Nov 9, 2010

Why Java certifications are alone not enough? Is Java certification for beginners only or both beginners and experienced professionals?

Certifications are a great personal achievement. But the true value of a certification to a prospective employer is not the certificate you receive, but your ability to apply what you had learned and the steps you take to achieve your certification(s) -- set goals, learn, research, and practice and the qualities you exhibit like commitment, motivation, and taking pride in your accomplishments.

For Beginners

Certification may be a good start for beginners,  but at the end of the day, it is what you know and not what some documents declare you to know is what matters.. If you think that obtaining a certification will automatically get you a job, then it's not so. Certifications are alone not enough for you to do well in your career or stand out from your competition. If certification is the only stand out item in your resume/CV, the prospective employers won't be interested.

How to get an entry level Java developer role? 

For Experienced Professionals

There is no substitute for hands-on experience. The prospective employers are interested in hiring candidates who can get the job done by assessing his/her past achievements, experience, technical skills, soft skills, and personal attributes. Certified or not, you will be grilled in job interviews. Prospective employers understand that lots of great Java professionals are not certified, and also not all certified professionals are good at getting things done. In interviews, your technical skills, experience, achievements, passion, confidence, soft skills, and personal attributes will be under scrutiny. So, it really pays to apply what you learn technically and non-technically to acquire the much needed hands-on experience. Some candidates look great on paper but are terrible at conveying ideas in the job interviews or team meetings. Prospective employers, especially the larger organizations with multi-disciplinary teams favor hiring clear communicators with decent programming skills than hiring a superb programmer with terrible communication and interpersonal skills.

Technical skills, experience, education, and certifications are of no use, if you can't sell yourself better than your competitors by citing how you added value in the past, and convincing how you can contribute and add value in the future by solving business problems with your technical skills, soft skills, and personal attributes. Employers value your past on the job accomplishments. Primary focus of job interviews is not to ascertain if you can arrive at a perfect solution or memorize answers to the technical questions, but to ferret out

-- how you would go about solving problems
-- how you would go about engineering a solution
-- if you can think logically
-- if you can code
-- if you can communicate your ideas effectively
-- if you can work independently as well as a team
-- if you know the core concepts and key areas of software development
-- if you can learn quickly and passionate about what you do
-- if you can lead, mentor, take inititives, facilitate, organize, influence, and motivate
-- overall if you have the right skills, experience, and attitude to get the job done.

There are so many paths to succeed in your career, and what ever path you take, you must truthfully apply and experience what you learn with passion. If you can't decide what certification to do next, it might be a wrong choice. In my view, just one certification will do, unless you find yourself more disciplined and motivated to learn when there is a prospect of acquiring a certificate. Piling up on certifications might not be the best choice, when there are other better alternatives to boost your career like

  • Participating in open source contribution and taking up a self-taught project to acquire the much needed hands-on experience. There is no substitute for hands-on experience as it not only increases your confidence, but also looks good on your resume/CV.
  • Learning a new piece of sought-after technology/framework or  a soft skill that can help you sell yourself better.
  • Picking up a key area like design concepts, design patterns, concurrency management, transaction management, performance considerations, or memory/resource management, and enhance your knowldege and skills on it. Good understanding of these key areas can help you standout in your resume/CVs and job interviews. 
  • Taking up a voluntary work to acquire some hands-on experience in addition to above alternatives, especially if you are a beginner or finding it difficult to make a break.
  • Taking the time to improve your resume/CV, interviewing skills, job hunting skills, and networking skills to be able to open more doors for you by understanding what the prospective employers are looking for and presenting yourself in a better light.

Your focus should be on selling yourself as a well balanced professional who can provide technical solutions to business problems. It doesn't matter how you get to where you want to be, as long as you get there by understanding what your prospective employers are looking for -- "getting the job done well" and "adding value to their business".

So, before going ahead and spending your valuable time and money on acquiring certification(s),  see if you can take an alternative path of acquiring much needed skills and experience in sought-after technologies, frameworks, and tools will make more sense.

You may also like: Is the effort you expend on Java certification worth the results?

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Blogger ILEAD said...

This is so true! Certifications often enable us to get the interview call and after that we have to convince the employer that we have the technical knowhow and also the soft skills required to become a valued team member. Completing a course in soft skills is a great way to tell a prospective employer that you will be an asset to the company.

8:58 PM, November 09, 2010  

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