What I always say is: what matters most is the journey to getting certified. Not necessarily the paper certification itself.
What I mean by that is regardless of what the certification exam is like, the people who designed that certification exam approached it with the expectation that the test taker would have the skills, experience, and knowledge required to pass the exam.
What some people do is try to ‘game’ the exam itself. They’ll do things like memorizing concepts (instead of seeking to understand the concepts), look for exam dumps, and overall just get certified in order to be able to put it on their resume.
So when they get to the job interview, most skilled interviewers can quickly pick apart the fact that you don’t actually know what you’re talking about, you simply memorized concepts for the exam. This has happened to me multiple times. We bring someone in for an interview, we start to ask more detailed and specific technical questions, and the person falls flat on their face…but they have 3+ certifications…
Don’t get me wrong – sometimes you have to memorize things, or look up ways to increase your odds of passing. Let’s say for example that the certification expects you to know some basic and common port numbers. You’ll need to memorize those, sure, but memorizing port numbers won’t do anything for you in the real world if you don’t really understand what ports are, or what they’ve even used for.
The other main issue I see with some certifications is that they’re just not well-thought-out. They don’t test the right things, or they don’t test them in the right way. Most people get certifications to enhance their careers, so when a certification doesn’t do a good job of mapping back directly to real-world skills, it definitely seems like a waste. So some certs have earned that negative reputation, and as a result, a lot of hiring managers don’t look favorably upon them.
With all of this said, I’ve talked to a lot of hiring managers over the years, and the vast majority of the time I’ll hear them say either:
- I do like to see certifications on resumes
- I don’t care about certifications on resumes
Only a few times have I heard a hiring manager tell me that they dislike certifications so much that they won’t consider a candidate because they have them. I strongly advise against this when I hear it, for many reasons. The main reason being that it’s OK to dislike certifications, but don’t potentially eliminate great talent when you don’t even know the circumstances of why they got a certification.
So overall I personally recommend certifications because I do believe they can be very beneficial when you focus on the journey to getting certified, not just the paper certification itself. Rarely will having a certification (or more) work against you.