer, the proof, as they say is “in the pudding”.
      I have come to realize that integration of a new best practice called “interactive interviewing” pays everything forward.
      Having been an applicant at one point in time for a lead network manager position at a local bank, I found myself face to face with true experience; the network itself, and the man in charge of it all. When posed with each illustration and issue, I was offered the opportunity to demonstrate real time within a virtual configuration that was setup. Afterwards, I was hired within three business days once my references were verified. Guess what? I had no certifications, but I had references. So as my contribution to this thread, I say without intent to impress, but to suggest that anyone applying for a position should ask for an opportunity to demonstrate their skills, and that anyone hiring should request the same of the applicant. Have references ready!


    • #2718391

      Targeted Technical Interview Questions

      by seasonedsysdba ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      It all comes down to the skills of your interview team and how clearly you define what the person will be doing after they are hired. There’s no easy way around doing the homework and working the interview. (No – Your not getting out of it.)
      Interview questions (phone screen and face-to-face)need to ask questions the elicit what the person HAS done in a particular situation and not what they WOULD do. “Can you give me an example of a difficult you handled well?” “Can you give me an example of when you didn’t?” How they person handles these types of questions is much more telling about a person that “I would handle it this way…”. Just cut off those “I would” answers, they just waste interview time. Now get to work…

      • #2718340

        Pool of questions available

        by morter ·

        In reply to Targeted Technical Interview Questions

        I developed a series of test questions that IT managers can use to assess job candidates or current staff. The testing goal for current staff is to identify weakness that will be corrected by additional/targeted training. Focused training based on employee needs is a better use of IT training dollars than sending someone to a week long certifcation class. Learn what you need!

    • #2718384

      Certs and Degrees are only a start

      by michaelpo ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Anyone who has posted a job, knows that you get resumes from everyone. You must have something to decide who you are going to interview. Some people use education, some certs and some both. I use both based on past hiring where I have had good and bad from both sides.

      To find the best candidate I have a Sr tech do the technical part of the interview. We script the questions for 4 or 5 technologies that are most important to us. If they can answer the first level question they have some general knowledge. If they get that, we ask a deeper question and if they get that, we ask one that only an expert can answer. We grade the candidates on this scale. I focus on soft skills. We have had great success with this method.

      • #2718361

        You hit the nail on the head

        by dguyer ·

        In reply to Certs and Degrees are only a start

        Your reply and approach is the most rounded I have seen in this entire thread. I basically use the same approach. You have to screen or filter based on degrees/certs/experience, then test that technical knowledge in the interview. But the bottom line is finding the person with the right personality and attitude. My motto is find the person that is passionate but grounded. Behavior is the most difficult to mold. Someone with ambition and desire, but has humility can be taught just about anything.

    • #2718376

      Experience Counts

      by mikencove ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Certifications that are not backed up by experience are worthless. “Boot camp” certification are mostly worthless under any circumstances. Experience counts the most in my opinion. Certifications are a good way to “round out” a skill set, but prove nothing otherwise.

      • #2718371

        My thoughts exactly

        by rob.lay ·

        In reply to Experience Counts

        I agree totally, I’m in the process of doing that myself. I think the certs are important to reinforce experience, certainly I didn’t understand networks properly until I’d done a cert to back up my experience. We employed a guy who had loads of experience and some good references – within a couple of weeks our network had fallen over cos this guy didn’t know how to do stuff right, the likes of the MCSE don’t necessarily teach the most efficient way of doing things but if you use best practices then they shouldn’t cause such serious problems.

    • #2718372

      The Measure of Competence

      by patric.worth ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      This is a hard subject to measure. FOr I have seen people that had the “certs” but could not figure out how to open a computer much less know what they are looking at. then I have seen people that did not have the “certs” but could trouble shoot and repair a system with just a piece of wire and gum but could not talk to the end usres (you know the ones we are supporting). The only way to know if someone is right for the job is to:
      1. talk to them about the resume and experiences.
      2. try them out and see if they can walk the walk and talk the talk. For all the schooling means nothing if they do not know which end of the screw driver to use.
      3. while giving them a try out talk to your other staff and the endusers for they will get a better view than just yours.

      • #2718353

        Testing is available!

        by morter ·

        In reply to The Measure of Competence, an online technical testing service for HR, offers technical testing for job applicants.

      • #2718268

        Give the man a cigar!

        by vlambek ·

        In reply to The Measure of Competence

        Perfect answer!

        The problem is that it’s difficult for a manager to execute your plan.

        He cannot ask the 20 persons who applied for the job, to each come in for one or two days to see them walk and talk.

        You need a shortlist, and a manager base his shortlist on stuff he can see on paper. This is much easier (and less dangerous) than trying out 20 people.

    • #2718369

      Managers are clueless when it come to these things

      by raycaldwell73 ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I totally understand where you are coming with this. There are alot of companies that want to see that “paper” and can care less about your expereince which is very dumb and poor hiring choices on their part. I’d rather hire someone who has been in the field that someone who just has a certification and have little or no real world expereince.
      I know alot of people that have tons of experience and can run circles around alot of people with certifications (including myself), but companies are blinded by this trend to have “credentials/papers”.
      If there is a real life situation where a server goes down and the downtime is suppose to be minimal, what is that person with the “book-smarts” going to do? Refer back to Ch.6?!?!?! I don’t think so……companies need to wisen up and stop overlooking those who have paid their dues in this field and stop caring about this “certification” crap, because when it all boils down to it, who is gonna fix the situation in a timely manner, or may recongnize the problem because they have been thru this before?

      • #2718364

        Am a manager, but not clueless

        by jamesrl ·

        In reply to Managers are clueless when it come to these things

        And I doubt I am the only one.

        Most managers didn’t graduate university and go directly into management.

        I have managed many technical resources, some with and some without certifications. Some I encourage to get certifications, because it may broaden their horizons. Others, who already have been there and done that, I don’t bother pushing to get certified. As Dr. Phil would say, the best predictor of someone’s future behaviour is their past behaviour – if they are already technically excellent, whats the point in proving they can take a test.


        • #2718266

          It’s a lot like driving a car

          by csobott ·

          In reply to Am a manager, but not clueless

          The best drivers are experienced ones. Plenty people drive without ever taking an exam. But guess what- the cop that stops you wants to see the license. You need a license to get the experience. Would you hire a doctor to do a transplant that never went to med school and only got his knowledge in a battlefield? Hire the person who has gotten the training for the job at hand. Your job as an interviewer is to find out if he has the relavent experience.

      • #2718350

        Who will be the ones asked for solutions?

        by jeff ·

        In reply to Managers are clueless when it come to these things

        I agree!

        Something also to consider, and I see this often myself, is when there’s a serious problem, time/money is at stake, who would you prefer to put on seeing that it get’s resolved soonest? The experienced person that has been there, done that – or the newbie that only knows the possible causes in theory?

        In the real world, both of these people might be teamed up (staffing permitting) so that

        a.) The new person might gain some additional experience
        b.) the new person might have some unique insights and/or idea’s gained from recent studies
        c.) Team building

        What I’m trying to illistrate is that Certifications and Experience should be weighed (I give more credit to experience with a progressive work history myself) with interpersonal/teamworking skills for the overall benefit of the group and company.

    • #2718367

      My take on this

      by stubby ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I’ve been around PC’s in the UK since they were introduced – back in the early to mid 80’s. Then if anyone said they had experience they were either lying or from the manufacturer 🙂

      My point is that no-one had experience or certs of any sort so other decisions had to be made on how to hire. Soft skills, willingness to learn maybe, whatever. On the whole management got it right because they had nothing to fear about a clever techie.

      In the intervening 20 years I have noticed an alarming trend to favour degrees and certs and now see it from the hiring side. For myself, I’m not anti-degree or certs (I have a few of the later) but they are the last thing I consider in who I hire. As others have already said, I go with the ability to work in a team, with the public, a willingness to have-a-go and others before I get to considering their “qualifications”.

