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February 23, 2011

Certifiably not qualified

Filed under: Random Thought — Tags: — Nate @ 10:12 am

What is it with people and certifications? I’ve been following Planet V12n for a year or more now and I swear I’ve never seen so many kids advertise how excited they are that they passed some test or gotten some certification.

Maybe I’m old and still remember the vast number of people out there with really pointless certs like MCSE and CCNA (at least older versions of them maybe they are better now). When interviewing people I purposely gave people negative marks if they had such low level certifications, I remember one candidate even advertising he had his A+ certification, I mean come on!

I haven’t looked into the details behind VMware certification I’m sure the processes taken to get the certs have some value (to VMware who cashes in), but certifications still have a seriously negative stigma with me.

I hope the world of virtualization and “cloud” isn’t in the process of being overrun with unqualified idiots much like the dot com / Y2K days were overrun with MCSEs and CCNAs. What would be even worse if it was the same unqualified idiots as before.

There’s a local shop in my neck of the woods that does VMware training, they do a good job in my opinion, costs less, and you won’t get a certification at the end (but maybe you learn enough to take the test I don’t know). My only complaint about their stuff is they are too Cisco focused on networking and too NetApp focused on storage, would be nice to see more neutral things, but I can understand they are a small shop and can only support so much. NetApp makes a good storage platform for VMware I have to admit, but Cisco is just terrible in every way.


  1. Huh. I just posted on a networking site a few weeks ago about my lack of motivation to study for certs, I mentioned how I like to “do” things and I had a long track record of doing so… the blogger responded by saying that it would come off as bragging in an interview and when presented with a stack of resumes he goes first to the certified candidates because it represents a baseline and he doesn’t have time to hope he gets lucky with in a non certified applicant – I tend toward your point of view but I hope I never have to interview for a job I really want and lose to someone with a piece of paper over my attitude toward building.

    Comment by Dan — February 23, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

  2. thanks for the post!

    yeah there are stupid recruiters out there too….they are trained to look for some key words and that’s all they care about. Wouldn’t surprise me if the people at those companies are just as bad, so myself wouldn’t want to work there.

    One recruiter who wasn’t very experienced came across my resume last time I was poking around for a gig back in July and wanted me to “fix up” my resume so it’s “targeted” at the position I was applying for. I’ve seen things on TV about applying for jobs and people say to do that.I’ve never done that, I don’t need to. He didn’t see some of the key words he was looking for on my resume but about 5 minutes of talking with him he understood. I ended up not applying for the gig after all, the company was big and I don’t like big companies.

    Best way to get a job in any case is networking, get in through the back door.

    It is unfortunate that a lot of hiring managers and recruiters out there look for such things especially if they focus on them more than any other aspect of the resume/application. But there are others, frequently better positions where that is not the case.

    If a company doesn’t want to hire you because you like to build stuff and learn on your own rather than get certs, then trust me — you don’t want the job. It may look good on paper but you’ll hate it if you were to get hired.

    One job I got back in 2003 I was quite surprised because most of the questions they asked me at the time I did not have experience with at the time, but I got the job anyways at the top of the range I was asking for. Part of my application to them included asking them to run some google searches on me for some email addresses (I participated in a bunch of different mailing lists). I think that’s what got me in there, and that was a good gig while it lasted(until they got bought out 3 years later). I didn’t know Oracle, or Java, or Weblogic(at the time), etc but they still were very eager to hire me, and I did some pretty amazing things while I was there, and I’m not kidding when I say I squeezed 15 years of experience into 3 while I was there, it was brutal.

    Comment by Nate — February 23, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

  3. I will say there is a world of difference between the MCSE for NT4 and what is tested on today. That said, I still won’t get an MCSE, I’m simply not interested in it.

    The VMWare certs I find are highly valuable though, primarily because the best practices are constantly changing because the ESX product line is constantly being tweaked and updated. Far more so than the windows world, the VCP/VCAP set tend to network pretty heavily and have some highly valuable user groups to bounce ideas off of.

    On its face, ESX/ESXi is rather simple to install, where it starts to get tricky is the design phase, especially in larger environments (50-200 hosts, 200/6000 vms).


