Should you look for IT certificates when hiring?

The ongoing discussion of the relevance of IT certificates during the hiring process can simply be broken down to the demand in a marketplace for a product.

Of course, whether or not an IT certificate is considered relevant depends on the demand in the market and area of focus, said Carlos Chu, a senior manager at Tata Consultancy Services, a global IT consultancy firm. “One way to look at it is from the perspective of a service or software lifestyle,” he explained. “If we look at the process of creating a new IT product such as a new functionality or a new system roll-out, we will see there are many roles in this cycle of design/build/test/deploy/run, where IT certifications are good indications of a person’s expertise with a given product.”However, Chu finds that when looking at project management or quality management through the software development lifecycle, certifications like PMP and ITIL become less relevant.

“The value of an individual in these roles is determined by his or her past project management experience and other soft skills that are required to be successful in these roles,” he said. “Also, companies tend to have their own adapted frameworks for project and quality management that they will expect their projects to comply with.”

During a recruiting process, framework based – or vendor neutral– certifications are usually the sixth or seventh item Chu looks for from an applicant.

“Where it does make sense for individuals to have certification are things is when it is very specific to a product or vendor,” said Chu.

An individual who goes into specializing in one niche that is associated with a product, such as SAP or Oracle, must also keep those certifications updated. That said, Chu noted the demand for a highly specialized skill set associated with a product depends on the popularity of that product in the market place.

Corey Martella, a developer with Full of Design, also believes the IT certification for software-based developing is less relevant.

“The big things that are heavy on certification are security, investing and network infrastructure,” said Martella. “Generally, people who are entering university or college look to get a solid background in the field, whether its web applications, mobile applications, or general consulting.”

For recent graduates, Associate Professor of Business Management Technology Linying Dong at Toronto’s Ryerson Universitypointed out not all certifications are suitable for new graduates entering the workforce.

“For example, Business System Analyst certificate requires a candidate to possess over 5,500 hours of working experience in the areas related to business analysis, which is difficult for new graduates to acquire,” she explained.

However, Dong notes an IT certificate does help a student stand out from the crowd and earn a chance to prove what he or she knows.

The bottom line is that certification for an individual is only relevant if that person wants to continue driving into that particular niche or product, and specialize in it.

The focus and relevance of IT certifications depend very much on the field of interest and direction of application, concluded Chu.

Originally posted in TechPageOne, aNewDomain.

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