January 19, 2011 3:02 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel to present at February 2011 MCCC
, February 2011 MCCC to feature in-depth MCM coverage
, February MCCC to cover "Podcasting Your Way to a Job"
, hear from top-notch TechEd speakers at February 2011 MCCC
, MCCC February 2011
I found an invite to the next Microsoft Certified Career Conference (MCCC) scheduled for 2/17/2011 in my inbox this morning. Not only did it include more info about what’s on the docket for the second go-round for this online conference, it also included the information that a discounted registration fee of $20 is available to all comers until January 24 (6 days from today). MS charged $55 to US registrants for the last iteration, and only granted 50% off ($22.50) to MCPs and registered students. Thus, this is a better deal for everybody with no special qualifications required for those who take advantage of the disounted fee on or before the 1/24 deadline. If you’re interested, this is one case where it makes sense to register sooner rather than later!
Banner art for the next MCCC
Here’s an overview of the scheduled content (a detailed schedule/timetable for the event could be available as early as next week):
- Microsoft Official Courses: technical sessions excerpted from Microsoft’s most popular certification exam prep classes, taught online by the cream of Microsoft’s instructor corps
- Super Cert Me!: exam prep/tune-up sessions for those preparing to take various MS Cert exams
- Career Essentials: Information on finding, inquiring about, interviewing for, and landing the right job for you, including sessions on interviewing skills, resume writing, and other good stuff
- People and Technology: Profiles in certification from people seeking career enhancements at the entry-level, mid-career, and in more senior positions
- Meet the Masters: Take a deep dive in the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) program, and learn more about its offerings, qualification, preparation, and related career opportunities
- Cloud Computing Talent Explored and Explained: a freewheeling session with Chandra Prasad, a world-class expert on cloud computing, about career opportunities and work in this burgeoning area
- Podcasting Your Way to a Job: Podcasting whiz Michael Surkan podcasts about job search, entrepreneurs, and the economy in the guise of his fuzzy alter ego, The Optimistic Bear
This is just a smattering of all the good stuff that will be featured during the upcoming conference. I myself will be presenting about certification and academia for that conference and holding two or three free-wheeling Q&A sessions with the help of a few of my heavy-duty certification guru friends.
You’ll definitely want to check the upcoming MCCC out if you’re in the mood for a career tune-up, and you’ll want to let friends, family, and colleagues know about MCCC too, especially if they have any college-age or job-seeking offspring looking for information, inspiration, tips and techniques — or perhaps even some job opportunities (employers do make themselves available to candidates during MCCC, and it’s a great venue for serious job prospecting). And don’t forget that if you register before next Tuesday, you get a 64% discount off the usual price!!
January 17, 2011 4:09 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Microsoft IT Academy program gains more adherents
, MS ITA racks up successes in the states of Georgia and New York
Last Friday, I followed up on my December 16 blog entitled “Interesting doings at the Microsoft IT Academy; More lie ahead!” with Microsoft Learning General Manager Lutz Ziob and Jeff Johnson, North American Academic Area Lead, to learn more about the company’s IT Academy program. For those not already in the know, the IT Academy makes Microsoft technology, software, and certification materials available to high schools and post-secondary education outlets (mostly two- and four-year colleges, but also technical schools, job (re) training programs, and so forth, as well) so they can prepare students to be more productivie and capable when they enter the workforce.
My earlier blogs on this program have focused on offerings from the State of North Carolina, where the IT Academy is now at least available to all its high schools, and actually on offer in the vast majority of those institutions. This time around, I got to learn more about some of the other significant adoptions of this program, both inside and outside the US.
Here are some high points from that discussion, about which I plan to follow up in the weeks and months ahead:
- The State of Georgia has adopted the ITA into its entire community college system. Today, its two-year networking degrees can include MCTS credentials on Windows Server 2008, or even (optionally) the MCITP: Server Administrator on Windows Server 2008. The state has also racked up some notable success in placing students in jobs thanks to ITA, particularly at the rural Ogeechee Technical College in Statesboro, where students have landed in big metro areas such as Atlanta, Savannah, and Augusta.
- Microsoft has made inroads with the American Council of Education in its efforts to establish that passing certification exams can stand in for credit hours in programs where outside experience for certifications related to Windows Server, Exchange Server, and SQL Server are appropriate. This not only lets students save time and money when completing their degrees, it also offers a “double-whammy” on earning IT certifications while still in college (good for the degree, good for post graduation employment prospects).