      I’ve seen countless people with no degrees, no certs but that can out tech me any day. Then there are those with quals up to their eyeballs that are better than me – but I’ve equally seen the reverse and in far greater numbers.

      Just my 2p.

    • #2718362

      Attitude and Experience

      by randalbin ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      As far as technical competence goes there is no substitute for real world experience. A degree is an indicator that the person is reasonably intelligent and trainable. A certification is an indication that the person can learn and understand technical information, but it does not prove that they can apply said information. A few other people have suggested carrying on a conversation with the applicant that contains a number of technical subjects and see how they respond.

      This being said, I would always hire someone with a good attitude and good communication skills and invest in their technical training (assuming they are trainable – see above) rather than hire a genius who ticks off every user that they come into contact with.

    • #2718352

      Ask situation/scenario questions

      by patg1 ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Regardless of experience or class time, the candidate needs to respond appropriately to a situations or scenarios. I asked a DBA what the first things he would do if he was hired into a new shop where he was now in charge DB maintenance. One of the key responses I was looking for was ” ask where are the back ups and when was the database last backed up”. (DBAs are only as good as their abiltiy to recover the DB) Also, always ask questions where you know the expected answer. You may get a different response, but that may also help find a technical gem.

    • #2718344

      Certs useful for opening doors

      by rob.lay ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I’m at the start of my IT career, I have a couple of certs and about 3 years experience so I’m not goning to claim to know alot, I don’t. What I have noticed is that if you look at job adverts they list cert requirements, I’m not naive enough to think that an MCSE and a CCNA will get me the earth, but at my stage their very important for opening the door and getting me as far as the interview, once there then I wouldn’t personally expect to be offered the job on the basis of the certs but without them I wouldn’t even have got to the interview. I also think that when we’re talking about smaller amounts of experience like my 3 years (rather than the old hands with 10years +) that certs play an important role in demostrating an understanding and an ability to learn. Just my 2p worth.

    • #2718342

      Both are essential but not enough

      by dketter ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      The definition of competence is “The quality of being competent or capable of performing an allotted function.” A synonym is “know-how.” An indisputable axiom is you can’t have know-how if you don’t have solid education/training. However, that is merely the beginning. One must have the aptitude to learn, adapt, and survive. This can not be taught. The employer must first define what they need. If it is a repetitive task, a solid education is more important. If you need a problem solver or leader/manager, the criteria are totally different. I have worked as an HR Manager, Process Engineer, Chemist, Microbiologist, and IT Project Manager. I have worked with many PhDs with trememdous amounts of knowledge but a total inability to focus and solve problems. Working in IT requires a unique set of skills since you must work with the entire range of business needs. You must know how to interact with customers as a salesman would and solve their problems, not yours. Team leadership and ability to see the forest (not the trees)is a must. A smart man learns from his mistakes; a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. These are aptitudes and behavioral abilities that are not taught – they are developed.

      If you need a leader, they must be a risk taker. Find out whether the interviewee has gone beyond the “job description” and has a fire in his/her gut to make a difference; not just fight fires.

      In summary; in-depth knowledge is just the foundation which must be fleshed out with the skills above that can only be developed in the fire of the furnace. If one has never experienced a failure, they have never extended themselves beyond the mudande.

    • #2718337

      Depends on the job at hand

      by a-vet ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      The main question is what do you want and need?
      Do you need little or no experience, so much experience; what quals do they need for this position, etc, etc….

      In my case, I have over 25 years in electronics and computers with only a degree. There are people out there with certs and no experience so then the original question raises its ugly head again.

      Try this out.

      1. Whats the job?
      2. What do you need in this position? (What level of experience and training)
      3. What are you welling to pay? (Wise man sez; you pay peanuts you get monkey)
      4. Don’t always judge a book by its cover (Look at the resume’ and then really look at the person. Ask yourself if this person can work with the team, be part of the team and support the team? If no; then they go.
      5. I’ve known techs that were pure geeks that were colored blind, slured, were dyslexic and bad spellers such as myself who could break it down to the simple steps, repair it and teach the clients with utter simplicity. I guess I’m saying go with your gut. And may you find the tech of your dreams.


    • #2718336

      Answer not as Simple as You Might Like

      by gsquared ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Neither matters more than the other.

      The question is more complex than that.

      Part of what you have to ask is:

      a) Are technical skills the only thing that matter for this position;
      b) Are technical skills the most important aspect of the position in question but other skills (interpersonal/ business/ presentation/ writing/ etc.) have some bearing;
      c) Are technical skills and other skills equally important in the specific case at hand;
      d) Are technical skills less important than other skills;
      e) Are technical skills a nice thing to have but not a necessity for the position;
      f) Are technical skills irrelevant to the position in question?

      Decide which of the above applies. If technical skills matter, then you need to determine which technical skills (web design, database design, network admin, etc.). Then come up some realistic scenarios that those skills apply to and ask applicants what they would do about those scenarios.

      For example, if you’re looking for someone who can help administer a workflow application based on MS Office and Exchange Server with an MS SQL server in the back, you might ask “How would you connect a thousand desktop and laptop computers, half local, half remote, to an SQL database on a server here, if you had to deploy an Access project to them?” Ask each candidate for the job the same thing. Don’t listen for technojargon, listen for answers that make sense. Note if the person asks questions to clarify the situation so a better answer can be given (e.g.: “Any of the clients on non-MS operating systems?” would be relevant to the question above).

      Make sure to come up with at least a few scenarios, so you can make sure you haven’t hit “the one question they can/can’t answer”.

      Oh, and make sure the question isn’t something that was on the certification exam they took last week. 🙂

      If a candidate has all the requisite skills, technical and otherwise (as per the first part above) and can coherently answer most/all of your scenarios, does it really matter WHERE they got the skills? Training or experience or both? Not to me. Probably not to you.

    • #2718335

      Going it alone

      by pbt ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Here’s what I do in short:

      Interview stage.
      Test ’em hard myself for tech skill. Talk through the soft skills and prior experience to flush out inconsistencies while they’re still in shock post test.

      CV filtering.
      Treat certs as an indication of either candidate’s desired direction or previous employer’s immediate needs. Key is experience backed up with an appropriate degree.

      Getting CVs.
      Cast the net wide with the recruitment firms giving them only the most rudimentary requirements for ‘must have’ and ‘nice to have’. Few recruiters can do more than match keywords: know that and use it.
      I’ll ignore soft skills and attitude not because they’re not important but because they’re off topic.

      There are several filtering levels a candidate has to pass through. The final one with me has always been a thorough test of the skills I’m in the market to hire, so I set my own standard based on what I need and don’t care which cert they show up with.

      Getting the tests right costs but so does making a bad hire or significant re-training. Don’t test basics extensively, test hard and nasty. A complete guru should have to sweat blood to get 100% in the time allowed so the bar can be set where you need it. The test result will tell you a lot about the candidate beyond just the tech answers too.

      I use their prior experience as a guide to what they can actually do on their first day. Any training not backed up with hands on use is of dubious worth IMHO.

      Degrees are highly variable and hard to judge but still worthwhile IMHO. A degree should get across the theory that is honed by application. Knowing the funamentals of an OS or what makes software good can be applied in more contexts than a cert in a given language. Comes down to the difference between knowing what you’re doing and understanding what you’re doing.

    • #2718329

      Achievement Matters

      by sbigelow ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      The technical qualifications look good on paper, but… I’m much more interested in what a person has done with their skills, rather than what they’re certified in.

      All the training and certifications in the world are useless if folks haven’t actually used that training to deliver ‘work product’ that benefited their customers (internal or external).

      It takes a little more digging through the resumes and questioning at the interviews, but I focus on the accomplishments more than the training, especially when I’m looking for mid-range or senior-level contributors.

      • #2712301

        Certification and Education matters

        by eric_haiara ·

        In reply to Achievement Matters

        Looks like all bounce of you guys don’t have a certification or a college degree in IT. I have all, qualification, certification experience. I believe all of them play important part. Qualifications, at the broadest sense shows your general knowledge and concepts. It also shows that that person can quickly pick up fast in the field. Certification does the same but more specific. Just imagine someone who has been building PCs for many years but doesn’t have clue about networking.


