Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education

Which IT Certifications for Specific IT Jobs? 380

Posted by Cliff
from the certified-programmers-sysadmins-and-webmonkeys dept.
outlander78 asks: "There have been several questions posted recently (Landing a job, College or Career? to list a few) discussing education and job searching. I have just completed a BSc Computer Science, and have 2 years of co-op experience. This is apparently not enough, as I have yet to get a single interview, despite many carefully written letters and resume submissions to job postings. I read here that a degree with certifications was a good combination, so now I need to know - which certifications are best for job seekers? Whether I work as programmer, sys admin or something else isn't an issue, since I need any job at this point, and enjoy most computer-related jobs - please, suggest whatever certifications you are hiring for or were hired because of."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Which IT Certifications for Specific IT Jobs?

Comments Filter:
  • by pgrote (68235) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:08PM (#3553117) Homepage
    The supply of tech professionals for operations, non-development, is far outpaced by the demand. Right now it is simply a buyer's market. What does that mean for folks who hire:

    1) We can demand experience. We don't have to take the time to train someone and get them up to speed.

    2) We don't have to offer the salaries and benefits we did two years ago.

    3) Certifications aren't as valuable as they once were. The last boom in certifications was the Cisco program and that has stagnated as the technology and programs have become entrenched. It's all cyclical with certification programs anyway. You have to be in at the beginning to reap the benefits.

    The other fact you need to face is the best way to secure employment is not through classifieds and monster.com, but personal contact with people in the field. Join user groups, go to vendor tech demos and start meeting people.

    Good luck.
    • by Zarhan (415465) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:13PM (#3553168)
      3) Certifications aren't as valuable as they once were. The last boom in certifications was the Cisco program and that has stagnated as the technology and programs have become entrenched. It's all cyclical with certification programs anyway. You have to be in at the beginning to reap the benefits.

      Actually, with Cisco, there is a clear asset for an employer to have an CCIE in the workforce. Currently, Cisco alters pricing based on the number of CCIE's working for a company (In the case of telco's and other big players with large contracts, at least). So if you are into telecommunications sector, CCIE is a nice thing to have if you are applying for a job in a firm that has lot of Cisco equipment and support contracts.

      (Correct me if I'm wrong - as I have understood it, this was the situation at least six months ago)
    • The other fact you need to face is the best way to secure employment is not through classifieds and monster.com, but personal contact with people in the field.

      Very true, but don't count out monster [monster.com]. I got my current post-graduation job through monster (my employer found me) and I also secured 3 other interviews through them, including one with Blue Sky Studios [blueskystudios.com] of Ice Age [iceagemovie.com] fame. Didn't get that job, though heh.
    • 3) Certifications aren't as valuable as they once were. The last boom in certifications was the Cisco program and that has stagnated as the technology and programs have become entrenched. It's all cyclical with certification programs anyway. You have to be in at the beginning to reap the benefits.

      I would disagree with both points, the CCNP and CCIE are still very valuable, while the NP doesn't guarentee 6 figure slaries it should open some doors that would otherwise remain closed. As far a cyclical goes I got my NT4 MCSE at the trailing edge of that cycle (8 months before it was officially retired) and while I will have to upgrade to 2k once the the economy starts up/I get laid off I think that it helped a ton.
    • by Thu Anon Coward (162544) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:24PM (#3553277)
      The supply of tech .... Right now it is simply a buyer's market. 1) We can demand experience. We don't have to take the time to train someone and get them up to speed. 2) We don't have to offer the salaries and benefits we did two years ago. 3) You have to be in at the beginning to reap the benefits. ...best way to secure employment is through personal contact...


      I'll vouch for that. If I was hiring, I'd be looking for experience, certs be damned.

      let's put it this way. if you even GET a job in the IT industry right now, you'll be damn lucky with all the bloodletting that happened last year. the best thing you can do right now is get an IT job anywhere, doing anything. if your code-fu skills are strong enough, this will appear doing your regular job duties of tech support/sys admin/dba/et cetera. You can then use those skills to leverage your way into a lead position in the department which you can then use to leverage yourself into another department where you really want to be.

      besides, starting at ground zero of tech support should teach you some empathy of what techs go thru. thank god I don't do that no more.

      with a wife and mortgage, I'm just happy to have a decent paying steady job working for a government IT department. that 's the kind of job you should be looking for, one that pays the bills.
    • Back when there was a big demand for people and it was hard to find them, the managers doing the hiring didn't do the contact thing you are suggesting. There were in fact, quite many people available, but the communication wasn't there, so they just didn't connect. Maybe the situation today is similar, where so many people are not connecting because they don't go out and pursue contacts.

      The fundamental problem, though, is that neither side is really doing it. In good times or bad, communication is the key, and it's not working very well ... but mostly because people don't really try to do it. I've been to user groups and vendor demos. There's plenty of people looking for work, but still no jobs. Back when the situation was reversed, there were managers begging for people, and no one willing to change jobs. Still, you gotta try.

      We do need something better, though. Trouble is, monster and dice and the like are not doing it. Maybe slashdot could? Who knows. You got any better ideas?

    • If you KNOW your stuff, you can write your ticket.

      But asking "what certs will help?" Shows one thing - you don't.

      That is harsh. I know. I from the other end of 20+ years of experience, with no degree, no certs AND DO NOT WANT THEM.

      All certs prove is that you can read a manual and type answers. You too could be MENSA, same entrance exam, and same benfits (none).

      The only proof is showing your skills, that means taking over the interview controling thier attention, showing you have some thing to provide.

      But the orginal writer said that he got a CS degree and can not code, then what good is it? Why not have history degree instead? Gives you the same advange, in the tech world.

      Remember, tech breaks down to operators and designers.

      If you can not code, design a database (500+ tables) or build a network (1000+ seats in multiple locations) then you are an operator.

      There is a lot of operators out there. That is what is a buyers market.
      • If you can not code, design a database (500+ tables) or build a network (1000+ seats in multiple locations) then you are an operator.
        First of all, no databases are 500+ tables. I'm serious. There aren't databases that big out there in real world applications. If you are getting pasta few dozen, you need to start using table domains and if you get to hundreds of tables, you need to look at what you're doing wrong.

        And what if you are working for a company of 100 people? You need to design a network of 1000+ seats to be a "designer?" If I'm the only computer tech for a company of 25, am I a lowly "operator" even though there's no designer?

        Sounds to me you're referring to consultants vs. implementors. The consultants say "you should build a faster car" and the implmementors do the REAL work of figuring out how.

        • Someone has never played with SAP R/3, it would appear.

          180some tables, and this one isn't all that big. About 4-8 of the tables have roughly 30 million records each. The majority of the others have several thousand records, few are truly small. I'm told, that this is far from being the largest SAP database out there, and I get the distinct impression that my coworker means something along the lines of "twice, even three times as big as ours".

          Ah, the frustrations of being a lowly little helpdesk ijit. *frown*

          Me, I would think I'd call those "database admins" and network architect, respectively.
    • It's true that certifications aren't as valuable as before since they don't magically guarantee a job anymore. But not having one, even if there is no specific requirement in the job posting, gives the HR folks a reason to knock your application out of the running. Especially true if you're going through the classified/Monster route and lack personal contacts.
    • The supply of tech professionals for operations, non-development, is far outpaced by the demand.

