now a buzzword in IT. Unfortunately, many who go through the
certification process get their fingers burnt. Even though
certification has been a powerful advancement tool for some time, it
has not been smooth sailing in all cases.
There are many
fallacies running riot within the industry regarding the
requirements to get into and be successful in the I.T. industry. Let
us attempt to look at the most common certification mistakes with a
view to getting certification candidates to avoid them.
We will look at
why it is possible to spend money, time and effort and still not get
the desired results. We will not be able to cover every single
certification blunder, but let's look at the 5 most common howlers.
1. Choosing a
certification because it is hot
This is a common
problem I encounter with most certification candidates. They have no
idea of what the certification involves but they love it because it
is hot. Should you be picking a certification that does not match
what you want to do or be? Do you know what you want to do or be?
Don't just go for an MCSE and assume you'll make it. Going for
certification for the wrong reasons is both wasteful and
Are you new in
IT? Your first step towards a successful career should be
researching the different options available. Learn about these
options. Yes, you may love computers, but what aspect? What is your
background? Skill base? Personality? All of these factors can tell
you not only if you're really cut out for IT, but what type of IT
field might be best for you.
already in IT, are you choosing a certification because your job
requires this specific certification or is it a crucial step in the
direction of your long-term career goals? Otherwise, it may not be
worth your time and resources. MCSEs, for instance, look after
Microsoft servers and networks. But if programming is your passion,
go for a developer's certification such as MCSD or Java.
new to IT or already in IT, certification should not be seen just as
a meal ticket. It should be part of an individual's career
development strategy. Don't rush into it because it is the vogue in
town. Depending on what stage you're at and your career interests,
your need for certification and type of certification vary from
individual to individual.
only for you if you have identified your career goals and you see it
as a tool for getting you from where you are to where you should be.
The worst thing you can do is to choose a certification without
thinking about your long-term career path.
Underestimating the real cost of certification.
How much does it
cost to get certified? Too often we underestimate the costs
involved. Most people believe it is just a matter of the funds
required for training, books, training CDs, manuals and the
certification is built on the realization that money is not the only
resource you need to get happily certified. I know quite a few
people who register for courses but who keep on dropping out due to
one commitment or the other. You've paid for the training and you've
bought the books, but how committed are you?
Do you have the
drive and zeal that requires reading, attending training sessions,
and practicing? Do you love studying? How will you handle your other
commitments, social, work or family? When it comes down to the
crunch, can you make the effort? Sometimes, it even requires extra
effort. Most especially if you already have a tight schedule.
Are you capable
or ready to read and master (not cram) your certification
objectives? Now and then with certification, the going gets
tougher. It is a shame that many spend so much to acquire
certification resources, but they never really get off the mark when
it comes to effort.
are successful in certification ALL possess the drive and motivation
to succeed and advance their careers. Success with certification
costs more than just training, certification tools and materials;
without effort you're going nowhere.
3. Going to
sleep after getting certified
certification candidates believe that once they are certified they
no longer have to work to increase their skills (value). It will be
a big mistake for any professional to simply bask in the euphoria of
getting certified and forget about continuing requirements.
Once you achieve
the certification you must set new goals. As stated earlier
certification is not an end in itself. It is a career development
driver. At each stage in your career you have to ask yourself: Where
am I? Where do I want to be? How do I get there? If you stand still,
your technical skills will stagnate.
To stay ahead,
you have to keep on learning. If you don't continuously develop your
self the value of your certification falls. How can you hate
continuous self-development and hope to succeed in the IT industry?
It's no wonder that re-certification requirements are becoming more
common. Going to sleep after getting certified means you wasted your
time and money. Don’t become a dinosaur.
Look here for More on lifelong learning:
4. Failing to
prepare equals preparing to fail
is a major killer of certification aspirations. It is not enough to
choose a training center. Many fail because they choose the wrong
training center. How did you marry your training with your exams? Do
you need or did you take any time for revision after training?
Did you go for
the test without knowing the exam simply because you're an expert on
the field? What are your study habits like? Are you a smart guy that
doesn't need to study? Or are you the cramming expert? If you
prepare for certification based on cramming, you fool no one but
And you have to
be truthful to yourself; do you have the work experience needed for
that certification? Too often candidates don't prepare well due to
overconfidence, ignorance of preparation options and poor personal
organization. How can you succeed if your arrangements are too
little, badly organized, and too late?
Look here for More on certification
certification for the wrong reasons breeds unrealistic expectations
which eventually leads to frustration and dissatisfaction. Here are
some of the expectations: "A certification is required to get a job
in the I.T. industry. Certifications are my ticket to success. Get
certified and get your dream job! Certification rules the IT
industry. Certification is a goldmine. A guarantee of career
certification really your gold card to IT career success? Failure to
understand what certification is all about leads to unrealistic
these myths to smithereens once and for all. Certification is no
guarantee of career success! Period! In most cases, it takes
experience, dedication and a lot of hard work to ensure IT career
success. There are no free giveaways in life.
certification, but job effectiveness and planning that count most.
You must consider these two factors in making any certification
decision. Employers aren't just paying for a piece of paper--they
want job effectiveness. You must not only be able to do the job
assigned; you must do it meeting high standards, within budget and
tests product knowledge, logical thinking, and problem-solving
approaches. But clients and employers demand the combination of
experience, knowledge and skills. Certification can't give you
The real world
is more complex than the world of certification. Quite often you
have to get your hands dirty to gain important knowledge that is not
tested in any exam.
certification focuses to a large extent on technical skills. You
cannot succeed in IT with tech skills alone. Do you know how to deal
with customers? “More often the industry is looking for those who
have experience, skills, and a solid ethics attitude first, before
education". To succeed in IT you need people skills,
resourcefulness, knowledge, experience and a corporate focus.
So, if you are
considering going in for a certification program, make sure you
understand what you are signing up for, and your likely future once
you complete the program. Get informed from career counselors, past
candidates, IT managers and from industry, to have a more realistic
view of the value of the certification programs as well as its
likely future prospects, and how it fits into your career strategy.
Look here for More on the realistic
approach to certification:
not the end of the world
So have you made
mistakes? Who hasn’t, you ask? First face the facts. You don’t help
yourself by living in denial. It can be painful when we make
mistakes. But at the same time don’t let mistakes shut you down.
Continue with your high energy, positive outlook. What is important
is how we respond.
The solution is
not to worry or moan. Self-pity is wasteful and pointless. You have
the ability to turn your minus into a plus. Try to look at the
process as a learning experience. Learn from mistakes, get over
them and put them to positive use.
invested, or are you about to invest, in certification? The success
of your certification choices depends on a sensible combination of
career focus, planning, resourcefulness and hard work.
certification mistakes is about being wise in your decision-making.
You need more sense than skills to create your amazing future.
All the best in your IT Career!
Jide Awe is the Publisher of