        • #2712086

          even so

          by jeff ·

          In reply to Certification and Education matters

          how about the guy you mentioned picking up a primer for a weekend, taking the test on monday and not understanding/remembering it on tuesday?

          I’ve seen many many folks go that way, and they have no real frame of reference to understand or use it – but they’ve got the Cert!

    • #2718328

      Depends on what you want

      by ken cooper ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      The answer to your question must revolve around what you are looking for. I am a concultant advsiing companies on their IT use in the UK, and while I have degrees in IT, the most useful qualifcation is TMB accreditation, as this shows i am impartial as well as able to provide quality advice, and the accreditation depends on CPD for it’s maintenace.
      If you are lookign for employees, then is it a technical job, or a non technical one. For a technical job, the paper should be an indication of their skill level, and you can judge their abilities through providing them with tests when you look to interview, as well as asking for details of the type of work involved in their training. And don’t forget that he length of time since gaining the qualification is alos important. The IT scene moves so q If a non technical based job, then I agree with other repsonders that the soft skills become more important, and those can’t be shown by having a qualification, only by judgement of their ability to relate to people and problems.

    • #2718327

      Depends on what you want

      by ken cooper ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      The answer to your question must revolve around what you are looking for. I am a consultant advising companies on their IT use in the UK, and while I have degrees in IT, the most useful qualifcation is TMB accreditation, as this shows I am impartial as well as able to provide quality advice, and the accreditation depends on CPD for it’s maintenace.
      If you are looking for employees, then is it a technical job, or a non technical one?
      For a technical job, the paper qualification should be an indication of their skill level, and you can judge their abilities through providing them with tests when you look to interview, as well as asking for details of the type of work involved in their training. And don’t forget that the length of time since gaining the qualification is also important. The IT scene moves so quickly that without intervening training or CPD, the knowledge could well be out of date.
      If a non technical based job, then I agree with other repsonders that the soft skills become more important, and those can’t be shown by having a qualification, only by judgement of their ability to relate to people and problems.

    • #2718326

      Papers Or Tech Knowhow

      by britontn ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I am very much for Tech exprience and knowledge.
      Get in a crisis and you will see that papers don’t pay. Why is that all hackers and geeks have no respectable qualifications. I’d say a passion and drive to do or get something done counts most.
      Most of these paper-holders don’t know much about tech. If someone can do it then hire them. My own experience is about me. I went to college and got all the papers I could need, but when I got on the job, I wasn’t much different from a novice. Now I know more than college could ever teach.
      Its not about the papers, its about the ability.

    • #2718321


      by aldanatech ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Ideally, a professional should have both because one compliments the other. Now if I were to choose I would say practical and proven skills. In-depth knowledge show that you are qualified to do the job, but skills show you successfully completed the job. Of course this brings the issue on how to prove it. Well, for that I would recommend you keep a journal of every major project you work on for your prospect employers and compliment it with some good reference letters from your previous employers. Now if you don’t have that much hands-on experience then maybe should try to get some training so you can something to get you started.

      • #2718304

        I Agree

        by rob.lay ·

        In reply to Both

        I’m in full favour of both certs and experience, I have 3 years in IT (Not much I know) and a couple of certs. Here is the problem that I would face without the certs, people ask for references, I have worked for the same company for the last 3 years in IT, before that I was at school. Now its not good practice for employers to approach the current employer of an applicant for a reference is it. That would lead to all sorts of agro. So in my case certs are a valuable backing for my experience, other wise I wouldn’t get many interviews.

    • #2718319

      A sign of competence.

      by lthoms ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Nothing replaces raw talent and experience in the workplace, especially if the individual works with knowledgeable people. Dedication to your profession and a willingness to keep on learning new things is far more of value than “certificates”.

      • #2718309

        Core competencies + skills = good hire

        by mitchlr ·

        In reply to A sign of competence.

        In a candidate I want to see that the raw material is there in terms of core competencies. These are not specific technical skills, but communications abilities, systematic thinking, and a general knowledge of how things work. My criteria are as follows:

        1. How does the candidate speak? Is there evidence of the ability compose a cogent English sentence? Is the resume well crafted and systematic? Does the candidate use a rich vocabulary? I know that managers may think that not all techies are English majors, but these things are important indicators that the raw material is there.

        2. How does the candidate perform under pressure? Can he/she keep cool even when pressed? I pose some difficult scenario questions and role play with the candidate, acting the part of a pushy, ticked-off executive. I don’t like to actually be that way, but this is a real situation the candidate may have to face, and I want to see if the temperamental raw material is there as well.

        3. Is there any indication of systematic, orderly thought? Or does the candidate use a shotgun approach — throw possible solutions at the problem until one sticks. I seek the former — an effort to understand the problem or challenge thoroughly before running off and coding up a solution that may or may not actually address the need.

        A candidate has to get this far in the vetting process before we get down to the specific technical skills.

        — Dex

    • #2718315

      Hiring Top Talent for Technical Support/Help Desk Positions

      by david_filwood ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      The Challenge today in Hiring Top Talent for Technical Support/Help Desk Operations is Twofold.

      1st ? How Do You Find a Sufficient Quantity of Quality Applicants for your Technical Support/Help Desk Positions?

      2nd ? How Do You Weed Out the Job Candidates Who Will Burn Out Fast Because They Aren’t Suited For The Work, and Identify the People With the Skills, Motivation, and Work Ethic to be Your Top Technical Support/Help Desk Agents?

      Many North American Labor Markets have reached the Saturation Point for Call Center Agent Applicants in the Local Labor Pool (including Candidates for Technical Support/Help Desk Positions).

      In fact, 64% of all North American Call Centers now find it a ?Major Struggle? or ?Somewhat of a Challenge? to Find Quality Applicants for Call Center Agent Positions. And 37% of Call Center Employers are now Reporting ?Severe? Competition for Call Center Agents by Other Employers.

      Then there is the Issue of Agent Turnover.

      While Almost Everyone can Use a Telephone, Not Everyone is Cut Out to Work Successfully as a Technical Support/Help Desk Agent.

      In 2003, the Average Annual Turnover Rate of Full-Time Agents in the Technical Support (Software) Segment of the Call Center Industry was 20%, and for Full-Time Agents in the Technical Support (Hardware) Segment it was 28%. The Turnover Rate for Part-Time Agents was Much Worse (84% – with 15 Month Avg. Job Tenure).

      In 2003, the Average Cost to Recruit/Hire/Train a New Technical Support (Software) Agent was US$4,900., and for a New Technical Support (Hardware) Agent it was US$10,140.

      Most importantly, 80% of all Technical Support/Help Desk Agent Turnover is ?Dysfunctional Turnover?:

      Quick Quit / Fast Fire – (Under 6 Month Tenure for New Hires. A Constant Cycle of Recruit/Hire/Train for the same Position).

      Bad Hires – (Low Productivity, Poor Performance, Poor Customer Satisfaction Ratings and a Negative Impact on Operator Team Morale. Bad Hires also have a Level of Absenteeism 4x Higher than Average).

      Hiring the Wrong Technical Support/Help Desk Agent is Clearly a Significant Drain on your Budget, Bottom Line, Customer Satisfaction, and on your Agent Team Morale.

      Call Center Agent Pre-Employment Testing Software is Easy to Deploy, Very Cost-Effective and Highly Predictive of an Individual’s Suitability for a particular Call Center Agent Position.

      There are Versions of Call Center Agent Pre-Employment Testing Software available to Test for:

      Tier 1 Technical Support
      Central Station Monitoring Operator
      InBound Customer Service
      Inside Sales Agent
      OutBound Telephone Sales
      Telephone Collections
      Telephone Answering Service Operator
      Reservations/Guest Service Agent
      Government Information & Referral Operator

      Call Center Agent Pre-Employment Testing Software also meets and exceeds all Employment Standards Requirements as a Hiring Tool.

