IT Career JumpStart

April 18, 2011  2:45 PM

Microsoft Hosts Free Job Interview Bootcamp on “Career Factor”

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time (-08:00) Microsoft will host a live job interview bootcamp through its “Career Factor” online reality show, hosted by Microsoft Staffing consultant Wendy Hill. Her sessions at the Microsoft Certified Career Conference on this topic have always been off the charts, and this one should be no different.

Agenda entry at MCCC site for job interview bootcamp 4/19/2011

Agenda entry at MCCC site for job interview bootcamp 4/19/2011

Here are the steps on how to register for this event, ripped straight from Microsoft Learning’s “Born to Learn” blog:

1. If you have attended a Microsoft Certified Career Conference event (including this week’s résumé workshop), then you already have a username and password for the event website. Skip to step 4.

2. If you have not attended a Microsoft Certified Career Conference, then you will need to create a username and password. Go to and create a profile. (You’ll be able to use this profile to access future live events and recorded sessions.) We recommend that you create your profile at least a few hours before the event just in case there are technical difficulties.

3. Follow the steps on the screen to register for “Microsoft Certified Career Conference OnDemand.” (Don’t be misled by the shopping cart–this event is free!) Once you’ve created your username and password, complete the registration process, verify that you’ve read the Cancellation Policy, and check out.

4. Sign in to and go to your Agenda (on the left side of the homepage). From this page you can add the event to your Outlook calendar so you get a reminder!

The session will be presented via the Live Meeting client, so please install it ahead of time. The link to join the session will be posted to 10 minutes before the session. If you return at this time and don’t see the link, refresh the page or check the Agenda page.

My advice is to jump right up and do this immediately, so you can tune in tomorrow and catch the action. Such items are usually recorded and then stored to the recordings library on the MS Certified Career Conference site, so you may even be able to drop by at another later time to view the recording after the fact!

April 15, 2011  1:23 PM

Microsoft Launches Lync 2010 Certs

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IT careers

For those who don’t already know, Microsoft Lync 2010 is the company’s unified communications server technology. Here’s how MS describes its workings on the Lync home page: “Microsoft Lync 2010 provides a single interface that unites voice communications, IM, and audio, video, and Web conferencing into a richer, more contextual offering.” Communications get integrated with Lync, so that any type of communication can quickly lead to another (IM to email, voice to videoconference, and so on), and so that messages of all kinds can be combined and organized into comprehensive collections of communication records.

Banner from MS Lync 2010 Home Page

Banner from MS Lync 2010 Home Page

Microsoft Lync supports use of photos to identify and communicate with people, offers skill search when looking for specific kinds of people, and will even let users factor location information into lookups as well. Riding the wave of social networking, MS also touts such benefits in the workplace as follows: “…helps workers make connections across time and distance with picture-enhanced presence, automatic frequent contacts lists, and activity feeds for keeping up with co-workers.” There’s strong Lync integration inside Microsoft Office, with color-coded presence icons, pictures, high resolution video, and even desktop sharing available. Finally, Lync provides uniform access to data and communications on a PC, via smartphone, or through a Web browser to keep users connected in the office, on the go, or at home.

On Tuesday, April 13, Krista Wall of MS Learning hit the MS Learning “Born to Learn” blog with a posting entitled “Now available: Lync Server certifications.” Microsoft is taking this new platform seriously enough to offer two exams on its capabilities, configuration, administration, deployment and use: pass one (70-664) and you’ll earn an MCTS; pass both (add 70-665 to 70-664, that is) and you’ll earn an MCITP. Check out her post for more details, including information about the instructor led courses to help candidates prep for these exams, as well as pointers to a free Lync Server 2010 trial download, a tech center, video materials, TechNet content, and exam preparation tips and information.

Here are the titles for those two exams with links to their exam pages:

  • MS Exam 70-664: TS: Lync Server 2010, Configuring
  • MS Exam 70-665: Pro: Lync Server 2010, Administrator
This is some very cool technology that is right out there on the leading edge. Up-and-coming IT professionals who work in MS shops could do a lot worse than to jump on this new bandwagon and ride it into the future!

April 13, 2011  1:58 PM

Cisco Launches Learning Labs for Hands-on Training

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Web page banner for Cisco Learning Labs stuff

Web page banner for Cisco Learning Labs stuff

In a move that is sure to re-arrange the dynamics of the Cisco training market, especially for on-line access to emulators, simulators, and live online labs offered by third parties, Cisco introduced a series of Learning Labs for some of its lower-level certification exams today. All of the labs currently available focus on Cisco IOS, and will make full-fledged virtualized router and switch interfaces available to exam candidates online at extremely reasonable prices (see Table 1 below), and include lab guides, detailed lab exercises, and instructions to help guide candidates through their paces as they prepare for their exams.

Table 1: Cisco Learning Labs Currently Available

Cert Exam Price
CCNP Route $75
CCNP Switch $75

Signing up (and paying for) any lab endows the buyer with an account and logon to the Cisco Learning Lab environment, and gives them access to that lab for a total of 25 hours. Additional 5-hour extensions may be purchased for $30 each thereafter, except for ICND2 for which a 5-hour extension costs $20.

