Certifiably confused?

Summary:Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't live without certifications. You can argue until you're blue, but one fact remains: Many companies choose their technical partners by virtue of their certifications.

The problem, of course, is keeping employees once they have valuable certifications. Roughly 39 percent of companies have more trouble retaining certified employees than their noncertified counterparts, according to a recent IDC study.

One simple answer is to give your newly certified employees bonuses or raises. According to the New Horizons survey, only 16.5 percent of employers give bonuses to employees with newly earned certifications.

Before you dismiss the bonus idea, ask yourself how much it would cost to replace the employee. Don't forget to include recruiting fees, training fees and your own personal time and investment. Equally important, ask yourself whether this employee is a good "cultural" fit at your company. If so, it might be time to open your wallet.

Still, money isn't everything. Of the companies that are having trouble retaining certified pros, a mere 12 percent say their employees are leaving for higher salaries, according to the IDC study.

Therefore, instead of considering such draconian methods as "payback"—which requires employees to repay tuition fees and other costs if they resign—you should investigate just what combination of job opportunity and salary you need to offer your employees to keep them with you.

Maybe another certification program is just what the doctor ordered.

6 Tips On Training

There's more than one way to skin a snake, and there's more than one way to get a certification. Whether you choose traditional course work, an online class, or the concentrated academic hell of a certification boot camp, certification holders told us over and over again that the elements of success are always the same.

1. Experts who are also experienced teachers must teach the courses. When you check out a class, make certain that the instructor has not only worked in the field, but also has a teaching track record.

2. The class must be certification-focused. Broad technology education is great, but if the main goal isn't getting you to pass the certification, you're in trouble.

3. The course must be current. Make sure your school and its courses have up-to-date accreditation by either the appropriate vendor, or by independent vendor- neutral organizations like the AIP Certification Accreditation Council.

4. The course must include realistic testing dry runs. As one CNE who has had years of NetWare experience says, "I got more mental good just from knowing what to expect than I did from the actual training."

5. Ignore any school that "guarantees" you'll pass your certification. The only certainties in life are death and taxes.

6. Check the school's references. Every school sounds good in an advertising brochure. Only former students can tell you if the course really delivers the goods.

Topics: Tech & Work


Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka sjvn, has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting edge, PC operating system; 300bps was a fast Internet connection; WordStar was the state of the art word processor; and we liked it.His work has been published in everything from highly technical publications... Full Bio

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