      Call Center Agent Pre-Employment Testing Software allows you to Recruit & Select New Technical Support/Help Desk Agents who fit your Employment Needs Better and Stay On The Job Longer – leading to a Technical Support/Help Desk Agent Workgroup that has More Experience and is More Productive. Your Technical Support/Help Desk Agent Productivity Will Go Up ? along with your Customer Satisfaction Ratings – and Your Turnover Costs Will Go Down.

      I would be Happy to Prove to you ? in Advance and at No Charge ? that Call Center Agent Pre-Employment Testing Software Will Work for Arctic your Technical Support/Help Desk Operation as well.

      Click Here to Find Out More:

      Or, send me a Reply eMail at and I will be Happy to Give My Presentation on ?How To Cost-Effectively Recruit & Hire Top Talent For Your Call Center? to you and your Hiring Team. I?ll need 30 Minutes of your Time. You will need Telephone Access while being in front of a Computer with Internet Access.

      I Look Forward to Hearing from you.


      David Filwood
      TeleSoft Systems

      • #2718308

        Level 1

        by dmwoodcock ·

        In reply to Hiring Top Talent for Technical Support/Help Desk Positions

        In most cases Level 1 support are “script readers” and new to the IT field. Unless they like to be underpaid and have no ambitions of moving up the corporate ladder I do not blame any of them for not staying more than a couple of years. The ones with ambition get the buzz words down and move on. Thanks Corporate America for outsourcing the first level of the training pipeline.

    • #2718311

      Experience Vs Certifications

      by kwright ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Well I had an interview once over the phone I had all the experience but had no paper and this is the advice he gave me. “Impressive as your skills are let me give you some advice. Employers look at education first then certifications and then experience.” I asked why? He told me this “If a person goes to school for his chosen career he is commited. Then he backs that schooling up with certifications that says he knows the material. And finally can he back up his certifications with real world experience”. I was on the Microsoft Windows 2000 setup team when it launched and it was stunning for me to sit next to a Full MCSE and I had no formal training and this guy couldn’t even change the resolution on he screen. PAPER MCSE SUCK AND DONT MEAN A THING. You have to be commited and excited about the work you do.

    • #2718307

      Interview Skills

      by blarman ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Probably the most difficult thing is the interview process when hiring for IT. Human Resources just isn’t cut out for the job. There’s got to be an “expert” doing the practical skills assessment by asking some scenario-based questions. Only someone who has the experience on a particular task is suited to evaluate the responses from potential candidates. That’s about the only way short of having all candidates take another exam at your doorstep to sorting out between the very valuable experienced candidates (with or without certs) and the paper cert.

    • #2718306

      Lived experience is better…

      by jason_mawhinney ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      My experience has been that a developer that has many years in the trenches is more valuable than a developer with a certification that was gained in a boot camp. A few years ago we brought in a Java ?developer? who had a good looking certification ? he answered 85% of the questions correctly on his ?certification? exam. However, when the rubber met the road he fell apart. We ended up terminating his contract early and had to rewrite most of his code.

      I have nothing against certifications (I am a JCJP with 15+ years in the industry) ? they are most valuable when they are backed up with many seasoned years of experience.

    • #2718303


      by kaceyr ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I’ve been reading the posts for this discussion group and I’ve come to the conclusion that you folks should definately get into a debate with all the folks who have posted on the various “Hire someone with a degree” discussion groups.

      I’m one of those people who started when our industry was in it’s infancy. I was authoring programs back in the days of punch tape and punch cards in languages like assembler (pre-BAL), Fortran, and COBOL (no, it isn’t a dead language, you’ve been lied to). I work on everything from mainframes to micros, shifting from language to language and OS to OS as necessary, even making the different systems play nice together.

      One of you mentioned that you like to do a review, via the resume, of all of the applicants work experience. That would be 13 pages for me (so far). My work experience and ability to learn and adapt is my certification. I have no degree and no certifications. I have no intention of going back to school for a degree (at least in CompSci), and even less intention of ever getting any of the “coveted” MS certifications.

      I’m arrogant, strong willed, smart (I told you I was arrogant), a very fast learner, and most importantly, I know what I’m doing. You want a secure web application to work with a mix of SQL Server and IMS data from your 40 year old system? Not a problem, and I know a couple of dozen others who could do the job, too.

      I am a computer programmer. That’s not a title, it’s a statement. If you want to assign some kind of title to me, go for it. I really don’t care about titles. I can create the systems from scratch, and fix or add to the ones that you already have. I’m not the cheapest on the block and I have been known to argue my point (sometimes I win, sometimes I lose; either way more than one point of view is heard).

      I’ve been told by many of my clients that I tend to energize the people around me to want to learn. This helps me train the folks who will be maintaining what I write. That’s right, M-A-I-N-T-A-I-N-I-N-G. It’s not a bad word, and all software gets maintained or replaced. I also produce *gasp* documentation.

      HOLY S**T! I used both the “M” word and the “D” word in the same paragraph!!!!!

      Surprise, programmers really do know that software needs to be documented.

      The point of my ranting is that anyone who can study can get a certification, anyone who has the time and money can get a degree, and absolutely anyone can hire someone to write a resume that makes them look good. In our industry, like politics, the lines have become fuzzy. Here’s your choices:

      1) Place all value on the paper. No paper, no job.

      2) Place all value on the work experience.

      3) Talk to the applicant. Don’t evaluate them based on some stupid list of questions provided by HR, actually talk to them and get a feel for whether or not you think they’re blowing smoke.

      It’s been my experience that the people who take option #3 tend to locate the best people for the job and the best fit for their work environment. I’m not saying it’s always easy or 100% certain, but you may find that you’re a better judge of character than you think.


      – Sometimes 10 cents worth of advice isn’t worth a dime.

    • #2718298

      Agree with “Fries with That”

      by help ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I agree with “Do you want fries with that?”. It depends on the job as to what qualifications are most important. My partner works half time in maintenance, half in computer dept. and can’t pass tests & doesn’t have a degree. He doesn’t like to read particularly, and abhors multitasking. But throw him a tricky software problem (one that I couldn’t figure out) and he’ll stick with it & solve it whether it takes him 5 minutes or 10 hours in 1 day. I’m lucky to have him on my team.

    • #2718297

      a useful measure of competence – TEST ‘EM!

      by daveslash ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      In my experience, I’ve not been impressed with certifications. When interviewing candidates for technical jobs, I always try to compose my own small “technical test” for them to show their stuff.

      The key to making the test is to make it easy enough that a “truly qualified” candidate will find it trivial, but a “paper-only” candidate will probably be stumped. Interviews are often stressful, and asking anything REALLY hard can alienate even a “truly qualified” candidate.

      For instance, in interviewing for a database administrator / database developer, I ask the candidate to write:

      1) a simple SQL select statement to join two tables (for which I provide the structure)

      2) the same SQL, but substitue a LEFT OUTER JOIN (and tell me why the results will be different)

      For any REAL database developer, these would be trivial queries, but they COMPLETELY stump the “fakers”.

      For some reason, many managers are afraid to actually test the technical abilities of a candidate, but I think it’s the only way to REALLY know. (and even then, you can’t be absolutely sure)

      • #2718295

        I’ve done the same

        by jeff ·

        In reply to a useful measure of competence – TEST ‘EM!

        Same idea here. For positions with deployment, I ask them to describe SYSPREP. For positions with desktop support, I ask them about GPEDIT, how they would troubleshoot an application failure, etc. for desktop systems engineering, I ask about scripting, Windows Installer, etc… focusing on the the aspect of the position they’re interviewing for. I do occasionally like to hear “I don’t know, but here is where I can find the answer…” when I ask the rougher questions.

    • #2718294

      Competancy matrix assessment questions

      by bmorter ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I developed a series of test questions that IT managers can use to assess job candidates or current staff. The testing goal for current staff is to identify weakness that will be corrected by additional/targeted training. Focused training based on employee needs is a better use of IT training dollars than sending someone to a week long certifcation class. Learn what you need!