      Tell me about it... try seeking any position in telecommunications now. With Worldcom's downfall, Level3's collapse, Global Crossing's disappearance, Qwest's troubles, etc., it's hiring freezes and layoffs.

      applicant: Hi, I'm network engineer with 15 years of experience. Have my CCIE certification, as well as countless dozens of certifications and training programs in all areas of telecommunications. I'm willing to relocate, work cheap and come with exceptional references from CEOs of Fortune 100 companies.

      interviewer: Yea, but how handy are you with a floor polisher?

      *scoove*
    • This was linked off Red Hat's site sometime back in the RHCE hype. This data is pretty old; I haven't seen them post any updates.

      I myself have an OCP; I would think Java would be more reasonable cert for a new grad.

      http://www.crn.com/sections/special/ssurvey/ssurve y01.asp?ArticleID=25726 [crn.com]
  • Heh, certs arnt the way to go, and unfortunatly the best recomendation i have for you is experiance. Ive been in the field for 8 years now doing this and that (Programming, Sys admin, Consulting, Helldesk, etc...) and have found that nothing beats time under your belt. I only have 2 of my 4 years finished for my BSCS, and i only have one cert (Stupid aironet wireless engineer before they were bought out by cisco) so certs and school arnt the only things that employers are looking for. Know your shit, and know it well and all will be good :)
    • Nothing beats time under your belt, but if you don't have time, then what?

      I'd recommend at the least a BS in CS, oh, and wear a clean shirt, minimal face piercings, tasteful haircut, use of mouthwash and leaving your ego at the door for any interviews. It is a buyers market and that means you've got to be on your best behavior, since you can bet others will go so far as to wear a tie to get the job. 1999 was like last century, ok?

    • Certifications are meaningful only in huge companies where the HR dept. sets arbitrary and useless standards. Some places might call you for an interview based on seeing certifications on your resume, but I've never hired anybody or failed to hire someone because of certifications or the lack thereof.

      I'm looking for someone with some intelligence (not just book-learning), problem-solving ability, communications skills and when I can get it, experience.

      As has been pointed out, it's a buyer's market right now. I posted an ad for an entry-level helpdesk position and got FIVE HUNDRED resumes in response. I'm not exaggerating. The exact number was 513, and that's after throwing out duplicates (some people faxed AND emailed, others responded to the ad twice).

      If you're going to school for a CS/CIS/MIS degree or taking certification classes, the best thing you can you do for yourself is to take any IT-related job while you're still in school, even if it's an unpaid internship.

      People who've been lured into multi-thousand $$$ training programs by the promise of high-paying IT jobs don't like to hear that advice, but the truth is that you have to start somewhere, and when you don't have experience or connections, you're going to start with a crappy, low-paying helpdesk job until you prove yourself.

      Experience with your own home network and lab are a huge plus over the vast majority of people who don't have them, so put any credible experience you have with your home lab on your resume. However, keep in mind that home labs are almost never as screwed-up and difficult to keep running as real-world business networks.

      Don't assume that because every upgrade you ever did on your home machines went smoothly that upgrades go smoothly on real-world machines. Hint: They don't. Employers know that people who haven't had their fingers burned with "simple" tasks in real-world IT situations are far more dangerous than those who have. People with experience never take anything for granted. Newbies take stuff for granted all the time. I know I did.

      That is why virtually everybody prefers experience over certifications.

      • My home network consists of roughly 50 machines, on a hybrid ethernet, token ring, arcnet, localtalk, and FDDI network. Netware, NT, SunOS, linux, VMS, and Banyan Vines servers, with AmigaOS, MacOS, OS/2, DOS, and windows clients. Every protocol known to mankind.

        I have integration problems that have taken months to solve, and some that I'm still working on. I run web servers, database server, LDAP/directory servers. Recently started dual homing a few of the servers, and running ripd on them. Since I can't afford a $5000 electricity bill, and many of the servers are powered on and off as I use them, routing really gets a workout.

        I dabble in code, from assembly language on up to perl and sql. I have crappy hardware that is constantly dying and needing to be diagnosed and fixed.

        I either need to find a decent job, or hire 5 techs and call my hobby a business.

        Offtopic: Guys, 2 years of ebay have failed to find some really special nics for me. The Ecolink "econet pc" ISA card, starlan 1baseT cards, corvus omninet ISA, the arcnet option board for the TRS-80 model II, and a PCI HIPPI card. Also, if it exists, a TCNS 100mps Arcnet PCI card. If you have any of these *begging* please email me.

        I may be unemployed come May 29th, but by god I'm gonna have some kickass toys to play with in all that spare time.
  • I don't think I've ever been asked for any certifications during interviews. I haven't seen many job postings in which certification was even mentioned, much less required. This was all sysadmin work.

    Maybe you should just work on your resume a little more?

    - A.P.
    • I was actually looking at the SAIR linux certification the other day. I can understand the rush to get certified by people who are just in it for the money, but for those are are interested in augmenting their knowledge because they WANT to be better at what they do, certification seems like a reasonable choice. I'm not so interested in what employers/clients are looking for, so much as I am in being effective at what I do. Why let the employer decide this for you?
  • by SquadBoy (167263) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:11PM (#3553143) Homepage Journal
    get an interview but will not get you a job. The answer to your question is that you need certs for which you have experience and which you can back up with knowledge that goes above and beyond what is needed to get the cert. Also you need to know who is hiring in your area. For example to get my current job I had a lot of experience with firewalls in general and I know a firm in my area which has *very* good reasons to be paranoid where hiring a networking guy. I also have a bunch of networking experience. I found out through a friend that they use Checkpoint based firewalls. So I downloaded a Checkpoint demo got a book spent some time on it and got a CCSA. Combined with my background that set me apart from the crowd enough to get the job. :) Do your homework and try to do something you have a good background in and it should work. Also just a note a good recuriter is worth their weight in gold. Many will say I'm wrong and YMMV but recuriters have worked wonders for me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:11PM (#3553144)
    Your real problem is that the economy is in the tank, so you are competing with people with at least as much education and more experience. This happened to me back in '91 when I finished by B.S.

    Keep at it, you'll find something eventually.
    • You're not going to have it the way the guys graduating in '99 did, with employers standing in line at your commencement.
      I hope you don't yet have family obligations, because the only thing you can do with this is get an IT job... ANY IT job that you are capable of doing and can keep body and soul together. Mind: I don't mean jump on the first one you find, unless it's really good. Hit job websites - especially dice... at least in fall 2000, dice was where the serious IT recruiting was going on. Be willing to relocate - ANYWHERE, and mean it. Try to get several good prospects on the table at one time, and take the best one (criteria - stability, pay, learning).
      Stay with the job until things pick up, and if it will help, move to a better one when the rise starts. You won't be the newbie when the big hiring starts again. You'll be a leader, and in a much better situation to exploit the next boom.
  • Most IT certifications are manufacturer specific, meaning if you work with Cisco gear you get the Cisco certs. Very few cover an idea or a broad technology. So, a Network Engineer would get the Cisco cert since they use the equipment.

