February 28, 2011 8:58 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
check out the MCCC registration page
, Good numbers from latest MCCC
, great reaction to our "Certs in Academia" presentation at 2-24-2011 MCCC
Above MCCC overall totals Below Preso numbers for Certification in Academia
My presentation with MS Area Director for MS Learning in Academia Jeff Johnson was a huge hit, thanks mostly to Jeff’s hard work in gussying up my presentation outline and skeleton, as well as his boffo delivery of the meat of that presentation. We actually teamed up pretty well, though, because while he was talking I was able to answer 90% of the attendee questions via chat in more-or-less-real time. I think we may try to this one again folks! Looks like the conference was bigger by over 200 additional attendees versus last time. I know I was as busy as I could be the whole time I was online.
If you haven’t yet checked out this excellent online conference, I’d urge you to do so. Here’s a link to the Registration Page. Lots of good stuff here, and it repeats almost every calendar quarter (the next one is scheduled for May 24, 2011). Full price for a full day of online content has been $55, but discounts are usually available for certified Microsoft Professionals (MCP or higher) and students enrolled in accredited academic programs.
February 25, 2011 5:00 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
observations from MCCC resumes submitted for review
, resume tips for IT pros
, the good bad and ugly from a recent pool of reviewed resumes
As part of my “friendly services” to Microsoft Certified Career Conference attendees who bothered to drop in on my post-presentation Q&A sessions last week, I volunteered to provide feedback on about half-a-dozen different resumes during either or both of those sessions. Here are my collective observations on what I’ve seen (and missed) in those documents as I’ve labored through them to provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.
- Much to my delight and amazement, I saw only two typographical errors in the entire batch I looked at. This is a much better average result than resumes I used to review back when I was hiring people, as recently as four years ago. Maybe it’s a better spelling checker, or maybe it’s better attention to detail. Either way, kudos to one and all!
- Every single resume was two pages in length, or shorter (no one pagers, though). I’m a firm believer in shorter is better when it comes to a resume. You can always get more details into a cover letter and/or the interview, if you simply must share them with others.
- Most of the language was spare, concise, and very focused. This is another aspect of the “less is more” philosophy when it comes to resumes. You’re not writing a novel, you’re trying to cram as much useful, cogent information into two pages as you possibly can. Keep it short and tightly focused.
- I didn’t see enough short, concise summaries or professional objectives in those resumes, and several that had them didn’t put them at the head of the resume right below the contact information block. That’s an essential part of any good resume (keep it to one paragraph of no more than 5-6 lines, please) and it should come right at the top to give it some punch when a reader digs into that document.
- The resumes I reviewed tended to list job functions very briefly in the job details/employment history section (for example “managed Windows Server 2003 and 2003 R2 servers” rather than “installed, configured, and maintained Windows Server 2003 and 2003 R2 servers, including applications and services such as DNS, IIS, and Symantec Endpoint Security”). Yeah, I know, this makes a resume longer, but employers want to know what kinds of things candidates have done, as much about systems and services they’ve worked with as possible, and what kinds of problems they have solved. Try to cover accomplishments in your resume, as well as a laundry list of technology checkboxes, please!
- Several of the resumes went into plans for future certifications and degrees. A resume is not the place to talk about your plans for the future: it’s where you talk about what you know, what you can do, what certifications you hold, what degrees you’ve earned, and so forth. Save that kind of stuff for your cover letter and/or the interview, too.
- Lots of resumes are hard to read. Have somebody look at your resume from a layout and readability perspective, please! I probably spent more time changing headings to put borders around them to make them stand out, and centering heading copy to make it stand out more on the page than any other single activity in editing resumes submitted for my review than I spent doing anything else.
- Set up your formatting so that tabs do what they’re supposed to: position copy precisely. In every single one of the resumes I saw, candidates simply tabbed until they got close to where they wanted to put copy and left it at that. Right-click the tab entries in Word, and you can change tab style (left-aligned, right-aligned, center-aligned, or decimal). Use this functionality to put things exactly where they should go, and to use no more tabs than you need. Seriously! This shows attention to detail, and a good understanding of Word that most hiring managers and HR professionals will notice and appreciate. No, really!! I’m not joking about this…
- Several IT professionals with Web design or graphics skills turned in completely textual, ho-hum layouts for their resumes. Come on, folks! If you do design or graphics, don’t you think some of that stuff should show in a resume? Don’t just talk about what you can do, show something! Even non-graphics types should drop a small photo of themselves into their title block/contact info, and consider the odd graphical element here or there. If you’re certified, for example, you’re entitled to use the cert logo on business cards or elsewhere. A resume is a good case for “elsewhere.” Do it!
