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Having a lot of Certs a bad thing?

Jon McDonald
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2001
Posts: 167
Hey All,
I was just thinking about certifications in the absense of experience and was wondering something.
I know there are a lot of employers out there that won't hire you, no matter how many certs you have, if you don't have experience and/or a degree. But do you all think that a lot of (or at least some) employeers hold having a lot of certifications (especially those beyond their experience level) against a potential canidate.
For example, lets say someone applies for a position and list as having SCJP, SCJD, SWCD, SCEA, MCSD, etc... on their resumes. Might this person be looked on worse than if they only had a SCJP? Could an SCEA certification be considered meaningless in the hands of someone who has only been coding for less than a year and has no professional projects to show for it? And does the equation change if the person, while still having no professional experience, got the certs while persuing a CS type Degree (grad or undergrad)? Just wondering what you guys think.
P.S. I'm really enjoying this forum. I love being able to talk with so many knowledgable people.

"I study politics and war that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy in order to give their children a right to study painting poetry and music."<br />--John Adams
Donald Nunn
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 11, 2000
Posts: 200
Hello, Jon. That's a very interesting topic. I've spoke with individuals that are responsible for hiring developers and their may concern is experience. Depending on the position, it could require a degree in CS or higher, however, good experience is the clincher. Plus, most shops are going to drill you technically anyway and If you're worth your salt you'll probably win out. I don't mean this in a negative way, however, I think sometimes individuals who are not certified may have a problem with candidates who are cerified and when you have three or four certifications it may make it worse, however, it depends on the company. That's just my opinion.

[ June 24, 2002: Message edited by: Donald Nunn ]

<b>Donald Nunn</b><br />Sun Certified Programmer for the Java 2 Platform
Lara Martin

Joined: Feb 06, 2002
Posts: 23
Good Topic.
I am working in this IT Industry for the last 6 years and most of time, I had a chance to recruit people to my projects.Mainly, we are seeing experience, not certification.
Certification helps you to attract the recruiter but your technical interviewer will not be impressed by that one.
Experience is Great!
Certification is good!
SJ Adnams
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 28, 2001
Posts: 925
Experience is king certainly.
However, 2 years Java experience and no college degree will beat a college degree with no experience.
4 Years experience no degree is unlikely to beat someone with 2 years experience and a degree.
I would say someone who claimed to have 8 years Java/C++ combined experience is very foolish if they do not take SCJP, just as a DBA with 10 years experience needs OCP.
Experience is king, but employers are starting to expect certs as given on CV's these days.
There is the question of being a 'cert weenie', I think it's not a good idea to put too many on your CV. Only put those certs on your CV that are relevant to the position you are applying for. i.e. if your going for a unix shop job, leave off the MCSE.
my 2c
Sam Tilley
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 05, 2001
Posts: 160
Could an SCEA certification be considered meaningless in the hands of someone who has only been coding for less than a year and has no professional projects to show for it?

If you could pass the SCEA after only a year of programming i am sure you would be considered genius level anyway.
The way i look at it is that it is good to get a healthy mix, anyone with 20 exams and no experience looks like an exam addict, and on the other boot i don't think that someone who has say programmed for years but has gained no qualifications comes across as much better as people question whythey has never taken the effort. I have seen people who have gone out and gained loads of qualifications well above their experience level but have no relevant real world experience and they tend to still be struggling to find jobs as people almost view them as being overqualified. Like a financial analyst working on a McDonalds counter.
SCJP can be taken at any level but for the bigger exams they recommend certain amounts of experience, 1 - 2 years for SCJD, 3-4 years for SCEA and i think they are good time periods. If someone just had these with no experience it would be interesting to see how they came across and if they would be employable at all.

Sam Tilley SCJP, SCWCD
Mark Herschberg

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Well Jon, if you've read my other posts, you'll know I'm not a big fan of certs. I think the fact that people can and do get a SCEA after only a few years is an indication of just how certifications aren't often a valid indication of ability.
I've seen plenty of people with only one or two certs who lack fundamentals. That they have a cert doesn't really make them any better in my mind. It's just where or not they are capabile. If I saw someone with a dozen certs I'll start asking questions. If the person is capable, great, they are competant and knowledgable. If they can't answer my interview questions, I figure they got lead down the path of certs and don't have the skills I'm looking for.
Sam Tilley
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 05, 2001
Posts: 160
On the other hand sometimes certs can really make a difference. From my own experience i took up java a couple of years ago as a hobby to keep my mind busy. I was not in programming despite work developing a large trading program in Java was being devloped at work and my offers to help fell on deaf ears.
However as soon as the boys up top heard i passed the SCJP and passed quite well they changed their tune and asked me to join the project. Now i am waist deep in servlets, jdbc, jsp and loving it. So while certs may not help all it certainly helps some, they waited for me to pass it to see if i had the brains and dedication to actually pass it as well as just to see if i was qualified enough to work on the project.
So different strokes for different folks, on one hand having SCJP, SCWCD and SCJD and no experience is still better than just having SCJP and no experience so why not do it if you have the time and inclination. Just don't go past the ridiculous on it.
Sam Kebab
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 23, 2002
Posts: 104
Congratulations Sam. That was an inspiring story.
Oh and nice name too.
Dean Jones

