Ottawa Valley SAGE

Providing a forum since 1998

Oct 30, 2011 - 4 minute read - Comments

Post October Followup

I’ve been a little slow posting, not sure it’s laziness or just wasn’t feeling up to it. The main topic starting out was the certification item Jim had mentioned. There was a discussion about a year ago on the SAGE mailing list about such a thing and both Kelwin and I had both posted responses.

I won’t post Kelwin’s response, but I will duplicate mine below:

Not wanting to sound like I’m in the extreme end of either for vs. against certifications, I am a full time consultant and I live in a government town. In order to even qualify to bid on government and a large number of private sector contracts, I have to meet their certification requirements. As all of the local agencies also have large government contracts, they ask for them as well in order to contact me with possible gigs. I happen to have a couple, mostly taken at theurging of employers to meet some odd requirement.

Do I think certifications replace experience? No.

Do I think they are useless? Not completely. I’m a generalist, not a specialist, so some of these force me to look at things I wouldn’t (voluntarily) play with.

Has the second item come in handy? Yes, a couple of times.

Do I like the idea of maintaining certifications? Not really, as it’s $NOTINMYPOCKET although it counts as continuing education and tax write-offs.

Do I care about my certifications? Only if it means the difference of getting that nice contract.

Do I care of someone else has one? Only if it makes them use it as a club or unreasoning method of insisting on doing something as in “I have a certification in XXX, so by definition I’m right”.

I had a recruiter ask me about certifications and I responded with a statement that I’ve been doing this longer than the certs existed. Why would I need a piece of paper that says I meet some vendor’s idea of how to do it? Seriously, theory and practice are only equal in theory and a vendor doesn’t certify you in field expedient solutions.

When I have been in the position of hiring people, do I ask about certifications? Only if it comes up and then mostly to find out why the person has it so I can figure out if it was a replacement for experience or some other reason. Junior people with certifications generally are still junior people. Senior people with them probably had a reason, and a few questions can let you determine if you want them in spite of a certification :)

Hopefully this doesn’t come across as the ravings of a lunatic.

Reading it over again, I’d have to state that I still hold those opinions, however it doesn’t mean that I’m right. The topic seems to come up in waves, possibly every 6 months or so. The SAGE list had it going over the past couple of weeks, so I would think we don’t have a real consensus.

That does bring up the topic of how we represent ourselves. Resumés, etc. You might want to take a look at an article posted on titled “Career Advice: Don’t Call Yourself a Programmer” which references an article on I think there is a lesson in there for all of us, given the topic of careers and self marketing was also being bandied about.

I’d also like to remind everyone that we have been discussing effective documentation systems as a secondary topic for a while now, but we have never really done anything with it. I think we should have a talk on what defines an effective practical documentation system, not what framework X dictates. Real world responses. Who uses spreadsheets, word processor documents, text, email, wiki, CMS, etc. If you have a favourite system, fell free to discuss it and why it’s useful. I’m still working on that question even though I have built a few useful ones in the past. They never seem complete.