A few days ago, a former colleague asked me about IT certifications. They’re at a bit of a career crossroads and wanted to know whether or not I thought obtaining a certificate was worth the investment of time and money. Given their circumstances, I told them that I thought it would be worthwhile for them to learn about a specific piece of technology and take an exam. However, I was sure to specify that obtaining an IT certification won’t necessarily guarantee that they’ll get that big promotion or secure their dream job.
It’s important to note that every hiring manager is different. As a hiring manager myself, I personally don’t hold a whole lot of stock in certifications. I’ve had coworkers with a half-dozen certifications that were very unreliable when it came to implementation and troubleshooting. I have also worked with some extremely talented individuals that don’t hold a single certification. There isn’t necessarily a correlation between a cert and success.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely benefits to obtaining IT certifications. In fact, some organizations won’t consider candidates without relevant certs. During my most recent job search, I ended up getting more questions about my certs from VMware and Microsoft than I did about my Master’s degree. I’m positive that those little vendor logos went a long way to get my resume past HR and to the hiring manager. However, that’s only half of the battle when attempting to secure a position.
Certifications aren’t ever going to be a silver bullet. At some point, you’ll need to rely on your reputation and industry experience to advance your career. That being said, certifications won’t hurt you. They can expose you to technology that you may not get a chance to interact with on a daily basis. Every circumstance is different but if you’re looking to gain exposure to a new area of technology or feeling a bit stale, obtaining a vendor certification is the way to go.