- The State University of New York (SUNY) system has not only adopted the ITA for its various campuses around the state, it’s also created off-campus locations in low-income and high-risk neighborhoods to reach out to disadvantaged or unemployed adolescents and young people. Such programs enable individuals to complete a GED while also earning Microsoft certifications at the same time, greatly enhancing their employability and raising their life expectancies and lifetime earnings prospects.
- While ITA numbers in the US currently stand around 2,000, total global numbers are around 8,000, with strong penetration in India, China, and Nigeria, as various levels of government seeks to bring IT technology and learning benefits to bear on improving their workforces, and opening up first-world employment opportunities to their populations.
In future blogs, I’ll not only provide more information about the specific programs mentioned above, I also plan to dig more deeply into ITA doings and plans outside North America, particularly as regards the three countries specifically mentioned above in the final bullet list item. Stay tuned!
January 14, 2011 2:54 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Career and cert planning for 2011
, careful consideration of resources available and goals and objectives fosters steady and meaningful career growth
, plan your activities then hold yourself to accomplishments to grow your career
It’s that time of year again, when the initial glow of New Year’s resolutions is starting to fade, and the long, slow slog from January through all those months into the next big holiday season from November through early January begins. What better time to take stock of your current professional situation and aspirations, and to start making plans to rack up some solid and tangible accomplishments in 2011? Here’s a list of items to ponder as you assess your career and certification status and goals for the next year and beyond.
- Resources available
How much time, money, and energy can you devote to career development and/or cert study? Don’t forget that this stuff competes with family responsibilities, the daily routine, and leisure time, and plan accordingly. Don’t plan to overdo things: that will happen all too often on its own. Overbooking is an almost sure way to impede, rather than speed up, progress.
- Goals and objectives
Preparing for a single cert exam can take anywhere from two to six months for lower-level stuff, and a year or longer for the highest level items (like the CCIE Laboratory Exam, which costs $1400, requires travel, and which most candidates take two or three times before they finally pass). Make sure your plans reflect realistic use of the resources you allocate in the preceding item.
- Long-term vs. short-term accomplishments
Ideally, your individual activities should combine together nicely so that their sum really represents more than just a collection of individual elements without strong interconnections or an obvious growth path. Of course, some certifications (like the various CCNP or CCIE credentials) and most college degrees represent deliberate attempts to combine numerous individual elements into a larger whole that requires planning for the long term, while also knocking off a whole series of short-term elements along the way. For those who seek to put their own unique combinations together, a certain amount of care, and reality checks with colleagues and mentors may be warranted (I, for example, have made a powerful and valuable niche for myself by combining strong interests in markup languages like HTML and XML, with Windows operating systems, and information security topics: there’s a suprising degree of overlap, and the combination ends up being something of a “techology sweet spot” — at least, for me). That said, if you can manage to combine and martial your interests and avocations into an interesting and useful mix, you may not only enjoy your working life more than you otherwise would, you may also thrive and prosper more as a consequence as well!
As you work your way through these items, you’ll also want to decide how where you are now compares with where you’d like to be one, two, five, and ten years from now. Bigger, more complex growth or development paths — like those that include entire certification ladders, or advanced degrees — require a longer planning horizon, not to mention more sacrifices and expenditures of resources along the way. But if you want to grow your career, you must plan things out, establish milestones, and hold yourself to your commitment to reach key checkpoints as you progress from one step to the next. You get to decide what you’ll chase, but you must rely on your tangible achievements to help you assess how well your pursuits are proceeding.
January 12, 2011 3:39 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
a visit to the CompTIA site turns up some changes
, CompTIA certs info for 2011
In researching an article I’m writing for PearsonITCertification.com right now, I’ve been spending some time on the CompTIA Website lately. As of the first of this year, everybody should know that CompTIA certs are no longer “for life,” but rather, must be renewed every three years, either by re-examination or by meeting continuing education requirements. This is a consequence of CompTIA signing onto ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 compliance, which requires internationally recognized certifications to include mechanisms to ensure that certification holders maintain currency in their fields of certification. If you get a CompTIA cert going forward, you will have to renew it every three years, and you will also have to pay an annual maintenance fee to maintain its currency (at present A+, Network+, and Security+ all fall under this regime, and it’s not unlikely that other CompTIA certs will fall under this umbrella sooner or later).
There’s lots of other interesting stuff going on at CompTIA, too. The roster of available certs has been slimmed down. Compared to a year ago, the current roster (depicted in the following screenshot) no longer includes the DHTI+ (Digital Home Technology Integrator, a credential aimed at installers of home systems for media, alarms, remote controls, and so forth), and Convergence+ has been renamed to CTP+. There’s also news that the company will be working on a Storage+ certification, aimed at IT professionals who work with NAS (network-attached storage) and SAN (storage area network) technologies. The long-time “Big 3″ at CompTIA remains unchanged, however: A+, Network+, and Security+ (in that order) still occupy the top 3 slots by certified population count.
