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How can I leverage my SCJP certification in an interview?

Tom Schindler
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 15, 2009
Posts: 8
I am scheduled to take the SCJP certification exam in a month. I have plenty of classroom experience with Java and I am about to dive into the new SCJP Study guide by Bates and Sierra.

Now for my question. I know that there is no substitute for experience, but apparently I don't have the necessary "experience" to get the "experience" I need to attract employers. I have been advised to go for certifications by the company that was supposed to hire me out of school in order to improve me resume, but honestly what would an SCJP certification give my resume that my bachelors degree in a technical background wouldn't? The only clear benefit to my resume of taking the SCJP certification is that it would show that I take initiative. I want you guys to discuss what in your opinions are some angles that someone could "sell" their SCJP certification?


“A man can do anything, he must merely choose to do so.” -Miyamoto Musashi
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18529
    
  40

The only clear benefit to my resume of taking the SCJP certification is that it would show that I take initiative.


Personally, I don't consider this much value -- but others do... An SCJP is a sign that the candidates knows the specific topic...... I am a fan of hiring for the talent, and not for a particular knowledge set. The talented can acquire the knowledge. The untalented will remain untalented -- but can pass a test with enough tries and rote memory.


I want you guys to discuss what in your opinions are some angles that someone could "sell" their SCJP certification?


To be blunt, in an interview, you don't "sell" the certification, you "sell" yourself. The interview is about what you know, what you think, how you approach a problem, what you consider important, etc. etc.

Henry


Books: Java Threads, 3rd Edition, Jini in a Nutshell, and Java Gems (contributor)
Cameron Wallace McKenzie
author and cow tipper
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 26, 2006
Posts: 4968
    
    1

It's always nice to say it was a goal, and you worked towards that goal and achieved it. It shows that you are goal oriented.

Plus, the exam tests you on what Sun thinks is important, so you can emphasize that you have the skills that the creaters of Java have deemed to be the most important in order to be productive with the language.

-Cameron McKenzie
Tom Schindler
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 15, 2009
Posts: 8
To be blunt, in an interview, you don't "sell" the certification, you "sell" yourself. The interview is about what you know, what you think, how you approach a problem, what you consider important, etc. etc.


I completely agree with this comment, but really what I am looking for are ways to use my certification to help sell myself. I understand that you are saying that an employer would be looking much deeper than just how many badges I can manage to pin to my chest, I want to know how I can give a SCJP certification badge more significance to that employer.

The talented can acquire the knowledge. The untalented will remain untalented


While I understand that the point you are trying to make with this comment is that you would prioritize a job candidate's ability to learn over their existing knowledge when making a long term hire, this comment just kind of rubs me the wrong way. When I think of how you say the "talented" and the "untalented" it brings up images of the Morlocks and the Eloi from H.G. Wells book, "The Time Machine." Tom Friedman wrote in his book "The World is Flat" that in the new age that PQ + CQ > IQ, or that a person's Passion Quotient (PQ) and Curiosity Quotient (CQ) are ultimately more important than their Intelligence Quotient (IQ). I know that you probably were referring to much more than the person's IQ when you said "talented" and I apologize for even mentioning anything, but it just always sticks in my craw when people try to define others by their IQ.
A Shehadi
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 13, 2009
Posts: 19
How about not mentioning the certificate at first, and let the employer ask you about it?

It's likely that if the employer that interviews you knows his business, he will spot the certificate in your curriculm. I could almost bet that if the certificate is a direct advantage for the job, he will ask you about it. If he doesn't, either Java is not as necessary for the job as you think it is or he just doesn't know what the SCJP certificate is good for, in which case you probably would be better off being interviewed by someone else.

In an extreme example, imagine you are applying for a chef job, and you try to sell this SCJP certification. Odds are that the interviewer will not care about it because it's not useful for the job. Or maybe you are applying for a high-profile Java job, where most employees are certified developers or even architects, then the SCJP cert. won't necessarily impress anyone as much as you would like.

My views on all this is that it depends heavily on a lot of particular factors. So how about trying to figure out which employer is most likely to notice and praise you for the certification and apply for those jobs? Again, if the interviewer is interested in that particular skill set, he will notice the certification regardless of wheather you mention it or not.

