certification of awesomeness

Could not having a certificate make you stand out?

Many years ago when I sat the foundation certificate it made very little difference (if anything at all) to my day to day work. I remarked to a colleague though that the certification would make us all “more employable”. I was right.

certification of awesomeness
Certification of Awesomeness

Back then not many people had the certification so when you saw it listed on a CV (complete with required logo) it made that CV and candidate stand out. Had they taken their learning more seriously? Were they prepared to see what this certification lark was all about? What was this certification thing?

Soon though, everyone had a certification and you no longer stood out from the crowd.

Thankfully though – along came more higher rated (and presumably higher valued) certifications. Great. You could stand out again. Until of course – most people started to get these too.

Now you need something more to stand out. I wrote a whole book to help you work out what I think you need to do. But one thing came to mind* the other day that I realised I missed from the book.

What if your CV was the only one that DIDN’T have a certification?

That would make you stand out.

And any good hiring manager might start to ask “I wonder why they felt the need not to get certified, or list it on their CV?”. And that is an excellent starting point for a good conversation about you, software testing, certifications and your learning.

Note: Although this blog post is a flippant approach to the challenges hiring managers have of finding good candidates – it could actually be a useful approach to standing out.

* I recall some Twitter banter around certifications and why you don’t need them but can’t recall (or find) who actually made a statement along the same lines as I have. If you know who it was please let me know.

– I’ve since been informed that it was Michael Bolton via Twitter who said to leave the cert off the CV – sage advice indeed.

11 thoughts on “Could not having a certificate make you stand out?

  1. I remember a guy speaking at a conference got interviews with the right people in organisations by writing something like “I do not hold any of the following certificates: ISTQB, ISEB…” on his CV. Apparently, the CV stood out quite a lot when actual people read it because of that, and it was compliant with all the machine/HR keyword filters for certificates.

    1. That’s an awesome story – and so great to hear of clever ways to get around the filters 🙂

      Thanks for commenting Gojko.

  2. Hi Rob,

    Surely this is only possible when one actually hasn’t got the certification yet? What about all those who have got it and do not wish to advertise it anymore?


  3. Hi Rob,

    I don’t include my certs on my CV. I got my last job (around 2 1/2 years ago) without mentioning them.

    1. Yay – that’s great – but you do also have a very positive attitude to testing which you make public – do you think this influence your employers decision?

      1. Cartoons aren’t exactly a selling point in an interview for a s/w tester role 😉 but I do include a reference to it in my CV (near the end!). For my current role, if I had to bet on it, I think I would have got the job regardless of my public testing persona, but pushing myself into the testing community has refined my testing opinions and beliefs which has had and will probably continue to have a positive affect on my employability.

  4. When I was hiring for our QA team I found certifications to be fairly useless. In fact often the more certifications the less critical and flexible thinking was the candidate. The people that listed 10+ certifications for programming languages, every flavour of sql server on the planet, etc usually went into the trash. Especially when they had proposed to have accomplished all that in a few years. Some of the CV’s were pages and pages of it.

    After talking to dozens and dozens and dozens of candidates over the years I more and more came to the conclusion that certifications were often a cover for a lack of real-world ability. To be fair it’s unfortunate that employers also “demand” certifications as “proof” of competence ( and ass covering) when hiring. Often giving it more weight than experience, passion, independent thinking and commitment to team work. All of which means they often get someone that can pass an exam but not what’s really needed.

    I’ll take a self-learner with the aforementioned attributes pretty much every time. They can grow with the team while the certification hoarders appear to be more interested in resume building and the next opportunity.

    There is always exceptions of course but that was my observations over the years.

    1. Hi Stephen,

      I love this comment “I’ll take a self-learner with the aforementioned attributes pretty much every time.” – perfectly put.

      It seems like you have a lot of experience in this field and it’s always great to hear from other doing recruitment. It’s pretty tough finding good candidates – it’s made even harder by those who expect a cert to do the “talking” for them. There is no replacement for experience.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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