    The problem is that people run out and get these certs without ever using the software/equipment and expect to get hired using it. It doesn't work that way. You get experience some where and then get the cert to expand on it. Experience first, then certs. A Cisco cert without router time is worthless.
  • Tired Refrain (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yancey (136972) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:12PM (#3553152)
    I'm getting very tired of certifications. I know too many "certified" people who have NO EXPERIENCE! They know all about how it's supposed to work, but can't fix it when it breaks. I'm tired of it! Get me somebody who has a true interest in computing, not just paper credentials and making money.
    • If that's a job offer, where do I apply? Give me enough to live on, and a job whose contract isn't up in 3 months when the recruiter told me 6, and I'd be your IT slave.
    • Here here.

      And a point to the submitter: Be wary of any company that has more interest in certs or procedures over computing and problem solving. (IMO anyways) IT shops that don't focus on problem solving have tons of problems with slightly unusual requirements, and with evolving technology.

    • Re:Tired Refrain (Score:2, Informative)

      by wilpig (515764)
      You are so right on that point. Most people that are certified are worthless. I prefer to think of them as "Certifiablely Useless".

      A friend of mine is insisting that if he becomes a CCIE he will have offers pour in. We keep telling him that he is wasting his time on this endevour and just needs to get back to work with the rest of us and stop being part of the Certified Unemployable.

      Now you can't bash all "certified" people. There are some of us out there that are certified and can show you the paper to prove it. We just don't push it out there when we first meet, that IMO is the mark of the true tech.
  • It's sad, but true. (Score:2, Informative)

    by unicron (20286)
    The demand for certs in the industry just shows me how ignorant the industry is. You don't know how many job postings I see asking for certs that don't even exist, like the one I saw the other day wishing to hire a Cisco Certified Systems Engineer(I kid you not). I also can't stand seeing job offers that would rather have a college degree than any experience. We just hired an MIS graduate as a network tech that had to be shown the difference between a router and switch on his first day.

    If you want to know what certs will really help you, get your CCNA, the new Cisco cert that covers voice over IP, some project planning cert, and maybe pursue your Six Sigma belts if you're in the high level industry.

    Hope this helped.
  • i don't really have a comment about the certifications...cause i don't really have any myself...although any Java 2 certifications look pretty good (atleast in the line of software consulting that i do)...

    in any case, the job market right now sucks, (especially for tech people), and has sucked since late 2001...when i was searching for a job my senior year of college (2001-02) i saw the end of the boom where computer science majors could write their own blank check right away out of school...actually, early in my senior year i signed on with an internet consulting company in nyc for $70K...nice...atleast i thought so...as 2002, came, the economy was even more in the down turn, and a lot of companies started revoking their offers to college graduates (including mine)...so, to make a long story short, i graduated without a job...i ended up having to take an internship with a smaller software consulting company for the summer...but they eventually hired me in Septmber, and i enjoy my job very much...

    i guess my point is not to worry if you don't have a job right away...the job climate sucks right now...but computers and the internet aren't going anywhere (duh)...

    in any case, it's better to not have a job and be able to look for work, then to sign on with a company and have them keep pushing back their start date...i have friends from school who graduated with me in june of 2001 and went to work with big consulting companies like Accenture...they just recently (Jan or Feb) started...true, Accenture did throw them a little bit of money before hand, but i had a good 6 or 7 months of work experience in before they even started...
  • by coyote-san (38515) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:13PM (#3553166)
    Depending on where you live, nothing you do will make a bit of difference. No internship or certification can compete with someone with years of experience forced into an entry level job to pay the mortgage.

    What can I say, recessions suck. The only thing worse is recessions that politicians are bending over backwards to deny exist. (E.g., our governor says that we're past the worst of it, the economy is picking up... and a few pages into the paper the person in charge of the unemployment compensation/job matching agency admits that they're still overwhelmed by the unprecedented demand from thousands of people new to the system.)

    P.S., I started out in similar (but localized) conditions. A major employer announced massive layoffs, and suddenly I was competing against people with years of experience. I found a job at about 2/3 of what I was discussing weeks earlier, and the entire organization was pathological. But it was a job and where they saw me putting in lots of unpaid overtime, I saw squeezing a year of experience into 6 months. Just keep repeating "this too shall pass."
  • by sphealey (2855) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:14PM (#3553173)
    I hire technical people on their ability to solve problems. Between two people of equal problem-solving ability, I will pick the one with the best non-technical communication skills.

    To the extent that certifications act as a marker for a person's curosity, desire to learn, and humbleness in the face of the unknown, I will take them into account. However, I would rather have an English Lit major with zero technical background who can solve an unfamiliar problem from scratch than a 3 month/employer guy with a bag full of paper certifications.

    To the extent that I consider certifications at all, I will look in order at Cisco certs (past the CNA), Novell CNE or Master CNE, Pine Mountain Group network analyst certs, a broad background in Unix, and of course any professional engineer certs.

    But for what kind of job, you ask? Remember, I don't match up specific certs to my current position needs. I have never seen a person with a deep knowledge of Netware have any problem picking up what he needs to know about NT, but I have certainly seen the person with 38 Microsoft certs be unable to figure out how to configure a 2-router Cisco network.

    My 0.02.

    sPh

    • Ditto, When I got started as a Network Admin I had zero certs but 3 years co-op experience. I replaced a paper CNE who had the certs but couldn't create a user account. After, 10 years and 6 upward moves I still have no certs. Granted my last move was 2 years ago and I don't live on the West Coast.
  • ...for you would be:

    1) Look at your (2 yrs coop) experience and what products/technologies you learned and/or liked.

    2) Find a certification exam or exam "track" based upon those products/techs and get started.

    For me to become an design level enterprise infrastructure consultant and instructor for the MS platform, it was appropriate to get my MCSE and MCT certs. I also find that some people do not need formal class training; self study can suffice (books, etc).
  • Oracle? J2EE? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gergnz (547809)
    I guess I have been really lucky.

    I landed a job before I finished Polytech, (when I was an Electronics Tech), I then managaed to get a low level Linux/NT admin role for a small company. Moving on from there has been the hard part. I have done Linux cert, and have started a BSc and found it really hard to get the position I am about to move into. This was gained by knowing people on the inside.

    From personal experience Oracle is probably the best industry cert in terms of "employability". I can't say what the certification is like I have never done it.

    On another note a friend was having a similar problem just recently. Finished degree, and couldn't get a job. He was on a benefit and the NZ Govt. paid for his J2EE cert that he did while on the benefit. Landed a job not long after.

    If you want a job do the one with the most industry cred and later do the one you enjoy. Please the employer to get the foot in, then work towards doing what you enjoy.
  • A fairly good overview/jump point for the major certifications is here [certify.com] and some info about how much they add to your paycheck is here [computerjobs.com]...
  • by ThatTallGuy (520811) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:16PM (#3553197)
    A slight variant on the traditional MCSE [userfriendly.org]....

    Seriously -- A certificate only tells me what questions to start asking. It's sort of like that college question a few days ago: I don't want people who know things; I want people who can think and learn things.

    You might be better off spending some time studying on your own and doing a free project of some sort for a local charity or school. It's something you can put on your resume and build up a bit rather than just one line of questionable value... and good for the community as well.

