[Guest Blogger] - Do Managers Care About Certification?

[Guest Blogger] - Do Managers Care About Certification?

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A few weeks ago Jennifer Waters posted the first blog entry dealing with certification and asked the question Does Certification Really Matter?.  In the next post, she asks whether managers care about certification. 

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Let’s face facts.  Certification is all about where it can get you.  Most people don’t fantasize about studying or taking exams, so if it’s not going to help you get ahead, why certify?

Good question.  We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore, Toto, and the days of getting your MCSE and expecting to command a decent salary simply on that basis are gone.  Technology and the people that use it have grown up.

While I don’t expect to see the same kind of feverish scramble that we did in the late 90’s and early 2000’s for certification, we are coming out of a down cycle in the industry in general.

Canada is currently experiencing a substantial IT skills shortage and over the next 5 years there will be a need to fill approximately 90,000 jobs.* We have heard from Microsoft partners that they simply do not have enough staff to fulfill all their business needs and partners are poaching from one another .
Combine this with the new products being released from SQL Server 2005 to Windows “Longhorn” Server and there is a real and growing need for people who know their stuff.

And that, is where certification comes in.  I’m not saying that it will enable you to live a life of extravagance a la Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous or MTV Cribs (anyone see Missy Elliot’s insane sneaker collection?) but it is like having a BA or BSC after your name.  Sometimes experience trumps it, but quite often it is a tick box and if you don’t have it, it can be the difference between getting hired and being passed over.

Here are some facts to back that up:*

• 63% of Hiring Managers feel that certified individuals are somewhat or far more productive than their non-certified counterparts
• 55% of Hiring Managers consider employee certification as criterion for hiring
• 46% of Hiring Managers consider employee certification as criteria for promotion

If you are not sure where to go to get certified, or exactly how to upgrade to the New Generation, check out the links below.  Or ask me – I would be happy to help you navigate through this.

http://www.microsoft.ca/certify
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/newgen/default.mspx
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/certifications.mspx

Next blog – I’ll go through the New Generation of Certification and hopefully dispel some of the confusion around upgrading to these new certs.
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Jennifer Waters started her career at Microsoft 8 years ago. After studying Ancient Greek and Roman history (that’s right, this is not a typo), her career path was an obvious one and she began in product support at Microsoft, supporting Office.  From there, she became a Technology Specialist, within Microsoft US.  This position involved a lot of travel to such glamorous spots as Poughkeepsie, NY.   Jennifer has managed  the CPLS (Certified Partners for Learning Solutions) channel and the Learning and Certification program in Canada for the past 4 years.

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  • Jennifer Waters, who manages the Learning and Certification Program and the CPLS (Certified Partner for

  • What happens to the new generation of certifications after Micosoft comes up with higher versions of .NET?

  • Jatin, thanks for your comment.  As our products evolve and new products are released, Microsoft certification will reflect this.  The New Generation of Certifications is designed to be flexible, up to date, and pertinent to the job role to help Developers and IT Pros keep their skills up-to-date.

    Damir

  • I care a lot about certification.  A resume that boasts "MCSE" definitely goes to the bottom of the pile when I'm making hiring decisions.  Bitter experience has taught me that boasting an MCSE is usually a negative.

  • I have said time and again that certifications are a path to follow, not a destination to arrive at.  I remember when I passed my first exam how excited I was to achieve my first cert... not knowing where that one would lead to.  

    Though I cannot speak authoritatively on .NET certifications I can certainly do so on the IT Pro side of things, and can tell you that Microsoft is working hard to make the new generations of certifications relevent to both us as professionals and to companies and hiring managers looking to hire us.  

    The new certifications are going to be task-specific in the case of the MCTS certs, and job-specific for MCITP certs.  So:

    - Someone who holds the MCTS - Microsoft Windows Vista: Configuration will be certified in that specifically... It is a task that will be part of a job but will not be the job; and

    - Someone who holds the MCITP - Microsoft Desktop Support - ENTERPRISE will be certified in that job role.

    Notice that in the MCTS cert title there is a product name and version; this means that the cert expires when that product is retired by Microsoft.  In the MCITP there is no product name, but that job role certification will need to be renewed every three years.

    I hope this clarifies a few things for you!

  • Hi David,

    I do understand your position knowing that you run a 100% Linux/OSS shop, an MCSE might not be the best fit for your environment.  I also would not recommend anyone hire someone solely on a certification, any certification.  I think the true value comes from someone who is experienced and certified.

    Having said that, I'd be interested to know your thoughts on some of the other certifications out there.  As a Linux shop, do you see any value in those certifications (LPI, RHCE, Linux+) in combination with experience?

