What Managers Say About Cloud Certifications

Cloud certifications and other related courses can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. While there are a number of reasons why this kind of training can boost your prospects of getting a cloud-related job, many tech professionals, including a number of Dice News users, don’t buy it. “Why bother if I’m already doing the work?” one asked in the comments to this story. Another wondered: “Do employers really expect to find the perfect candidate with the list of 20 must-have skills?”

clouds in blue skyIt’s a sad fact of job hunting that the value of any credential isn’t determined by the candidate, but by the person who makes the hiring decision. To get some perspective from the employer’s side of the table, I talked to Erin Swike, director of client services at hosting provider Bluelock, and Dave Schreiber, a recruiter for Rackspace. All of these questions were suggested by Dice users.

Q: If I already have a job, why should I get all this training?

While Swike says training adds value to your practical experience, she doesn’t put a lot of stock in someone who took a class just so they can say they took a class. “There are different levels of training and certification,” she explains. “A Cisco CCIE [Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert] is a difficult certification to get. So, if they put in the time and effort to get one of these, it would show some initiative on their part.”

Q: Why do employers demand cloud skills when they could hire someone with a varied background and train them?

A: “What it boils down to is balancing business objectives with who is out there in the market,” Schreiber answers. “A person may have all these interesting skills, but it may take three months of training to ramp them up. If my business goals allow me the luxury of time, I can do that. But if our team is underwater and we need someone to hit the ground running, that is when I go after a person who has the deep experience and is already certified. It may take six months to find that person, so the question is whether I can wait, or hire and train.”

“Even someone coming in with a lot of knowledge takes time to get up to speed with a new organization,” Swike adds. “We need people who can come in and hit the ground running, given the pace and speed that things change with the cloud.”

Q: Why do employers require a zillion skills — like C++, C#, MS-SQL, Citrix Server and 10 years’ experience as a project manager — when the possibility of finding someone with all of them is next to nil?

A: “I can’t expect to find the perfect candidate who knows all our technologies,” Swike says. “But we’ve found that by having a broader job description, we get a bigger response. We’ve tried having a narrower job description, so we’ve tried both, but found broader is better.”

Q: Why do employers complain there aren’t enough qualified candidates out there when thousands of tech professionals are out of work? Is it because they expect to find workers who fit that laundry list of skills?

A: “Hiring managers put out [the long] job description because they want to find the perfect candidate, even though they realize they likely don’t exist, or that they do but there are other reasons they can’t accept the job, like location or compensation,” Schreiber says. He points out that some employers are willing to train talented individuals, providing they have the intellectual bandwidth to learn quickly.

Do you have more questions for hiring managers? Post them in the comments below, and we’ll call around to get their answers.

Comments

  1. BY Larry Dennis says:

    the mythical “hit the ground running” meme.

    Quote: “But if our team is underwater and we need someone to hit the ground running”

    Seriously? I’m willing to bet that the reason your team is underwater is that you were unwilling to make I hiring decision prior to the team being “underwster”. Had you actually hired someone and trained them the three months that you estimate you’d have saved everyone especially your team a lot of pain and suffering, but of coarse waited for someone to buy you a pony.

    It simply amazes me the current “trends” management follows in lock step these days without a care how it affects their team or society at large. If the truth be told the reason why companies and hiring managers do the things they do is because the can.

    • BY Cicuta says:

      Larry, you’re 100% correct!

      I am a professional with more than 30 years’ experience in engineering from electronic design to systems including computer systems and IT. I have seen a lot of “Certified” people working at different companies in the IT world and they just cannot cut the mustard when it comes to solving problems. The engineer by nature is a tech person and an avid learner and what is better than “Certification” is that they are trained to think logically by the engineering profession. When I see a job description with more than 20 skills I just laugh and think how stupid hiring people are. It is a fact that perfection is unattainable in any field, the person can be good but not perfect and in order to reach that level the person has to do the same job on a daily basis. A good example is programming regardless of the language…the person has to program day in and day out every day for ever and forgets about the rest of other skills. Why universities have different disciplines in engineering and technology? It is a fact of life that no one is a do it al and be darn good in everything.

    • BY Glen says:

      If the hiring manager makes a bad hiring decision that has something that his/her bosses can point to as a sign of the hiring manger’s incompetence, that is bad for the hiring manager. If he/she can put off the decision, even if that manager is eventually laid off, at least he/she can claim hiring competence by saying that no quality people were available for the project. Most modern project management, especially in the area of staffing, is all about promising the boss that you’ll teach his horse to sing.

      • BY Gary says:

        BINGO! Rather than hiring people straight away there should be a probationary period where the potential employee is evaluated (and vice-versa). There is nothing wrong with temp-to-hire; however, it seems in the past 30 years or so managers have forgotten how to use logic and common sense.