[EDIT]
Edited typos
Tom Schindler
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 15, 2009
Posts: 8
Thanks Cameron. I agree that using it to show that I am goal-oriented would be helpful in an interview.

I always feel awkward in interviews because it is sometimes difficult finding the happy medium between appearing an arrogant, entitled twit and selling myself short by not fully presenting all of my qualities. Feel no need to comment on this last sentence.
Tom Schindler
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 15, 2009
Posts: 8
A Shehadi, thanks for your insight. I agree that there are a lot of factors that would go into how I should decide to present the certification.
Jason Irwin
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 09, 2009
Posts: 327
To a very large extent, there is no such thing as "talented" or "untalented", merely dedicated or apathetic.

The dedicated strive and struggle to achieve their goals and through this struggle acquire talent.

To paraphrase* Miamoto Musashi from the Book of Five Scrolls "A man can achieve anything, he must merely choose to do so." also "Once one sets one's foot upon the path, one must never waiver from the path; not even for a second."

That applies to being a samurai as much as it applies to being a programmer (or anything else for that mater).

The SCJP shows three thing:
1) You are willing to dedicate yourself a goal
2) You have the ability to learn
3) You need to get out more

*I apologise - I do not recall the exact words, it's been some time since I read the Five Scrolls


SCJP6
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18529
    
  40

Tom Schindler wrote:
While I understand that the point you are trying to make with this comment is that you would prioritize a job candidate's ability to learn over their existing knowledge when making a long term hire, this comment just kind of rubs me the wrong way. When I think of how you say the "talented" and the "untalented" it brings up images of the Morlocks and the Eloi from H.G. Wells book, "The Time Machine." Tom Friedman wrote in his book "The World is Flat" that in the new age that PQ + CQ > IQ, or that a person's Passion Quotient (PQ) and Curiosity Quotient (CQ) are ultimately more important than their Intelligence Quotient (IQ). I know that you probably were referring to much more than the person's IQ when you said "talented" and I apologize for even mentioning anything, but it just always sticks in my craw when people try to define others by their IQ.


Would it help much if I said that I am not a fan of IQ tests either? ...

Seriously, let's turn this down a notch on the crass-o-meter...

By "talented", I just mean talented developer. I definitely don't just mean intelligence or even just the ability to learn, as I know some really smart people -- smart enough that they can be condescending, and I am okay with it. And these people can't code their way out of a paper box.

There are certain people who can pick up programming skills (even though they may not be able to pick up anything else) with ease, and use that knowledge in doing stuff with a computer that is impressive. I did not mean, in any way, even indirectly, to make any sort of generalization.

Henry
Tom Schindler
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 15, 2009
Posts: 8
Thanks for your addition, Jason. Whether or not your quote "A man can do anything, he must merely choos to do." is 100% correct or not, I am going to adopt it as my new signature.
Tom Schindler
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 15, 2009
Posts: 8
Henry,
I am sorry to put you in a weird spot there. I completely agree with your last post. I believe I am just a little sensitive right now to that sort of thing. I am right out of school and just kind of down on my luck with the job situation. It seems like a bunch of jerks that I went to school with are sitting pretty with their cush jobs right now. Therefore, it is not a stretch for me to start making generalizations about what is valued in the real world.
Jason Irwin
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 09, 2009
Posts: 327
I'd check the veracity of the quote. Going around mis-quoting the Kensai doesn't look clever.
A Shehadi
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 13, 2009
Posts: 19
Henry,
I am sorry to put you in a weird spot there. I completely agree with your last post. I believe I am just a little sensitive right now to that sort of thing. I am right out of school and just kind of down on my luck with the job situation. It seems like a bunch of jerks that I went to school with are sitting pretty with their cush jobs right now. Therefore, it is not a stretch for me to start making generalizations about what is valued in the real world.


