I think OSCP was the most legitimately useful in tech https://www.offensive-security.com/pwk-oscp/
PMP has been useful to take on Project Manager roles, but really PrM roles aren't all that exciting to begin with. Still helps when you want to run your own projects.
I'm currently studying to be a certified parliamentarian from the National Association of Parliamentarians. I'm interested in corporate governance and learning Roberts Rules of Order definitely helps.
I'm also a certified farmer (yeah its a thing), I have 5 sailing certs, 3 scuba certs, Wilderness Emergency Medical Responder cert, working on my pilots license, getting my real estate sales license, ham radio operator general class, almost done with my CDL, there's lots more I'd have to check my notes on.
I do want to get a Kubernetes cert done this year. Long term I want to knock out my CPA/CFA exams, but those are a huge commitment so we will see if it pans out.
Most of this response hasn't answered your question at all, because certs really are mostly useless. Still fun to collect.
I'd imagine financial certs would be the most useful (CFA in particular).
If anyone knows any other fun certs let me know.
Congrats on your OSCP - I run a cybersec biz and some of my colleagues have that cert and I’m always impressed when I hear someone has it. I’m a CISSP but I think an OSCP is more practical.
Ham radio extra which is elec eng focused rather than just rules of the airwaves is a good one. (I’m callsign WT1J)
In our biz I really appreciate it when folks have a Network+ or Security+ or a Linux admin cert because you can’t argue with the value of knowing networking fundamentals and the Linux command line. In fact knowledge of Linux command line is my leading indicator of competency for a QA role we have open. I look at answers to this question first every time. Next thing I look at is SQL knowledge- because I think both of these are strong predictors of deeper technical capability.
Certs are underrated IMHO because most of them provide practical knowledge that is immediately applicable in a work setting or other pastime. They give you real skills.
Lastly AWS certs are also super practical and very valuable IMO.
Great question OP!
And then they roll out new services almost weekly.
Quite a moving target.
Azure is the worst offender, offering certs that expire in ONE year. No thanks.
Google certs expire after 2 years.
Fyi, you are then a "professional driver" even in a normal car driving to the grocery. If you get a ticket, many states will instantly double the fine because as a pro, "you know better". Plus there's the medical aspect and other bullshit.
Unless you're going to actually use it, dont get it. Learn to drive an 18 speed with air brakes etc, sure. Just dont get the actual cdl.
I wouldn't try something complicated like a traction splint unless there was really no other option and possibly even then--not sure they even teach it in WFA any longer. But, for the most part having a weekend class to refresh a lot of first aid isn't a bad thing even if you don't practice it all the time, may have forgotten some of the details, and maybe your splints aren't the world's greatest. But so long as you're cognizant of your limitations having some even somewhat stale first aid training is probably better than having none.
[Of course, if you act like your 10 year old WFR or W-EMT cert means you're qualified to charge in and take over because you're "certified" that of course can be an issue.]
If you're using your certification to qualify for a professional or volunteer position, then they usually defer to the expiry period set by the issuer of the certification.
In my experience, basically nobody gets any first aid practice, in between re-certifications. And these are perishable skills, so I wouldn't trust in the ability of most people to execute anything complex after even a year has gone by... But that has to be balanced against the cost of re-training. WMR is usually an 80-hour course (IIRC) and re-certs more like 30-40? That's an absurd time investment for most working people.
80h, that's almost one's whole summer vacation
I hope that more of these courses can evolve into a hybrid online model, where you can use distance learning to spread some of the coursework out, ahead of time.
thankfully, most places are very careful not to take cert cards from unfamiliar faces at face value.
I would note that "asked or expected" is different than "required", so there really is no downside to doing a rescue diver class or a divemaster program. In fact, I highly recommend it and it was a lot of fun.
If you have no experience, just a cert, then you should stay out of the way with those with experience and help as requested.
However, with many dive accidents, you don't have the luxury of waiting for a more experienced diver and having that training will give you a better chance of saving your buddy's life.
I think the point was that such schools get bad reviews, and look like bad choices, might get out completed by more lax schools
Apparently academia (universities) works a bit in the same way, there was a recent HN discussion
I think that people often just go with the cheapest option without doing the additional research.
not to say you shouldnt get a rescue cert, but that alone is insufficient if you have no actual and recent or long term experience.
While a cert is no substitute for experience, if you are going to gain that experience, it is much better to have a cert than not.
Dive shops with more advanced dives ask for total and recent experience as well, and sometimes require you to do a refresher or dive with them once before they take you on the advanced dives (deep, night, high current, overhead obstacles etc). The OW cert is a big contributing factor, but it's not the only data point.
That said most other recreational certs are useless and just a money grab, even including advanced, imo. Shops generally rate OW+30 recent dives higher than OW+AOW, and rightly so.
Note: the EPA 608 has multiple levels. For mini splits under about 2 tons, you might be able to get by with just your EPA 608 core and Type 1 (small appliances, <5lb of refrigerant) Type 1 + core can be done online, open-book, and costs $25. Nobody should install a mini split without it!
I'd feel worse about it, but generally the HVAC companies in an area are extremely predatory and only quote out new systems when a simple repair would suffice.
The test does not cover how to do repairs or fix HVACs. I learned that elsewhere.
CFA requires that you have work experience making investment decisions and can get references to that effect, but in all it would be easier than CPA.
I'll knock that out then take the charter exam, if I pass then I'll consider doing part time work as an accountant for two years to get the hours.
One thing I am wondering is how much these certificates cost. For example, quickly glancing through your OSCP link says the minimum is $1499, it is not cheap!
Thank you for mentioning NAP, I didn't know this was a thing (I suspect most people don't)
Fun certs - I did this last year https://www.pearsonpte.com/ and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unlike many tech certs, to pass language exams one has to really know the language. This exam is 100% computerized, so we don't have to deal with biases of examiners, which is what happened to me with IELTS.
