A some of you might have noticed I do have a few of these very much debated certifications, and on a few occasions I have joined in on some rather heated discussions on FB and Twitter (and in person) if these certifications add any value in regards to getting a job. On average, I get 2-3 emails a day asking about the certifications, so a public question and response seems appropriate.
Here is my answer – and please note that this is my opinion and I am more than happy to hear yours, so please share your thoughts on the subject =)
For me, studying for the certifications, NEXT to school, real projects and user groups/seminars, conferences, StackOverflow etc. has been a way (out of several ways) to learn more about a subject but within a limited scope. I’m very aware of the limited scope, and the quite obvious tendency to market .Net solutions only, after all it is a Microsoft product. When I say study for an exam, it means I’ll code a lot, and ask around a lot- not sit and read and memorize. I mainly use the requirements as a set of suggestions of things to try out. Some of them I might never ever use in real life, but you don’t know yet what will be useful and what wont. Ask ten people and you’ll get ten answers. I try to cover as much ground as possible, always thinking code first. So, using the materials to learn more about Microsoft products and those only, I think it is a good enough idea, but make sure you code a lot, and that you seek out other points of views. As for getting a job, nope.
But will the certifications increase your odds of getting a job?
In Sweden, yes – not by much, but yes. BUT, it might not necessarily be the job you are looking for. Some companies are gold partners and are required to keep a certain level of certifications, so they will push for certifications. In this process I can imagine creative developers that have chosen not to take certifications for various reasons will not get the job- and the job environment is bound to suffer as diversity is very important. At the same time, some companies, in particular smaller ones with a broader aim than just .Net products will be skeptical to developers with certifications. So you might win some, but lose some. And no matter the amount of certifications or education you have, you will have to prove your knowledge once you start working, and there is no certification for drive or passion- two things great employers look for in a developer.
So, if your aim is to increase the odds of landing a job, then I would NOT advise you to focus on certifications.
Do this instead:
- Find a mentor or several – connect with them on regular basis, create a plan together
- ASK a lot all the time, keep a notebook and scribble down your questions
- Ask for feedback on your code – even if it hurts sometimes
- Make a list (maybe with help from your mentors) over things you should learn, and work through the list- create a plan on how succeed
- Engage in the community – attend User Groups, join conversations on Twitter, SO etc. Be friendly, respectful and show an open and honest interest in other developers and their achievements
- Work on you portfolio, make sure you have things to show
- Ask companies if you can come a for a day or two and learn from the developers and the others there
- Stay up to date on trends, read articles, blogs and so on, provide feedback and support to those that put in the effort in writing/creating
- Help other junior developers, there is ALWAYS something you can help with
- Find out who YOU are and build one that
Basically you need to sharpen your skills, get different point of views, create a support network and people that believe in you and would recommend you, and by giving something back to the community you keep this cycle alive for the next dev looking for a job
Oki, I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten a few points here, please help me out and add a few comments. Would love to hear from employers as well, what are you looking for, and what is your take on the Microsoft Certifications in regards to landing a job?