The CompTIA Cert Roster, 1/12/2011
Be sure to give the site a visit if you’re interested in any of the many subject areas covered by a CompTIA cert. Though these credentials are seldom, if ever, the stopping point on a certification progression, they are quite often the starting point for those seeking to boost their professional knowledge, skills, and credibility.
January 10, 2011 1:49 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
January 2011 employment situation ekes out modest gains
, little improvement in sight for US 2011 IT job situation
, US job growth barely matches population growth
In my final post for 2010 “Say Goodbye to 2010, Hello to 2011” I observed that not much had changed in the employment situation for the whole year, despite a few modest ups and downs as it wound through its course. I also said the future remained uncertain and that dramatic changes in the near term were unlikely. Alas, the January 2011 Employment Situation Summary released on Friday, January 7, 2011, only bears this out. Overall employment increased by 103,000 for the month but that’s just barely enough to accommodate population growth in our country (with new workers entering the job force), and does nothing to start the huge backlog of unemployed on their way back into the full-time workforce.
Before the report came out, I heard predictions from various economists that the number of new jobs created in December would range between 140,000 and 180,000, but nothing as low as the final number that emerged in its contents. Sigh. I think this reflects the overwhelming desire for some good employment news, as much as it reflects the impetus for economists to see silver linings in every faint glimmer of hope that twinkles on the employment horizon.
For the time being, though unemployment dipped from 9.8 to 9.4 percent in December, things look like they’re going to keep muddling along at a slow and frustrating pace. In fact, the numbers are really more a reflection of the way the BLS maintains unemployment counts, and drops individuals who are no longer looking for work from the tally of unemployed persons, rather than a true reflection of the number of people out of work who would like to be employed.
In the grand tradition of seeking such glimmers myself, a couple did surface in the latest BLS report, where IT is concerned. Information unemployment as per Table A-14, is down from 8.5 percent in 2009 to 8.1 percent in 2010. And, as per table B-6, Information employment held steady in December 2010 to match November 2010 levels of 2,181,000 workers altogether.
Nevertheless, “hunker down” and “wait for things to improve” remain the watchwords on the employment scene, and look to stay that way for some time yet. Happy New Year!
January 7, 2011 4:15 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
(ISC)² provides lesson in damage control
, CISSP errors acknowledged and rectified
In her most recent (12/2/2010) blog posting at GoCertify.com entitled “CISSP Exam Scoring Error Revealed,” Anne Martinez describes the right — indeed, some might argue the only — way to handle a scoring error on that important and much-coveted information security certification.
First, the facts of the matter: owing to some scoring errors on CISSP exams handled in the period from October 15-21, 2010, some CISSP candidates who failed the exam received notices that they’d passed (bad enough) while others who’s actually passed the exam got notices that they’d failed (worse still). According to Executive Director Hord Tipton’s 11/18/2010 blog on this subject, this error occured during the period when (ISC)2 “…implemented a new scoring interface as part of our transition to a new exam delivery and scoring provider.”
If you ask me, the way (ISC)2 handled this situation provides a textbook example of how to handle any serious breach of performance in a certification operation (and indeed, for any kind of public organization that must rely on trust and confidence to maintain its reputation). First, they acknowledged their error and explained how it happened. Second, they apologized for the mistake and explained how they were able to verify that they had checked for and identified every instance where the error had an impact on exam candidates. Third, they explained what steps they took to prevent such an occurrence from repeating.
What they did fourth, however, shows the kind of good faith in dealing with the public that I wish every business would demonstrate. For those candidates who received erroneous pass notifications, (ISC)2 is offering a refund of their exam fee, the opportunity to retake the exam at no charge, and a free online CISSP CBK seminar (CBK stands for “Common Body of Knowledge,” the 10 information domains that constitute the topics and concepts about which candidates are tested). Those candidates who passed but received erroneous failure notices will be exempted from paying annual maintenance fees for their cert for the next year (through the end of 2011, that is), and may request (ISC)2 to expedite processing of endorsements and experience verifications so that they will earn their CISSP credentials as quickly as the (ISC)2 can manage to grant them.