The rats dig it.
Maritime - master 100 tons inland / mate near coastal plus a bunch of random crap the USCG throws on there if you get those (need to renew these this year); American Sailing Association 101, 103, 104
Scuba - just the useful ones here cause I have a whole wallet memorializing money flushed down the drain: rescue diver, ice diver, solo diver, drysuit, open circuit advanced nitrox/deco procedures, 45m helitrox closed circuit rebreather w/deco, certified Poseidon regulator+rebreather repair technician (though the big thing I learned was just to send my gear to pros working with this stuff every day). Currently my big focus is training up to take the 60m normoxic trimix rebreather course in the fall
Radio - general class ham (failed the extra by like two questions, in my defense I had only studied for general), restricted radiotelephone operator (literally just a cash payment, needed this once for a flight I had planned to Canada)
Other - authorized to perform marriages, motorcycle endorsement on driver's license, certified analytics professional (took the test on a whim and passed, it's since lapsed but I might see if they'll let me re-up it), notary public (lapsed), have thought about doing PMP since I'd be good to go on experience reqs
I started an EMT course a while back but I dropped out after realizing I was never going to be able to remain at all proficient. I'm like this with my aviation instrument rating as well, I keep legally current with it but I am pretty cautious about relying on proficiency since I'm not flying multiple times a week
Probably some others I'm forgetting but these are the big ones! I remain really impressed with your list, you've come up with some good ones...will have to think on whether I need to pursue some of them myself :-)
Also, those are some pretty serious things to do as a hobby.
There is a separate certification for anything involving open flames. Including things like Dave Chapelle using a lighter to light a cigarette.
Storage, transport and manufacturing certs are independent of these and and all involve the ATF in the US (starting with Form 54). It’s actually pretty complex trying to figure out alone, I had to get plugged into the local pyrotechnics guild for them to lay it out for me.
I had started learning level 1, but realized I'm kind of wasting my time allocating much brain juice to it before growing my income/net worth.
I'm not OP, but I also have quite a bouquet of certifications. Why? Mostly because I love to learn and I also love to work towards goals. Also most certifications are not that hard once you've figured out how to deal with scenario based multiple choice questions. It's a low effort way to focus my learning.
When it comes to hiring - and as someone who sat at both sides of the table - any certificate outside of what is expected in your industry does more harm than good.
 OSCP is the exception to the rule
Huh - this is surprising to hear. I would have thought that random extra certifications would act as indicators that a) you're a naturally focused and capable person (rather than just cosplaying one for salary), and b) you have interests outside of work (so will be a more well-rounded and pleasant person to work around). Can you elaborate on the ways in which you find non-standard certifications to be harmful?
If I had a hiring manager say this to me in an interview, I would not want to work for that manager. Random interests outside of work have zero influence on a candidate's ability to perform a job well. I enjoy working with coworkers who live fulfilling lives outside their 9-5, but outside of illegal activity, I wouldn't let their outside life influence my decision to hire them. If they find value in playing video games every hour outside work, that's fine. If they want to obtain random certs and skills, that's fine too.
I'm also in the process of getting my private pilot's license. Do you expect me to start flying in the middle of the day instead of working? If anything, being able to focus on a target goal that can take 6+ months to accomplish indicate focus and drive more than a lack of it.
The SCUBA diving example mentioned is an interesting life experience for someone to have, and doesn't deserve someone gatekeeping whether or not the individual is "serious" about their hobbies or experiences.
The scuba example was on purpose, because if you list credentials for things that you aren't actually proficient in, it shows something else about your attitude towards being honest about your skills (which can be crucial in technical roles). At one of my old employers, my later boss warned me that the last interview round with a very senior guy was mostly a formality, as long as I'd been honest on my CV. He liked to grill people a bit about their inner workings and their journey, and he'd famously once rejected the team's top choice because the guy had claimed to be fluent in a particular (natural) language on his CV, and then turned out to be anything but (that language was of course in no way needed for the job). In situations like that you feel vindicated if you've had a think about whether old credentials that you acquired a long time ago realistically still belong on your CV. Skills that you don't practice can be lost, regardless of what some paper says.
But if you are serious about them, then by all means put your hobbies on your CV. It can lead to great conversations sometimes, and it's also a form of honesty. And yeah, sometimes people will read things into it that are beyond your control (if you're a pilot, those will mostly be positive, if you do MMA, they may be more mixed, but I'd argue you should mention it regardless).
For what it's worth, I initially misunderstood your statement that "being focused and having lots of random interests are mutually exclusive" in the same way that the other commenter did, as implying that someone with a life outside of work cannot be a good employee. I see now that you were stressing the "_lots of random_" part of the statement (that is - if you have 20 different "passions" in a month, you cannot truly be said to be focused on any of them) - in this case, I agree!
> a very senior guy [...] famously once rejected the team's top choice because the guy had claimed to be fluent in a particular (natural) language on his CV, and then turned out to be anything but...
Wow - an extreme, but defensible, position! Integrity is important.
> if you do MMA, they may be more mixed
Pun intentional? ;)
However, I understand that some people shut down when they see a lot of extraneous detail. Think of it like reading a news article. You'd get confused if you started reading "Ferry sinks, injuring 11" and halfway through it starts talking about cricket, then a fire, then congress, then...
I can see this being the case just for the fact that certs are usually paired a structured curriculum for learning a new skill. This takes a huge mental burden off and decreases time wasted in deadend exploration.
I need something to "show" for my efforts. Project-based learning can work for me as well, but it takes extra work to figure it out for a given skill. I'm learning photography and I have a goal of doing 1 portrait session per week for a few months. That kind of thing helps me feel like I'm making measurable progress.
My work requires me to take certifications and keep them renewed.
What I appreciate from certifications is actually taking a well-made test. (Instead of a carelessly made normal school or university test.)