  • connections (Score:3, Funny)

    by tps12 (105590) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:18PM (#3553210) Homepage Journal
    Statistically, 10% of hirings are initiated with blind mailings. The rest all begin with networking. So when you are looking for a job, spend 10% of your time revising your resume and sending it to good targets, and spend the rest of the time following down leads in your personal network.

    This is how I landed a job at a major Fortune 500 corporation. Basically, I had administered a high-latency gigabit-class network of Mac III's in school in the late 80's. This was top-of-the-line research stuff back then, though it sure looks antique today. Long story short, my vice admin's older brother married the daughter of a major figure in the Juarez prawn industry [google.com], and I got my foot in the door. Now I'm pulling 7 figures with a staff of 72, with nowhere to go but up. So all those guys you sorta got along with in school? Keep the numbers, man. Even when you land a job, you never know when you'll be looking again.

    Good luck.
  • Your problem can be summarized in three words:
    The Economy Sucks.

    More experienced, more certified, more desperate (i.e. supporting families) people are having a hard time finding IT jobs right now.

    Another post suggests moving your location. Do some research and figure out where there's a relative lack of demand and target that area. Or live in your parents basement.
  • by partingshot (156813) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:19PM (#3553226)
    Or did somebody change the date for the monthly
    'which cert' question on /.?
  • Right now it doesn't seem to mean a lot to employers if you're certified or not. All they want is experience. I also just graduated with a BS in Comp Sci, have 5 years of internship experience with a real business, and I have yet to get even a single interview set up. My currently employer even has me on a temporary basis until they can decide to start hiring again for full-time positions.

    Back to the topic, I don't think the certification is that important, or at least not as much as it was in years past. I remember there was a demand for it, mainly since the experienced workers were employed, and the ones seeking jobs were a bit too green. Now the experienced people are the ones in the job market, and the focus is on years of real work, not the number of certificates saying you think you know how things are supposed to work. And since there's no way to know when certification will be a hiring point again, there's no reason to spend time and money to get certified for technology that may be dead by that time.
  • by slamb (119285) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:20PM (#3553234) Homepage
    Whether I work as programmer, sys admin or something else isn't an issue, since I need any job at this point

    My boss recently hired someone here, and he was saying that while the candidates seemed eager, very few asked good questions or showed a lot of specific interest in this position. I think, like you, they wanted any job they could get. This attitude didn't really impress him.

    The lesson, I think, is that you absolutely have to sound like you want this job, not any job. They're not going to hire you if they think you will immediately leave when you find something you like better, etc.

    I'm not saying you necessarily showed this attitude in the actual interviews, but it's something to watch.

  • by photon317 (208409) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:22PM (#3553255)

    The best certification is validation by your peers. Locally attend small conferences, users groups, etc... get to know people in the field in your area, make your skills and understanding known. You might find a job directly through contact like that. At the least, you might make freinds with people with respectable established careers that you can use as references for employers to call and hear the good word about you.

    Don't forget the on-line equivalent of this too - participate in technical newsgroups and mailing lists, help out with opensource projects, etc...

  • Look at What I Did (Score:5, Informative)

    by sabinm (447146) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:22PM (#3553257) Homepage Journal
    To tell you the truth, you need to go out and market yourself. Listen to what I did. I worked for a company that Cisco Systems outsourced to making 10 bucks an hour. The waiting list was about 1 yr to get on a tech team. All I did was route calls for so-called IT professionals.

    Most of the calls I took the pros on the other end were less knowledgable than me on many subjects. I was so sick of doing it that I started sending out resumes to those companies. NO LUCK. They didn't care if I knew more or had more certs. They didn't even want to see me.

    I went out and started up a small business in my neighborhood about a year ago, just fixing computers and doing home networking. That got my foot in the door. I went on the street hawking my wares to small offices, law offices, insurance agents, real estate offices and so forth.

    Word got around and I got a couple of support contracts with med-sized businesses doing sys admin on their boxes. Real simple stuff that anyone could do. It's called comparative advantage. Now I've got a couple of contracts, and I'm negotiating a contract with a local general contractor to pull cable for new construction at 2500 a house. I have a pager and a cell and I make my own hours.

    By the way--I'm 25 with 2yrs of college education. Comp Sci is not my major, nor ever was. But this helps with school a lot, and I have a family to feed. The only certs I have are A+ and my CCNA. I don't plan on doing this beyond graduation, but it's always a handy thing to have on your resume.

    One last warning and advice. Warning. Insure yourself for about 1,000,000 per claim: the more certs and education you have, the cheaper insurance is. I pay about 2000/yr on prof. liability. Advice, join a professional association. You can network a lot and land tons of gigs. It worked for me.
  • by Xandis (90167) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:23PM (#3553262)
    A BSc in Comp. Sci. and some co-op experience sounds more than enough to get your foot in the door (entry-level). Are you sure you are applying for the appropriate job? Perhaps you'll need to start lower than you want due to the sluggish economy? Since you are willing to work at any job, I would make sure that you aren't overlooking some of the lower end work (for the time being anyway) -- sys admin hopefully requires more experience than you have :) Likewise, look for "junior" positions as well. Look at non-tech companies that have tech needs (banks and insurance and investment companies for example).

    I don't think certificates early in one's career are that beneficial since it starts looking like you are just too obviously trying to make up for lack of real-world experience by overloading your resume with these certificates. Certificates, in my opinion, are good ways for senior practicioners (i.e. those over 25 :) of demonstrating over time that they are keeping pace with current technologies.

    Also, some people may use certificates to help with transitioning from a different career into tech (since going back to school is not an option).

    My opinion: don't worry about the certificate issue and start doing a broader search for entry level tech positions.

    ** Also, it is hard for anyone to know WHY you didn't get an interview if we don't know exactly what your resume and cover letter contain and for what position you applied. You may just have a goofy sounding cover letter or weak resume.

    Worse comes to worse, you can always do tech sales (I guarantee you can get a job there) -- man that phone boy!!!
  • by lkaos (187507) <anthony.codemonkey@ws> on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:24PM (#3553271) Homepage Journal
    To quote a CNN article [cnn.com]:

    "the most talented student will always have options."

    Right now, the market is tight for programmers. This is no longer the field that anyone can get a degree in and automatically make 60K+ out of school. So, if you just got the degree because it was the hot thing to do, then your screwed.

    If you really have a passion for computers though, then you will find that the market is still there. You just need to seperate yourself from everyone else. Forget certifications, that shows little self-direction, instead why don't you spend that effort developing a piece of open source software.

    Write a piece of useful software that showcases your skills. Given the ability most folks have right out of college, this will definitely show that your worth hiring.

    Or, if you can, take some time to really strengthen your skills. Companies are always hiring *good* programmers, regardless of the economy. Taking 6 months to study all the industry bibles (the GoF book, the Myers books, etc.) and learn the stuff that is actually useful in the real world. Do this instead of putzing around for 6 months looking at getting certs or drinking every night and you'll land a good job.

