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What to Avoid when Choosing what IT Certifications to Learn

By Vahid Haghzare, Director Silicon Valley Associates Recruitment &
Armie Garcia, Marketing Associate, Silicon Valley Associates Recruitment



One of the top IT Recruitment Agencies in Hong KongDubai, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Singapore, and Japan, SVA Recruitment is an IT and employment agency that provides jobs, executive search, and recruitment services.


In today’s hyper-competitive job market, certifications can be a good way to give you an advantage on your resume for employers and IT Recruiters who check. But you should think twice if you really are certain about what you want to avoid getting your efforts to waste.

Silicon Valley Associates Recruitment reached out to all of the hiring managers we have worked with over 2021 to get their thoughts on applicants getting or having certificates on their resumes during the IT Recruitment process, and whether it helps or not.

The clients SVA Recruitment spoke to were across all our offices, from Shanghai to Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and Dubai. We found the responses were universal no matter where you are working. 

1. Know your Destination before Starting on the Journey

Many candidates have a goal of getting a certification for their careers, but first, you should plan the destination of your career, and what specific certifications fit the path you have chosen. 

What you shouldn’t do is study for a certificate because ‘everyone else has it’.

Others want to get a certification for the purpose of showing that they have enough knowledge of the current innovations in the IT industry. The certification organizations are consistently updating the primary materials of these certs, and this can be a risk for you.

“Ask for advice from your recruiter, supervisors, or experts. Research some job descriptions online of the positions you want to eventually be in. And keep in mind you have limited time and money to earn some qualifications. These should all help you decide what certification is in demand and should be prioritized.” says SVA Recruitment Director Vahid Haghzare.

It is important that you identify your goal, this way you can ascertain the probable ROI and assess if the certification you’re pursuing is worthy of all the efforts.

You have to prepare and be certain that you are able to meet these criteria prior to investing a huge amount of time and resources in your certification journey.

2. Be kind to your time. Do not push yourself too hard.

When earning a certification, you must stay disciplined and committed to it so the journey reaches its ending.  

Pursuing a certificate may also become overwhelming as homework intensifies and exam dates get closer. 

Therefore, it is critical that you only bite off enough that you can chew. The earlier point of prioritizing so you have sufficient time applies here. This means not signing up for too many certifications to pursue at once, or taking up a course that is too demanding against your full-time job. 

“If you really want to earn the certificate, you must have a clear focus and schedule for that qualification, so you can apply what they learned effectively, and not spread yourself too thin,” Haghzare comments.

A huge list of certifications may look like a worthy goal for validating your skillset to the world but think about the effort you will invest in this certification journey. It might be different than what you think.

Haghzare had more to say on this. “Yes, certifications provide broad opportunities, but we have witnessed some applicants pushing themselves in learning different skills simultaneously. What works best is choosing a limited number of courses for several certifications and targeting your approach. For instance, you could take a specific niche such as AI, cloud management, automation, security, etc., or choose a particular platform like AWS and Azure.”

“It depends on your chosen career path. Make sure that the content of your certifications is in line with your goals. “We as Recruiters and employers focus on looking at specific skills, and not much at generalist skills Scrum, ITIL, etc. when hiring. These common certifications don’t get our attention when looking into a CV, these are generic, and they are not that specific to get when needed for a project or client.”

See also: Latest Jobs

3. Consider the Costs, and ensure there will be Return on Investment

Certifications are costly, running into thousands of dollars sometimes. They are a real investment of money. 

Which makes the whole earlier point of prioritizing important again- pick the one or two courses which are going to bring the best bang for your hard-earned buck.

Some employers can pay or support you on the journey if they think your development benefits them as well. 

“Bring it up with your manager or HR. Or make sure you negotiate in during your next job offer,” recommends Haghzare 

4. The Training Provider you choose will determine if you learned well or not

When earning a certificate, looking for the right and reliable provider is a must. Google may show you a list of courses but that doesn’t mean the top results are the best trainers.

Ensure that any courses you take are administered by qualified educators or grantee organizations by the certification approval body. Certs for which accredited training is necessary before the completion are usually the best to look out for.

“Some trainers are providing pieces of training, workshops, and other good materials. And there are also those that aren’t teaching that well at all. Finding a well-known vendor or provider with credible background and an impressive success rate by their students is your priority here,” Haghzare suggests. 
Another point to think about is since certificate tracks are being updated regularly, the study materials and contents of tests may change too. It can be discouraging when the materials update halfway through studying. Then you will need to work on a completely new set of things/

Haghzare advises “Research and studies the record of certain certification track. This will help to intercept such problems. For example, if you found that the CCIE Security Exam is getting updated every three years, you should not prepare for the exam two and a half years within the current track.”

See also: Current Candidates 

5. Remember- actual practical experience trumps certification and theory

IT leaders and employers can make a mistake too. Our expert Haghzare had some advice for hiring managers and HR in the candidate pursuit of certification and valuing industry credentials.

“Don’t depend on certifications to qualify a candidate or not. Experiences show even when you are already certified in theory, nothing beats the actual practical knowledge and skill that has been learned on the job. That’s why job titles and actual experience override any education. Qualifications are at the end of the resume, for good reason.’

If you are zooming in on the certification, hiring managers should examine candidates with comprehensive questions to be certain that they are familiar with the material they claimed to have studied, and offer a particular set of examples on how they will perform in real-world situations.

Employers should also spot the applicants who have shown a dedication to improve and develop generally, and not necessarily with just the latest certifications or qualifications. Employees want to enhance their skills that’s why they want to earn certification. 

Promotions or taking on additional responsibilities, in-boarding or crossing over into other departments, progressive social activities, or hobbies. These are all indications that the person is constantly pushing themselves to improve, without necessarily just taking lots of courses or qualifications. 

Employers need to make sure of the availability of career improvement opportunities for those who want to successfully pursue certifications. 

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Silicon Valley Associates is ideally positioned to support the continual demand from tech companies and IT Departments looking to hire in Hong Kong, Asia, and Worldwide. Please let us know if you would further advise on the above topic or your hiring needs


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