On Tue, Sep 05, 2006 at 03:00:13AM +0900, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky wrote:
> Chad Perrin wrote:
> > As someone with a combination of college, trade school, on-the-job, and
> > purely autodidactic education, with several certifications of my own, my
> > experience is that all certificiations really prove is A) a certain
> > minimum standard of test-taking competence that can be sized up within
> > five minutes of meeting someone anyway and B) a certain amount of money
> > invested in professional advancement.
> They also prove that you can learn and carry out a learning task to
> completion. They also provide HR and the hiring manager with an
> objective way of ruling out unqualified candidates. If I post a network
> engineer position and get 100 applications, ten of whom have completed
> their certification, that's 90 resumes I can throw in the trash.

I don't think I can really put much value in that "carry out a learning
task to completion" idea, in this case.  The sort of "learning" it
measures is, generally speaking, more suited to learning to give the
answers people are expecting than coming up with correct answers.
Microsoft certs, in particular, are bad about this -- filled with
marketing euphemisms and salesworthy "this solution for that problem"
questions.

That's not to say certifications are useless, but they carry little
enough worth in (accurately) judging a candidate's value that ignoring
them entirely probably wouldn't hurt your hiring strategies.

You're right about certifications providing HR and hiring managers with
an "objective" metric for candidate qualifications, but that's pretty
self-referential (they're "qualified" if they meet the qualification
requirements, including a certification, which is required so that
you'll have some way to tell if they're qualified, et cetera), and
there's not really any indication that what it objectively measures is
useful for most purposes.  About the only way it measures something
useful with regard to job performance is if someone can literally just
walk into the exam cold, with no studying, and answer all the questions
correctly . . . except for the questions that are misgraded on the exam
(I've yet to see a certification test that doesn't require technically
inaccurate answers to get everything "right").

Throwing out 90% of candidates for not having a certification in the IT
industry is about like throwing out 90% of candidates because their
ties aren't the right width.  I mean, sure, having ties of the "right"
width indicates an attention to detail and ability to keep up with
changing trends, which is useful for technical matters, but there's no
guarantee the people you've excluded aren't just fashion-impaired
despite attention to detail and throughly current knowledge of
information technologies, nor that the people with the "right" ties
aren't more focused on fashion than professional skills, or even just
really lucky in their choice of ties today.

-- 
CCD CopyWrite Chad Perrin [ http://ccd.apotheon.org ]
"It's just incredible that a trillion-synapse computer could actually
spend Saturday afternoon watching a football game." - Marvin Minsky