A response to a recent blog response

Yesterday a gentleman named Cameron wrote a very insightful response to an article I write back in July (Certifications Alone do not Make the Pro, July 20, 2011).  He points out that as he has been in IT for 26 years, he actually pre-dates most certifications.  Please read his comment, but this is my response.  I respect his position, but if the world changes around him then he may find himself scrambling. –M

You make a lot of very interesting points in this article, but the one that stands out is that you have been with the same company for sixteen years. That is nearly unheard of in our industry, and power to you! I am sure that as long as you are in your current position you know all of your systems and wouldn’t need the certs… but if your CV was on my desk it would mean that your safety zone was gone. It would mean that you needed to find a new job, and the job that I might be hiring for DOES require some of those tools that you have never encountered.

The new generation of certifications – the MCTS and MCITPs – help somewhat. While MCITPs are more job-based, the MCTS certs are task-based… so if you work with AD you don’t need to know IIS. However I understand that no cert will be custom-tailored to an individual.

In any event, as long as you stay in the role and current in the technologies that you need, then I understand that certifications are likely not as relevant to you. However if you do have to step out into the job market, I want to leave you with this thought… when you explained your situation to me it made sense, and I might have even given you an interview. However if I had given the HR manager or a headhunter a series of criteria to look for, you never would have had the opportunity to make your case to me. They look for keywords, and if you don’t have it you don’t get to bat, let alone on base.

I will leave you with this thought… The great composers of the Rennaissance did not study the classics, they were too busy inventing them. I also learned computers way back when, but realized that I had to adjust to the realities of the modern world… and I didn’t invent anything so when I do apply for jobs (contracts) I cannot say ‘I wrote Hyper-V’… so I have to demonstrate to them that my knowledge of server virtualization is superior to that of the next candidate, and the first step to that is certifications :)


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