Professional Certification Posts

Why IT Pros Lie: A Certification Doesn’t Always Make You Qualified for a Job (And That’s Okay!)

It’s the most open dirty little secret in Information Technology hiring today: the lies we tell to get our foot in the door.

To be sure, they are white lies, subtly bolstering our appeal to hiring managers by insinuating greater experience or a more narrow focus than we might actually have had with a specific project or technology. A couple weeks watching SQL logs while the DBA was on vacation might turn you into a database administrator; fiddling with widget on the company home page means you have experience with JavaScript.

Have you every started an IT job where you knew everything you needed to know the minute you walked in the door? Few people have. Information Technology is a vast and ever-changing field, with many silos of knowledge and few systems which can be relied upon to operate identically from organization to organization. Learning the quirks and foibles of a particular combination of software versions and hardware systems is a skill in and of itself. It is not one that can be easily tested in a lab environment.

Of course, these lies are provoked in some sense by the lies we’re told in the job postings themselves: requests for expertise in wildly disparate technologies which no sane person could specialize in simultaneously, or demands for years of experience with technologies which have only emerged months earlier. The bill of goods that job candidates are selling is matched, in some sense, by the goods that employers claim they are looking for.

How to Decide: Earn More Work Experience or Get a Certification ?

As technological businesses begin to focus more on IT strategies and the currently available resources to support them, the demand for the most qualified workers continues to increase.

When administrative security and IT infrastructure are a part of a business, that business will require employees with knowledge and expertise in their field to succeed. In many cases, this infrastructure will actually require around-the-clock management to keep all systems safe, organized, and functional. Even the highest-quality hardware and software are only capable of so much without an active, qualified team who can adeptly keep the business on track.

This may lead some business leaders to inquire into what work experience, IT certifications or other qualifications are most important to their strategy and business structure. This frequently asked question is also pondered by IT students or recent graduates who are looking to enter the workforce as a member of the IT industry. Are IT certifications the most important? What about hands-on working experience?


IT Certification vs. Work Experience Statistics


Foote Partners, a Florida-based independent IT benchmark research and advisory firm, recently created an IT skills and Certifications Pay Index Report. This research discovered that in recent years, the pay scale for employees without IT certifications has begun to drop. In some of the years where the rate seemed to be falling for non-certified IT staff, there seemed to be a noticeable trend of employers who showed that they were willing to pay far more for hands-on working experience than for their IT certified counterparts.


Certification Zero: Where to Start on Your Path to a Dream Certification

Any good epidemiologist, or zombie movie aficionado, can tell you that if you want to solve a seemingly overwhelming problem you need to start at the beginning.

With matters that spread throughout a population, “the beginning” is commonly referred to as “patient zero.” Getting high-level certifications can seem as complicated as saving the world from endless hungry hoards—especially when you start to explore what your peers and competitors have already accomplished—but all you need to do is break the pricess up into manageable steps, starting with the beginning.

What you need is your “certification zero”—a starting point to guide you down the path toward your ultimate goals.

Today, we’ll look at a step-by-step approach to build your skills and bring you in the direction of that coveted, career-changing certification.


Getting Started with the CISSP Certification

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional, or CISSP, is a great certification to take the long approach on. It requires five years of related work experience before you can even sit the test. There are, of course, 10 “domains,” or subject areas within the CISSP certification, so the experience required can cover a lot of different job roles.

Many people find the CISSP daunting as a starting point. In that case, your “certification zero” can be an associated certification (or two) that will build toward your ultimate goal.

CompTIA offers several certifications that you might want to start with on your path toward being an IT security guru. Network+ would be a smart choice, because five of the ten domains are directly related to IT Network Security, which makes the Network+ a great place to begin getting the skills, practice, and job experience you will need in order to eventually pass the CISSP exam as well.

Three Simple Ways to Prepare for a Certification Exam

When it comes to preparing for an exam, different methods work for different people. Since not everyone is the same, there are plenty of tips and tricks to ready yourself for an exam and stay ready.

There are three time-tested and well-researched components for preparing yourself to take any major exam, including certifications:

  • Staying Physically Ready for an Exam
  • Staying Mentally Ready for an Exam
  • Staying Emotionally Ready for an Exam

Many people are naturally very good at one or two of these areas—perhaps you have a strong memory, or you don’t get rattled by the significance of the test—but it takes practice to get good at all three.

And if you can master all three of these areas, test taking will not only be much easier for any exams you’re currently preparing for, but it will also get you used to the challenges and routines of staying “on the ball” for future exams, quizzes and tests.


Skillset’s New Look Delivers the Most Personalized Certification Study Experience Yet

Ever since we launched Skillset, our goal has been to help the user. To help them explore cutting-edge IT skills, to see how it all fits together into larger groups of industry knowledge, and to prepare for inevitable necessity of earning broad (and specific) certifications offered by reputable organizations.

Along the way, we’re exploring the concept of professional education, and helping people develop their careers at the same time.

Using the site has always been ostensibly easy, and the immediate function is obvious: Free certification practice tests. But there are plenty of websites that provide certification sample questions and tests (most of them charge a fee, but still).

The truly advanced functionality of Skillset has always been a bit more complex, however. It takes people a little practice to realize that the site is actually tracking their progress, noting which skills they’re experts at and which ones they need to work on.

It all culminates in our most-complimented feature: The exam readiness score.

Skillset Certification Exam Readiness Indicator

The score tracks not only how many questions you’ve answered correctly, but also how many you’ve answered overall, how long it took you, and what proficiency you’ve reached. It’s an enormous time-saver and an eye-opening experience for users who are used to simply taking blind practice tests and seeing if they passed or failed.

But all of that data has been, shall we say, less obvious.