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Why certification related career goals hurt everyone

Acquire a certification in technology X‘ | ‘Earn a Domain Y certification

Do one of those statements list in your yearly goals ? It is almost certainly a bad idea. Let me explain why. I knew a company that required its employees to be acquire at least one certification on a technology per year. Its employees would work hard throughout the year and during appraisal time it is not uncommon to hear this converation

Foo:  ‘Dude did you take that certification you were supposed to ?’
Bar:  ‘Rats ! I didnt realize it was a part of our goals’
Foo:  ‘hmm… what do we do ? John has already passed it and that puts him ahead of us’

Foo and Bar will probably end up reading real exam questions (also referred to as brain dumps) and passing the exam with only a day’s worth of preparation. That another way of saying ‘They cheated’.  This hurts everyone.

  • It hurts John.

He worked hard to pass this exam. The inclusion of Foo and Bar into the ‘pass pool’ dilutes his achievement.

  • It hurts your employer.

The company probably reimbursed the certification and wasted its financial resources.

  • It hurts the community.

When interviewers come across scores of folks that are certified for technology X, but their skills do not match what they were certified for, it reduces the value of that certification

Foo and Bar also do not realize how foolish they are going to look in their next job interview. If you are an employer, please consider removing this as a valid goal. If you are an employee who is stuck with this goal, do yourself a favor and either acquire the certification by working hard for it or default.

PS: I am not suggesting that all employees take the easy way out. I am merely pointing out a general observation that trends in our industry.





Categories: java Tags: , ,
  1. Nils Breunese
    July 17th, 2011 at 15:05 | #1

    Sounds to me like the real problem is that the exams are too easy or Foo and Bar wouldn’t pass with only a day’s worth of preparation.

  2. Daniel
    July 17th, 2011 at 16:12 | #2

    There is nothing more valuable than real, actual experience. If you are valued by an (in your case obviously) easy to pass certification exam, both the certification itself and the employers’ evaluation process is seriously flawed.

    Change the goal, make the goal to have a difficult to pass exam for the level your employees are at, make it individual! (i.e. the Java Architect Certification is not difficult, yet, it’s much too difficult to pass with only a couple of days preparation.)

    To sum it all up, there is nothing wrong with having certifications as part of your goal; yet, you need a boss that is qualified to evaluate which certifications are an improvement to the employee in question.

  3. Nicolas
    July 17th, 2011 at 16:17 | #3

    I don’t understand the point. The other day some proposed a solution that would violate the JEE spec and would not work at all. Time and money was lost because of that. If thoses had the relevant certification for their job it would make this kind of mistake occurs less frequently. So the company is not loosing it’s time by ensuring their employes remain current. Investion in formation is good. If some sort of exam can validate a certain level of expertise, it is even better.

    Does the collaborator loose their time by training for certification? I don’t think so. It is a valuable asset for promotion or finding a better job. It can help them improve and provide them visibility for they skills and their carreer.

    Maybe Foo & Bar just already have the competences and just taken the opportunity to validate them? It is classic for a certification program to require basic certification before the more advenced one can be aquired.

    This is by no mean perfect, but I think we should not disavalue certifcations or prevent some company to pursue the objective to make their employees grow.

  4. RawThinkTank
    July 18th, 2011 at 06:48 | #4

    So the alternative is to make them do the same things together ?

    i mean things that the certificate was gona achieve, but oops then how will we exploit these poor helpless employees ?

  5. July 18th, 2011 at 06:58 | #5

    @Nils Breunese

    The problem is not that the exam is easy, but that you can cheat on a very difficult exam with ease. I have updated the article with a wiki link to clarify what ‘cheating’ meant.

    @Daniel

    No matter how difficult a certification is, you can pass it just as easily if a ‘dump provider’ provides all the questions that will appear on the exam. Candidates that cheat will memorize the answer to multiple choice questions and spit them out during the exam.

    @Nicolas

    I think the confusion arose because I did not effectively communicate how folks can cheat. It is more dangerous to have someone around that fakes a certification / degree and claims to have mastery over it.

    @RawThinkTank

    Forcing candidates to work in the real exam would go some way in stopping cheats.

    Want to be certified as a database administrator ? Give candidates a real database and make them work on it during the exam.

    Taking a certification on ruby ? For a given problem description, type real code during the exam and get it to work

    etc etc

  6. August 18th, 2011 at 23:17 | #6

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I’m the Science & Technology editor at Before It’s News.

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    We would be honored if we could republish your blog RSS feed in our Science & Technology category.
    Our readers need to read what your blog has to say.

    Syndicating to Before It’s News is a terrific way spread the word and grow your audience. Many other organizations are using Before It’s News to do just that. We can have your feed up and running in 24 hours. I just need you to reply with your permission to do so. Please include the full name and email of the person who will assigned be to the account, and let me know the name you want on the account (most people have their name or their blog name).

    

You can also have any text and/or links you wish appended to the end or prepended to the beginning of each of your posts on Before It’s News. Just email me the text and links that you want at the beginning and/or ending of each post. If you know html you can send me that. If not, just send me the text and a link to your site. It should be around 200 characters or less (not including links).

    You can, if you like, create a custom feed for Before It’s News that includes multiple links back to your blog or web site. We only require that RSS feeds include full stories, not partial stories. We don’t censor or edit work. 



    Thank you, 



    Jaya

    Jaya Gibson
    Editor, Before It’s News
    http://www.beforeitsnews.com

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