    Comment by thegreatsatan — March 3, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

  4. One angle not often mentioned, possibly because of younger demographics on the ‘net and discussion sites which are prominent currently, is the perceived need of regular guys in the datacenter who have families to feed. I’d hazard a guess that’s what drives many an individual, not strong manufacturer marketing. I can certainly point to people i’d be more than happy to work with who have simply way too many certs to their name, and it’s all about paying those bills. Point on this bit down the page . .

    I think that’s a rareity though. The isolated Regular Guy With Talent, keeping his head down, banking as many credentials to get his kids thru college. Sounds a bit 60s Corporate! Only they didn’t give a hoot for this crap, then . . . if you were a proper Chartered accountant, and could programme, you would be considered well good enough. All about rigor and testing your own hypotheses, which straiught attitude, frankly, IT has moved very far from since then.

    I’d like to see some demographics, as to uptake of credentials between equally experienced / salaried / role responsibility male and female techs. Though i can imagine the sample skew problems.

    No idea as to the numbers, but Lordy does it suck seeing how many tiny shops emblazon their websites with every stamp badge and moniker they can. You know it starts with some fourth tier host who has “Microsoft Certified Partner” displayed double pixel pitch without so much as a bicubic uprez! (Bias looking at really dire UK shops which are numerically if not economically significant)

    As a dropout myself, who learned the real hard way (should that be capitalized?!!) that that gets you no respect in England, though i never committed the excommuncatory Cardinal Sin of flaking, Chapter 11 or 12, or plain bust, or even flipping a bill . . i just like to ask anyone the Q “so what tests would you set yourself?

    What would stump you? First intellectually. Second by situationism as in client providing too little info. What things would make you go hmm? What’s the worst interview Q you ever had and why?”

    Or just plain set crap questions, and ask for 150 words on why they are crap, no acronyms. Pick two out of five. I find that’s hard to game, because there’s a infinite supply of crap questions supplied from every source imaginable.

    Recent fav of mine was a genuine honest to god, no fault, not a network engineer, very talented at other things, getting a redux how a s/w firewall differentiates from a router. The Jeopardy Q is something like “Can packet inspect traffic, but also join two CIDR domains”. Answer: Layer 4 switch with tables or small BGP, or proper router with a firewall module . . and there are others, so you can get a conversation going.

    If there’s a light on in there, chances are the interviewee aint going to be a burden, and avoiding deadweights is tantamount to genius if you can do it consistently.

    Anecdotally, the UK IT sector (there’s even a ghastly onanistic acronym i fortunately cannot remember for how the tech game is called here) is QUANGO driven.

    I find it incredibly unhealthy, because it’s not even pure pork barrel stuff. The problem with this, is that there is certainly a big union set between majority local govvy work, and midless ccert filtration on C.V.s.

    Local? Crap, our whole island is “local” to most serious nations! so we’re talking about fifedoms, manors, territorial pissing pots, less than a minor city district or even a public housing project on US scales.

    This is not to say there are no hires. But ther mental jaundice and malaise is like ironing out bad learning habits. That really only works on K12 kids, not adults.

    In our amazing Eurosilly of antidiscriminatory policies, and knowing a hot as shhh employment attorney, i genuinely reckon there’s a case for arguing that not allowing a “why not” essay as to absense of industry certs is prima facie unfair practice. I think that is common sense.

    As it, is, and new para to emphasise this, i’m reliably informed that under present case law, offering that option would be considered discriminatory to who has the certs!

    Back to MSCE and so forth. I don’t think there’s anything intimidating in, e.g. Russinovich’s books, because they are well written. For a brief rant, OReilly regurgitates RFCs and manpages more than genuine writing, and some of the Microsoft books are simply way better. Or maybe because i had too much of a taste for CORBA/COM/DCOM when Don Box was covering that!

    In every team, say 1 in 5 ratio, i want to see someone who can write docs in plain English. Not a sole job description, but an arbiter to connect with the rest of the guys and gals. Backstop if there’s a “management” argument. Your catcher. Not A Management Or Line Report Job!!!

    Think that covered my bases for this one.
    Hope you’re doing good, Nate!

    all best to all from me,

    – john

    Comment by John (other John) — March 31, 2011 @ 8:26 am

  5. p.s. what’s the line break code for this comment form?

    Comment by John (other John) — March 31, 2011 @ 8:26 am

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