    • #2718293

      Abilities, Focus, Personality

      by ctos ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      My criteria (even for a contact) that is kept: Focussed, Able to solve and fix problems of any varied combination and Personality if possible. If they can solve a problem quickly and thoroughly and do it RIGHT the first time, they are treasured by me and I make SURE they are told how important they are to me (my business).

    • #2718292

      smile vs competance

      by jbmv ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I agree with dogdaze.

      I have been in networking for 5 years now. I do not have any certification and technical terms are hard to remember but I am competent in my job. (MY boss thinks so anyway.) I find hands on training is better for me than any courses. I also read any manuals I can find.

      Knowledge and expierence are important as well as the ability to work with others. A good work ethic also helps.

    • #2718291

      What to look for

      by srivera ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I supervise 10-12 IT Help Desk students. Whether on paper or job experienced, basic necessary skills for the job must be evaluated for competency. This can be done through the type of questions or abilities measured on tests that are formulated prior to an interview. And/Or,verify details of that knowledge in the interview. Assessing what skills or ability depend upon your business needs. Evaluate for what you need or can train. I’ve hired people with minimal technical knowledge to do the job, but have a motivation to learn, capable of learning what is needed, and have the desire to do the type of work. I’ve also hired people for purely technical experience, but lacking in other areas which may or may not be trainable or changed. Qualifications for the best measure would depend upon the job to fill. A degree or certificate is not a requirement for my candidates. Maybe you mean what skills are the best measure of a persons ability? Testing for the basics of what is needed to do the job is the first best measure. Interview and subjective judging of a person’s ability is always a gray area. Do your best!

    • #2718290

      U.S Govt. IT Outsourcing

      by bkendall ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Many of the IT services that used to be parsed among motivated and competent government employees is now being jealously guarded by IRM managers for reasons of security and frequently outsourced to private contractors. I believe in “giving to Ceasar what is Ceasars” and IT services could very well be an “inherently Private” activity, but I believe the operational stability of our IT systems has suffered greatly as a result. Many of these contract personnel seem to be getting entry level pay and “learning as they go” using a lot of trial and error methods that are not adequate and are significantly impacting the ability of the workforce to complete work that requires specialized software.

      Most of them are fairly adequate at installing and maintaining what can be termed as common “Office Automation” software like Word processing, spreadsheet, Internet Browsers, etc. But when it comes to specialized software like CAD, GPS or GIS packages they tend to try and install them in the same ways they install the office automation products and the software doesn’t work properly afterwards, even though they are provided with thorough documentation on installation procedures.

      My point is that you should consider skills that the person posesses to go beyond just learning the basics and routine procedures and give them the ability to be creative, innovative, and flexible enough to address subtle or unusual technical problems. I believe that these skills are mostly innate and give the individual the ability to actually understand what they are doing and how things work rather than simply following “cook-book” instructions and being completely lost when things don’t go right. This is especially important when the initial functions of a software appear to work correctly but more sophisticated user functions do not. The IT person who doesn’t really understand the technology will often insist that everything is fine simply because the initial functions work and they are unable to take it to the next level of troubleshooting and correction.

    • #2718288

      Interviewing qualifications or HR qualifications?

      by ibm5081 ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      HR qualifications (e.g. filtering resumes in HR):
      Since the folks in HR don’t do the technical work, filter the resumes based on some minimal levels of certification OR experience, unless you are filling an entry-level position.

      Interviewing qualifications (e.g. ranking resumes as likely interviewees):
      Look for resumes which concisely state a sufficiently broad work experience. A balance between too much detail (potentially inflated) and too little (many possible causes).
      What you are looking for is evidence of the “voice of experience” which communicates without bragging.

      Interviewing methods: definitely start with a phone interview to allow the candidate to ask questions as well as explain their resume and fill in any gaps.

    • #2718274

      Experience counts

      by pmoleski ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Qualifications are like an insurance policy. While certifications demonstrate an ability to learn, there is nonthing that comes close to demonstrated ability on the job that is verfied by qualified peers.

      The ability to get the job done provides value to any company, certifications by them selves do not.

    • #2718270

      cert vs qual

      by ray8alot ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Personally I am cert free. I find that when the bad stuff hits the fan I can fix it, because all the time I have spent on boards, in books, and my share of mistakes. 🙂

      There is a but, and to me it is the worst kind. HR depts seem to hire vs IT depts. Means have certs or miss lots of good opportunities.

      So my return question is ‘counts’ to whom? HR dept., IT dept., or someone who knows someone who knows someone?

    • #2718267

      Use a written screen –

      by trevor.sears ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      When I post job positions, I include a statement to let the applicants know that there will be a written screen prior to any interview.
      I have formulated various questions ranging from general management and industry level questions to very complex technical questions concerning specific technologies or equipment.
      In my experience, people who really want the job, and have the skills, don’t mind the test.
      There are numerous resources to help with engineering the test questions properly.
      I use only short answer. This gives me some insight into the applicant’s written communication skills and thought process.
      Grading the test should be subjective only. Most people cannot walk in off the street and answer technical questions with 100% accuracy. However, it is easy to tell who knows what they are talking about and who doesn’t.
      Good luck.

      • #2718241

        Exp Vs Cert

        by sonivivek ·

        In reply to Use a written screen –

        We also need to know who is accessing the talent here. If we have kids accessing somebody’s talent then its the best way to send the wrong signals and taint the image of your company.

      • #2712247

        Or a verbal test of “what if”

        by knudsenmj ·

        In reply to Use a written screen –

        I manage a group of desktop support technicians and what I’ve found useful is to ask applicants “what they would do”. The last interview I gave, the question was something along the lines of “Customer is running win2k, reports she is getting periodic blue screens but hasn’t written any of the info down. They need to work over the weekend and it’s the middle of the afternoon on friday. Tell me how you’d approach it and what you’d do”. We then talked it out. This let me evaluate both troubleshooting and customer service skills. Since I’m more interested in how someone approaches an issue than if they can actually solve a specific issue (at least in an interview) this let me see their strategy and knowledge on stuff we work with.

    • #2718263


      by vltiii ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I think it depends on the position being filled. If the position calls for hands on experience that is what should be demonstrated. If the position is more supervisory/managerial then proven knowledge may be all that’s necessary even though practical experience is a plus. I also think that hiring managers who lack the technical experiece should have someone from the technical staff sit in on interviews when making hiring decisions.

    • #2718261

      Show and Prove

      by jdsnetbiz ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I think that the subject matter experts should designate a small portion of their network for testing candidates in the skill set’s desired for the position. If the candidate cannot make it through that process, then there’s no need to waste man hours and company time as relates to the interviewing process. This is a be about it industry, plagued by many talk about it persons, and I beleive that this process will save individual Corp. money and time, no tto mention the integrity of the industry as a whole.

      Example: I’ve concluded the resume review process and moved to interviewing the cream of the crop for Desktop Support Position. I’ll meet and greet as I escort the candidate to my stand alone PC Testing Area. A document at the workstation ask’s him to reboot into Safe Mode, Uninstall MS Office Suite and boot back up normally, reinstall reboot only 2 progams (MS Word & Power Point)from the Suite via the installation disk which sit’s next to the Keyboard, and to give the Account Admin Rights specifically for those 2 programs, given a local Admin. password of course, and explain that he explain to me what he’s doing and why (because I’m the acting not so savvy user and I’m nosey or concerned). That’s (dependent on the speed of the system)not much work at all and takes not much time at all, but will give you enough to make an informed decision as to wether the interview need go any further.

      What do you think (Everyone)?

