What Matters to Hiring Managers - Certification and software versions

Deborah Grauer (Microsoft)

We recently presented the following scenario to the IT Manager Advisory Council:

You are the hiring manager in an organization that is running an older version of Microsoft software (eg. Windows Server 03, Visual Studio 2005, etc.).

Would you be more or less likely to hire a candidate if they hold a certification on the newer version of the same Microsoft software (Windows Server 08, Visual Studio 2010, etc.)?

Here’s just a sample of their opinions on the subject:

Hector:  I would be more inclined to hire the candidate with newer technologies certifications.
The technologies do not change drastically from a previous version to the next, and many of the tasks to be performed on either one are quite the same. Also, newer version include most functions the previous one had, and they could -depending on specifics- also behave as the predecessor if we so want to utilize them. Lastly, it is easier and more economical to upgrade such older versions to latest technologies than to retain old certifications.

Teresa:  I would also consider the candidate with certification in the newer technologies because although we have to continue to maintain older product lines, we have to be ready to move forward. I want my staff to be agile in the marketplace.

Lucy:  Yes it does matter, especially when stuff has moved around the interface - like email account stuff not being present in AD for 2008 but is present for 2003.
Unless the individual can show that they have previously certificated on the older product prior to gaining the new one...that's when it's important to see if they sat the upgrade exams or just new ones.
The ability to look at someone's certification history is very important.

Andres:  IT Managers focus on the specific skills required for the current position with the current software inventory.
If they have in mind migrating to Windows server 2008 in a near future, and here is a guy being interviewed who's carrying 2008 certifications, well, they would accept the credentials knowing that somehow, down the road, these skills are going to be needed. A short remedial action like OJT for a back level product is not a big deal also, and he will accommodate.

Shelley:  I would hire someone with the newest Microsoft certifications. Since technology is changing at such a rapid pace they would be on the front line of knowing the newest features, functionality, techniques and new assemblies/classes. However they would have to have experience as well.  I won’t take someone just out of technical school with the newest certifications and no experience for an intermediate or senior position.

Birgir:  Yes, I would be more likely to hire a candidate holding a newer version of certification,  one of the things that this would show me is that the candidate has upgrated his knowlegde ...which is his product to sell.  
But first of all I would hire the candidate who has learned the most, earned the longest experince and comes with the highest recommadation regardless of MS certifications.   I would urge such a candidate to get certification but in my mind experience is first, recommendation second, certification third. 

Martin: Yes!
For sure up-to-date certifications are a great plus! This proves that the candidate keeps up with current technology, is willing to learn and is not “resting” on existing knowledge and therefore should be able to bring things to a higher level.

Nicolas: I would say it’s kind of a ‘it depends’ type of answer…
While it’s good to have a candidate being certified on the latest technologies, you usually need somebody that can work with existing technologies as well, so this may also depend on what you’re looking for…but also on the candidate’s seniority , if the candidate only has a few years of experience and is certified on the latest technologies, the chance is that he never got exposed to the previous versions, while a more experienced candidate may have had some exposure to it.
The ‘it depends’ also comes into place when considering the gap between these technologies: this may not be that big (Win2008 and Win2003 compared to SQL 2000 vs SQL2008/2005 or .NET 2.0 vs .NET .4).




What’s your opinion ?

If you were running an older version of a Microsoft technology would you be more or less likely to hire a candidate with a certification on the newer version?




BTW - Check out this video for Hiring Managers which includes a chapter about matching certifications to job roles.

  • Anonymous
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    I'd likely be more considerate of the person's actual skills as opposed to just being certified on a newer version of technology. If someone has to pay for a cert out of their own pocket, I don't necessarily expect them to be current on all certs. If they have the knowledge and can demonstrate that, I'm more interested. From my experience with certs, they mainly prove that someone can take a test well. The process may be better now than in the past, but I still know far too many people with the cert who know next to nothing.  I'm not sure I'd give a slight nod to someone with certs and I might consider asking people about their certs or lack thereof to see if there's a reason for certification or no certification.  It's not really fair to penalize someone who can't manage to pay for the certs themselves.

  • Anonymous
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    On the flip side of that, being heavily certified myself, I've found that some IT Managers won't even look at me BECAUSE of my level of certification. I've even had people tell me I must be a useless technician because I have (now) higher certs than my job level. I'm not, at the risk of sounding big headed, I'm an excellent and forward thinking technician which I've proven again and again.

    It's not my fault that my employer chooses not to utilise my skills, and yet I am often overlooked because my current role does not support my credentials. What are you supposed to do?

  • Anonymous
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    For me (I'm in the IT Support & development, not programming, area), it's not a simple question of whether or not I'd hire someone if they are certified with the newest/latest technology and certification...  

    It's a question of whether or not I'd consider someone who is certified on technology when they have never worked on it in a live environment.   Being professionally certified means being able to competently complete a job or task, yet I've met people with the latest higher level certs (even now a days within the last 6 months)  who have problems changing proxy setting (in IE) or adding a Windows client to a domain.

    I have no issues hiring someone if they have the lastest and greatest certs (or if they don't), as long as they have the experience to back up their certified status and/or job role that they are going for (apart from entry level, as a hiring manager is not going to expect x amount of experience in IT for that).