For well made certification tests, the question writing process is interesting and a whole specialization by itself. Each question is beta tested. And metrics are collected as to how a question is correlated or predicts that someone will pass the test. Tests should avoid mixing question pairs that hint the answer of another question. And writing multiple choice answers in which the answer is not possible to guess. Also writing questions so they are well written and easily understood. So that the question measures knowing or not knowing the topic, rather than affecting the test taker due to unclear wording.
I’m similar to you - have a ton of certifications and I’m an insanely good test taker.
Several years ago I signed up for the Level 1 CFA exam in late August to take it on December 5th. So I had a little over 3 months to study for it.
My first inclination that I made a horrible mistake was when one of my portfolio manager coworkers said to me, “I got my bachelor’s in finance, got my master’s in economics, studied for that test for 6 months, failed it and gave up. It’s just too hard.”
350 hours of studying later, I was the only one from my company that passed Level 1 that year. 33% pass rate.
I’m in software engineering. It has provided no discernible career benefit even though I work at an investment bank.
I’m happy that I proved I could do it but the CFA program is not a certification to collect on a whim. It’s literally a 3+ year commitment and you will come close to killing yourself studying.
Also once or twice a year you can attend a conference and rack up all your CPEs.
In some states, carrying lockpicks is presumptive guilt unless you're a locksmith, but I never figured out whether that's a certification or just a business license or what.
Is the specific parliament you want to work in?
The test is administered by aicpa, but this is a helpful starting point.
I've tried, really hard. I did 4 years of french, 2 years of spanish, 4 semesters of Arabic, 2 semesters of german, 1 Berlitz tutor session for 3 months in Russian and 3 months of tutoring in Farsi. Most of my grades were AWFUL and I barely qualified for anything. I really tried, but I just don't have the medium/long term memory for language. It also doesn't help that I live in the US.
There were people who still raced around me -- I'm not gifted at languages, by any means -- but for the first time in my life I'm actually modestly capable in a second language. I continue to study now, and it's still accumulating, however slowly.
After this experience, I believe that most people can learn a second language, but they don't because the barriers to entry are insanely high. If you really want to learn a language to a conversational level of fluency, you either have to be truly gifted (5% of people) have to want it so much that you'll immerse yourself in it 24/7 (the rest of us).
> I did 4 years of french, 2 years of spanish, 4 semesters of Arabic, 2 semesters of german, 1 Berlitz tutor session for 3 months in Russian and 3 months of tutoring in Farsi
It took me about 3 months of daily immersion in Japanese life (plus the 4 hours of daily school, of course) just to get to a point where my ears could hear words reliably. If you translate this to coursework...it's got to be 1+ years of college-level study.
Pentesting really requires "full stack" systems knowledge, from networking, to OS, to API analysis, malware analysis, binary reverse engineering. OSCP is an applied cert, so it really forces you to be able to leverage knowledge in a practical way.
However my favorite benefit of offsec is really being able to see things from an attacker's perspective. This has been super valuable in many situations and I've found I'm many times the only person in the room with an awareness of an adversarial mindset.
I got out of pentesting because no one follows your recommendations. I could give 40 recommendations after doing a pentest, come back a year later and none of them would have been implemented.
People don’t care about security—-it’s why everything is broken and it’s getting worse.
I moved into Distributed Ledger Technology because I think it could help solve security issues people face daily in a way where they cannot mess up. That’s the idea anyway.
Now the easiest white collar profession (8 courses that are easy) require we work for a broker for years. Usually a broker who got their licence without becoming a salesperson first.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill because he wanted competition.
Gov. Brown eventually signed it.
MSHA part 48, or others, is useful to be allowed to be unattended on a mine site. The scope and size of some mines, and the operations and equipment, are something to experience. Of course, the mine owner must want you to be there.
FAA explicitly allows after 48hr observation, see https://www.faa.gov/coronavirus/guidance_resources#useOfVacc...
Not only could you be bypassing people passionate enough to work their way into the field through pretty adverse circumstances, you could be inadvertently reducing the diversity of your workforce in doing so. I know it’s tough to have to whittle down a list of candidates on paper, but the closer you are to judging a person’s path rather than their capability, the more likely you’ll be to favor people who mirror your cultural identity and experiences. So if someone looks like they’ve got the requisite skills. It certainly doesn’t mean everybody with a pile of certs is worth considering, but it’s probably not a good immediate disqualifier.
Of course it's never a binary decision and the complete picture of the resume matters. For example, if someone got a bunch of certs 20 years ago when they started their career that doesn't have any negative impact. But more often, people try to use certs and MOOCs to pad their resume and hope use them to hide the fact that they lack real work experience.
But that's the problem with bias in general, though— It's always a matter of practicality. It's been some time since most discrimination deliberately stymied people with a background or makeup the dominant culture considered objectionable. These days it hides in the subconscious mechanisms governing the purportedly rational generalizations we rely on when lacking time and resources to properly investigate something.
I don't think it's anybody's fault— it's a bug in our brains and we can't control that. I do think we're ethically obligated to push back when practical requirements compel us to make those generalizations. If we expect police to do it when someone may or may not be pulling a gun out of their pocket, we should certainly expect ourselves to do it when we've got a queue of resumes to process.
If someone is coming into an interview naked I'm going to reject that candidate. Am I being biased towards unclothed people if I do that? Should I continue the interview and try to find the candidate's fit for the position and disregard that they are choosing not to wear clothes? I think it's no different for a candidate that chooses to list certain things on their resume. Nobody is forced to list all of their certificates on their resume. It is a choice the candidate makes, and what else do I have to judge a candidates fitness than the choices they make in how they represent themselves and their skills?
You can certainly make an argument that listing many certificates is a shallow signal and you should invest more time into getting to know a candidate better before you choose to reject. If someone chooses to use this signal you can make an argument that they will possibly miss a few good candidates. But I don't think you can make an argument that it's ethically unjust to do so.
