This morning, the following e-mail showed up in my inbox, from fellow ITKE blogger Eric Hansen (IT Security and Linux Administration):
I was sent to your website (and ITKE blog) from Michael from ITKE (which I’m also a blogger for), who said you might be able to address something for me in the realm of VCP.
Basically, I’m looking to take the VCP, as virtualization seems to be taking off like a rocket with the “go green” campaign that’s going on. But, as there’s not a lot of readily available information about it, I would like to know if you might have some pointers or advice. Currently, a couple of friends and I are planning to take this exam once we’re ready, but we only really have experience in VMWare Workstation (and Server) currently. If you have any books, websites or something that maybe we can read up on for this, it would be much appreciated.
[snip…extraneous request clipped out…]
Thank you for your time and consideration, Eric
I’m going to forgo my response to his other query (about Linux certs) in this posting, and concentrate on the VCP-410 certification here. Certainly, one good place to start preparing is with the Exam Cram on this topic.
But perhaps even more helpful, I put together a resource guide for this exam for PearsonITCertification.com last month. It’s entitled VMWare Certified Professional vSphere 4 (VCP-410) Exam Prep Resource Guide. In that 5-page article, you’ll find a list of books, online resources and references, plus blogs and other information resources (including several great personal collections/blogs with exam tips, study notes, and reference material). If you’re interesting in running down the VCP-410 exam, like Eric Hansen and his crew, you’ll want to check this out. And if you have other peachy items I’ve missed to share, comment here and I’ll also add them to the article as well. Thanks!
In a previous blog entitled “Check Out Kryterion Online Secure Testing” (11/11/2010) I opined that this company’s self-professed secure online testing capabilities might represent the wave of the future for certification testing. In the ensuing comment storm that resulted, several people expressed the belief that online testing lacked the rigor or “cheating prevention” capabilities of proctored exams and/or offerings from testing centers such as Prometric and Vue.
A recent news item about some new Google Apps certification exams has clued me into Kryterion’s answer to such criticisms. They’re reselling a USB based Flexible Neck Webcam (it’s called the Kryterion Flexible Neck Webcam, in fact) for $45, and an increasing number of vendors using Kryterion for exam delivery are requiring test-takers to buy and use this webcam while taking their certification exams.
Here’s Google’s text about exam proctoring from their “About the Certification Exam” Web page for the aforementioned exam item:
Yes, you will be virtually proctored from the external webcam (no laptop webcams are allowed). You will not be allowed to leave your computer, visit Internet sites, take phone calls or text messages, or write during the duration of your exam. The proctor may stop the exam at any time if there is a concern. Please take the exam in a quiet, well-lit room where you will not be interrupted during the exam.
A bit of searching around reveals that Emulex is also offering Kryterion-delivered exams that require the same Webcam. Aside from laughing out loud at the notion of “virtual proctoring” I’m intrigued by yet another clever use of technology to make the Web work both ways and add another dimension to our increasingly virtual world. I’m gonna call Kryterion and see if I can find out who else is pondering use of this technology. Stay tuned!
Thanks to Anne Martinez’ most recent Certification Watch newsletter, I just learned that Oracle is changing its policy regarding how individuals can earn Sun/Java-based certifications. From the get-go in the late 1990s when Sun first launched its Java certifications, I’ve been following this program (it already had a thriving trade in SunOS administrator credentials even back then). It has always been the case that knowledgeable individuals could challenge any Sun exam without taking the related official curriculum course.
No more! As of August 1, 2011, all Sun certification candidates will be required to attend official classroom training to earn their credentials, as has been the case with Oracle certifications since 2002. According to Martinez, Oracle’s “rationale [is] that it improves the value of the certification by assuring a higher skill level among certification holders.” Candidates who finish their Sun-related certs by July 31, 2011, do not have to meet this requirement.
My advice to those considering Sun certification who didn’t already plan on attending an in-class or virtual training session from an Oracle-approved training partner is “get on the stick!” With in-class seats going for $300 a day and up, and virtual seats costing at least half that much, you can save a heapo cash by accelerating your exam schedule to beat the end-of-July deadline. Too bad Oracle felt compelled to make their policy apply to the Sun certifications, but now that you know, try to turn this information to your advantage if you can! See the details on the “Important Changes…” news page at Oracle University.
Last November, I wrote an article for PearsonITCertification.com entitled “Using Job Posting Web Sites,” with my regular co-writer, editor, and project manager Mary Kyle. While I highly recommend the original article, here are some high points to ponder if and when you find yourself turning to a resume/job posting site any time in the near future:
- Make sure you know what kinds of employers frequent each job posting site, and whether or not what you’re seeking matches more or less with what’s on offer there.
- Be aware that while many or even most job posting sites are free, some are for a fee. The higher your desired annual salary, the more benefits you are likely to get from the for-a-fee sites.
- Don’t forget to take advantage of social and professional networking in your job search. It’s still the case that up to 80 percent of job offers come via personal networks rather than from online postings. Don’t think that plastering your resume all over the Internet will get you all the way to a job (though it might, if you get lucky or possess high-demand skills and knowledge: the odds are about 4-to-1 against, however).
- Check out, learn to use, and exercise each site’s profile set-up and management capabilities. They can essentially let you turn their pages into a personal Web-based storage area for job-app info, even as you use social networking techniques to search for work outside their communities and employers.
- Learn to use job search tools, and use them to the max! If you take complete advantage of job search by location, title, salary, type of employment, and yada yada yada, you may be able to zero in on things of great interest, and steer clear of those of some interest that don’t meet all your selection criteria. You should be choosy, knowing that employers will also be likewise.
There’s an old saying “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and feed him for a lifetime.” I’m not sure there’s anything fishy at all about my latest blog at PearsonITCertification.com (aka PITC.com)— where I’m blogging weekly from here on out. But the blog, entitled “Cert Exam Prep Tips” does contain pointers to some peachy prep tips as promised (that’s the “give a fish part”). It also includes some suggestions on how to put your favorite search engine to work to find more such cert prep tips on your own (that’s the “teach fishing” part).
If you’re planning to take any IT cert exams any time soon, you’ll want to check out this posting for sure. I also can’t help but hope that people who read this blog regularly might also want to add my new PearsonITCertification.com blog to their regular list as well, too.
Snipped from the MS Born to Learn blog for March 3, here’s a screencap of all the free e-books currently available online from Microsoft Press. Yes, you read right: free e-books. Check ‘em out!
If you’re planning on taking the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam any time soon, rush right over to CertCities and dredge up well-known security maven Tony Bradley’s excellent advice article “My Top 10 Tips for Preparing and Passing the CISSP Exam.” I’m going to be sitting for this one myself later this month, so I’ve been gathering up my prep resources to get ready for this 6-hour-long marathon exam. You’ll also want to at least look at the following resources as well:
- Books: Shon Harris still rules this roost with her CISSP All-in-One, 5e, but our own (I co-authored this one with James Michael Stewart and Mike Chapple) CISSP Study Guide, 5e, ain’t bad either.
- Prep Sites: Nobody does it better than Clement Dupuis with his www.cccure.org Website. Be sure to check it out, and you’ll find more good resources better and faster there than anywhere else.
This is a tough, demanding exam so be prepared to spend some time, and expend some elbow grease getting ready. I’ll be reporting on the latest version of this exam for PearsonITCertification.com next month, so keep your eyes peeled for advance word, and some “hot links” as soon as they become available.
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.
- 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!
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?
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 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.