In my space of software engineering, particularly in processes, methods, and project management, there are plenty of certifications that expire yet I see frequently listed on job descriptions. Some examples include the various PMI certificates and various agile certificates.

The costs to maintain some of these add up over a career. Not only is there a regular monetary cost, but there are other costs. Taking time off from work to attend conferences or take multi-day training. Depending on where you are and if online options aren't available, traveling. The time to study and take exams.

I recognize that this may vary company-to-company, but generally speaking:

Is having the certificate negotiable? I know (and have advised here, even) that companies often put their dream wishlist on a job posting and it's OK to apply even if you are missing some criteria. However, I've also observed and noted that some things (like a GPA for interns or recent graduates) can be used as a quick filter to screen out candidates. I'm unsure if having a certificate falls into this quick filter or a nice to have that can be overcome with experience and a good interview.

If having the certificate is necessary, is having a current and valid certificate negotiable? Is there likely to be a timeframe in which an expired certification may still be seen as relevant or would they possibly "age out" of being relevant?

I found one question here that is somewhat related: Can I put an expired certification on my resume? However, this question only addresses putting the certification on a resume, and not how it impacts a resume screening process.

  • I don't think we can tell you how useful any given employer will think any given expired certification is - it will depend mostly on them, how much things have changed since you got the certification and how much you can still remember. Certifications expire for a reason - having an expired one is certainly not going to be as good as having one that's still valid, but we can't say much beyond that. Possibly related: Is it critical that you meet every requirement of a job you're applying for? Mar 24, 2018 at 6:38
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    @Dukeling I'm not asking about "any given employer", I'm asking about industry trends. For example, based on my personal experience as both a candidate an an employee of companies, I can tell you that if a company is asking for a GPA for an internship or recent graduate position, that particular requirement is far more often than not a requirement. I'm asking this same question, but about (valid and current) certifications. Is having a certification negotiable? If it is negotiable, does having an expired certification give me an advantage over someone without the certification at all? Mar 24, 2018 at 10:36
  • Which field of software is this, TO ? if you want an "industry trend", I'd say the reasonable general answer is "there is such utter desperation for competent programmers that nobody will care or notice". But it depends on your field of software, I'd say.
    – Fattie
    Mar 24, 2018 at 14:00
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    Why kill this question? It is one that can be answered by the experts here. He is not asking if any specific cert is useful. Mar 24, 2018 at 21:35
  • Slightly off-topic, but this question led me to the baffling conclusion that there are agile certifications that expire. As if having a certain mindset and working on the basis of a set of guiding principles is something that expires over time...
    – Cronax
    Mar 27, 2018 at 11:55

3 Answers 3


If the job says "require a certified ABC" and you don't have a current one, but do have an expired one, then it may be worthwhile in your cover letter to say just that:

My ABC certification is not current; I will requalify by [some realistic date that would be after your start date.]

During the interview you can ask if they provide support for these certifications such as paying for the training, paying the exam fees, or letting you do exam prep as work time. You should also prepare for questions like "why did you let your ABC Certification lapse?"

Some jobs, you have to "have your ticket" the first day. It's the law that only a certified electrician can do certain things. A software company that is in a "partner program" may be required to employ a certain number of Certified Whatevers to stay in the program. For others, just you being someone who once had it shows a level of commitment that matters to the company, even if you never renew it. And a lot are in between - having it helps the company, but you don't have to have it on day 1. Focus on the fact that having had it before puts you ahead of someone who has no idea how much work it is to earn these certifications. You know the effort. You've put in that effort in the past. You've passed the exam in the past. That's what the expired certs show, and your cover letter is a great place to explain that.

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    absolutely agree, many certifications need to be current in many industries for safety and professional reasons (not keen on being flown by a pilot who got certified in WW2), but for many others an expired one is much better than nothing,
    – Kilisi
    Mar 24, 2018 at 23:36
  • I'd also say if you're a suitable candidate with an expired license, they may pay for training to get recertified.
    – user8365
    Mar 26, 2018 at 16:41

Is having the certificate negotiable? If having the certificate is necessary, is having a current and valid certificate negotiable?

A good job ad should have two lists - required criteria and "also considered". If the certification is a requirement, then I would say that it is typically not negotiable, and you will need an up-to-date certification.

On the other hand, if they list the certification as an additional consideration, then you don't need the certification to be considered. However, a fresh certification will obviously trump an expired one, especially with technology that is progressing.

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    A good job ad should have two lists - required criteria and "also considered". - Some do. Many don't. I agree that it makes things easier, but it's also not something that you can rely on. Often, you have a few paragraphs and a list of requirements. Mar 24, 2018 at 10:26
  • If there's only a list of requirements, then that's their requirements...
    – HorusKol
    Mar 24, 2018 at 11:08
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    I know that's not true at all. Some requirements are really negotiable. Some are flexible if they are close to being met. Others are not. Mar 24, 2018 at 11:14
  • You're welcome to answer your own question if you think you know better
    – HorusKol
    Mar 25, 2018 at 9:04

You never know, so why not take the chance and apply?

First step would be to get an interview. Assuming you’re indicating the certification on your CV, I wouldn’t mention the validity date as it would be trying to sell an out of date yoghurt: sure it is certainly still ok to eat it, but people will rather take the one that is still ok for a few weeks. If there’s any phone screening involved and the employer values this certification, he would know about that validity period and ask about it in that screening. Not being asked or getting an interview might already be an hint they don’t care too much. Or you might not go further, same player shoot again at a different company.

Let’s now assume you get an interview. Should you mention this? The point of the interview is I think to focus on what you’re good at, and explain why you think you’re good at it. On these, certifications could be part of the explanation but shouldn’t be the main point. You can bring the ones you think are the more relevant, how and why you think they helped you becoming better at what you do, and eventually mention that although the certification is expired, its many benefits are more than ever alive. I would however be honnest and do that only for the certifications I really value myself, but that’s me, I don’t want to oversell myself into a company that would value things I don’t and overselled. I want to match with the company and the company to match with me.

From there, assuming you did that well, you’ve done already much to "sell" yourself. As a comment says, it’s not possible to tell how much a future employer values certifications or their validity date, but you should however at that point have a better idea of it from the questions of the interviewer. They probably would have focussed on 1 or 2 certifications, so you can still play a last card and mention you’re ok to renew it if it’s of any value to them.

Now there’s really nothing more you can do but wait for the answer. If it’s a negative one, try to ask if you can know what were the reasons. If you repeat the process enough (hopefully not) it might also give you some clues on whether these certifications or their validity are valued on the market. You can then decide on which ones you want to renew or which new ones you would need to get.

Hope this helps...

  • I wouldn’t mention the validity date That is directly opposed to the advice answers here, where there tends to be agreement that you shouldn't try to pass off an expired certification as current. The rest of this post really doesn't answer my question. I just looked at maybe 20 or 30 job postings for a particular role. All of them had a bullet point about requiring a certification. My question is if not having the certification or not having a current certification will lead to my resume being trashed before I even get the interview. Mar 24, 2018 at 10:33
  • Well other answers can disagree, still this one is mine. If your question is "will my CV be trashed?" Obviously nobody can tell for sure. I'm trying to focus on how to avoid it being trashed right away, get an interview and how to try to avoid being trashed in the first minutes of the interview...
    – Laurent S.
    Mar 26, 2018 at 13:00

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