Certified - To Be or Not To Be Certifiable

I've noticed lately that a lot of folks don't understand why certifications matter, or should I say, matter in a negative way. As a developer, if you obtain a certification, it's important that you don't put it on your resume unless the organization you're applying to is asking for it. There are many leaders who throw resumes out when certifications are on the resume. They don't do this to be smug, they have very good reasons for this.

The reality is most certifications don't indicate or prove that you can do your job in any way. In fact, there's a long-standing understanding in the industry that people with a lot of certifications are highly likely not very good at their jobs, if competent at all. They obtain said certifications just so that they can get hired. That's not to say that just because someone has a certification they aren't good at what they do, but it frequently makes good managers want to chuck that resume. Requiring certifications leads to hiring people that couldn't otherwise get a job without the certification.

Also be aware that organizations that require certifications will frequently fill up with less skilled people over time. So, by taking a job at such an organization, you may be getting into an undesirable position. You may find that all the work gets handed to you because you're way more competent than the other folks.

All of this is why the best hiring process doesn't involve much in the way of testing, certifications, etc. The best technical hiring processes are almost entirely non-academic discussions. A good example is chatting about difficult projects the candidate worked on, how they resolved problems, or would solve a problem your organization has, etc. Another good one is asking them questions that they should be able to answer if they have in-depth knowledge in the areas they claim to. However, it's important to keep this non-academic. If they don't know common terminology/buzz words, that doesn't mean anything. What we want to know is that they have a firm grasp on the area of focus. We should take a page out of Elon Musk's hiring process

I've heard from a few people that these principles apply not just to technical certifications, but business certifications as well. The only "certificate" that seems to really be effective in helping people be good at what they claim is College/University education; even that can be hit-and-miss though. In reality, being academic at something is an entirely different skill than being good at that same thing. Being good at something requires dedication. Being exceptional at something requires dedication and passion. Typically, the passion drives the dedication!