A resume title with photo is easy to set up
I hope these observations will help others, and I encourage you to get as much feedback on your resumes as possible. More eyeballs and more input can’t help but result in a better-looking and better-reading resume. That’s what everybody wants, right?
February 24, 2011 5:28 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Win7 SP1 now completely public
, Windows 7 SP1 now available through Windows Update and Windows Download Center
It’s here. Windows 7 SP1 is now available for download through Windows Update. This is what your download Window will look like if you expand the view of Important Updates inside the WU interface:
The inside scoop on Win7 SP1 straight from Windows Update
The blurb says it will take about half an hour to install, but my own experience so far has been more like 12 to 20 minutes, depending on CPU and hard disk channel speeds. Those who’d rather download an ISO image or an installer file can now do so through the Microsoft Download Center, if they prefer that to Windows Upate. Look for the DVD .ISO image (this is what I downloaded and burned from MSDN last week, because it includes both 32- and 64-bit versions of the Service Pack), or separate 32- and 64-bit installer files. You must install Windows Update KB2454826 before you can install Windows 7 SP1, but if you’ve been installing incoming updates anyway you should be OK, because this hit Windows Update several weeks ago.
February 24, 2011 5:10 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CompTIA studies value of IT certs with hiring managers and HR professionals
, IT certs count on the job but not as much as track record experience and accomplishments
In an early February press release, CompTIA shared some insights gleaned from a recent survey it performed that involved 1,700 hiring managers and HR staff at businesses and organizations of all kinds and sizes in the US, UK, and South Africa (see IT Certifications Grow in Importance in Hiring Process, but Employers Challenged by Evaluation, Validation Issues, CompTIA Study Finds for the complete text).
Press Release banner from CompTIA Website
Here are some of the high points from that survey (full text of the survey results are available to CompTIA members, but not to the general public):
- 64% of hiring managers rate IT certs as having “extremely high” or “high” value in validating skills and expertise.
- 80% of HR professionals “…believe IT certifications will grow in usefulness and importance over the next two years.”
- Some hiring managers hold a perception “…that the HR department does not have a solid understanding of IT certifications.”
- Some organizations report that “…verifying a job candidate’s credentials can be a challenge due to the time involved …” (44% of hiring managers) “… and effort required (38%).”
- “Experience, track record, and accomplishments rank as the most important factors when evaluating job candidates…” was a key conclusion from this study.
- “…education and credentials such as certifications also rank high. For example, 86% of hiring managers indicate IT certifications are high or medium priority during the candidate evaluation process.”
To me, these results strongly validate what I’ve said all along about certifications during the job application and interview processes: It isn’t the having of certifications that counts, it’s what they enable you to do, the problems they enable you to solve, and the skills and knowledge they bring to the job for you that really count. Remember this as you write your resume and cover letter and go through the interview process and you’ll definitely come out ahead!
February 21, 2011 10:54 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
VCA-DT certification exam now available
, VMWare adds first desktop virtualization cert to its stable of offerings
, VMWare Certified Associate 4 -Desktop
Header from the new VMWare Virtual Desktop Certification exam & cert
VMWare quietly released its VCA-DT certification exam to beta on February 15, and that period expired yesterday (February 20, 2011). I didn’t manage to catch on to this new addition to the VMWare cert family until today, at which point the exam is now live and readily available. Shoot, the company hasn’t even issued a press release on this latest member of the lineup. That said, the cert is designed to “recognize individuals with the technical capabilities and real-world expertise needed to increase efficiency, reliability, and availability when delivery desktops from the datacenter as a managed service.”
Of course, this is just an associate level certification, so we can expect to see more in this same vein from VMWare, probably later this year. Stay tuned for more on this as it breaks: I’ll try not to miss the beta announcement the next time around!
[Thanks to Anne Martinez, whose latest GoCertify.com Certification Watch newsletter (Volume 14 #2) brought this to my attention.]
