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Should I inform my employer of additional certifications I obtain that are not directly related to my position?

Background: I am a software engineer. I graduated with a bachelor's degree within the past two years. I have recently been taking classes at some local universities and have obtained some technology certifications. These are legitimate certifications -- for example, the CompTIA Network+ certification -- but they are not related to my work or even the industry.

Am I hurting myself by not telling my employer about these certifications? I don't necessarily want to transition into a networking/IT role, which is what a number of my certifications are in. My employer doesn't even have an up-to-date resume on me. Generally speaking, should I keep my employer up to date with my education, etc?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

I would disagree with your assessment that network training is not related to your work as a software engineer. While your current project might not involve any network dependent components, in our current world of web applications, service based applications and cloud infrastructures, there is likely to be networking involved in your application stack in the future. Just because you aren't writing low-level network api code doesn't mean networking knowledge isn't valuable. I am a software development manager and I would view network knowledge as valuable in a candidate for a software engineering job.

I would talk to your manager about your training and certificates. You should also be clear about whether or not you would like to take on projects in that direction. The fact that you are trying to broaden your knowledge base demonstrates positive traits to your manager and he/she should know about it.

Of course, this probably doesn't apply ballroom dancing certificates :), but I would suggest you take a wider view of what continuing education might be valuable and make you a more well rounded employee.

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I think it boils down to a simpler question: Why are you getting the certificates? If you want to start doing that sort of thing as a career, by all means, inform your employer, they might have work along those lines. If you're just looking for something challenging to do on the weekend, you might not want to -- but then, why isn't your current line of work challenging enough, and why are you not considering changing positions if you're more interested in other fields?

In general, though, if it's entirely unrelated, I don't see a reason to keep your employer informed. Would you inform them if you, say, achieved Grandmaster status in chess? Maybe not unless you have an opportunity to work on a chess application of some kind you want to transition into.

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When some contracts are being bid, the bidders are asked to send sample resumes of people who might be assigned to the project. Putting all your expertise and certifications on the resume makes your resume more valuable to your employer. It can be included in more bids, which can lead to more wins. It may also allow your company to see you as more than just a developer who knows language X.

I am surprised that they don't insist on yearly updates of resumes. Every company I have ever worked for has insisted on this.

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