The Cisco IOS Software on Unix that drives the Cisco Learning Labs offers a complete set of equipment responses to configurations and settings they enter. Cisco does not restrict user access while they are in the lab, either: students can choose to wander off topic, and experiment with working IOS switch and router environments as they see fit. It’s as close to real equipment as a remote link can deliver.

At $2-3 an hour for lab time, and $4-6 an hour for lab time extensions, this is a veritable killer deal for candidates for the exams covered to get the hands-on experience they need to excel in the test center. It is also quite a bit cheaper than building one’s own lab, or renting time on some labs from third parties.

For more information, please visit the Cisco Learning Labs home page]. Enjoy!

April 12, 2011  3:07 PM

Microsoft to Host Live, Online Resume Writing Workshop 4/13/2011

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

If you’re not averse to installing and using Microsoft Live Meeting on your PC (which may already be installed on your Windows machine, if you’ve elected to include Windows Live Essentials on your desktop), you may want to drop in on a live online session of Microsoft’s ongoing reality series called “The Career Factor.” It’s scheduled for 2:00 PM PDT (-08:00 UCT) on Wednesday April, 13.

The recording tab for the Resume Workshop at MCCC

The recording tab for the Resume Workshop at MCCC

This session features Heather Ackerman recapping a specially-tailored version of her wildly popular Microsoft Certified Career Conference session for the Career Factor cast members. Entitled “Career Essentials: Writing a Resume with Word 2010,” this one-hour session has consistently topped attendance charts at MCCC since she first delivered it late in 2010.

This promises to be a worthwhile online encounter, especially for anyone with a resume already posted online or in circulation, or who’s thinking about making some kind of job change. Students preparing for interviews as they conclude their degree programs should also find this session particularly compelling. Please check it out (visit the Career Factor home page to look for sign-up/registration details, too–they hadn’t yet hit the site as I wrote this blog early Monday morning)!

April 8, 2011  5:24 PM

PMI Now Offers Agile Certification

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Agile is a well-known term to project management and development practitioners, and is gaining significant ground in the workplace as a methodology to design, build, and deliver software — and increasingly, projects of many other kinds as well — on time, under budget, and to meet specific requirements for content and quality.

Agile is evolving into general project management, outside its software development roots

Agile is evolving into general project management, outside its software development roots (source: Wikipedia)

The Project Management Institute (PMI) sponsoring organization for the well-known Project Management Professional (PMP) certification , is in the process of launching an add-on PMI Agile Certification to help project management professionals learn about, employ, and make maximum use of Agile practices in their project planning and execution activities. The exam content outline for this certification should be available some time this month (April 2011) and applications for the credential will be accepted starting in May. The exam will become available some time in Q3 2011, and in Q4 2011 the first PMI Agile Certifications will be awarded to successful pilot candidates.

Key date for upcoming PMI Agile certification

Key dates for upcoming PMI Agile certification

For more information, please visit the PMI’s Agile Certification teaser page.

April 6, 2011  2:44 PM

IT Earnings Down, Cert Values (Slightly Up)

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

The 2011 IT Skills and Salary Report jointly produced by Global Knowledge (an IT training firm) and TechRepublic (an online resource for IT professionals) surveyed over 12,000 IT and business professionals. Among other content, this report includes information about salaries associated with various popular IT certifications, geographical breakdowns on salary by region and state, comparisons for 2009 through 2011, and more.

Global Knowledge/TechRepublic Survey Header

Global Knowledge/TechRepublic Survey Header

Highlights from this report include the following:

  • Average salary for all professionals surveyed was down 3.2 percent from the 2010 survey ($79,579 in 2011 vs. $82,115 for 2010).
  • Only just over half of respondents (54 percent) reported receiving a raise of any kind over the past year, where the average raise reported was 7 percent. Curiously, 7 percent of the total survey population reported taking a pay cut in 2010-11.
  • Average age of survey respondents: 44; average career tenure: 16 years; 79% of respondents were male; 67% of respondents have  an undergrad or graduate degree.
  • Those who attended training to work toward earning some kind of certification over the past 5 years (55% of respondents) earned an average salary that was 5.4% higher than those who did not attend such training or earn any professional certifications. Seventy percent of those who earned certifications reported that “…they felt efforts to obtain a certification was worth the additional commitment.”

There’s lots of interesting stuff in this report. You might want to download a copy (registration with Global Knowledge is required to obtain a download link) to check it out for yourself.

Thanks to Anne Martinez, whose Certification Watch newsletter Volume 14 #4 guided me to this interesting report!

April 4, 2011  2:07 PM

Glimmers of Employment Hope, But No Major Turnaround…Yet

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel
Press Release banner for 4/1/2011 Employment Situation Summary

Press Release banner for 4/1/2011 Employment Situation Summary

On Friday, April 1, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics posted its latest Employment Situation Summary. Employment edged down by 0.1 percent to 8.8 percent overall, and the number of jobs added for March increased by a much more encouragiong 216,000. Experts estimate monthly job increases of over 300,000 are needed to make a dent in our overall employment numbers, however, which top 14-16 million depending on how you count things (the BLS does not include long-term unemployed or “discouraged workers” who’ve been seeking employment for more than 12 months in its numbers, which tends to understate the actual situation). Still, it’s a tangible sign of improvement on the employment front.

