How to Stand Apart with Certification in IT Today


Being Relevant and Real

by Julieann Scalisi
May 23, 2012

 

As IT continues to revolutionize the way we work and play, it is becoming more important for enterprises to employ professionals with the right IT skills, who are able to keep up with and demonstrate proficiency in the latest technologies. It’s no secret that if you’re a professional working in the IT field, you’re expected to continuously build your knowledge base to keep up with the pace of change. Although there are many ways to do this, official training and certifications, such as those offered by top IT vendors, give today’s IT staff and job seekers a distinct advantage. Managers look to certifications to validate your skills and knowledge, and to gauge your commitment to learning and advancing your skills. Certification has never been more relevant than it is in today’s challenging economy, when IT pros are faced with greater competition and struggle to stand out from the crowd.

Today’s hiring managers want it all: a university degree, years of real-world experience, and relevant certifications. If you’re educated and you have the experience to back it up, you will have more of an edge in your job search if you have earned the relevant IT certifications. If you’re a recent IT graduate who lacks real-world experience, you’ll have a better shot at the job you want, and will be able to demonstrate true commitment to your potential employer, if you have advanced your skills by having earned a relevant certification. However, ultimately, certifications are a filter for hiring managers who have tons of résumés to review, giving IT professionals who hold them a clear competitive advantage.

Now, is that competitive advantage enough to get the job? Possibly. At minimum, it will probably help you land that first interview. Then it’s time to demonstrate your depth of knowledge and show your potential employer that you meet the position’s qualifications. Certification is just one way to demonstrate your ongoing commitment to maintaining your expertise and specialty in IT. Having the right type of certification will ensure your continued relevance, but being real in your approach to certification—preparing for and claiming it legitimately—is invaluable, not just to you in your career, but to your peers, your employer, and the industry overall.

Skills Drive Success

There is no doubt that the right type of training and certification pays dividends to IT professionals and the organizations that employ them.

Matt Emry, UnitedHealth Group’s manager for virtual desktop services, can attest to the benefits of hiring a certified individual. “Being certified in a given field shows me the dedication and the desire to rise above other candidates,” he said. “If I have two candidates and one of them has a certification, I will usually lean toward the one with the certification. Staying current is a large bonus when I am going through the hiring process.”

Jared Hoover, IS engineer at Lancaster General Health, believes that legitimately earning a certification demonstrates an employee’s or job candidate’s aptitude on a specific product. “People can tell pretty quickly if you have a certification, but don’t know your stuff. It is also a quick way for managers to find the technical person they are looking for.”

“Many tests that I have taken helped tremendously with my work tasks,” Hoover said. “They tend to cover not only the basics needed to set up the product, but also optimization ideas and troubleshooting tips. There are a ton of little things I know that have helped my production environment because they were on the test. Not only has it gotten me hired, many of my raises were tied to getting certified.”

Then there are IT project implementations. Findings by analyst firm IDC show that 80 percent of hiring IT managers believe that effective training is critical to the success of a project, while 65 percent agree that ineffective training contributes to project failures.

Assessing the True Cost of Fraud

Although it may seem simple enough to move a résumé that lists various certifications to the top of the pile, or even hire that particular individual for the job straight away, businesses continue to struggle with a deeper issue during the hiring process: validating an individual’s credentials. Hiring a poorly qualified candidate can be costly and detrimental to the organization’s success. In fact, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, US employers lose more than $660 billion annually to occupational fraud and 50–80 percent of all résumés contain misleading or false information.

Typically, without explicit written consent from a potential or current employee, hiring managers and their human resources staff must go through a rigorous validation process for certifications. This can include time spent reaching out to certification vendors and consulting media experts to validate score reports and certificates to ensure they haven’t been altered. Validating just one certification for one individual can take up to six hours, and, at $80 per hour, that can really add up.

Most employers recognize this issue and conduct technical interviews during the hiring process to gauge the job candidate’s level of knowledge and skills. Despite these precautions, it is still possible to hire a poorly qualified candidate who cheated on a certification exam. This is not merely problematic for the business’s success and productivity; it also devalues certifications within the industry. Imagine if anyone was able to fraudulently claim a certification, and how that would impact the people who legitimately work hard, prepare for, and earn their certifications. These acts of fraud also devalue those certifications in the marketplace.

Emry couldn’t agree more. “I don’t think the industry as a whole values certification as much as they should. I believe this is due to ignorance of the certification process more than anything else. I think if people were to educate themselves on the process of obtaining the certification, they would find great value in it.”

This is why companies like Citrix, Microsoft, Cisco, HP, IBM, and others invest time and resources into preventing certification fraud and maintaining the integrity and security of certification exams. Each of these organizations are active members of the Information Technology Certification Council (ITCC). The ITCC is a body of industry leaders focused on IT certifications and committed to growing professional certifications, recognizing the need for a qualified workforce to support the world’s technology needs. The ITCC is a resource for employers, government officials, academia, and individuals seeking information about the many benefits of IT certification. Each ITCC member works with its test delivery partner to adopt security measures that prevent fraudulent activities and help maintain the value of their certifications and IT certifications in general. Collectively, the ITCC is becoming more active in promoting the value of certification through awareness education and tools that allow certification holders to more easily prove multiple certifications, and potential employers to validate them.

TechCertRegistry

The TechCertRegistry, an easily accessible, secure IT certification transcript, is a service provided by the ITCC (in partnership with Integral7) to professionals holding multiple certifications from different IT companies. The TechCertRegistry provides a transcript that validates all IT certifications held, preventing the individual from making false claims to certifications he or she hasn’t earned.

Through the TechCertRegistry, IT professionals can easily report and present a full credential portfolio to current and potential employers and other parties almost instantly. The TechCertRegistry also allows candidate-authorized employers and third parties to verify a candidate’s IT certifications using the candidate’s universal ID. To obtain a TechCertRegistry transcript, IT professionals must visit www.techcertregistry.com to create an account and claim all new and historical certifications.

The TechCertRegistry’s current sponsors include Citrix, HDI, HP, IBM, LPI (Linux Professional Institute), Microsoft, and Novell. The ITCC is continuing to engage additional member organizations and certification sponsors to participate in the registry.

The TechCertRegistry is just one step toward improving credential validation and preventing the ripple effect of fraudulent certification. It provides IT organizations with a secure, fast, and cost-effective way to validate an employee’s or potential employee’s credentials. And the benefits will continue to be recognized over time. The ITCC TechCertRegistry holds IT professionals to a higher standard of credibility and enables greater overall trust within the industry, making it easier to work toward a higher level of success for everyone—a goal we are all constantly striving to reach.

 

Julieann Scalisi is the managing director of global education for Citrix Systems, Inc. In this role, Julieann is responsible for the education business overall, including technical and sales training, as well as official certification programs for Citrix’s partners, customers, and employees. Her number-one priority is creating a community of Citrix-smart people who can unleash the power of Citrix products and get the most value from their Citrix implementations.

Tag(s): people, professional development, certification standard

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