    • #2718252


      by james31 ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I live in the UK and find that having few qualifications inhibits my chances of employment within the IT industry because they value pieces of paper over experience not gained working for someone else. So I like others are persuing certification. I believe that both experience and qualification are the key. Why not have a qualification that demonstrates ability. Maybe employers could have a policy of employing qualified certified employees and those who do not have qualifications to work together. the problem for employers seems to be finding the answer to the age old question. how can I be sure this person has the relavent experience and is it checkable. what is required is a way of introducing new people into the industry to enable new ideas to be propagated without throwing away the people who have slogged and fought their way through to gain certification. In Short Practical and proven skills should be a requirement whilst in depth Knowledge of the subject aids in using those skills to greater effect.

      • #2718243


        by steve v ·

        In reply to observations

        the reason why companies prefer to hire those with certs and degrees is to justify their spending. The decision to hire is made by a manger. The person who is a manger is usually someone that went to college and attained some degree to become that manager. When a company hires IT people they pay them pretty well; hopefully. Companies feel that if I am going to pay you a good sum of money, you should be just as educated as me. In other words why should i pay someone who has less formal training then me, the same salary or almost equal to the same salary of a person that went to 4-5 years of school? They fell that if it took them 4-5 years to get to the position and pay rate they are at then it should take the same time for you.

        What they don’t understand is that you cant get a desgree in networking. Tell me if their are any 4 year colleges out there; not technical schools. That will give you a degree in PC repair. Or a degree in network admin, or engineering?
        I would venture in saying that none exist.

      • #2712337

        Remember the role of HR

        by support ·

        In reply to observations

        The current situation appears to be that there’s a glut of candidates applying for a small number of roles. To whittle down the numbers, agencies appear to be given a set of requirements: Products used; No. years experience with them; Certification. Only small numbers of candidates are put forward from the agencies based on these criteria. Result? A candidate with 2 years Win2k Administration experience and MCSA certification will go forward for interview in preference to far more experienced people who either lack the required certification level or who are only able to provide 18 months relevant experience (even if this experience has been far deeper). Trick is to get past the Agency – then the HR department – who will only consider candidates against a fairly tight specification. There appears to be little flexibility to consider the wider skills a candidate might bring.

    • #2718226

      experiance doesn’t always pay

      by dobbinsm ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I think that experiance is a great thing.Like me and a friend of mine, that are very good at what we do, because we don’t have ‘papers’ we don’t get paid IT/IS wages for what we do. We have been trained on the job by those that do have the ‘papers’ and we have been told that we can’t be done without but we are not wothty of the pay or anything close to it. If you can get the ‘paper’. It pays.

    • #2718210

      People with experience have stories to tell… let them…

      by mikeblane ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I’ve worked for several different companies – medical, government, aerospace – during my career and my experience has always yielded a story or ‘lesson learned’ about problems. Questions that I would ask are based on situations: ‘what was the worst computer-related disaster you encountered while being a server administrator and how did you fix it? How much time was lost or saved?’, or ‘If you could design a software update system for the company network, where would you begin and who would you look to put on your team?’. People with paper-only certifications don’t have stories to tell other than those that begin with ‘well, in class we…’. Scenario questions make a great qualifier. Use a scenario that you’re familiar with and ask how the person would have begun looking at the situation. People that have lived through something similar will relate a personal take on the scenario.

    • #2718206

      Holy Buckets!! Nice guys finish first??

      by rsears ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Familiarity and experience is everything! I went to college and got my CS degree and everything, Dah Mister Bunny Rabit… Then took the MCSE training route and pounded the pavement for years before I could get anything worthwhile. After doing a lot of down and dirty jobs I can tell you, if you can?t turn a screw driver, build a machine from nothing, write a sentence, talk intelligently, and treat others with the respect they deserve, you?ll never be good in IT. In this business it?s the nice people that know what they are doing who finish first, not the windbag blowhards. Many times I have seen people with credentials make complete fools of themselves because they do not have any personality and don?t know when to keep their mouth shut. I definitely know because I work in a bank data center. Golly gee and Holy Buckets! I hope my poor grammar doesn?t raise anyone?s BP? Have a nice day.

    • #2712344

      There is no right or wrong answer to this

      by mgeyre ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Unless you have a network of people who know and can verify your skills then you need qualifications and people skills to impress the HR people.

      Lets face it most initial recruiting is NOT done by techies so the qualifications give the ‘ignorant’ HR people something to work with. Once you over come this hurdle then you can demonstrate your skills and experience to the people who can understand and appreciate what you can do. Its expensive in time and money to get the cert’s but unless you are able to rely on contacts to find work for you then you need a piece of paper that say’s “I can do the job”.

      What qualifications are a useful measure of competence? answer NONE they simply say you have the capacity to learn they cannot say how good you are.

    • #2712312

      Apples & Oranges

      by vawwkayaker ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      From my perspective you have to first ask what are you looking for. If you are an employer looking to hire a candidate for a position then both play a role with experience weighted heavier. If you are a candidate looking for a job you have 2 scenarios. The first is that you have similar experience as the position requirements. In this case your on the same path as the employer (experience then Certs). If you are jumping into a new field then I believe the reverse is more true (Certs then experience). Keep in mind that the positions role in your organization will have multiple criteria and either or both experieince and certifications maybe further down the list of priorities.

      From my perspective Degrees and Certification (by the way I have both) only demonstrate that the candidate has the ability to learn. With degrees I see people who have gone through the process of learning to learn. For Certification I see people would have mastered a specific and finite skill or subject. Both have value like experiences, but you need to know what you are looking for in order to know which has more value.

    • #2712290

      You are multi talented and feel unappreciated?

      by carrera811bt ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      You are multi talented but feeling
      unappreciated? You are not alone
      I am a well trained well experienced european car graduate.Learned trouble shoot cars in school,electronics 20 yrs ago,computers and security 6 yrs ago on my own.Not to mention to speak an dwrite another language correctly.Beside internet knowlegde and deep experience.But most of my time i was self operative in my own business and didn’t sit behind a school desk to fall asleep on the instructor,teacher.So no educational paper of my side.And i strongly feel that many of us unappreciated working in a lower paying job because the management 80 out of 100 companies are an idiot.They have been put there for a good reason.Not that they have any qualification to manage and lead.Not to mention the cost involves.
      and since i finished school in europe i didn’t needed to go further in education.
      The first year when i got out of school sure i was a high tech graduate but i felt i knew squat!
      The key is the Routine experience.The Variety of challenges you had to face and solve cold blooded
      on your own.Who was writing them down and how do you put in on the resumee? And who is able to determine your qualification truly for future challenges? It is like telling the future.

    • #2712245

      The wrong qualifications get you hired

      by Anonymous ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      The paperwork proves little more than a temporary liner for the bottom of a bird cage; another pyramid scheme feeding off a once-honored industry. True IT staffers have difficulty boasting of their accomplishments. That’s because the voice of experience knows that the best results were due to combined efforts by all involved; users, vendors and IT alike. So what gets you hired? The incompetence of the interviewer. And there is an abundance of that.
      You state that you have 10 years experience. S/he asks if you hold an A+ certificate, a certificate whose original purpose stated that you possess the equivalent knowledge of someone with 6 months on-job experience.
      You mention that you are a systems analyst. S/he asks if you heard any hot stock tips lately.
      You attempt to secure a job as a webmaster. S/he asks what the letters HTML stand for.
      What gets you hired? The unscrupulous desire to answer the moronic questions with nary a smile or a yawn. This is where the top guns leave the room in search of intelligent life.

    • #2712239

      “Intelligence” and “Business Awareness”

      by cahill999 ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      When selecting “new” staff we look for people who, to the level required by the job, have the basic requisite skills (ie. they have performed the role at a basic level or attended approriate training courses) ==AND== have a reasonable understanding of business processes & requirements.

      They must be aware of the fundemental rule of IT (the one that many forget)

      It is not enough to know what can be done or how to do it (most “geeks” will have a wide armoury).
      The true IT professional understands that what the business requires and can afford (both in cost outlay & risk acceptance) is much more important.

      Therefore, to us, given that a person displays the necessary knowledge for the target job, “qualifications” mean little – it is the way a person interacts and can discuss the technology (esp. with non-IT people) that is important.

