I’m often asked what I find more valuable – a certification or experience?
Not that long ago, training companies were doing a hard sell on the value of certifications. I recall interviewing a young woman who was asking for $70,000 in salary because she happened to have passed her Microsoft certification and the training company had told her that’s what a certified person should get. The problem was, her previous job was in the produce department at a local grocery store! Needless to say, she did not get the job.
That’s not to say I don’t see any value in industry certifications. A certification adds value to someone who already has a good foundation to build upon. There are some that I believe are more important than others, but that’s just my opinion. For example, one very helpful certification for a desktop support analyst isn’t really technical in nature at all. It’s the HDI Desktop Support Tech certification. It focuses on customer service and how to interact with clients. For someone who has been in the 2nd or 3rd level support industry for a long time, it’s a good review. Often technical staff are really lacking in good people skills, though it’s better today than it was a few years ago.
If you work for a big company, odds are that you’ve become a bit removed from the hiring process. Where I work, we have a dedicated recruiting department that does quite a bit of screening before I ever see a candidate. I’m not a big fan of this process, because I feel it’s too isolating. When I used to be more involved in the screening process, I got to see the actual resumes and make my own first impressions. I’d prefer to get a good feel for an applicant and not put weight on predefined checklist of factors that say that one person is somehow more qualified than another based on data points rather than a human reviewing them and forming objective and subjective opinions.
Years ago, when I was hiring for a network and server role, part of my interview process was giving the applicants I thought would fit into my team a tour of our main server room. It was big and noisy and full of racks of equipment. I’d watch them to see if they were excited about what they saw. I felt like some basic experience and real passion outweighed a certification or even a college degree. Passion and excitement about the job was a critical measure. I think that’s lost in the corporate pre-screening process.
What about you? How do you feel about certifications vs. experience?