The musings of an IT Consultant

Oct 11 2008   7:13PM GMT

To certify or not to certify?



Posted by: Raj Perumal
Tags:
ccie
CCNA
ccnp
certifications
certify
co-op programs
college
experience
Information Technology
IT employment
mcp
mcse
mcts
paper MCSE
post secondary education
university
vendor certifications
volunteer work
work placement

So you’ve graduated from university or college and you’re ready to go out into the world and nail that first awesome IT job. You and your family and friends all know how good you are. You’re the resident computer whiz and you think to yourself “People would be crazy not to hire me!”. So you go out into the world and you find that you get little to no bites on your resumes.

One of the reasons is because everyone and their dog thinks they know IT but unfortunately it’s getting increasingly harder for employers to tell the difference between a wannabe and the real deal. As someone who has been regularly engaged in the hiring process over the course of my career, I can tell you about two things that stand out on a resume for an IT prospect – experience, and certifications.

One without the other just doesn’t cut it. You can have all the experience in the world but if you don’t have the certs then people will wonder how good that experience actually is. You can have a billion and one certs, but if you don’t have the experience with actual projects people are going to think you’re all flash and no substance. The “paper MCSE” comes to mind here.

So how do you get both of these? Well if you are having problems finding work, what you should do is during your education get enrolled in a good co-op program (combination of study and work) where your school places you in a company to learn the trade for a few months of the year. This way you graduate with both experience and theory.

The other way is to volunteer at many organizations that need volunteer IT help. This is a great way to get experience and do something good for your community. This also looks great on resumes. This will also help you when you go to write your certification exams because some experience in the real world will always help you pass those exams.

I always hear people make fun of certifications, but those are usually the people who don’t have the kahonas to go and write them and feel like they have to put them down to legitimize themselves. Instead ignore those naysayers and go out and get that experience and those certifications. Together that will put you a cut above the rest!

-RP

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