February 18, 2011 4:22 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
degrees and certs are good together
, degrees and certs beat degrees vs. certs
, earn college credit for your MS certs
, learn more about MS cert programs for academia
At 7:30 Central last evening, I jumped back into the fray at the second Microsoft Certified Career Conference (MCCC) for my second presentation of the day with Jeff Johnson, Microsoft Learning’s Academic Area Lead for North America. We had a 1-hour time slot and used almost 50 minutes in giving the presentation, and kept the Q&A going right up to when our time slot expired. Then I jumped over to my Expert Chat area and, much to my amazement, kept going with still more Q&A for another 40 minutes. By the time yesterday finally rolled to an end for me the only appropriate word to describe my mental and physical state was “Trashed!”
Just like me, Jeff is another hi-tech guy who is aerodynamically correct
Nevertheless, I’ve had a good night’s sleep now and am not only ready to face the rigors of a new working day, but delighted to share some high points with you from yesterday’s presentation:
- As I’ve said many times in the past, even here on this blog, it’s never a matter of “degrees vs. certs;” it’s always a matter of both degrees and certs!
- It’s highly ironic that in a time of much-higher-than-normal unemployment, lots of jobs today (and even more tomorrow) must go begging because candidates don’t have the right skills and training to fill them. Certs and degrees can remedy this situation, but people must go out and earn them.
- Half of today’s jobs require at least some technology skills, and by the 2020s that number will climb to over three-quarters of all positions available.
- Certification is just the ticket to augment basic learning and fundamentals taught when earning a degree with current, real-world, job-related skills and knowledge. That’s why they’re better together.
- MS certs from MCTA to MCTS and MCITP are finding increasing coverage in middle and high schools in the US, and in secondary education around the world. Same goes for Microsoft Office Specialist crednetials and the MS Digital Literacy credentials as well.
- College programs, especially community colleges, are creating strong linkages between IT certifications and their 2 and 4 year degree programs (and sometimes even Master’s degrees). For Microsoft credentials, this currently includes MOS, MCTS, and MCITP. Many community colleges embed MCTS in their various IT-related degrees (and some include MCITP); many four-year colleges include MCTS and MCITP in their degree plans as well.
- Microsoft has worked with the American Council on Education to enable students who earn MS certifications to request college credit for such work. See the MS page Earn College Credit with a Microsoft Certification for more details.
- The MS IT Academy program not only offers professors access to Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) materials, it also offers students, faculty and staff at participating institutions up to 55% off the normal cost of MCP exams (that means $56.25 for an exam instead of $125). Second shots are also available for most exams, which greatly increases the odds of passing, even for a budget deal!
This is great stuff and well worth remembering, both for those considering a return to academia for themselves, or for those with children or relatives with children about to head off to high school or college. Combining IT certification with a diploma of some kind is definitely better than an either-or approach, especially in today’s challenging job market.
February 17, 2011 9:23 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
29 articles of cert advice and analysis available at PearsonITCertification.com
, Ed Tittel presenting at MCCC 2/17/2011
, Ed Tittel revises and expands IT Certification Success for 2011
I’m on and off the conference software all day long today, and blogging catch as catch can. This morning I delivered a presentation entitled “IT Certification Success: From Book to Site.” It describes my book of the same name (IT Certification Success, that is) that went through five editions in the period from 1998 through 2003.
In the dozen or so slides that I put together to walk people through the newly-revised and updated materials you can find on the “Ed Tittel’s IT Certification Success” page at PearsonITCertification.com, I talk about all the useful materials that I’ve just recently revised, updated, and added to tell people how to look for, choose, and pursue and IT certification, and then how to put it to work as they try to develop or advance their career prospects.
It’s definitely worth a once-over, and some of the 29 articles that go into these materials (over 40,000 words of text from yours truly almost as long as the original book, in fact) may be worth reading through. I also hope you’ll tune into my blog for that site as well as this one, and share your comments and concerns with me in either place.
Enjoy! And if you’re interested, it’s still not too late to register and attend the MCCC! I’ll be presenting on IT Certification and Academia with MS Learning Academic Director Jeff Johnson at 5 PM PST later today!
