Foote Partners released it's 2011 IT Skills & Certifications Hot List Forecast, the industry's benchmark on pay premiums for 225 IT certifications plus 241, so called "non-certified IT skills." It has set tongues wagging about the value of IT certifications.
The results of the survey:
- Pay premiums for noncertified skills rose 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, and rose 3 percent for the year.
- Pay premiums for certified skills declined 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, and declined 2.1 percent since June.
OK. That makes sense so far. Non-certified skills were driven higher by demand for proficiency in Database, Applications Development Tools, SAP/ERP, Web/E-commerce and Methodology/Process/Management. Certified skills were dragged down by low demand for Applications Development, IT Security, Networking and Communications, Architecture/Project Management/Process, entry-level certs and some vendor-specific credentials like those of Microsoft, where, were supply is catching up to demand, David Foote of Foote Partners told Network World.
But Foote Partner's report came just a week after a report from CompTIA declared IT Certifications Grow in Importance in Hiring Process. In that survey, 64 percent of IT hiring managers "rate IT certifications as having extremely high or high value in validating skills and expertise."
Now we're confused. Employers are using IT certifications to validate your abilities, but skills without certifications actually pay more. So do certifications matter?
Yeah, they do, but skills, certified and noncertified, are nothing more than a foundation. Your resume should go well beyond skills and demonstrate results. What the heck did you do with those skills and certs?
Both reports prompted ITBE's Susan Hall to call certifications just a foot in the door.
So is it possible that both pieces of research are accurate? Perhaps certifications are... what it takes to get your foot in the door, past the gatekeepers in HR, but won't necessarily boost your salary once you're talking to the IT hiring manager.
Hall is correct. But it's worth noting what will get you hired and boost your salary after you've passed the ""gatekeepers of HR" -- results.
IT for the sake of business, not IT
Skills, both certified and noncertified, must be represented on your resume because the first phases of hiring rely on little more than keywords searches to match your resume to a job description. Certified skills matter to employers because it verifies a base-level of proficiency. For HR and the hiring manager it can also help to cover their ass when the hire goes bad and they say "but they're certified."
But skills are little more than a baseline. Employers care what you can do with those skills. Results answer that for them.
Hall's ITBE colleague Don Lesser identified this on performance and accomplishments from the same CompTIA survey:
Experience, track record and accomplishments rank as the most important factors among employers when evaluating job candidates. Credentials such as education and certifications rank second.
Employers want to see your resume detail what you were able to accomplish the skills listed elsewhere on the document.
To ensure your place on the candidate slate, those accomplish-ments have to demonstrate the value you provided your previous employers in measurable terms. Recruiters say they don't want to read a general listing of your job responsibilities. They want to see: metrics, quantifiable results, quantitative information, and true accomplishments
"A good resume will show what you know, what you did and how those things translate into value to the organization," says Topus. "You have to show the outcome, how you made a difference."
They're looking for quantifiable measures, such as
- Lowered operational costs more than $200,000
- Raised performance level 11 percent
- Eliminated downtime
The hiring manager can then apply those metrics to their own business model and determine how your hire might impact their own performance.
Let's call it IT for the sake of business, not IT for the sake of IT.
Foote explained in a previous report on premium pay rates in IT, that the move to results over skills is driven by the increasing connection between IT and business performance.
The end-game right now is... finding a way for those responsible for managing and delivering IT and technology-enabled solutions to react quicker, execute faster and more predictably, and help business stay competitive... If you're the CIO, you don't achieve this simply by being great at operational stuff like cost-control and automation. If you're running a line of business, a corporate department, or heading a product development group, your job is to find new ways to do business better.