  • Granted, I didn't have BSc when I started out, but I spent a couple of years working low paying research assistant jobs before I made the jump to something I could really make a living at. Seriously, it took that long before it looked like I had enough experience to be attractive. Granted, I could've been more agressive in my job search, but, still it was always annoying to hear that my education was impressive, but I didn't have enough experience. I'll also note that I was looking for a scientific programming job back then and there was a PhD glut in the field which meant someone with a BS didn't stand a chance. Even so, once I got experience, especially in Internet stuff, the offers started coming in. Nothing gets an employers attention like real experience. Meanwhile, I've had mixed results with certs. I have a cert in SNMP and that's been a real boon, but my cert in Cabletron's Spectrum system has been a real waste. Glad I didn't pay for it. I think the difference is that one cert, the SNMP, says that I understand a field, while the other, Cabletron, says I know a specific system. The later is less valuable because you never know if employer has adopted that particular system. So, I'd say a good cert in something like Java, C++, SQL, or some other broad tech area would be good while windows XP cert might not be much help. But, anyway you slice it, this is tough time to be starting out in CS. I see lots of job opps for people with 5-10 years experience in "blah", but nothing entry level at all.

  • Certs not the answer (Score:5, Informative)

    by Frums (112820) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:24PM (#3553276) Homepage Journal

    As much as it sucks, certs aren't the answer. Speaking with a hea dhunter recently he did say companies care much more about certs now than they did a year ago - but that is because they can. There is a fairly large, experienced pool of talent out there.

    Getting certs, however, is a very expensive proposition for osmeone currently unemployed. A typical test can now cost aroun $500, so accumulating a list of certs is not really an option.

    Deciding WHAT you want to do is the first step. You might consider doing anything if the opportunity comes along, but in terms of getting certs you need ot focus more (unless you have more moneyt than you know what to do with, in which case why do you need a job so bad?). This means, yes, making a decision about your future. Youare free ot change it down the line, but you do have to choose - sysadmin/netadmin, development, dba, etc

    After you figure what you want get experience doing it. The portfolio is becoming a tool of the unemployed developer. Showing first rate code that you have written, along with unit tests, use cases/user stories, UML diagrams etc make syou look better. Really, if you have littl eprofessional experience it is the best thing you can do to look good for a "walk in" interview.

    Choose the direction you would like to steer and start a project, or get in on a starting project. Don't dive into an established open-source project. They might appreciate the help, but your goal here is to have somethign to show that YOU can claim 100% credit for. Comntributing bug fixes to gcc won't do that for you, though it might feel good.

    The seoncd thing is become involved in the local development community. You might laugh, but this is possible. Hit Yahoo Group [yahoo.com] and search for any group in your area related for what you are doing. Make an emeail account that can accumulate spam, and sign up. Talk to people. Networking (people, not CCNA) is still the best way to find a job, period.

    Only then, consider getting a cert or two. The ones I have seen being respected are the Sun Java developer certs (okay, JCP is sorta laughable, but the larger ones get nods), Cisco certs are respected, and Oracle certs are respected. Certs are no substitute for experience, unfortunately. Human resources may not realize this, but the hiring manager will.

    FInally, find someone who IS a professional developer, who has undergone many code reviews, who knows how the system works in a decent shop and ask if they will review your code and designs. Buy them beer, coffee, crack, whatever it takes. When it comes down to the decision - your skill will determine your success. THis includes skill in talking the talk - and the only way to do that correctly is to really learn it. Most good developers are willing to help new people, it is flattering. There are various systems to try to make this easier via the net. In my experience these are not nearly as good as meeting someone via the aforementioned networking and offering to buy them a beer in exchange for picking their brain. While buying em a beer, slip in that you would really like if they could do somehting like a formal code review of your stuff - afterall, it is the only way to really improve.

    Finally, read lots of code. Figure out how it works. Look at systems and make sur eyou understand em. A *great*, though boring as hell, way to do this is to write API docs for good projects. Do not contribute directly to them yet - your time is better spent building things you can claim redit for. Let's say you are into Java development, run by the Apache project and submit improved API docs. No one likes writing em, but to do it well you NEED to understand what the code does.

    That, and know that you have my sympathies. The hiring market sucks right now.

    -Frums

  • CCIE? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sterno (16320) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:25PM (#3553290) Homepage
    The CCIE seems to be the one of the few certifications that, on it's own, will land you a job. Most certifications make you look a little better, but don't really mean jack against real world experience. The value of the cert is proportional to demand for the skills and the availability of those skills in the job market. For example, MCSE is in demand, but there are so many of them that it's not as valuable. CCIE's are in demand, but because it's hard to get the cert and expensive, it means the supply is still relatively low (at least last time I checked).

    What I might suggest to you is simply get a list of a bunch of certifications and do searches on the various job sites to see how many hits you get, etc. That should give you a rough approximation of where the demand is. Also, maybe find a good technical recruiter and see what they recommend as the hot demand right now.

    One bit of advice for you though is that I would put some careful thought into which direction you choose, be it programmer, admin, etc. A few years down the line you can change jobs, but if you do so you'll be very little better off than you are now due to the lack of relevant work experience in the new area. Tech jobs seem to seek people with very specific skill sets, and care less about general experience.

    A friend of mine got into sysadmining but would much prefer being a developer now. Of course now if he was to try to go back and be a developer he'd have to take a substantial cut in pay. So if you might change your mind later, just be aware of this little trap and plan for it (save up some money, maybe do some side work in some open source projects, etc, just to keep your skills honed).
  • by ghostlibrary (450718) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:27PM (#3553304) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, there are usually 2 orthogonal stages to being hired. First, your resume has to get past HR (Human Resources). They typically know nothing about the job beyond the half-page writeup.

    So if it says "wants 5 yr experience with C", well, if you don't have '5 years experience with C' listed on your resume, you won't get forwarded on. Even if your name is Richie and you list '10 yrs C++' becuas you wanted to focus on recent accomplishments.

    It's only after getting past HR (and perhaps a PHB :) that you can actually talk to someone about what is really involved, and sell yourself.

    Certs are only useful for the HR stage, but that's a killer cutoff. I've recommended folks for jobs I wrote the spec for, only to have HR bump them because they were missing a buzzword.

    Good luck! List everything, be concise :)
  • by rjnagle (122374) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:27PM (#3553306) Homepage
    I expect a lot of people will weigh in on certifications, and the arguments for and against are pretty widely known. Here is what I understand:

    1)the vendor certifications (Microsoft, Oracle, etc) have some marketability, but the courses and related material are overpriced. So are the predictions of median incomes that certified people enjoy.

    2)it is impossible for certifications to measure the ability to program, to think creatively or to solve problems. However, they do measure in a rough way one's familiarity with an application/OS's mechanisms to accomplish tasks.

    3)Aside from Microsoft, Oracle and Cisco, employers have usually never heard of
    the certification you have.

    4) Employers are impressed about certifications when it is hard to measure competence. It is a third-party objective criteria. What impresses them is that you took the initiative, that you had to study for some test. That's different from just sitting at a seminar and passively absorbing information.

    5). Despite what people say, "paper certifications" and "paper mills" are not worthless. The problem with IT institutes is that no training program can cover the variety of problems and administrative functions that one encounters on the job. On the other hand, they do a good job of exposing you to some of the basic tasks.

