I was reading an article on Dice.com by David Bolton called “What’s Better: Online IT Certifications or Advanced Degrees,” and I thought he raised a good point: Are U.S. employers missing out on a large pool of qualified candidates just because they are setting high expectations for IT certs/advanced degrees?
I understand that employers want to see continuing education credits, particularly in an ever-changing field; however, with certification programs constantly requiring renewal and advanced education costs ever rising, is it realistic to think that an employed professional with 10, 15, 20+ years of industry experience should be expected to have a laundry list of certs? And is it prudent to say that if a candidate has proven industry experience, he or she is less qualified for a position than someone who has all the certs but less experience?
At ITtechExec, we often find that many of the strongest candidates we work with have been, well, busy working, developing, and remaining dedicated to their current employers. Maybe they went and received some basic certs but now they are out of date or they haven’t quite finished that advanced degree because, again, they were…working…developing advanced systems, increasing productivity and efficiency, and managing teams. It is more likely that we find that those individuals with the most recent certs are either younger workers who have had trouble finding their first “real” IT job or those who left the field and are trying to get back into it.
Now, there is nothing wrong with this second group getting their certs, but there does seem to be something amiss with making certs a primary concern over even experience. As David Bolton comments in his article, you have to wonder when an active IT professional who has worked on major development projects is considered no longer qualified for a position he has been doing for 30 years, just because of a certification program he didn’t pay for…?
Of course, companies feel they need a differentiator, and most IT pros agree that the certification programs are often worth the investment, but how much emphasis should an employer place on having them as a condition of hire? As Mr. Bolton points out, with so many companies looking overseas for technical talent (claiming they cannot find it here in the U.S.), maybe it is time to reassess?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Do you think U.S. employers are putting too much emphasis on IT certifications and advanced degrees when sourcing talent?
In fact, we’re so interested in this topic, it will be the basis for our Wednesday 11/14 twitter chat as part of the Tech Career Forum at 3pm Eastern. You can join in by following and commenting using hashtag #TCFchat.