I also finally see some signs of improvement for the IT sector in this report. Table A-14 “Unemployed persons by industry and class of worker…” shows unemployment rates for the Information sector down from 10.4 percent in March 2010 to 7.1 percent in March 2011, below the general 8.8 percent unemployment rate, in fact. But Table B-1 “Employees on nonfarm payrools by industry sector…” shows Information down by 4,000 jobs from the preceding month, with job losses in non-Internet broadcasting (-3,800), telecommunications (-1,300) and data processing (-500) not really offset by tiny job gains in publishing (100), motion picture and sound recording (200), and other information services (1,500).

At least as far as IT concerned, it seems to be a case of “one step forward, and two steps back.” I’m sure we’ll all be glad when our own sector is advancing unambiguously!

April 1, 2011  1:59 PM

IT Pros: Want a Raise? Learn to write…

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

I wish I could take credit for today’s great headline, but I cheerfully confess that my friend and occasional editor Esther Schindler is the wordsmith for same (read the recent article I wrote for her entitled “Soft Skills in Writing Can Boost Any Software Developer’s Career Profile“) in an e-mail plug she assembled for that story. This recent article claims to be for software developers and indeed explains how they in particular can benefit from developing soft skills in writing, but any IT professional who’s not a programmer with a lick of sense could read the story and glean lots of useful information from it, even if I do say so myself.

Headline for my recent story about writing skills

Headline for my recent story about writing skills

Anybody in IT who wants into more senior positions will have to do some writing to meet their increased on-the-job responsibilities. And indeed such positions usually come with higher pay. That’s what makes Esther’s headline absolutely correct, and well nigh irresistible. Check out the story, and see what you think!

March 30, 2011  1:38 PM offers peachy Exam Profiles

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Exam Profiles page header at

Exam Profiles page header at

If there’s a certification exam in your future, you might want to visit the Exam Profiles page at the Website. Right now, I count profiles for 14 Cisco exams, 3 CompTIA exams (A+, Network+, and Security+, natch), 13 Microsoft exams, and the PMI’s PMP and the ITIL V3 Foundation exams as well. That’s a lot of useful and valuable intelligence that you can grab to help you prepare with just a few mouse clicks.

Profiles are prepared by veteran certification authors immediately after taking the exams they cover. [Note: these authors and abide completely by the exam agreements from sponsoring organizations, so you won’t find any brain dumps or question details here, but there is still lots of worthwhile information to peruse.] Information provided includes the following:

  • An overview of the exam’s coverage and content.
  • Exam details to describe the examination itself, including number and type of questions, cut scores, time limits, and registration info and links.
  • A litany of potential “Trouble Spots” where candidates should bone up and prepare for challenging questions, and even the occasional curve ball.
  • Preparation Hints: An overview of exam coverage with pointers to study resources (books, mostly).
  • Exam Objectives: reproduced verbatim from the sponsor’s materials if permission to reproduce is granted; paraphrased if not.
  • Where to go from here: recommendations for a next or follow-on exam for those who take and pass the exam being profiled.

This stuff is definitely worth a visit, if you’re heading for a testing center for any of the sponsors or exams mentioned in the lead paragraph for this blog post. I hope you find these materials worthwhile, and hope you’ll share your feedback and comments on them with me, as you dig into them for yourself.

March 29, 2011  12:11 PM

Free Exam Coaching From Microsoft Available Online

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

Thanks to a recent blog post from Julie Lary on the Microsoft Born to Learn blog I discovered a whole slew of free exam coaching sessions for various Microsoft certification exams on the company’s Web site. To quote from Julie’s post: “Taught by Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCT), these sessions elaborate on what you can expect on an exam along with tips for how to prepare.” They show up on the Microsoft Learning Live Meetings page, which currently looks like this:

Exam coaching sessions dominate MS Learning live content listings

Exam coaching sessions dominate MS Learning live content listings

Topics covered include Exchange Server (exams 70-662 and 70-663), SharePoint Server (exams 70-541, 70-573, 70-631, 70-667, and 70-668), SQL Server (exam 70-432), Windows Server (70-640, 70-642, 70-646, 70-647, 70-659, and 70-403), and Windows Client (exam 70-620 Vista). Admittedly, some of these items (Vista in particular) are a little out of date. But there is a lot of good, free stuff in here. If you’re thinking about taking or preparing for any of these exams, I urge you to check this stuff out. It’s all pretty good, and quite relevant to the exam prep process. Here’s a summary table:


Topic Exam Topic Exam
Exchange Server 70-662 Windows Server 70-640
  70-663   70-642
SharePoint Server 70-541   70-646
  70-573   70-647
  70-631   70-659
  70-667   70-403
  70-668 Windows Vista 70-620
SQL Server 70-432 .NET Framework 70-536


I’m not sure what the lifetime of content on this page might be, so it may be wise to act sooner rather than later, especially if you are pursuing some of the older exams in this list.

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