    Rodney Buike

    IT Pro Advisor

  • Rodney,

    I do not place much value in vendor certifications.  I tend to view them as neutral or slightly negative.  Here are my reasons:

    1) Vendor Certifications are a great source of revenue for vendors.  That means they have to constantly change products and ways of doing things so that people need to recertify.  This also means that course materials for certifications tend to concentrate on "this is how you do tasks X, Y and Z" rather than providing basic understanding of first-principles.

    2) It's just been my personal experience that people with vendor certifications tend to become stymied when something out-of-the-ordinary happens.  As I alluded to in (1), the certifications tend to be very task-oriented and people lack an understanding of first-principles, so they can't deal well with unusual events.

    3) I consider that someone with a university degree or college diploma in an IT-related field should be qualified to do system administration.  Vendor certifications should be superfluous, if the university/college has done its job.

    If you've ever interviewed at Roaring Penguin, I can *guarantee* you that the questions we ask will never have been answered in any vendor-certification course.  That's because they are real-world weird support questions from our actual customers. :-)  No certification course can ever cover all the possibilities.  Only candidates who understand the basic principles of computing and can work out the answer logically stand a chance.  And again, in my experience, having a vendor certification is neutral or slightly negative when it comes to answering our interview questions.

    Regards,

    David.

  • Hi David,

    Please join our web cast on Thursday regarding certification.

    http://blogs.technet.com/canitpro/archive/2007/04/20/certification-info-session-for-canadians-live-webcast.aspx

    We will be looking at job role versus product knowledge and how the new generation of certification strives to put relevancy into certification both for hiring managers and individuals.  

    Certification is a means to an end.  It is a way to for hiring managers to verify knowledge.  That said, just like any other area, sometimes you need someone with 10 years of experience and other times hiring right out of school is fine.  Either way, certification is a benchmark. It shows the ability to learn and knowledge achieved.  

    As per Rodney,would love to hear your thoughts on industry certs in general.

    Jennifer Waters

    Learning Solutions

  • David I understand the points you raise but am still interested in your thoughts on vendor neutral certifications such as those from CompTIA, ISC2, LPI etc...

    My belief is that you need a combination of education and experience.  There is only one way to get experience and that is by doing but validating your education/skills can be done a number of ways.  University degree, college diploma, or a certification.  In the past when I was in a position to hire staff; if I had my choice between someone with experience and a certification vs. education or experience only I favoured the person with both.

    Why?  Well it may just be me, but someone with the experience, who has put in the extra effort to get themselves certified shows to me that they are willing to put in the extra effort.  Again this could very well be just me, but I would be interested to hear what other people think of this approach, or what approach they take.

    Rodney Buike

    IT Pro Advisor

  • Re: Jennifer: Thanks for the invitation, but I do not attend Microsoft-sponsored events.

    Re: Rodney:  I find that most people take certifications because they think it will help them get a job more easily, not necessarily because they're that interested in the content.  I find that people who've gone to college/university *and* who are geeks at home with their own networks, their own self-taught experience, and their own pet software projects are much more likely to be competent than people who've just spent the bucks and few months to get a certification.

  • Hi David,

    I certainly understand your point and believe that the experienced gained with home networks and pet projects is, and should be seen by employers, as valuable.

    I still see value in acknowledging your skills with a certification and Gartner has done some research in the value of certification finding that certified individuals earn 5-12% more than their non-certified counterparts.  Now I am not saying that certification will guarantee a raise, or an employment offer, but in most cases I do believe it is an asset.  When combined with experience, and in line with the requirements of the job description, I do believe it increases your hireability.

    It is interesting food for thought, and something to be taken into consideration when deciding to certify or not.  

    Rodney Buike

    IT Pro Advisor

  • Hi, Rodney,

    Re: Gartner.  It's entirely possible that those with certifications earn more than those without.  No-one ever said compensation was necessarily related to performance or knowledge. :-)

    Furthermore, speaking as a CEO of a software company, I do not consider Gartner to have any credibility whatsoever.  Having been on both sides of a Gartner briefing, I was unimpressed.

    Now, if you're an IT worker and you believe that certification will advance your career, go for it.  I was just responding as one manager to the question "Do Managers Care About Certification?"

    Regards,

    David.

  • Hi David,

    I agree, unfortunately there are certified individuals that do not know the difference between POP3 and FTP.

    As always I love your point of view and thoughts on these topics.

    Thanks!

    Rodney Buike

    IT Pro Advisor

  • There is some timely information posted on a blog managed by some of my Canadian counterparts regarding