Here’s Hord Tipton’s apology for the situation, which also shows appropriate humility and understanding for the situation of affected exam candidates:
Before I provide the details on how this happened and what we are doing to rectify the situation, I wish to publicly offer our heartfelt apologies to the candidates who received the incorrect exam results. We understand the high-level of difficulty the CISSP exam presents to professionals and how hard candidates work to obtain their certifications to reap its many benefits, including better job opportunities and salaries. During this tough economic climate, we realize that the certification has become even more desired by information security professionals and critical to obtain. As a credential-holder myself, I know how heart-wrenching the exam process can be. We deeply regret any personal distress that may have been caused by these erroneous notifications. I speak not just for myself, but for all (ISC)² employees and board members.
Heads up, cert program operators! If you want to take a lesson on how to handle a screw-up, you could do a lot worse than to construct a playbook around the way that the (ISC)² handled this situation. Too bad it happened in the first place, but you can hardly fault them for their subsequent follow-up. Bravo!
January 5, 2011 4:23 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel to volunteer career & cert Q&A sessions at MCCC 2/17/2011
, Microsoft Certified Career Conference 2 to be held 2/17/2010
, second MCCC scheduled for 2/17/2011
When last I heard from Microsoft Learning before the holidays about the second and upcoming Microsoft Certified Career Conference (aka MCCC) the date had not been set, and for some reason February 20 stuck in my mind. Wrong! I just visited the current registration page and it’s happening on Thursday, February 17. Mark your calendars, and think about registering if you’re at all interested in MS IT Certifications (discounts are available to students and MCPs or better, and overall costs are pretty low: it was $55 last time with 50% off for the aforementioned constituencies). Likewise, if you have friends or family who are interested in working in IT you may want to share this info with them as well.
I’m volunteering to run another couple or three 1-hour Q&A sessions at the upcoming conference, just like I did last time around. We were very busy chatting during all of these sessions, and this time I’m trying to recruit some other IT Certification heavies to help out with the traffic.
Of all the online conferences I’ve ever attended (which must be dozens by now), the MCCC is among the best built and easiest to use of any of them. I recommend this event highly, and since they’re not paying me to participate, I’m also happy to say I’ll be putting my time where my mouth was, since there’s no money in it for me!
January 3, 2011 9:18 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
career planning for 2011
, key career questions to ask and answer
Hey! It’s 2011. Time to roll up your sleeves, put on your thinking cap, and ponder some career points. Answer these questions about your job, your situation, and your overall career:
- Where are you now?
- Where do you want to be?
- What can you do to pick up your career prospects?
- What would you like to learn this year?
- What new skills and knowledge would you like to acquire, both for your current job, or for your next one?
Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be addressing these and related points directly in a series of focused blogs on those and other questions. In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns you’d like to see me address as part of this series post them as comments to this blog, or email them to me at[mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org].
Happy New Year! The party’s over, so let’s get to work.
December 30, 2010 3:34 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
2010 IT employment maintains a bitter status quo
, 2010 wanted to improve but didn't manage much change
, 2011 could be more of the same for IT employment but let's hope for an uptick
I can’t say I’m unduly sorry to see 2010 come to an end. For most of this year, the IT job market (and career development activity) has been going sideways rather than significantly up or down. In fact, we saw only bare increases at any time during the year for either general or IT employment, with no truly savage dips in either area to mark a downturn or an adventure into double-dip recession territory.
For far too long now (about 18 months by my reckoning) we’ve been in what I’ve often called the “hunker down” position, where neither major ups nor downs for this fairly grim situation means we need to hold onto what we’ve got and wait for things to get better. On the other hand, for the under- or unemployed this has remained a horribly grim period in which prospects for meaningful employment are far too few, and hopes for the future slim to nonexistent.
Will things pick up in 2011? Employment experts and economists are as uncertain as the rest of us. Some think things will improve and point to the past four months of consumer spending increases as a good sign that the economy could and very well may get rolling in 2011. Others point to the extremely narrow margins of job growth over the past year (where new jobs topped 200,000 in a given month only once), and say we’re in for a long tough struggle back to health and unemployment in the “healthy” 5-6 percent range. I heard one economist on NPR say that at current rates of growth it will take 25 years to bring unemployment back down into the so-called healthy range, but he didn’t indicate whether that was a consequence of boomers and gen-Xers aging out of the work force, or a genuine improvement in the overall employment situation.
All I can say is “Ouch!” And while I’m hoping for the best along with everybody else, I’m certainly not ready to start throwing my money around, or investing at all speculatively. As long as hiring permanent employees feels “speculative” to companies and organizations of all sizes, I don’t think we’re likely to see our situation change much any time soon — and perhaps not at all in 2011. Cross your fingers (and any other idle appendages you might have at your disposal) and wish for positive changes and developments. Let’s see if 2011 can’t represent some kind of turning point for the better!
Oh! And the happiest of New Year’s to you and your families, with best wishes from me and mine.