If you’re new to IT, or relatively low-level in your career, certifications can be a valuable way to establish that you’re interested enough in this domain to pursue an exam, the work ethic to follow through on that exam, and the interest in that domain to really want to do the job.

Too often, however, on online forums or group discussions, people will ask which certification is “easiest” to get. These techs have the entirely wrong approach to certification. The point of certification isn’t to get a job.

  1. Certifications enhance your resume
  2. Your resume lands you an interview
  3. Your interview lands you the job

Certifications Enhance Your Resume

IT certifications are, in most cases, not required anymore on a job application. When the company’s HR department receives your resume and (in many cases) it gets filtered through an online system to check your qualifications, certs can be a plus, but the lack of them is usually not a disqualifier.

This is because a lot of skilled techs don’t have certifications at all. You’re much more likely to get disqualified due to the lack of a degree than the lack of a certification.

Still, if you’re not as experienced, you need something to help you establish a little proven competence and stand out. Certifications can help your resume stand out.

Your Resume Lands You an Interview

This should be obvious but bears repeating: Companies don’t hire you because you have a certification. They may, however, assume you have a higher level of knowledge than a similar uncertified candidate, and ask you questions they feel you should be able to answer. They may even ask you details about how you earned your certification.

In other words, expect it to be a topic during the interview, but not much more than that.

Your Interview Lands You The Job

The interview is where you establish that you’re the right candidate for the job. Certifications might help you get in the room, but neither the cert nor the resume it’s printed on will do you any good if you bomb the interview.

The last part is where “fakers” get exposed. This has really soured the opinion of Microsoft certifications over the years — candidates use braindumps, or study solely to pass the exams, try to leverage those exams into jobs, then bomb the interview because the Cert just proved that they could cram for a test.

Get Certified, But For the Right Reasons

Go ahead and get certified. Do it for the right reasons though. Do it to learn something new, not just to get the paper. It’s never been easier to get a study environment setup.

I run a desktop computer at home with 16GB of RAM. I use Hyper V to setup a bunch of virtual machines to essentially have a lab “corporate” network. If I need to tool around with group policies, operating system deployment, firewall rules, powershell scripting, any of that, I have a test environment to do it on.

If you’re studying for cloud certs, like ones related to Azure or AWS, your test environment can be entirely in the cloud too.