The Paper Certifications

Paper certifications are a hot issue with IT professionals—those who have certification but no experience, and those who don’t have certification but have years of on-the-job experience.

In the beginning, certifications were a sure-fire way of getting your foot in the door. Companies desperately needed knowledgeable professionals to get the job done. But, as the number of certifications granted has increased dramatically over the years, the value of a certification has decreased—and so has the cost involved in earning it.

IT professionals who are paper-certified, or who have earned a certification without previous work experience, face the same issues as recent college graduates. Without hands-on credentials, employers look at these candidates as entry-level professionals whom they will have to train.

Of course, certifications are valuable. Formal technology education provides crucial knowledge,
something employers value greatly. If you do not have the experience to back up your certification, your résumé must stress your foundation knowledge and skill set and how trainable you are. Certainly, you will have an edge over other candidates applying for entry-level positions.

I have provided some example of how to turn a run-of-the-mill résumé into an effective résumé for candidates without much work experience. Nothing is wrong with admitting you just earned your certifications, especially if you don’t have relevant job experience. Admit this up front and focus on your strengths. Here’s what we did to alter the original résumé, shown below, to make it much more effective.

• Strengthened the “Summary of Qualifications” section by combining technical and soft skills under one section.
• Used a skills-based résumé format.
• Focused on technology, job tasks, and processes learned as part of earning the certifications.
• Trimmed down the jobs listed outside of IT, to focus more on technical skills rather than non IT experience.
• Substantiated certification and college experience with actual dates and course hours.

The key is to demonstrate what you learned and can do!!