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Moving up/promotions in I.T.

Discussion in 'Employment & Jobs' started by Enigma1, Apr 20, 2014.

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  1. Enigma1

    Enigma1 New Member

    Hello All,

    Having worked in I.T. for a number of years, I have noticed that many employers state on their job applications
    that they have a list of required or preferred technical qualifications.

    The problem I have come across is that many employers are not willing to invest in professional technical I.T.
    qualifications. They are more interested in the profits they make and see their employees more as a number, a human resource to be used.

    Time served and hands on experience can be invaluable and get in you in the door with some jobs. But moving up in the company can be hard because the positions above have people who have joined the company already having I.T. certifications.
    And because they will not invest in your certification, they often hire people from outside who already have these qualifications to replace those that have left or moved up further. In effect they are quite happy to suit themselves and leave you in a given position, making you a cheap resource for them and not benefiting your career prospects.

    I am thinking that the approach I am about to mention should work. Stay with the current company for around two years (or more as the years progress), while at the same time, pay for my own self-certification. In my case I would like to take a Microsoft MSCA leading to a MCSE. If possible get a promotion to the next level.

    From there apply for a role at the same level paying more money that requires the certification I have aquired, and start the process again. In effect first stage promotion within the company and then moving sideways to another company to move up the ladder.

    What are your experiences of promotion in the I.T job market and do you have any tips or advice on this?
    I am based in the U.K. but all feedback is greatly appreciated from people living elsewhere.

    Thanks in Advance, :)
  2. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    I agree with many of your sentiments.

    IT generally does not have a structured career path, and most companies will not put much effort into developing you, providing you are fulfilling their immediate requirements.

    It is therefore critical to spend much of your own time and money to develop yourself. * See below

    The next problem is however that there is a pretty flat structure to most IT careers, meaning even if highly technically competent it does not mean there will be any pay-rise, promotion or career advancement.

    Its a personal choice but there is often a technical versus management aspect, and generally those in management or closer to the business can go further, get there faster and tend to get paid more.

    If you are being skipped in favour of certified individuals its possible that the certification is not really the issue, it could be :-

    1. The person has better interpersonal skills
    2. The person has more experience
    3. The person is more senior in age
    4. They 'look the part'
    5. They've been in the company longer than you

    Certification is in reality a VERY small part of the overall process, and it tends to be given too much weight on these forums for obvious reasons.

    So getting qualifications and moving job every few years helps, but its not the whole story.

    Ultimately moving around could turn out to be counter productive, especially if you want to go the management route.

    * Developing yourself
    Developing yourself is not purely related to certification, firstly there are both hard and soft skills, and its important to develop both.

    Developing skills could involve :- going to conferences, joining a user group, participating in open source, personal projects, reading, online courses, college courses, CBT, building home labs/networks/circuits, taking professional courses, certification, coding/hacking contests, volunteering, building and hosting a web site, blogging, and many more.

    Notice certification is only ONE of many options.

    Information is readily available for free, equipment is also available for low cost, the missing ingredients are only smart people prepared to dedicate time and effort. The barriers to entry to the profession have never been lower.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
  3. Cunningfox

    Cunningfox Byte Poster

    I disagree, certification is important and not a small piece of the overall process. It can be and often is the difference between interview and not or even job or not. My current job, if I did not have my CCNP certification I would not have that job, I would not have got to the interview stage and would not have been offered the job, that has been made plainly clear to me and is also applied to others we've recruited for similar roles. I was also given this impression on other interviews I had at the time. It is also worth baring in mind that some partners to large firms such as MS, VMWare and Cisco HAVE to employ a certain number of certified people.

    At the end of the day experience can make up for lack of certifications but the optimal strategy IS cert what you know and what you are doing. If you are not prepared to invest in yourself why would someone else?
    Certifications: CCNP, CCNA, MCP
    WIP: ??
  4. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

    Recruiters are dumb, if you genuinely find its impossible to get a job without getting the bit of paper they need, then by all means get it.
    Just realise that, there are now millions of people in india with fake CCNA/CCNP. That is why its the skills that matter, not the paper.

    Some places care about certification a lot, some don't. Not having the skills or being bad at interviews could bar you from both types places.

    MS, VMware, Cisco despite being huge companies are a small part of a much bigger market. A companies partner status should not be the main driver for how you plan your career.