This happened to me too, and still does sometimes, when I see someone who didn't do very well in school or is not very smart/hard worker get this high-paying job doing half what I do. It's really unnerving and frustrating, but if I may give you some advice, just forget about it. It's not easy at first, but then you will realize (at least that's what I try to do) that having hard, stressing jobs or a hard time getting one (any one) job will make you stronger over time. It sounds cheesy and cliché, but in my experience it's true. I just take it as more "training". Just like the special forces in the army. They get the worst treatment, the least sleep/food, more excersise and all those things....and that's precisely what makes them "special" forces: all that extra training.

Try to take it as such. You will realize that when you finally land a job, you'll be more confident at the interviews (since you've already had been to some/lots), you'll be able to negotiate better and in the end (maybe not now or even next year or decade, but at some point) you will be able to leverage this experience for your benefit.

I'm not saying there's absolutely no people who get free-rides and still make lots of money/awards/recognition, I'm just saying that it's more important (in my opinion) how satisfied you are with yourself and how happy are you with the way you decided to live your life, than to compare with others and be angry/sad/frustrated by it. It's a lot like games. Sure, you can get a walkthrough to cheat and finish the game in a quarter of the time, but if you don't do it, the satisfaction and experience gained will be much higher. So instead of being frustrated about how other people "cheat" in life and "finish the game faster", try to enjoy the ride of playing the game, even when it means that you'll fall on that nasty hole in the ground lots of times, until you get the hang of it and learn to jump it correctly.

And trust me, I understand what you are going through because I was there myself less than a year ago. Just keep pushing and eventually you will see the payoff...in a far greater amount than you could expect, even if it's not money-wise.

Cheers!

priya rishi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 26, 2008
Posts: 119
Hello Shehadi,
Your post is really good.
I can see , you have gained lot from your experience.
I really appreciate for sharing the advice.Its of great use to me.
Thanks!!!


SCJP 5 , SCWCD 5
jeetendra Choudhary
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 02, 2009
Posts: 33
@ A Shehadi hats off to you.
Really a very very good post. well some how my condition is also same. there are lots of people around me like that. But sometime i really feel very special because of my hard work. Thanks For your good post.

Thanks & Regards
Jeetendra..!!


Preparing for SCJP...!!
Tom Schindler
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 15, 2009
Posts: 8
A Shehadi,
Thanks so much for that post. You are right, the only race I should be running is my own and there is no subsitute for the satisfaction of a job well done. I am down right now, but what is really important is what I am able to learn from this experience.
jeetendra Choudhary
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 02, 2009
Posts: 33
LOL Yesterday i posted this..

@ A Shehadi hats off to you.
Really a very very good post. well some how my condition is also same. there are lots of people around me like that. But sometime i really feel very special because of my hard work. Thanks For your good post.

Thanks & Regards
Jeetendra..!!
Preparing for SCJP...!!


And Today I got Job as Product Development Engineer.
Lucas Smith
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 20, 2009
Posts: 804
    
    1

Congrats
You haven't an inteview?


SCJP6, SCWCD5, OCE:EJBD6.
BLOG: http://leakfromjavaheap.blogspot.com
K. Tsang
Bartender

Joined: Sep 13, 2007
Posts: 2242
    
    7

Hello there, let me shed some light. Having the SCJP cert or any other cert simply tells the employer that you do know Java or that topic. Yet some employers still give you a test. I hate that.

Whether you can use the cert as a benefit eg tend to be more productive than a non-certified candidate will depends on what projects/environment you are in. Say you got an interview and they are not using Java for a project that they try to hire someone for ... then your cert is pointless. Not mentioning you may or may not get another project that indeed use Java.

At the end of the day selling yourself using your talents is your approach and goal. Most employers do look for your experience more than certs. Yet whatever skills (hard or soft) eg OOAD you gained through the cert can be helpful in closing that offer.


K. Tsang JavaRanch SCJP5 SCJD/OCM-JD OCPJP7 OCPWCD5
A Shehadi
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 13, 2009
Posts: 19
LOL Yesterday i posted this..

...

And Today I got Job as Product Development Engineer.


Hey. That's great. Congrats and heads up!

:)
jeetendra Choudhary
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 02, 2009
Posts: 33
Thanks Very Much to you.
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
 
subject: How can I leverage my SCJP certification in an interview?
 
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