    • #2712236

      Reply To: What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      by ron_belda ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Experience is one of the most important thing that i consider 2nd his/her ability 3rd The attitude and last is qualification/degree.

      many talented and qualified IT personel sleeping or contented for what they are doing right now but if you gave them a chance you’ll see ability is still best than degree………………???????????????????????

      • #2712230

        Reply To: What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

        by byronvn ·

        In reply to Reply To: What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

        At the end of all the stone throwing…

        Every employer should look what he deems necessary to run his/her business.
        If the business does well, so do you.
        If the business suffers, you will as well.
        My opinion…
        Certification is well worth the effort and reward.
        Experience is equally important.
        Find the right mix to suite the Business.
        BUSINESS comes first.

    • #2712229


      by dmwoodcock ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      You can’t legally practice Medicine or Dentistry so why should you be able to practice IT. Maybe we could come up with mal-practice suits for IT Folks. Plenty of occupations require certifications and re-certifying. With the new standards like Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPPA, etc. IT is no longer just picking up the weekly MCP Mag and trying it out at work. I can see it now, well he smiles alot and gets along with everyone, but he forgot to shut down that port. Get real people, IT is a technical profession and I don’t care how well rounded you are, can you program a Firewall and protect the business from the threats that will shut this business down.

      • #2712222

        Practice & Experience

        by charlie1219 ·

        In reply to Practice

        Perfect practice of IT? Come on, it is so subjective and varied, even one of us “well seasoned” guys makes an occaisional error. At best, the holder of a recent boot camp diploma has enough common sense to RTFM, but seldom has the insight to look in all the nooks and crannies.

        I, for one, will take a bruised, scarred up, and experienced pro who has learned from experience and trusts their fuzz & intuition any day over a smart ass who thinks they know it all…and my clients must feel the same way as well.

        • #2707423

          Professional vs Smart Butt

          by dmwoodcock ·

          In reply to Practice & Experience

          Not perfect but accountable. Don’t really know alot of IT Guru’s seen it on a few license plates though. IT is broad and specialists are required. Difference between an AA or AS. Not everyone is good at everything. Seen excellent mainframe programmers that really didn’t know much about a PC other than using the 3270 terminal emulator. We need everyone to make it all work, and they all need to be able to perform their speciality, not smile about it or just talk about it.

    • #2712195

      This topic … AGAIN….;)

      by tomsal ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Realize that I’m one of those folks that is very sarcastic in my humor, hey it gets me through the day….but this topic has been posted about 8.3 trillion times on TR.

      Each time, for the most part anyway (some folks do have insane ideas on what makes a good employee in the IT field) it almost makes me laugh somewhat because the subject turns into this huge thread.

      Am I missing something? I think its far and away obvious what makes a good IT employee.

      In no particular order:

      1. Experience. But I go a step further and say experience alone isn’t the “ultimate” qualifier for employee, after all what the hell good is experience if it was all BAD experience? Ok great you have “EXPERIENCE” knowing that once upon a time you blew up a server or nuked the firmware on a router — so that makes you instantly so much more better a candidate than someone who didn’t “EXPERIENCE” that? 😉

      2. Training. Its always mentioned of course, but I think its strange and silly to me how so many people seem to take it less serious than I think it is. In some cases I say training is MORE important than experience, after all — trial and error techniques are fine for some things like making a patch cable or figuring out a feature set on NON production hardware…but without the formal training — please don’t touch THAT!!! 🙂

      3. Communication skills and um..yeah I guess some personality. (HA HA!). Hey its no secret us techie folks aren’t the most social creatures in the workforce, to a large extent I think that is fine…its normal in fact. After all when you work with network devices and servers for a large portion of your work week — you aren’t really practicing social skills. But communication is important and learning to be respectful of all your associates. Beyond that — there is no need to waste idle time on socializing like the sales ilk of the professional world do.

      People want to be treated with respect, its a basic human type thing we all desire — so give them respect. But don’t tell me that I’m “out of line” or “a bad tech” because I don’t get into the daily gossip with someone…as long as I’m not being rude — no one should care.

    • #2712190

      Experience vs qualifications.

      by data-ware ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I make it a point not to hire people who have gone through “Boot camps”, to gain qualifications for the simple fact that anyone can memorize material to write qualification in 4 weeks. But it is another matter to put that material to use without the proper hands on training or lack of experience.
      I always try and find a balance between qualifications and experience when hiring new people. Experience of course always tends to gain my attention.

      • #2712168

        Experience vs ‘Paper MSCE”

        by networkguyinsavannah ·

        In reply to Experience vs qualifications.

        Having been both the guy with experience and the guy with the certifications, I would hire proven experience over quals any day. I cannot tell you how many “paper MSCE’s” I have encountered. It is pathetic to see their arrogance in interviews and when you ask them a “meat and potatoes” problem, they will waltz around and remind you of their certifications! The last gal who came into an interview with copies of all her certifications, I tore them up in front of her. Then I asked a few questions and after hearing her stumble and stammer ( and lie to me ) I thanked her and hired another lady with ZERO certifications, 10 years experience, and 40 years of age! To this day, I have been extremely satisified. So, for all you peper MSCE’s, put the certifications away and start learning your stuff. It took me about 3 years in the IT field to really start to make any sort of money to support my family. You don’t need 50K to start as a salary!!!

    • #2712139

      What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      by smanfredi ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      As a former HR recruiter and now software trainer in our IT department, I too see people skills being overshadowed by technical skills. However, if you plan out an interviewing strategy, you shouldn’t have any problems with putting the right person in a position.

      My strategy was to do behavorial interviewing. If you haven’t heard of it, learn! This is an interviewing process that an applicant can’t cheat on and you can catch them in lies.

      First, look at your qualifications and derive your normal interview questions. Then go further by putting your applicant in real-life/job experiences such as tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult user….how did you handle it, how did you feel, etc. Follow up with questions so you understand what happened. No matter if this is a management position or PC technician, behavorial interviewing will give you an “inside” look at your applicant’s personality and technical skills. Remember to keep your questions consistent so you can go back and compare answers later.

    • #2712136

      I have heard horror stories . . . about “BOOK” qualifications

      by a.techno.geek ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      I have heard horror stories about people who got through their classes with straight “A”‘s and companies were hot for these people. Only to find out that when things got hot, they got going. The problem was if the problem wasn’t in the book they couldn’t trouble shoot. Good at giving back text book answers and getting a perfect grade does not always equate into a person knowing what they are doing. Give me a problem solver that had to hold down a full time job and got “B”‘s and “C”‘s. Why? Because that person had to figure a way to accomplish his or hers goals in their endeavor to attain certification/credentials, this is problem solving, troubleshooting. Now comes the experience part, with a big dollop of experience. The question asked in directly is what is wrong with my experience. I am assuming that you are a Brit or at least on the British Isles. I am located in the USA. The difference is that were you are located you would have no problem if one was a Knight, Earl, Duke someone of nobility, going to a company and getting a job/career in almost any field of work. Here in the USA we are not allowed titles of nobility and so USA companies have used Educational Credentials to weed out perfectly viable people for the job, regardless of the persons ability. Why do you not see people as CEO’s or presidents of companies without Institutional Degree’s (unless they started the company from scratch)? So my contention is, get whatever certification/credentials that are required for the position that one seeks, this is just one less obstacle in your way. My own opinion is that I would take practical experience over someone that just got out of a certification/credentials program/school. But in these day and times most companies want to give an illusion of ability by subbing certification/credentials for any real talent at getting the job done. Getting the job done in a timely manner is customer satisfaction, satisfaction means repeat business and after all isn’t that why business is in business?

    • #2712112

      Intelligence and a Mix of Education, Training and Experience

      by jenny-2000 ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      You need to hire the best mix of formal education, specific training and experience for the job. Behavioral considerations count also. Trolls don?t get the work done, in the end, because of the communication and behavioral issues. In over 30 years? of work experience, most of the true trolls that I?ve encountered were techies, but employees in other areas of the company. The worst troll I ever worked with was a Director of Marketing and the runner-up was a marketing manager.

