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[Triggered by this answer concerning the value of technical certificates to someone looking for a first job in the IT sector.]

Do hiring managers in IT value technical certifications?

  • Does it get you in the door? (Or get you rejected?)
  • Does it help vs. other less qualified candidates? (Or hurt.)
  • Does it help vs. other similarly qualified candidates? (Or hurt.)

Do the answers above depend on

  • The subfield of "IT" (e.g., sysadmin, ops, devops, programming)?
  • Previous/other experience of candidate?

N.B.: This answer is not looking for opinions - not just because we don't look for opinions here but mainly because I've got my own opinions on it but have never been able to validate them. (I've never been I hiring manager, and I've only ever been a programmer at companies mainly in the software development sector.) I'm looking for a hiring manager to say "yes, in my industry of manufacturing operations we always look for networking certifications" or "no, top companies in the banking sector never look at certifications and here's a Gartner report discussing that ...".

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  • I don't see how they could hurt your chances, or get you rejected. That would make no sense. – joeqwerty Aug 8 '19 at 0:20
  • @joeqwerty - there are other answers in this stack, also elsewhere on the web - that suggest that at least some hiring managers denigrate certifications - and their holders. I don't know why, but that is anecdotal evidence that it can happen. – davidbak Aug 8 '19 at 0:23
  • You say that you aren't looking for opinions here, but I'm not sure there are any facts available. For every manager in a certain field/industry who says the certs are valuable, there is another manager who says they are not. And in both cases, those are the opinions of those specific managers. – cdkMoose Aug 8 '19 at 16:39
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Do hiring managers in IT value technical certifications?

Some hiring manager in some companies value some certifications for some positions. How could it possibly be otherwise?

Does it get you in the door? (Or get you rejected?)

Read the job description. For some jobs, it can help get you in the door. I've never seen a case where it would get you rejected.

Does it help vs. other less qualified candidates? (Or hurt.) Does it help vs. other similarly qualified candidates? (Or hurt.)

Sometimes it would help. Other times it wouldn't matter. I've not seen where it would hurt.

Do the answers above depend on The subfield of "IT" (e.g., sysadmin, ops, devops, programming)?

Yes. Certainly some subfields value some certifications more than others.

Do the answers above depend on Previous/other experience of candidate?

Yes. With enough experience, certifications have far less value.

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  • Unless the certification is in a new field and the experience old... – Solar Mike Aug 8 '19 at 1:12
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There are few ways you can look at certifications in IT and here is how it is valued from my experience:

1) Security certifications in security related jobs are valuable and at some places is a must and if you don't have one you would have to certify within some period since your start date;

2) Administration certificates like Cisco, Red Hat in a network/server administration related jobs are generally indicates that you have an experience in the field and might be a deciding factor whether to invite you to interview, extend an offer or not.

3) Language, technologies in a software development roles almost useless. In today's world there are so many languages, technologies that are developing so rapidly that if you learn version 1 of something very promising there is no guarantee that it has any application in a version 2 (see Angular). Plus I am not sure if there are too much certification authorities other that Microsoft and Oracle for these. At the best it would indicate that you either has experience in some technology (this is how I've got my certificate: I was just curious how am I with some technology that I've been using for few years so I took exam without any preparations and scored quite high) or you have enough patience to learn something. I would like to highlight one more time most import thing about this category of the certificates: knowledge required for certificate could be outdated at the time of the certification exam since the things changing quite fast (unless it is for something stable like COBOL).

Bottom line: it wouldn't hurt to get certificate but depending on the field you are in it might be not your highest priority.

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Through my experience of working in the cybersecurity sub-field of IT, I have found that certifications to be valuable.

Do hiring managers in IT value technical certifications?

Generally yes from my work experience. It is one way to objectively distinguish yourself from you competitors. The field I work in is very competitive and companies often have difficulty of finding the right candidates with desired skills. Combined with the fact that cybersecurity field is rapidly changing and that a bad hire can have substantial negative effects (more than other IT fields in my opinion), certifications objectively show one's dedication and proficiency.

Does it help vs. other less qualified candidates?

In my opinion, definitely. In my senior role at my current employer, I often make hiring recommendations to my manager. On more than one occasion, I have recommended a candidate with a desired certification (e.g: CCSP, CISSP) over candidates with no certifications or a more basic certification (E.g: Security+). To me, certifications show candidates are dedicated, passionate, and have proven knowledge required of the job.

The degree of "helpfulness" also can depend on how reputable a particular organization sponsoring the certification is and whether certification is vendor neutral. I would always recommend you obtain certifications from the most reputable / respected organization in your IT field as you can afford. Top organizations , at least in my field of cyber, would include ISC^2, and SANS Institute.

Does it get you in the door? (Or get you rejected?)

More basic certifications can help you get your foot in the door, while more advanced ones can be very helpful to advancing your position once you are established in your entry role. This has been true for a significant number of professional contacts in my network, and also for myself in my current role. Actually, I was promoted into my current senior role, due to having a relevant certification, of CISA.

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Since all answers so far claim they can't hurt, I'll give an example where it can hurt.

Tech product companies (your Übers, Googles, Facebooks, Lyfts etc.) has a very different way of looking at tech compared to enterprise/consulting companies (your Accenture, Tata, HSBC, Siemens etc.).

The later generally values certifications like PMP, Certified Scrum Master, PRINCE2 etc. The former tend not to. Sometimes (especially Indian, I noticed) candidates really prominently display these certifications on their resume (by e.g. plastering the resume with certification logos) when applying to the former companies. This hurts the application a lot, because it shows they don't understand this difference.

Obviously, merely having the certification won't hurt (when applicable you can just not mention you have them), but you can certainly use them in a way that hurts your prospects.

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  • Very interesting. I've always worked in tech product companies as you call them and have never found certifications interesting in any way. And your distinction between tech product companies and enterprise/consulting companies seems right. I do associate emphasis on certificates with a candidate "not getting it" - is he really right for this startup?. But as I said in my question, I have no real basis for that - so I consider it my opinion. But this kind of answer - if supported (somehow, I don't know how!) with references - is the kind of thing I'm looking for. – davidbak Aug 8 '19 at 6:26
  • Have you had personal experience as a hiring manager at one of the tech product companies you're mentioning, or do you have research or anything else to back up the claim you're making? It's an interesting theory but I'm wondering what the proof is. – dwizum Aug 8 '19 at 12:40
  • as some backup: Have been interviewing people and I typically consider candidates that have lots of small certificates as at the very least feeling underqualified and trying to cover that up with easily available certifications. There may be some that prove proficiency, but most I've encountered in my field are quite easy to come by. This doesn't hold for cases of "Certified Marksman" where we look for a marksman, but other "side-certifications". Not using this as a red flag or filter, and the rest of CV/interview can totally override this, but it's a first subjective impression. – Frank Hopkins Sep 11 '19 at 0:26
  • The more prominently they are placed the stronger this impression, the more likely this will have a negative first impression on me. A good candidate can totally turn this around into something positive, though. I'd think most of the workplaces where I was involved in hiring fit the first category. Obviously this is not statistical evidence^^ – Frank Hopkins Sep 11 '19 at 0:30

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