I mean, you do you, but it seems that if you were actually interested in the truth you'd have a blind-interview strategy where you interview and judge based solely on the actual interview not knowing about their certificate status a priori.
Note: I don't have a lot of certs (I don't even know that the couple I do have are even up to date, nor on my resume), but this kind of response I see quite often and it feels quite smug.
I find the process of going through the effort to get a cert quite valuable, as it exposes me to aspects of <subject> that I probably would have not hit just "spending my free time on work-type projects", which is another red flag for me as an interviewee. I've been a dev my whole career spanning 30+ years, so I get the desire for "fire" and "passion" for the craft, but as soon as someone asks about what I do OUTSIDE of work that could be brought to bear for work stuff, I'm out. I can see what kind of company they are representing.
> My experience from dozens of interviews
That's not pre-supposing, instead, sounds to me like learning from one's job?
> blind-interview strategy
I liked that -- how does one make it scale though?
If a candidate includes it on his/her CV, this can give the impression that s/he might not have realized that it's useless. Which can make a slightly bad impression
I suppose it depends a bit randomly on who happens to interpret the CV
The candidate included them on their resume for you to evaluate, so evaluate them. Nobody's arguing that candidates with only free LinkedIn certs and nothing else should be given equal consideration to those with formal education.
The question is whether or not people with any certificates can ethically be dismissed out-of-hand because they list certificates on their resume. The answer is still no.
However if I was looking for a job, I'd be a bit careful with including what to me seemed like "unimportant" certs, for the reason I mentioned
> The question is whether or not people with any certificates can ethically be dismissed
To me, the question was rather if there's in practice a risk that it happens, (un)ethical or not
Not necccesarily. Depending on the cert and field it may make sense to.
The goal of getting the cert should be to learn skills. If you've done that, the piece of paper doesn't matter.
> Not only could you be bypassing people passionate enough to work their way into the field through pretty adverse circumstances, you could be inadvertently reducing the diversity of your workforce in doing so
The people with all the certs still got interviewed where i worked last, it was just a consistent pattern that they bombed the interview, usually very badly on very basic questions.
E.g. if I'm hiring for a junior dev and get some self-taught person having done a couple of relevant online courses and so far managed to get a tech support role looking to become a programmer I'm often interested in talking to them.
On the other hand, I have seen cv's from senior enterprise/government engineers, 10 pages long, plastered all over with certs, titles, abbreviations, version numbers, iso standards, etc. and I have absolutely no idea what they actually did or achieved in their prior jobs even when googling a dozen terms. They might be great in the context they are working in, but they are from experience not a great fit for the context I'm hiring for.
It sounds like you were looking at a federal resume which are differently structured and much, much longer than private sector resumes. Candidates appreciate feedback letting them know: “Thanks for applying but I can’t suss out what you can actually do based on what you sent. Feel free to reapply with a more concise, descriptive resume.”
If they’ve worked in the federal government that long, they might just not realize how inappropriate their resume is for private sector jobs even if they’re qualified. If they can’t course correct and describe their skills in common business language, that’s a good enough indicator of their ability to adapt to the position, I’d say.
Recruiters and hiring managers go through so many resumes, the last thing you want is to have someone looking for a programmer to read about your basket weaving skills.
My strategy has always been to tailor the bulk of the resume to the job I'm applying for. Bring everything else up during the interview if there's natural time to do so, because that's where they want to see who you are.
This is an old anti-pattern: tests that sound like they're about competence, but they're actually about "culture fit."
Example: Speaking at conferences. This sounds like social proof you know something about the industry, and have communication skills to boot. In many cases it actually means you are good at networking, have leisure time available to attend conferences, and get invited back to speak at more conferences because you're likeable and contribute to the conference's social scene.
In my own case, I have spoken and even keynoted multiple conferences. But I don't think speaking at conferences means much when hiring, unless I'm hiring an evangelist or community manager. If I'm hiring a programmer, I want to know whether they can program, nit whether they can talk about programming.
Anyways, I support your thesis that some (or even many) single-metric gatekeeping strategies that don't measure the actual skill required by the job are bad, and I suggest that many of them test for culture, not competence.
For sure include them if they are relevant to the role or show real commitment to a topic. If you see a string of disperate certs though it's easy to assume the applicant doesn't know what they want to do.
Not saying I would discount someone on this alone but it would raise questions for the interview if they were otherwise qualified.
If a qualified candidate only having certificate credentials merely prompts further investigation, then great. However, it's quite often the tipping point between round-filing a good candidate and calling another one in for an interview. While it might seem innocuous on a micro level, on a macro level this affects big swaths of the population.
In the 2005 Study Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal (https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w9873/w9873...), they responded to 1300 job ads with 5000 equally-weighted resumes with randomly assigned names which were either stereotypically white, like Emily Walsh or Greg Baker, or stereotypically black, like Lakisha Washington or Jamal Jones. Resumes with white sounding names were 50% more likely to receive a callback. Fifty percent! The likelihood of 1300 randomly chosen job ads being run by the KKK is pretty low. Most, if not all of them were probably letting "gut instinct" criteria swing their judgement.
If you had a video game where the sole task was getting a job, one race having a built-in buff where the callback was 50% greater without being balanced somewhere else would be insanely unfair. Not only is it not balanced, but we're literally only talking about these folks names— never mind their appearance, manner of speaking, cultural references, etc.
We all like to think of ourselves as good people but that's not enough to stop this. We need to deliberately interrogate our MO, here.
It at least gave me something to talk about more directly because I can have some expectation on tech they've worked with.
I personally don't chase certs for myself because I don't see the point, but I find them as fairly okay talking points on a CV. And it's hard to argue any interview unfairness since the cert should imply certain levels of familiarity with a technology.