    6)The problem with "paper certifications" (especially vendor-sponsored ones) is that to pass them you need to learn skills specific to the application or OS. That puts the onus of chasing after skills (and paying for them) entirely on the job seeker. And surely by the time you pass one certification, you'll hear about another one that is the next best thing. You need to ask yourself, "why I am spending time immersing myself in vendor-specific information when I should be learning more general things: protocols, network architecture and programming theory and algorithms.

    7)Certifications do matter in my own field: technical writing and training. They indicate some familiarity with a particular domain of learning.

    8)If you seek a certification, seek it only because you find the subject in and of itself to be interesting. I sought the LPI 1 certification [lpi.org] because I needed to know these concepts anyway and the certification provided a structure and path for learning the material. Right now, I am pursuing another certification, the Master CIW Administrator [ciwcertified.com]
    certification. I'm not sure employers will even know what this certification is, but I know that the subjects on the certifications: network security, ip6 and unix/windows interoperability are things I would be learning anyway.

    9)If you do seek certification, don't spend more than $100 on study material. There are hundreds of sites and forums that provide good study guides and practice tests for free. You'll also enjoy sharing in the learning and studying experience. My favorite is Exam Notes [examnotes.net]
    • by rjnagle (122374)
      This may be too obvious to mention, but the process of studying for a certification is more important than attaining the end result. You should be reading these study books because the knowledge is useful and interesting. Take the quizzes, and don't be afraid to do research about why the answer you chose was incorrect. Perform the tasks yourself and research why your initial guesses about how to do things turned out to be incorrect. While you shouldn't ignore the braindumps of others, you should really be focusing on doing things yourself. You'd be amazed at the difference between how the book describes it and how it really is done.
    • There is enough information in my previous post [slashdot.org] to warrant a plug here.

      Basically, IBM DB2 certification is free, and Oracle tests and materials are available for half price if you are in an academic program.

  • to the new economy.

    better then certificates, make contacts. Network.
    Go to the user groups in whateer field your interested. Find your local euntrepenuar club, meet people looking to hire someone for there start-up. if nothing else, it will get you experience.

    The military is looking for people with IT knowledge. Get in as an officer, after 4 years, you'll be done. It's not really that hard of a career for people with technicall background, plus you might get liucky and get assigned to some Rll [probably make as much as you can in todays civilian market, withno experience.

    It sounds to me as if you got into the technicall fiels 4-5 years ago because it was lucrative, but now that you got your degree, the market is crap, and you have no real interest in the technology.
    I could be wrong.
  • by .@. (21735) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:29PM (#3553324) Homepage
    SAGE, the Systems Administrators Guild [sage.org] has a junior-to-mid-level professional certification for systems administrators now, called cSAGE [sagecert.org].

    Unlike vendor/product certifications, this cert is designed to assess your ability to perform in an IT role -- namely, systems administrator -- rather than your ability to memorize features and functions of a particular product. It tests troubleshooting skill, background knowledge of process and procedure, and general junior-to-mid-level sysadmin proficiency, both in general and specific to Unix (they're working on a Windows module and several other, higher-level "merit badge" modules).
  • ...I have yet to get a single interview, despite many carefully written letters and resume submissions to job postings.

    Give up on job postings. I have never gotten a job from a listing like that. Every IT job I've ever found is through networking.

    Talk to the people you worked with during your co-op. Talk to other students. Talk to professionals at your local ACM/IEEE meetings. Everyone you know should know that you are looking. Put a sign on your car. Whatever it takes.

  • . . . is just knowing people. The only job I've ever gotten based off of just applying was some stupid summer job in High School so many years ago. I was offered a job when I went into college because I knew the person who was the Assistant Network Manager at the college, so I got introduced to the right people. Then when my boss changed jobs I went with him. Then one of my college buddies got a job at a tech company and got my resume to the right people. Two-and-a-half years and a corporate bankruptcy later, I landed a job through some people my girlfriend knew through years of freelancing.

    Now, I suppose it's entirely possible that I just suck and my resume is horrible and the only way I can ever hope to get a job is by knowing the right people. I don't think that's the case, though. Leverage the people you know! If you don't know people, meet them!

  • Linux Certs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by steelersfan (580447)
    I saw a mention in one of the posts that most certs are vendor or hardware specific (Cisco, for example). With LPI [www.lpi.org [lpi.org]], SAIR [linuxcertification.com [linuxcertification.com]], and CompTIA [www.comptia.com [comptia.com]] all offering various certifications. Does this make the linux certs more valuable? Which is the "best" of the ones I've mentioned? (I know, I didn't mention RHCE). Did I miss any others that are valuable? Thanks.
  • My father's currently admining for a state government, and had something to say on the subject about a recent hiring experience. With the crunch recently on the tech industry, the majority of people dropped were comparitively recent-hires. With less actual 'hands on experience', they've come in direct competition with those recently graduated and just entering the job market with their freshly printed diplomas. In short, it's a hard market right now, much moreso for those with less practical experience.

    In terms of certifications, it depends on who's doing the hiring. 'Techno-savvy' managers are likely to outright dismiss certifications and look at experience above all else (including education). Managers who are less technically inclined are the ones who are impressed by certifications and education.

    And lastly for experience, in my father's example he was looking for around five years experience minimum... and out of the hundreds who applied, only 6 had that kind of experience... It's quite the buyer's market right now, and experience can go a -long- way.

  • It's not you bro ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@monkele c t r i c . com> on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:40PM (#3553405)
    its the economy ... Im in the same position, I have been a sysadmin for two years, and have just completed a BS in CS at a reputable university. I cant get a call back, none of my friends can get a call back. My friends who graduated *last* year still dont have jobs. This is just a real bad time to be in CS.

    Contrast that to when I entered college (1997-98ish) and you can see we've slipped quite a bit -- companies were *soo* desperate for CS people that they would *pay your last year of college*. A buddy of mine graduated in 1997 as a CS/EE dbl and got picked up for 80k/yr by Sun to start. Now a *great* job is 45/yr.

    The good news is it will pick up soon enuf.

  • you do the math... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stinky wizzleteats (552063) on Monday May 20, 2002 @04:47PM (#3553477) Homepage Journal

    One of my interview questions is "What is your greatest technical achievement?" If your answer to that question has anything to do with certifications, I will throw you out into the street.

    I don't recall ever being critically intersted in an applicant's certifications, and when I am, I can consult their resume. I want to know if you can do the job.

  • I personally think certifications are excellent... for the certification companies. All those fees and exams and "ongoing requirements" (e.g. lifelong cashflow). As a useful measure of someone's ability, they rate about zero with me.
  • If you can't code, get a piece of paper that says you can.

    For some reason, the only "certified" people I know are incompetent. I figured they needed a piece of paper to impress someone because they lack the skills necessary to beef up the resume.

    Rather like the programmer we hired who suddenly blurted that he really wasn't "technical". Holy smokes!! What good is THAT!? We made him a Project Manager which is basically like playing catcher behind the plate at a Shitball game.
  • I am a rarer breed of technician than what most folks may typically encounter.

    I have used and serviced Macintosh systems since 1987 (15 years). I have used and serviced PC/Intel-class hardware for a few years more (18 years). I am an Apple Service Technician, a certification valid only when you work with an Apple Authorized Service Provider (which I do).