      Having said that, I have to wonder about people who have jobs supporting users who think that all the users are ?stupid.? While there are some truly stupid users out there, the bottom line is that you would not have a job if there weren?t any. Suppose that all emergency room doctors thought that all those who came through their doors were there because of ?stupidity? and acted like many support techs. ?Oh, you cut your finger using a skill saw? That was stupid…?

      Perhaps the secret to a good user support team is ?listening skills.? I worked at one company where the IT department was truly amazing! If you called them for support, they responded immediately! If you called, usually you got a live answer?but if you went to voice mail, you got a callback within minutes. If they could not solve the problem over the phone or via PC Anywhere, if you were in the office, they were at your desk in the time it took to walk to your building. They never treated anything as ?user stupidity? and responded as though everything was a problem to be solved?and they solved problems incredibly fast! They asked questions and actually listened to the answers. They listened and all they did was say, ?un huh, yes, un huh,” etc. until the user ran out of things to say. Then they would solve the problem?and most importantly, they would tell you what caused the problem and what they did to fix it. This was subtle user education that treated the user like an active participant in the process. The assumption was that no user was too stupid to understand what had gone wrong. I?ve worked at a lot of companies, and that was the only one where I saw that level of response?and we are talking 3 guys supporting hundreds of users on a very complex international network and lots of remote workers. How did they do this? I have to believe it had a lot to do with businesslike, respectful attitude toward users (no matter how stupid) and tactful education of users (they probably never got the same problem twice), and having people who were just incredibly good at their jobs.

      I have to say that none of these guys was particularly ?social? and to the best of my knowledge they did not participate in the company politics or gossip, etc. I?m sure that they did have their own private bitch sessions where they regaled each other with hilarious stories about the day?s stupidities?but the rest of the company never heard these remarks. What we saw/heard was a highly skilled team of incredibly good computer techs who did a remarkable job. They were ?magicians.? Who cares if they had ?social skills?? I think all of them took pride in doing a good job. In turn, they got their well-earned respect from the rest of the company.

      My recommendation is to think about what you need and then consider which applicants you can train. Choose the best of the ?trainable? applicants. You will always have to do some training or mentoring. If you are hiring a hands-on phone tech, for example, you can train on your specific phone systems, but will have a long row to hoe if you have to teach neat work habits or basic troubleshooting techniques or remedial reading. One of the best technical writers I ever hired had no experience as a technical writer, but had excellent grammar and spelling skills, a concise writing style and the ability to analyze and explain technical facts in non-technical terms. This candidate also had experience as a programmer and business analyst.

      The biggest problem is that often the best candidates never make it past the initial screening! The tech writer almost got weeded out. Luckily she sent a letter rather than a resume. Or perhaps she did send a resume that got trashed?but she also sent a letter that got through the screen. I suspect that some of the ?magicians? at the company mentioned with the incredible user support team did not have ?degrees,? or ?certifications? or some other pieces of paper from the Wizard of Oz that would ease their path past the gatekeepers. (My suspicion is not based on their knowledge, but rather on their ages and where they were from. I found out, accidentally, that two were from an inner city neighborhood not noted for good schools, etc.?and since all were very, very young, they would have had to go to college at about age 13 to have had much in terms of education, certification, training and experience before they went to work at the company.)

      I?ve been screened out on some preposterous criteria. One HR department told me that I was ?unqualified? because, although I had TAUGHT the classes they required, I had not actually taken the classes as a student! (When I went to college, these courses were not yet offered. In fact, mine was the first time the course was offered.) I?ve heard similar stories from my friends.

    • #2712080

      Please do not expect I.T. ppl to be the same

      by drakeeula ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Guys into I.T. have no social life, so please do not expect us to behave like the rest of the pack. We talk machine language.

      • #2707550

        That’s a huge myth…its a bit harsh..

        by tomsal ·

        In reply to Please do not expect I.T. ppl to be the same

        I can’t let this one go without commenting 😉

        “Guys in I.T. have no social life”….this is a huge myth, probably one of the biggest in the IT industry — that suggests that IT guys are geeks in the social sense as well as the professional sense (the latter — most of us wear as a badge of honor

        I’ll readily admit I’m far from a social butterfly, I don’t like crowded places — nothing to do with any strange phobia or anything, merely the fact I really don’t care to mingle in large crowds, its not my thing.

        I however, prefer small groups of very good friends and family — with these folks I have a pretty good “social life” with…of course when one of your best friends lives 5,000 miles away, you tend to value the time more when you vacation with them.

        Here’s some more “IT Myths” I’d like to debunk…

        – No we don’t live in mommy and daddy’s basement 😉

        – Yes we are actually having real relationships with our girlfriends/boyfriends/wife/husband, etc.

        – Some of us IT folk actually HATE having to carrying a cellphone/PDA 24/7.

        – We don’t all wear black framed glasses with tape in the middle, pocket protectors and bowties. Some of us dress like normal business people…IMAGINE THAT!

        – We don’t all have home networks, build our own machines, and…….oh ummm….yeah we do. 😉


    • #2712009


      by hafez_wael ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Previous ?achievements? is a solid indicator of a person?s ability to meet company objectives. If a candidate comes in with a few industry awards from a major IT player, it usually means that he will meet the company?s objectives.

    • #2707800

      Stringent Industry Fundamentals and Experience Count

      by kewal9 ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Education is mandatory and experience is mandatory for any substantive position of authority. Certification programs which test for experience as well as knowledge are hard assets to develop and maintain. Very few organizations have done a good job of it.

      The problem is that most companies today are certifying their channel members and lines of product support, and not promoting flexible human resources for corporate environments.

      The value of hiring Certified Computing Professionals ( or qualified Information Systems Professionals ( is for their seasoned education and experience.

      Finally, one cannot say enough about assessing for and hiring for team compatibility, positive attitudes, and open minds. Separate the resumes for education and experience and hire for the long term, flexible human resources who you are willing to invest in.

    • #2707576

      Give Us a Chance

      by ajordaan ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Hi, I am a Support Analyst & have 9 years practical experience but little qualifications on paper, and am finding it very difficult, maybe they should all give us a chance to show them exactly what we can do without that little piece of paper

      • #2707419

        The Paper

        by dmwoodcock ·

        In reply to Give Us a Chance

        Is is worth paying 100-500 bucks to land a 60-80k job vs a 40-59k job? Unless things change in the U.S. focus in areas that can’t be easily outsourced or try and get employed by a US Gov’t agency. Hopefully they want outsource our government.

    • #2707575

      Give Us a Chance

      by ajordaan ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Hi, I am a Support Analyst & have 9 years practical experience but little qualifications on paper, and am finding it very difficult, maybe they should all give us a chance to show them exactly what we can do without that little piece of paper

    • #2707509

      Being There

      by john_anthony ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      As I believe Woody Allen said “80% of life is being there”. Most good employees are depenable and knowledgeable. Theory is theory, and Microsoft, Novell and all the companies are full of a lot of theory. In the classes I’ve taken about a third of the class is impractible in todays business world. Experience and reliability are my criteria. Even mice and monkeys can pass a test. A good Tech is in for the long haul until a problem is resolved and a procedure is in place for business to continue it’s operations. IT is support tools for a business not an end product.

    • #3238345

      Schooling? vs Experiance

      by dobbinsm ·

      In reply to What qualifications are a useful measure of competence

      Shooling is alright for basic knowledge but I believe that there is nothing that beats on the job and hands on training. Of course a person needs the apptitude for it. If they don’t have a mind for it, then they will never have a clue as to what they are learning.

      • #3236091

        A degree proves you can learn

        by jmgarvin ·

        In reply to Schooling? vs Experiance

        That is basically all a degree means. If you read too much into it, you will be VERY disappointed.

        While man students have dollar signs in their eyes when they go to school, they realize that they need experience to make the money they want to make.

        Oh, and it sure does seem kids aren’t as hot for the IT field as they once were

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