Edit: I do need to add that the cert concern was a real thing in our company but after some analysis, we sadly found some biases from the interviewers as they only considered certs for certain candidates to be a negative signal. I put a stop to that fast reminding people of candidates from more western countries with gobs of certs, and they legit didn't know their ass from their head, much less how to do anything besides press the button the manual said to press.
It's part of the reason I try to make "cover paragraphs" (not necessarily full cover letters) an important part of every application - it's important to give people the opportunity to let their passion shine through at the earliest parts of a process.
I actually rarely read too deeply into the CV except as a source for some talking points. I have a phenomenal recruitment team so I rarely need to "guess" on a candidate from a CV (truly, they are exceptional and they really get what my team is looking for and our candidates love them also cause the recruiters took a lot of time to learn enough to talk competently about our tech scope) If my recruiters pass me a candidate, the candidate is at least good enough to bullshit fairly competently.
We structure our interviews to be very conversational -- the same points are always hit and we have a loose grading structure, but mostly the goal is to get the candidates to talk about problems and explain their thoughts really well. I do feel bad, because I can tell some put a ton of effort into their CV, but I rarely pay that much attention to it besides ctrl+f for some subjects I want to talk about or looking for a few keywords outside of our core competencies just to see how they talk about these edge cases.
Passion is good, but for me, passion shines through during the interview and the conversation and how they love to talk about what they work on. Even with the most nervous candidates, we've taken a lot of time to practice just being approachable and interested, which helps even the shyest candidates really open up. I know I had one candidate pretty recently where they were quite shy (and also interviewing in a second language, not their primary so lots of stress there). It took a little bit, but by the end of the interview, they were blushing red with pride and smiling uncontrollably with how proud of themselves they were for answering really tough questions and scenarios we had for them. (and they knocked it out of the park for a DevOps position, I don't think I've been so happy with a candidate in awhile)
I wish we got this for every candidate; their passion gets tapped and just suddenly I see someone gushing about their favorite topic.
Just FYI that at some companies, collecting certificates is indeed real world stuff. Some companies use it for marketing (“we have the most certifications in the industry”) and some need to to satisfy vendor partner requirements (“AWS Premier Partners are required to have X number of certificates”). It doesn’t seem fair to penalize a candidate just because they did what their company asked for.
My rule is always to only put something on my resume if I could talk for 2-3 minutes about it in a way that makes me look good/useful. Most of my certs, the only real thing I could say is "I spent 10-30 hours watching videos and then took a test well." I wouldn't really want to work for a company that valued those skills vs. me explaining how I applied the things I learned from the cert.
I assume part of the reason is that certs are expensive and not well respected, so the only reason you would get them is if you had no other options.
I should also clarify, I only put certs that matter (why put an Azure cert on a resume submission to an AWS shop) and certs that are recent (I have 20 years on my resume, why would i put my CCNA on there). I think a large number of irrelevant certs would be a negative signal. I think a large number of relevant certs AND job history to back them up would be a super strong signal.
It's kind of a stupid response, especially considering that the same people would most likely view 10+ certs on your CV as a positive if your name is western-sounding...
That being said, 20+ CompTIA cents isn’t going to move the needle for me.
I say all that to say “it depends on the cert”
I don’t know what jobs you’re hiring for, if any, I simply don’t see how more data is a negative signal.
I think that’s silly.
I disagree with the entirety of your reply, except for the CEH zinger ;)
The CISSP is a risk management cert that's sometimes oversold as an infosec cert. It's been quite useful to me in dealing with the (Fortune 1000 mostly) bureaucracies that take Red Team and pen test findings and turn them into remediations or risk acceptances.
The OSCP is a technical cert that's oversold in a different way: because the test is fairly difficult, lots of people assume it's an advanced cert. It's a beginner cert (and Offensive Security has several more you can take after it). What it does prove is that you probably have the right mindset to be a penetration tester (which is not necessarily the same mindset you need for Red Teaming, i.e., unannounced adversarial simulation).
tl;dr: I don't think any cert is bad as long as everybody understands what it's for. But I'm one of those people who collects them (at employer expense) as a way to structure my learning, and then never renews them.
With the popular exams, it is mind-numbingly fast. Think days to weeks. Crowdsourcing / MTurking the question banks is depressingly effective if you sweated over nearly a thousand question bank items for a few months with a few other expensive experts.
Labs in the exams are a way to blunt this, but I think the exam dump industry has probably come up with a way to defeat labs as well by now, because the labs run a fixed set of scenarios with variations in parameters but not the general gist. It's better, but still hackable.
What I've come up with requires discipline by a team documenting the issues they've fixed in the past, but it is so far 100% foolproof. Pick a random relatively self-contained issue your team fixed in the past; this is the most critical step governing the quality of this technique's results. Reproduce the issue in a scratch environment.
Sit down the candidate in front of a workstation set up to their preferences you gathered in advance, with all the tooling they prefer, simplifying your superfluous environment specifics where possible (like logging them into various accounts ahead of time). Set their expectations ahead of time that they will be team / pair troubleshooting for half an hour, that you aren't evaluating whether they find the root cause or not, you're evaluating how well they work with others troubleshooting an issue in some system/language/etc. they claim they are a domain expert in. Dive in.
Without fail, the ones who exam dumped their way to a certification will thrash about. Hard. Most common is they will not know where to even start, deer-in-the-headlights. Even telling the candidate straight out where to start, by using your 20/20 hindsight and artificially picking a starting point 1-2 steps away from the root cause still does not unlock them; jumping to a known good starting point is useful for the experienced candidates who freeze under interview pressure, as they usually unfreeze when given such a big head start from your IRL issue that you ran into for the first time.
You can often get a good gauge of how much and how deeply the candidate worked with the stack they claim competency in by how they navigate around, ask questions, probe for error messages, etc.
How does the quality and value of, say, CompTIA, Cisco, AWS, OSCP, K8s, Linux+ and other certs compare with each other?
