Certification and Career Development

BrandPost By Lafe Low
Apr 06, 2020
CareersIT LeadershipIT Skills

There’s a reason recruiters and hiring managers probably look at the certification section of your resume first. Having updated IT knowledge and skill sets shows them that you’re not only competent with a particular technology, but also that you’re taking your career seriously. And vendor-specific cloud certifications will impress potential employers and help you stand out from the crowd.

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Credit: designer491

The field of information technology is always shifting and evolving, but well-developed IT skills continue to be in high demand across all industries. New technologies and processes are constantly emerging, so it’s critical for IT professionals to maintain and update their skill sets. Nothing is static in the realm of IT. Technologies and competencies that were once highly sought-after may now be less relevant.

Achieving and maintaining certification is a legitimate approach for keeping one’s skill set up to date, and for being able to demonstrate the depth and breadth of a given technology. Certification is a factor in just about every industry, but it’s particularly significant in IT. Certification helps employers evaluate potential job candidates and analyze and evaluate employee skills and performance.

Certification recognizes the skills an individual has with select technologies, clearly demonstrates their commitment to IT, and provides demonstrable help with job advancement. Even the process of earning certification can help. “Some vendors say the act of becoming certified makes you better at that technology,” says Myles Brown, Senior Cloud and DevOps Advisor for ExitCertified.

IT professionals have always benchmarked themselves with certifications of experience in enterprise technologies. For an IT professional moving up the ranks, certifications can help validate your skill set. “It’s not a replacement for experience,” says Brown. “I’m always looking for someone who has experience, but with newer technologies, it’s harder to find. So, if they have a certification, at least I know they have some baseline. If they have both experience and certification, that tells me this person is taking their career seriously.”

Seeking out and maintaining an appropriate level of certifications focused on critical IT vendor partners is a strong component of IT professionals’ career development and growth. “There are certifications that are more entry level, of course. Then the higher-level ones demonstrate that you really know how a certain technology works,” says Brown. “Some certifications are truly in-depth. For example, the Red Hat certification is valuable. It’s open book. You can look stuff up, but if you don’t know the material ahead of time, you’re not going to find it. Certain certifications like that are valuable because they are performance based.”

And faced with ongoing shortages of skilled IT professionals, seeing a list of certifications clearly demonstrates to the CIO or other IT executives the capabilities and competencies of prospective candidates during the hiring process. “There is a benefit to having a second certification from a second vendor,” says Brown. “If they have VMware and a cloud vendor’s certification, that tells me they understand how VMware works and they’re coming into some hybrid setup where we’re also using Azure or AWS, which would put me at ease.”

These days, achieving and demonstrating certification with the major cloud providers is practically essential for forward-thinking IT professionals. “Cloud certifications from the big three [AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure] are important,” says Brown. But those aren’t the only ones for advancing IT professionals to consider. “Red Hat and specific Linux certifications make a lot of sense; ones that come from an obvious vendor of their technology stack are important.” Some of those critical IT vendor certifications include:

  • AWS
  • Google Cloud
  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • SAP
  • VMware