Joined: Jun 18, 2002
Posts: 24
interesting discussion goin on,
i think having a cert. like SCJP only plus the experience is much better than havng lots n lots of certifiation, as cert olny give u the basic theoritical knowledge but for practical knowledge u should be actually developing something.
and a compnay will definately prefer a person having theoritical knowledge plus practical knowledge ,u can continue with the certs with ur job.
one more thing if u dont hav any job then why to waste ur time if u hav money go for the certs prepare ur self the best u can fot the interviews.
that all i have to say
Rahul Mahindrakar
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Joined: Jul 28, 2000
Posts: 1868
Very nice discussion going on. I got my initial break in this company due to my SCJP. If I did not have my certification then I doubt that this company would have hired me. Anyhow things are going great now.
I have realised that experience is a must and you come to know this when you are working on a project and you need to do the design yourself. However I did not forget the fact that I got my initial break due to certification and hence I continue to undertake about 2-3 certifications a year so that I stay in touch with what's going on.
I know that these certifications will defenetly help me somewhere or the other.
Reid M. Pinchback
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 25, 2002
Posts: 775
Here are my two cents.
I can see Mark's point about certs not being guarantee that a candidate is skilled. I believe in the value of certs, but I once phone screened someone with BrainBench cert who had no idea what they were doing. Even so, I can see some values to certs specifically in relation to the hiring process:
1) If you are involved in hiring somebody, and have the cert, you really know what kinds of questions you should be able to ask the candidate. If they can't even display the knowledge documented by their cert, they didn't learn much from the experience. I'd have strong doubts about any other skills they claimed too.
2) Some jobs advertise specifically that they want the cert. Obviously you are in good shape in these cases.
3) In times of high unemployment when you are hiring you wade through a lot of junk resumes. You really can't read them all. Those little cert acronyms catch the eye. They don't get you hired just by virtue of having the cert, but maybe they stop your resume from hitting the circular file on the first pass through the pile.
4) If you have a cert, and the person interviewing you doesn't, it might be an interesting discussion tool. If they ask you about it, you should be able to tell them how the cert helped you, or didn't help you, to become a better developer.
5) If you find somebody who is truly unconditionally negative towards you just because you have a cert, you just got the best piece of data you ever could in a hiring process. You don't want to work there. They've just pre-judged you on a piece of trivia without bothering to find out anything more about you. Odds are that they are like that about other things too. You really don't want to work there, but you got to find out the bad news before it was too late.

Reid - SCJP2 (April 2002)
Jennifer Bhamoo
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 09, 2002
Posts: 47
I think like how everyone has already been pointing out - experience is more important, but certs are the "icing on the cake".
I just got my Masters in IT and have passed 3 Oracle Application Developer exams during that time. I have just interviewed with a fantastic company! (still waiting, crossing fingers). Now, what got me in the door for the interview was that I had the skills and experience they were looking for, however one interviewer was impressed that I had obtained certs while working on my masters, so having the certs showed him that I can work hard and I am a "go getter" for lack of better words.
So, as most people have already been saying, the cert is not the all inclusive thing that will get you a job, but the cert can make you a better candidate and it something that can help one stand out in the interview process.
Good Luck to all!
(now please call me back, I would love to have that job! )

oh, I wanted to add and respond more directly to the intial question. I think there is also a fine line to getting certs and too many can just look suspicious if one has no experience, so I think it is good to pace yourself in accordance with the current job. Perhaps at get the cert that reflects nicely on your current job duties, then go one step above that. For example, I am working on my OCP - Application Developer, not part of my job duties (but I do ASP development) and do beyond this and get my Oracle/Java certs I think would be silly. If I worked as an Oracle Developer, then seek out the Oracle/Java certs. I hope that makes sense!
[ June 26, 2002: Message edited by: Jennifer Bhamoo ]
Reid M. Pinchback
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 25, 2002
Posts: 775
FYI (and off topic) just in case you don't know. Oracle isn't part of JCert anymore, so I don't know what the status is of any developer-oriented OCP track.
Roseanne Zhang
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 14, 2000
Posts: 1953
Get more certs for brain excercises/fun, or get more cert for job application are two different pictures.
Here is an example: Erik Hatcher
A JGuru who maintains the ant forum/faq of, a major ant developer, the author of the new manning's ant book. He has probably close or more than 20 certs. My best guess is that he is probably not applying for a position recently.
[ June 26, 2002: Message edited by: Roseanne Zhang ]
I agree. Here's the link:
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