Interesting, since the majority of tech interviews (from what I’ve gathered) rely on artificial tests that require memorization.
I’m not disagreeing, I also think real world experience is infinitely more valuable. But it seems like certs could actually be an indicator that a candidate would perform quite well in LC style interviews.
Certs on the other hand are often just pure memorization. There's not really any way to "infer" which AWS service name matches to which service function. You either know the name of the API call or you don't. It doesn't provide much signal that you actually know how to apply that information to anything practical.
Even at their worst, most crappy whiteboard code interviews are still literally testing if you can literally write functional code, which is closer to what you do on the job than memorizing the Cisco books.
This seems like a shaky assumption. Keep in mind that many companies, like mine, sponsor or even mandate the certification process. Meaning the justification, time, and costs didn't come from the candidate you're dismissing.
It's almost 100% that they fail the interview because they don't know how to put the learning into real world solutions.
My past company had a huge pile of credits for certs because they valued them and I figured “I’ve been working with AWS; why not?” I didn’t study or prepare at all and went in using only the hands-on knowledge I picked up over my career.
I came out with all the associate certs, the AWS solutions architect pro, and their network specialty.
As a hiring manager I find certs to be a neutral indicator: you at least have to know the material to get them, but plenty of people learn the material hands-on, not from books.
As for why companies need such partnership: it speaks well to managerial types, therefore helps win contracts.
the candidate should not be penalised for trying to tick boxes that other people have set up.
I got rejected from positions because I had a masters in computer science instead of an ECDL certificate. So I swallowed my pride and went and got one. Now, I'd agree with you that as an actual computer scientist, mentioning ECDL on my resume is embarrasing. But there you go, some HR departments have weird automated checklists, so I leave it in. I'd hate to then apply to someone like you who'd reject me because I had the nerve to list my ECDL certificate on my resume. It's a lose lose situation for everyone involved.
As far as side-projects and open source contributions, this is a two way street. When I look at side projects, I look for how well you are utilizing best practices in your code. If it's a sloppy, poorly documented mess it doesn't look favorably for you. If you use your side projects as a marketing tool they should be well-polished.
Or it signals that the candidate would rather learn hands-on than take useless multiple choice tests.
I'll also echo what others have said, in that certs are commonly used by people trying to compensate for a lack of actual skills. That's not always true, but it is often enough that the correlation is bound to stick in people's minds even if they don't explicitly exclude applicants because of it. If you do have both a lot of certs _and_ solid skills and experience, then kudos -- but you may want to consider tailoring resumes and other materials to the jobs you apply to based on their applicability and expected reception. (That's generally good advice for anything, but particularly for things like this that could have both positive or negative connotations in different circumstances.)
On second thought maybe my words were too harsh for HN. I just don't know a polite way of responding to this. And on the other end of the spectrum there is another ass that says you are shy of one cert, 10 is not enough. We need a guy with this particular cert. or they use this shit to mask their prejudice and find a way to keep people out that aren't part of their country club.
It is categorically unfair and the intent is at best based on laziness. If people are getting certs then why is hiring manager not smart enough to ask challenging practical questions and measure their thinking process? And then they brag about it.
No, I think if your response to getting called out on making personal attacks is to double down on it, I understand quite well, but don't think we'll ever see eye to eye. I wish you the best.
We work on side projects because we __like__ it. Seeing side projects through the lense of "value" is naive in my opinion. Yes, obviously if the side project has actual users than that's a plus. But companies like seeing side projects because it __does__ show that the candidate really likes what they do for a living. Now whether the company is purposefully using that to expect people to work 60 hours a week is a different discussion. And while I'll probably ruffle some feathers by saying this, I'll say it; software is a sport. Very much like a sport, if you stop doing it then you'll get fat and lose your touch. People that work on side projects are constantly honing their craft and because of that they tend to be the best athletes.
If I owned a baseball team, I sure as hell want the best. And in my humble opinion, the best are usually __always__ working on getting better at the game. AKA working on side projects ;)
EDIT:Just want to clarify; it is WRONG of a company to expect people to work 60 hours a week. Just so we are in the same page. I am NOT condoning that.
In the late 90s, 98 I think, I worked for an internet startup that didn’t end up being huge. We were on Novell and a bit if solaris and had just launched a product that used windows nt and server side activex.
I was a college dropout web dev/web master making $50k. They had a hard time hiring devs who knew nt and could design and automate server farms. I learned on the job and did an ok job running it. But they wouldn’t promote me because I was really young and didn’t have a degree.
I went to a Microsoft conference and would buy a study book each day and take the test there. I did 3 exams during the conference and took the other three when I got home and with all 6 certs got my Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (with a stamp of bill gates’ signature).
They gave me a raise to $60k (and the college grads went from 50-55). I then got $70k six months later and $80k six months after that as I was the “certified person.”
I always thought it was funny that I did the same job before and after the certs. The Networking cert was really useful and I still remember how to do subnets and dns and dhcp and stuff.
It’s often more advantageous for the company to have people with certs (it was with MCSE and such in the 90s anyway) - more MCSE etc on staff meant it was possible for the company to attain higher partnership levels with Microsoft which often meant more lucrative contracts and so on.
So while you may have been doing the same job as before, just by having the getting the certs you added more value to the business.
I later worked for consulting companies where these certs came in handy for the reason you describe.
Another one that will catch my eye is any Kubernetes certification.
Both are great additions to experience, the certification itself has much less value standalone, but it might be the edge that will help someone get that entry level job.
(These are common for DevOps engineers, but a SWE with the above will have an edge in my book)
I.e. A SWE with a SWE cert says nothing, because you'd expect them to know it. But a SWE with a DevOps cert says something, versus just claiming knowledge.
My impression is that the world actually believes "You can be certified in something without knowing it."
So at best, from an applicant / employee's perspective, certificates are a slightly stronger suggestion that you might know the thing you claim to know.