  2. BY Larry Dennis says:

    the mythical “hit the ground running” meme.

    Quote: “But if our team is underwater and we need someone to hit the ground running”

    Seriously? I’m willing to bet that the reason your team is underwater is that you were unwilling to make I hiring decision prior to the team being “underwster”. Had you actually hired someone and trained them the three months that you estimate you’d have saved everyone especially your team a lot of pain and suffering, but of coarse waited for someone to buy you a pony.

    It simply amazes me the current “trends” management follows in lock step these days without a care how it affects their team or society at large. If the truth be told the reason why companies and hiring managers do the things they do is because the can.

    • BY Glen says:

      If the hiring manager makes a bad hiring decision that has something that his/her bosses can point to as a sign of the hiring manger’s incompetence, that is bad for the hiring manager. If he/she can put off the decision, even if that manager is eventually laid off, at least he/she can claim hiring competence by saying that no quality people were available for the project. Most modern project management, especially in the area of staffing, is all about promising the boss that you’ll teach his horse to sing.

  3. BY Tony says:

    My two cents worth, most companies simply look at ‘years’ of ‘technology x’. I’ve worked with hundreds of people with ‘x years’ of ‘technology x’ that more than let me know they never understood it.

    Software development is more than just ‘using language x for x years’. Solving problems, good design, maintainability, best practices, are just a few skills that employeers at the end of the day could care less about.

  4. BY trothaar says:

    —–“Even someone coming in with a lot of knowledge takes time to get up to speed with a new organization,” Swike adds. “We need people who can come in and hit the ground running, given the pace and speed that things change with the cloud.”——–

    Given the pace and speed that things change with the cloud, I have no idea how any employee could possibly “hit the ground running,” unless the hiring company raided a competitor for an individual who was, only two weeks ago, performing the exact same job.

    One of the dangers I see in getting a certification is that, by the time you complete the courses, the technology you just got certified in is already obsolete, having been replaced by the Next Big Thing.

    • BY Glen says:

      And such a person likely takes a premium and is probably too mercenary to be a good hire anyway.

  5. BY trothaar says:

    —–“Even someone coming in with a lot of knowledge takes time to get up to speed with a new organization,” Swike adds. “We need people who can come in and hit the ground running, given the pace and speed that things change with the cloud.”——–

    Given the pace and speed that things change with the cloud, I have no idea how any employee could possibly “hit the ground running,” unless the hiring company raided a competitor for an individual who was, only two weeks ago, performing the exact same job.

    One of the dangers I see in getting a certification is that, by the time you complete the courses, the technology you just got certified in is already obsolete, having been replaced by the Next Big Thing.

    • BY Glen says:

      And such a person likely takes a premium and is probably too mercenary to be a good hire anyway.

  6. BY Gary says:

    I will sum up Erin Swike’s responses in one concise sentence: “We want something for nothing.”

    Her attitude is why I am fed up with I/T managers and I/T in general and the reason I am pursuing another profession. I/T managers want, want, want but they don’t want to give. They don’t want to give people a chance; they don’t want to afford people the opportunity to grow; they don’t want to train people and provide incentives for them to stay with the company.

    It’s the MBA mentality — wring out every last (dollar) we can and then toss it aside as (we) move on to the next venture.

    If an I/T manager cannot or will not evaluate people based on their potential to benefit the organization then that person has no business serving in the position as a leader.

    It’s all a bunch of nonsense, and I would tell Erin Swike to her face.

  7. BY Gary says:

    I will sum up Erin Swike’s responses in one concise sentence: “We want something for nothing.”

    Her attitude is why I am fed up with I/T managers and I/T in general and the reason I am pursuing another profession. I/T managers want, want, want but they don’t want to give. They don’t want to give people a chance; they don’t want to afford people the opportunity to grow; they don’t want to train people and provide incentives for them to stay with the company.

    It’s the MBA mentality — wring out every last (dollar) we can and then toss it aside as (we) move on to the next venture.

    If an I/T manager cannot or will not evaluate people based on their potential to benefit the organization then that person has no business serving in the position as a leader.

    It’s all a bunch of nonsense, and I would tell Erin Swike to her face.

  8. BY Thyme says:

    Does “Hit the ground running” mean, we do not have time to train you? Such bull.

  9. BY Thyme says:

    Does “Hit the ground running” mean, we do not have time to train you? Such bull.

  10. BY Jason says:

    There is a lot of talk about “Cloud Certification”. Are there any recommendations on specific courses and/or certification that employers are looking for?

  11. BY Jason says:

    There is a lot of talk about “Cloud Certification”. Are there any recommendations on specific courses and/or certification that employers are looking for?

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