    I'm also an author of this book on beginning Macintosh programming in Mac OS 9 and X. [premierpressbooks.com]. So, I can write and document matters, too.

    More than a year ago, I was hired by a new IT company for Macintosh support, and received a very large pay increase commensurate with my experience. Recently, the client I provide services with had decided to move to a larger, more global IT solution. My company did a great job for them, but couldn't do the global bit. In the span of 3 months, a bunch of PC technicians, many with years of experience as well as some certs (of those, many had advanced certs) were recalled by my company from the client and sent elsewhere. Had they been employees of our client, they would've been fired.

    I and a few others who had very special skills were kept to handle interests that the global IT solution couldn't handle.

    This isn't the first time that my experience in many things Mac and PC has saved me from being ejected or moved around.

    My point: Experience counts a great deal now. Certifications do help, but aren't essential (my Apple Service certification is really a glorified A+ for Mac OS systems). Diversity in your experience is what might make the difference between a job opportunity and a ding letter.

    I sometimes fantasize how much money I could ask for if I added an MCP certification as well as the new certifications that Apple offers for their products as a counterpart to MS certifications. [apple.com] For me, diversity in my experience has proved to be a powerful way to move up in the world. Being able to document and teach hasn't hurt either.
  • I work in IT, with no certifications other than a BA in Comparative Religion. My computer skills are entirely self-taught, and I have been able to work in areas of increasing responsibility and complexity.

    Typically, I've switched jobs or applied for new ones based on who I know at the new job, or what I know about them. The biggest thing you can do for yourself is to identify _where_ you want to work -- and then do your research. Do you know anybody who works there -- or have friends of friends who work there -- who can tell you more about the place, including what positions are open, what skills they need? I identified an employer I wanted to work for based on their reputation in the community, and then started asking questions. When I discovered they needed people with PHP experience, I taught myself PHP and applied -- and got the job.

    In another instance, with a freelance job, I knew somebody tangentially related to a department that needed some webwork done on contract -- and she put in a word for me. It was my communication skills, in the end, that got me the job.

    While your resume may shine, and you've got it plastered all over town, people still like to go with known variables -- so you'll need to circulate, and get to know people (in case you don't already ;) ).

    Go to Toastmasters, and participate. Or find somebody who can coach you through some interviews -- chances are there's a job service in your area with whom you can sign up that could help you.

    Don't expect to get a job on your skills and talent alone. A workplace isn't just a computer -- it's people, and they need to know that they can communicate with you, and vice versa, before they hire you. Programmers do not work in isolated environments anymore.
  • What I did... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GMontag (42283) <gmontag&guymontag,com> on Monday May 20, 2002 @05:00PM (#3553611) Homepage Journal
    Slightly different field, same concept.

    I have worked for the same Defense Contractor in the DC area since 1994. Graduated then with a BS Finance and some low level military experience (well, I did work in a Major Subordinate Command as a Captain for a while as a Reservist).

    Anyway, this part will be easier now than it was in 1994:

    1. Get classifieds from newspapers (or search web classified of newspapers) in the regions that you think there may be work or where you want to move to. I graduated from utk.edu and there was not much in town, so I got the sunday Washington Post every tues or so and copied the fax and e-mail addresses for every defense related job I could find, then sent resume and cover letter to each. Not many back then, but at least this breaks you away from the monster.com masses today too.

    2. Always tell them you will be in the area for a couple of days the following week, i.e., if you send to Chicago today say you will be there Tues - Thurs next week. This gets you past many of the "out of town apps" that get trashed, also, since you are responding to the newspaper ad it gives the illusion that you actually give a crap about that city ;-)

    3. When you start getting responses, plan your travel to do several interviews at once. If you get one interview in Chicago this week, but 2 in NYC next week and another in Chicago the week after, try to get one of the Chicago ones moved.

    May not help, but I hope it does. Sofar what I have seen on this article is "I don't have a cert and you don't either" or "I have a cert and so do you". Seems you have a good enough education, just need to use a different guerilla method to get some interviews.

    BTW, you ARE AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY and leave every possible way to contact you that you know of (your phone, parents, cell, fax (I know but they are still in use), e-mail, snail mail, EVERYTHING!
  • As a programmer, I must say I dislike the entire "certification" philosophy. I do not think that being able to pass standardized multiple choice exams is a very meaningful measure of anyone's ability to perform analytical/problem solving tasks, especially programming. I've worked with various net admins with certs out the butt who simply could not analyze problems and solve them. I think real world experience is vastly more important.

    When I was involved in the hiring process, I never ever cared about programmers' certifications (only a very low percentage of them even had certs). Instead, I looked at what they *did*. Also, I read the want ads quite a bit and I almost never see anyone asking for "certified" programmers.

    So, if you want to write code, don't waste your time with programming certifications. They really don't help you, especially if your interviews are conducted by coders.

    If you want to be in network administration, unfortunately it seems you need certs to get anywhere. Again, I disagree with the philosophy behind this, but that's the way it goes, I guess.
  • by JWhitlock (201845) <John-WhitlockNO@SPAMieee.org> on Monday May 20, 2002 @05:03PM (#3553645)
    I don't have great job-seeking advice, except for the old maxim - tell everyone that you are looking for a job. I do mean everyone - relatives, friends, the college's job placement department, the mailman, the guy across from you when you are refilling your car. My mom found my first two jobs (she didn't want me hanging around the house all summer), and my wife found me my current job. The only job that I found for myself I didn't like that much, and didn't go back after the summer.

    With that out of the way, what about non-profits? Most of these need general computer assistance, but don't really know what to ask for. Someone with basic tech knowledge could make a real difference.

    In fact, if you like open source software, you could help the revolution along:

    1. Get a general tech job at a non-profit, hopefully one working with disadvantaged people with low educational skills
    2. Help convert old computers to Linux systems so that they can still be used to some capacity.
    3. Start modifying interfaces for the needs of co-workers and the people they help. Make a real-world usability lab that works!
    4. Become famous as the guy who put Linux on the desktop ("He made it so that even high-school dropouts could use it!")
    5. Spend the rest of your life sipping champagne and eating caviar with Linus.
    Now, isn't that more exciting than working with Cisco routers all day, Mr. CCIE?
  • Go Freelance... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I got an MS in Comp Sci and like you couldn't get a job for love nor money even though I too knew I could do what I was applying for (Java Development). I even had a well received and published MS thesis under my belt together with a contribution to an award winning project funded by the UK Post Office. How many interviews? Zip. Nada.

    I though fsck it, go freelance. So I set myself up as a "company" and worked freelance doing Internet work for about 18 months and built myself up a large client portfolio. Eventually I though I'd take a crack at the job market again. With my freelance experience (which I'm told looks good because it proves you can do stuff ON YOUR OWN) I landed an interview within a week of trying and got the job.

    Two years on I'm my job title is "senior systems engineer" and I travel all over the world working on various projects.