Which is a useless reinforcement for something for which you already have demonstrated experience via work history.
But might be useful for something for which you do not.
Back story: when I started working for my self my first client was a pilot, he encouraged me to get my PPL or at least do a demo flight. I did an intro flight and was instantly hooked. 3 years later I had a PPL, Instrument Rating, High Performance and Complex checkouts. One of the best experiences I have ever had, I was fresh out of college, had a few bucks in my pocket and not many obligations. Anyway heres why its been great:
- I have found there are basically three types of people that bum around private airports where general aviation ops occur. 1) people successful enough to afford to fly private jets or charters when they need 2) people successful enough to OWN their own plane. 3) People who are liable to become types 1 and 2. In general pilots are a nice bunch and a talkative bunch. Ive met some really great people (read business connections) just by lurking around the airport. That first client I had, had lots of similar buddies who were pilots that I got to meet etc. etc. By far the most productive business networking I have EVER done occurred near an aircraft.
- Flying keeps you sharp in all aspects and it WILL change the way you look at things. It keeps you sharp on doing paperwork, sharp on staying current on a topic, sharp on thinking ahead of things, sharp on staying in at least some sort of decent physical shape. I have built a lot of productive habits in my life to ensure I can fly.
- It hones your decision making skills, a lot....
- It re-shapes how you view getting around and enabling your business/work. Both pre and post pandemic life. Meeting with client within 500 miles, Im not dealing with trains or regional jets, im coming and going as I need. This has enabled same day travel, taking meetings i normally wouldn't have and being able to generally buy time back.
- Putting my PPL on my resume has been the best talking point, stand out item, liner note I have ever had.
- Its just good fun.
I list it on my resume as "Holder of FCC-issued radio operator license under Part 97, Extra class". For muggles, it's the beginning that sounds impressive. For other hams, it's the end.
And every. single. interviewer. has brought it up and asked about it. In technical roles, often one of the interviewers is also a ham or at least fairly aware of it. That's a natural branch to talk about side projects and hands-on competencies, which can otherwise be hard to introduce.
It requires some study, nothing to the level of a PPL, but most folks can't walk in off the street and get anything higher than a Tech license. General-class usually takes concerted study, and Extra is basically a thimble-full of college physics and a whole whack of practical electronics and RF safety.
Radio is mysterious to a lot of people. Heck, a lot of people don't even think of wifi and GPS and walkie-talkies and WDET as being the same thing. Being both competent with the tech itself, and facile with explaining it, makes one instantly valuable in a great many settings.
The privileges granted with a license are insane. I sometimes use the analogy that: Imagine everyone walks everywhere, or you can buy a little e-scooter that's speed limited to 2 miles per hour. All the fasteners are welded and it's illegal to modify your scooter. That's FRS, wifi, etc. Pay a fee and you can get licensed for GMRS, which is a 10mph scooter, but it's still welded shut because there's no technical competency required for that license. Or, demonstrate technical competency on the ham exam, and you get a license that allows you to drive a supercar at 1500mph, and you're allowed and encouraged to modify anything you like or build it from scratch if that's your thing, and they when you self-certify its roadworthiness, they just take your word for it because you hold that license and you probably know how to tune it and not hurt people and stuff. It's utterly bonkers.
Sadly the community around amateur radio is nowhere near as elite as you make out general aviation to be; there's substantial overlap with the wannabe-cop cosplayers, and I find the most interesting hams tend to not spend a lot of time at ham gatherings. There are some magnificent technical fora, to be sure, but they are the exception.
I don't own a plane or fly in 135 charters, I'm a member of a flight club that owns a few planes. As a member I effectively rent the planes from the club at a very reasonable rate with a small fixed monthly cost for things like storage etc. The planes are not used for primary training and are only available to club members. They are very well equipped IFR capable aircraft that are very well maintained. The club is small enough that its pretty easy to get a plane when you want/need one. With that in mind here are some cool things the club has aloud me to do.
1) I have moved a few times since I got my PPL and some of my friends have as well. At this point I have fairly close friends all up and down the eastern seaboard. The plane has aloud me to see them regularly without very much complex planning and often for lunch or breakfast when it would otherwise need to be for the whole weekend. Just yesterday I flew down south a bit to meet a buddy for breakfast that I otherwise would not have been able to drive to do do such a thing. This has been a really nice aspect of flying.
2) We have some family that lives close but not super close (7ish hour drive). The plane has aloud us to be part of their new borns life in a tangible way. Similar to seeing friends that I otherwise couldn't
3) The plane has expanded my weekend trip options. We have explored islands, gone to further cities and seem more than we would in a car. There are just north of 16,000 airfields in the US and only a small chunk of them service commercial traffic. I can get my little plane into pretty much all of them and land super close to lots of interesting places.
4) Ive been able to leverage interesting one day opportunities: Is there a once in a decade eclipse coming, best viewing spot is 600 miles, lets take the plane for the day. Is there an airshow somewhere lets fly in and check it out. Ferries booked to Nantucket for the weekend, take the plane. Want to get some chowder the vineyard for lunch, take the plane. Wedding in the Hamptons, traffic looking like its gonna be 6 hours to get there, take the plane. Buddies bachelor part is far and you need to get there friday potentially stuck in hours of beach traffic, take the plane (and pick up some friends along the way!)<- all things Ive done.
Before anyone jumps to "its super expensive to do those things" the fact is, in a reasonable GA plane its about the same cost as driving +fees for dealing with cars these days. My plane gets the gas milage of an SUV and most airports charge less than $20 a day for ramp parking, free if you buy some fuel typically. Some cities have silly $2 mandatory parking fees or what ever but if your careful about picking which small airport you go to in a city you can usually fly in for VERY cheap or free if you buy gas and you generally need to buy gas anyway... With tolls and gas prices the way they are its usually not much of a price difference to take the plane even after rental costs are figured in.