February 14, 2011 3:44 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Emmett Dulaney CertCities.com column
, Emmett Dulaney provides peachy tips for handling scenario and exhibit questions on cert exams
, prepping for complex scenario-based cert exam questions
Mr. Dulaney and I have both been working the “IT certification patch” since the mid-1990s, and I always enjoy reading his weekly column for CertCities.com. His latest effort is no exception, and includes a section somewhat blandly entitled “Certification Exam Tip #1″ (by which he means his first such tip for this year). Lurking behind that ho-hum heading is a peachy piece of exam preparation advice on dealing with scenario-type questions, sometimes also called exhibit-based questions, on certification exams.
The real gem in this column deals with complex, scenario-based cert exam questions
He makes the point in this tip that practice in dealing with these questions will improve your ability to process and get through them more expeditiously when you go into a testing center to tackle the real thing. These questions are designed to try to distract you and make you waste your time chasing irrelevant details and lines of inquiry, so learning how to deal with them is as much about learning time management skills as it is about learning how to separate the meat (or what he refers to as the question stem, or more succinctly, the stem) from the chaff, if you don’t mind a metaphor so mixed as to bridge between the animal and vegetable kingdoms.
He also points to sources for practice questions outside the usual IT certification realm (various standardized academic tests such as SAT, GRE, GMAT, and so forth) that will give you the opportunity to dissect and decode these kinds of questions outside the usual subject matter. I endorse and recommend this strategy highly, because you do need to learn some formal skills in recognizing, dealing with, decoding, and answering such questions. And when you practice outside your usual subject matter, you can focus on the verbal skills involved without getting distracted by interesting technology issues along the way (and you’ll be deliberately tempted to do this in the real testing situation, which is why learning to handle such questions is so important).
I’m going to throw another couple of exam-taking tips into the mix to augment Emmett’s tips, right here and now at no extra charge:
- When taking an exam, it’s always a good idea to go through the whole question bank as quickly as you can so you can mark the lengthy or most difficult questions and save them for last. That way, you can work through the stuff that’s most likely to earn you points first, and save the tough, time-consuming stuff to take up as much time as you have left after you get the other stuff out of the way.
- As you work through exhibit or scenario questions, read the questions first before you read the whole scenario. This will speed the process of looking for the content that really matters when you use the exhibit or scenario to try to answer those questions, and let you skim over the irrelevant stuff more quickly (because you’ll know it’s designed to distract and confuse).
As always, I hope this information comes in handy when you take your next cert exam. If you have other tips you’d like to share, please post them here. If I like them, I’ll write about them in subsequent blog posts, too!
PS: My buddy Don Poulton also gets pretty good plugs for his recent books on Windows 7 related certification topics in the cited Dulaney column. Check those out, too: I’ve got his 70-680 Windows 7: Configuring book and it’s terrific!
February 11, 2011 3:56 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Cisco introduces Virtual Classroom Instructor Specialist certification
, Cisco leverages WebEx to build virtual training credential
This week Cisco added another considerable arrow to its learning quiver, with the introduction of the Cisco Virtual Classroom Instruction Specialist credential. Leveraging the company’s acquisition of well-known and -recognized virtual meeting technology company WebEx nearly four years ago, Learning@Cisco is plunking down a big bet that the virtual classroom is the place for technology education to be, and for them to have a major role in shaping and defining how online training works in that context.
Cisco VCIS blurb
When I quizzed several members of the Learning@Cisco team about this, they agreed that it’s not unreasonable to put this new Cisco credential on a par with the Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) or the CompTIA CTT+ (Certified Technology Trainer Plus). That a very good thing, because both of these are widely-known and highly-regarded “train the trainer” credentials that are required in many IT training programs and organizations before professionals are allowed to get up in front of a classroom full of paying customers.
That said, the VCIS (if you don’t mind me abbreviating that long Cisco cert title “Virtual Classroom Instruction Specialist”) obviously takes a different slant on training, because it’s oriented entirely at a virtual classroom, rather than a real one. But as with so much else in life, training is indeed becoming increasingly more virtual, so I see this as a shrewd and forward-looking move on Cisco’s part. Its WebEx arm also has the chops to stand behind this credential, with over 40,000 virtual classes already delivered to a broad range of audiences, and a pretty serious team of seasoned virtual instructors and curriculum developers on the Cisco WebEx University staff.
The exam for this credential is already available, but candidates will also have to do a live virtual demo for evaluation as part of the qualification process for this cert. That infrastructure is slated for completion some time in March, after which interested virtual trainers can complete and earn this certification.