    This is your opinion. Id say 'demonstrable proof of competence' in line with experience, rather than 'certification'.

    I never said don't invest in yourself, I said there are MANY ways to invest in yourself, they can be very effective too.

    Is taking a degree not investment ? Reading 200+ books ? Going to conferences ? Blogging ? Labbing ? Building Personal Projects ?

    Do you think Tim Berners Lee needs certification, Steve Wozniak ? They demonstrated their competence in other ways, both before and after becoming famous.

    Steve Wozniak built 100's electrical circuits culminating in the Apple 1, he didn't take a certification, he didn't even finish his degree until after founding apple.

    There is nothing to stop someone from building a linux cluster, writing a program, tinkering with arduino, and they can do it right now for a few $100's without certification.

    I know lot people at major telecoms companies and they do networking every day, have done for decades, guess what, they're not certified. Now I think certification is very wise for people in networking, but doesnt mean its universally required.

    I'm a developer, and really most employers don't care so much about certification. Generally because its proven to be an unreliable indicator of competence. (Just because I'm a developer don't think I don't also get to do architecture, support and administration.)
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2014
  5. Cunningfox

    Cunningfox Byte Poster

    Recruiters are dumb in most cases, however, you have to play that game with them. Employers do say to recruiters I want a MCSE level candidate (or whatever) to recruiters and recruiters will cling to that. I'm not saying ppl without certifications don't have the necessary experience and could do the job (maybe better) but if you don't get past the recruiter you can't prove that. Although you could play them at their own game and ensure your CV has 'MCSE level experience' mentioned somewhere. You need all three, skills, experience and certification in my opinion and if you can add a great interview then you probably have the job.

    I generally agree with you on this point it certainly seems more important in networking, perhaps less so in Microsoft world and in my experience even less so in Development world. It is, however, another weapon in your attack on the job market and far the sake of £100-£150 and a bit of study I'd take the exam every time.

    Just for point of reference, there is a big difference between furthering your career and trying to be the next Tim Berners Lee or Steve Wozniak.

    Back to the OP - Me personally, I'd study where I was get certified and then sideways step if your existing place doesn't allow you to move up. Some companies are short sighted in their investment in staff, not paying more on promotions, not developing their staff etc. At such a company you have to take things in your own hands and ensure you go, career wise, where you want to go.
    Certifications: CCNP, CCNA, MCP
    WIP: ??
  6. SimonD
    Honorary Member

    SimonD Terabyte Poster

    Being a somewhat over qualified\certified individual I think I am able to offer advice on this especially as I have been in the IT Industry for over 15 years now.

    We recently hired a couple of people with various VMware certifications and whilst it's nice to have the certifications it didn't mean that they could actually use the technology becausehey simply weren't up to the job.

    I would prefer to hire someone with a decent mixture of experience and certifications, you then know what you're getting - an experienced engineer with a certification to back up that experience but you only find out that ability during and after the interview process (it's amazing how many people can BS their way through an interview and only get caught out later on).

    As far as career progression goes, I tend to think that it depends on your role. As a senior engineer in my current company I do have career progression, whether that's up to Principle Engineer or moving over to a management role (Team\Shift lead and beyond), obviously beyond that requires additional experience and qualifications (rather than certifications).

    I recently heard a story of a VCDX candidate who wasn't being backed by his company with regards to costs towards the VCDX, the guy had been there for a number of years and failed the panel a couple of times, the reason the company weren't happy to back him is that they were concerned that once he attained his VCDX he would move on, now here comes the kicker, obviously the guy did move on when he finally passed the panel but if his company had decided to pay for his training\defense panels then he wouldn't have moved on, as it is the next company to hire him actually paid him a signing on bonus to cover his costs for the VCDX.

    Companies can be quite dumb, I for one have been with my company now for over 3 years, in the grand scheme of things that's a life time for me (as a contractor before this role I would move on every 18 - 24 months) but because the company are behind me from an educational\course perspective I have no reason to move on, work is exciting and the technology is bleeding edge (so I would be foolish to leave any time soon). Career progression wise I hope to get promoted at some point but if it doesn't happen any time soon it's no real issue as I am the senior permy on the team anyway.
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
    WIP: VCP6-CMA, VCAP-DCD and Linux + (and possibly VCIX-NV).

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