Lack of experience and achievements also make certs stand out more, because you've got not much else to show for yourself.
Sometimes certs can be a red flag.. depending on the cert. For example, someone with a whole bunch of Windows certs applying for a job dealing only with Linux? That's a bit of a red flag. Doesn't mean they won't get the job, though.. it's just one factor in the hiring decision.
Sometimes for really laid back companies, any kind of formal signaling like this could be a turn-off. It's like coming in to a company wearing a suit when everyone else is wearing shorts.
This is the key point.
Certs aren't good/bad, or helpful/harmful in of themselves. They matter/or not depending on what type of employment(if any) you are trying for for.
For instance, I never want to work in bureaucracies or places levels/layers/management complexity that they must fall back on certifications, skill checklists, and the like. So, I never pursued any form of certification. Not even a university diploma.
Also: The more your role is "external consultant", the more certifications matter.
Maybe it sounds obvious, but if you don't have a license, you are crippling yourself.
Even if you don't have a car, not having a license means you don't even have the option of renting one. Also, is is so "obvious" that if an employer notices that you don't have it, he will wonder why. Are you too stupid to drive? Crippled in some way? Economic problems? Have some criminal history? Alcoholic? You may have a legitimate reason, but it is still a red flag and you may need to clear yourself.
Second and just as obvious is a degree. Not so important if you have experience (though some large companies care), but a degree may be the key to a good first job that may launch the rest of your career.
I have never felt the need for any technical certification, not personally, the few I needed were paid by my employer for a specific mission, and done during work hours. Didn't get much use after that. Since I am not an English speaker, I probably could want something like a decent TOEIC score if I wanted to work in a large company in an English speaking country, but I am net even sure.
College degrees can definitely matter, unfortunately, but they're not strictly required. I've seen teams and managers who were pretty snobbish about which university somebody went to—to the point where not having a degree would have been better than going to an unknown or poorly regarded school. It's an absurd idea and, thankfully, seems to be getting less common in tech, but I saw some of it first-hand. (From what I've heard, it's still a real problem in law where a bunch of firms in the US are virtually T14 or bust.)
Also, WRT TOEIC, while you might need something like that for visa/immigration purposes, i've never heard of a company looking at a piece of paper rather than just conducting the interview in English.
I recently got my driver’s license, first one, at an age far far above the norm for America, even if you factor in New York.
In a long and so far pretty successful career in tech, this has come up exactly once in a professional context, and it was my fault because I was asking about the lack of public transit options during an interview. CEO asked “why don’t you just get a license?”
My colleagues usually find out sooner or later that I don’t (didn’t) drive, because I’m very social. Most people are fascinated by the possibility. At the very least it’s a conversation starter.
I regret not getting the license sooner, but the kind of ignorant and malicious questions listed above have never, ever featured in my unusually long pre-DL experience.
And the same for degrees, this seems to be very US centric IME. Not having a degree hasn't stopped me getting jobs in top salary brackets based purely on my experience, hell I even have a very odd work history and didn't move into tech till my 30's.
Same for certs, requirements for certs in job ads definitely seem to be a US thing. And for me if I'm reviewing CVs I see certs as a mild redflag as I've come across far, far to many people who have certs but couldn't work their way out of a soggy paper bag.
Up until very recently, the big costs of running a car - 'gas', insurance, the car itself - were relatively cheaper in America than nearly anywhere else. Maybe now that Merkins are paying more for petrol their culture will adapt. However, cynicism would suggest a more Mad Max destination for us. We'll pry the guzzoline from their bullet-ridden bodies.
Thank you for your application. We have decided to pursue other candidates due to our recruiter getting "low key cripple vibes" from you. Don't take it personally though, and good luck in the future.
I assume you're from the US :-D Sorry, but this is one of the dumbest things I've read on the internet lately
One of the perks was that you could lease a vehicle at a high discount, which I never did of course.
It's like going to college. You don't need it, but its a nice bump above others in the resume stack at some orgs
Yep, thats the DoD for sure. They require a lot of useless certs.
Note that "experience" means "everything I've done with the license since getting the license". Don't fall into the "achievement" trap: reading a book so you can pass a multiple choice test teaches you precisely nothing, unless you go out and start to apply the rote memorization.
If you are in the US, ARRL sells books that teach to the specifics of the US tests. I used those but found them rather unsatisfying. There are other books which focus on experiments (see Hands-On Radio Experiments) and others on theory.
The ARRL Handbook is also useful. It's updated annually, but you won't miss too much if you save a few dollars by getting an older edition.
Assuming you have the experience and a reasonable level of knowledge, CISA and CISM are pretty easy to maintain. CISSP is arguably worth it too but I let mine lapse due to annoying renewal requirements and some politics in the org.
Having one or more of these can be really handy -- sometimes you have a client who requires it (perhaps because they've copied someone else's requirements), sometimes there is a project you're tangentially aware of with an audit requirement, etc.
Technically they're nothing special. The Offensive Security stuff is probably the best for technical knowledge in their domain.
(I also do a bunch of med, shooting, driving, armorer, etc. classes; it's especially interesting seeing how adult education/instructional design/etc. work in those areas, independent of the actual subject areas taught. "Training" vs. "education" in a lot of cases, etc.)
An MIT degree seems like it would actually be helpful in one's career. They seem to be pretty good in terms of engineering courses, faculty and student body. Did you skip directly to a graduate program?
I assume MIT's financial status is such that if they wanted to they could offer need-blind admissions and full financial aid packages without student loans the way many schools (e.g. almost all of the Ivy League) have. (Though I'm not sure whether they've gotten rid of parental loans, which are kind of terrible as well.)
Although I would agree with most opinions here that that does not make me into a data scientist by any meanse, I do really like that I have a good "helicopter view" of ML. This is still super benificial in my role today, as I know which kind of statistical models apply to certain kind of problems. This enables me to find the right people for the right solution with much more ease.