    Never under estimate the power of being self-employed.
    • Re:Go Freelance... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jacobmarner (565358)
      I am totally baffled about this. I myself have a M.Sc. in CompSci and I have had no trouble at all getting a job (this was one month ago). During my education I was contacted several times by head hunters companies but turned them all down. I have had job scouts from US companies offering me jobs (and work permits)

      A few months ago I compiled a list of the 3 companies I most wanted as job at and sent 3 applications (there were no job postings!) and got a job offer from all three after the interviews - so I must say getting a job couldn't be easier.

      And it is the same with all my friends.

      It might be that this is in Denmark. Here a B.Sc. or shorter education will end in unemplyment but a Master from one of the good universities will certainly not. SO if you are in the UK then move over here we have a high shortage of highly skilled IT people.

  • Go to grad school. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cfulmer (3166) on Monday May 20, 2002 @05:21PM (#3553785) Homepage Journal
    Now is absolutely not a good time for a recent grad to be looking for a job. This is especially true since every company that normally hires new-grads has likely already filled their positions. It is the end of May, after all.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

    There are some things that you can do to help get a CS job -- you're on the right track, more/less with the idea of getting some more education. I don't think that the actual certification is worth much more than a statement of "I have some initiative," though. I certainly don't pay much attention to it when I interview candidates.

    As previously pointed out, it's a buyers market, and so those companies that do have jobs are going to have their choice of people. Frankly, the fact that you don't have a job now is a strike against getting one soon -- there's a hidden bias that says "Well, nobody's wanted him yet. Should I take a chance?"

    Things to do? Find a small handful of companies who have hired your friends, and who are either hiring now, or will be soon. Learn as much as you possibly can about the company and their products. That way, when you do get an interview, you'll be able to talk intelligently -- that, by itself, can wow them.

    Don't stay unemployed -- find something else to do related to your field. Write open-source software to create a name for yourself (and learn something in the process); go back to grad school and wait the job market out; Travel -- at least when they ask 'why is he still unemployed,' the answer can be 'he was backpacking across Europe', and not 'he was being turned down by 30 other companies.'

  • Or soon, the contract will be over.

    You know, that thing where we're all exhorted to spend, spend, spend, keep the economy moving... but strangely enough, they keep laying people off, refusing to hire, etc etc etc.

    Eventually, people are just going to get sick of spending just to give money to those Enron CEO types who'll just hoard it.

    Woe betide the USA when consumers eventually give up trying to spend the economy back into employment.
  • Ok, degrees are good. Certifications are good (except for MS certs, they are the equivalent of memorizing the state capitals). But spouting all kinds of letters at any HR or IT person is just that- spouting. If you have a Novell cert and have no Novell experience, guess what, no impact.

    Base point- don't bother getting a cert in something you have no experience in or have no near-term expectation of getting experience in.

    I once interviewed a guy who just got his MCSE and came to our job fair. When he didn't fit any of our offerings (IA, networking, RF), he said he would take a janitor's job if available!

    Face it kiddies, the dot boom is gone, and you may just have to work a little bit to get a good job. By good job I mean something besides being a 8-5 drone.
  • Resume Checking (Score:3, Informative)

    by sysjkb (574960) on Monday May 20, 2002 @06:45PM (#3554482) Homepage
    Speaking as someone who has been involved in hiring in the IT area, please have someone check your resume! The quality of resumes I've reviewed, even from the ostensibly english speaking, has been dreadful. I'm not just referring to por speling and; gramatical misteaks, but logical construction and effective use of the language are sorely lacking.

    If you don't have any friends involved in the hiring process who can take a look at your resume and cover letter, at least have some of your more verbally able classmates go over them. Your college's career center may also be of help.

    Yours truly,
    Jeffrey Boulier
  • Lets get one thing straight. They do help, and anyone that tells you they don't is either jealous or bent 3 ways to sunday because they know someone that has one that is a fool. Well guess that goes with anything. No one remembers the MCSE/CCA/CCNA/Inet+ guy that knew his shit. They only remember the one that asked them what a managed switch was. Here is the skinny. Certifications are good for 2 things. #1 they are resume fodder, period end of story. They don't show you "know your stuff" but they do show you took the time, the effort, and at least have the ability to absorb it. We hired a SysAdmin last month and I can tell you anyone without at least and MCSE did not even get a call. Why? Because we had people with 8+ years exp on NT, 4+ on unix, and large network with Certs across the board. So if you think they don't matter your clueless. They do matter in getting your foot in the door, believe it. I am talking at a shop with over 20 international locations, and 300 plus nt servers. There is no way we are going to even see someone if they did not take the time to pull a MCSE out of their hat. Second, if gives you a broad base to pull from in and experience world you know what you have touched, period. You don't know anything about anything you have not seen or worked on. Granted you might be able to do it, that is fine but how do I know that. The certs at least give you a baseline of knowledge as low as it may be and lets us know you put some time in and stuck with something.

    For everyone that did not have an MSCE we just flung in the bit bucket, sorry but that is the ropes bud, and if it is easy to get... roll out and get one. So you can get it easy you say, well put some time in and do it. You don't want to because it is worth nothing? Fine we don't want you working here. Pretty simple. We don't hire people without them because to us it is like asking if you have a high school diploma. MCSE/CCNA is the bottom line that we look for, not the clincher.

    My advice, get a helpdesk job. Prove your skills, hone them for 30k a year and put some exp under your belt and crank out the certs on the side before you get out of your study habbits. Before long you will see the light that you are searching for, but there is no easy road. Microsoft might not be the way, cisco might not be the way, but get out there and give it some time. People telling you a cert is not good most of the time don't have one. People that tell you a college degree is worthless most of the time don't have one. Trust me when I tell you that they are both important and are just part of what you need to land that job.

    Experience, Degree, Certs, and for god sakes a nice suit are all things that will help. Network in your helpdesk job, you will see things drop in your lap when the time is right.

    Good luck.

  • My certifications didn't land my my current job (i didn't have any when i started). neither did my college degree (i don't have that, either). what landed me the job (manufacturing systems consultant) was something a little harder to get: Experience. now, you have to get a job to get experience, right? here's my suggestion:

    find a small company that doesn't have an in-house IT guy/department. if you live close to a large city, manufacturing plants are about your best bet. now, this part is important: walk in and present them with your resume. don't just mail it. explain to them that you have the skills and that you want to apply them. offer to be their IT guy, whether it be full or part time. explain to them why an in-house IT guy is better to have than outsourcing it (better system design, more homogenous setup, not having to call outside for help, etc.). most plants will be open to this. offer to do it for a low salary (yeah, it's not what you think you're worth, but it's better than what you're making now). use that as your jumping off point when you move onto your next job.

    i did that when i was 16, and it's what helped me get to my current job. trust me, if you can swallow your pride, it will work.

  • by ProfBooty (172603) on Tuesday May 21, 2002 @10:59AM (#3558384)
    If you have a BS in comp sci you should be able to understand the basics of engineering (you did take science classes right and didn't just take humanities?). You may have to take some undergrad classes but if you get your ms in engineering in some form you have more flexibility with your job choices.

    get a ms in ME or civil or EE or chemE. there are always jobs in those areas besides IT.

    when the job market is low, you aren't missing much, might as well get a masters which is more valuable in the long term than some certificaton since your masters NEVER EXPIRES, heck its something you put after your name!

It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions. - Robert Bly

Working...