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  Java Programmer Certification Advice/Help  (Read 6141 times)
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Offline dranonymous

Junior Member




Hoping to become a Java Titan someday!


« Posted 2004-09-06 00:27:34 »

How many of you have any Sun Certs?

I am going to try and get my Programmer Cert - test CX-310-035.

A friend and I agreed to dedicate time to study together twice each week.  He has the book Sun Certified Programmer & Developer for Java 2 Study Guide (Exam 310-035 & 310-027) by Kathy Sierra  Does anyone have any experience with this book?

Any other books you feel would be better?  Javaranch has some tutoring they will do for a fee.  Has anyone done this?

Regards,
Dr. A>
Offline Mithrandir

Senior Member




Cut from being on the bleeding edge too long


« Reply #1 - Posted 2004-09-06 02:55:44 »

I haven't done one and I've rarely come across anyone that has or a company that lists it as part of the job requirements.  

In general, I have a very low opinion of all certification programs. There are very few that indicate anything useful in a person's skillset.  Typically you have to do a lot of the lower level ones to get there though (example being the high-end Cisco certifications).  

Certs generally don't prove much other than a rudimentry knowledge of skills.  I had a good friend back in Sydney many years ago doing the Novell cert path. After looking at the first three or four levels and realising that I could have easily passed all of them, having never touched a Novell box, that really set the tone.  When the first Java certs came out, again, it was pretty trivial to pass both the beginner and advanced levels without study (IIRC, I'd been doing fulltime Java development for 2-3 years by that stage).

As an employer, if I was to make a choice about hiring someone with a year's experience or one fresh out of uni with a Java cert, I'd go for the former.

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Offline cfmdobbie

Senior Member


Medals: 1


Who, me?


« Reply #2 - Posted 2004-09-06 11:07:33 »

I'm a 310-025, Sun Certified Programmer for the Java 2 Platform, 1.2.  It's a nice thing to chuck on a CV, but it really doesn't open any doors.  It was a nice week off work, though, so if your employer is willing to fund it, I recommend going for it!

The one-week course was very easy - I don't think I learned anything at all.  The exam was almost as easy, only complicated by having to walk into the room knowing exact method signatures, operator precedences and other things that either Javadoc or the compiler will tell you.

The silly little snippets of code that you have to spot errors in are probably the worst bit.  In any real situation you would have walked over to the responsible person, slapped them hard, then gone back to your desk and rewritten the whole thing.  In the exam situation you need to start thinking very hard about when various items get updated, what operators fire off first, exactly where your loops begin and end etc.  Stupid.

Hellomynameis Charlie Dobbie.
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Offline the2bears

Senior Member


Projects: 2


Little Bear: Code Fu!


« Reply #3 - Posted 2004-09-06 15:41:18 »

cfmdobbie is right on a lot of points.  What does it really show if you know the exact method signature?  A true test is a challenging problem to solve.  I'd have to look up the methods using JavaDoc but then I'd be relying on years of experience and intuition.

I guess that sums it for me, there's no substitute for experience.  But that includes learning from others: follow open source projects, learn what's right and wrong from them.  Learn from a colleague, ask questions.  Trust your peers and their perspectives.  I can architect at a fairly abstract layer quite well but I'd be lost without the help of friends who can dive in to the lower levels and fix my "prototypes"Smiley

But if it's free, pad the CV!

Bill

the2bears - the indie shmup blog
Offline dranonymous

Junior Member




Hoping to become a Java Titan someday!


« Reply #4 - Posted 2004-09-07 06:18:47 »

Thanks for the advice.  Given the CV references, I'll assume at least 2 of you are not in the US.  A friend of mine from England usually mentions that term as well.  Smiley

mith - I'd have to agree with you that many certs are silly.  I remember here the craze over the A+ cert.  Having a that cert meant just about nothing has far as being able to troubleshoot problems.  It just meant you knew computer terms.  The other thing bogus about that one, is that it really only applied to Microsoft junk.  Someone with a computer science degree might not know how to install drivers in Linux/Mac/Solaris/Amiga/etc, but they knew the common connection and theory.

cfm -  Any plans on upgrading your cert to 1.4 or taking the  speciality exams?  I realize the programmer exame is an intro, but if I want to get any others, I need to start here.

As far as talking to peers go, I'm out of luck.  We aren't a java shop.  Most stuff is done in MS, which means C#/C++.  In fact, most people come to me for java answers at work.  With the exception of one other person, a friend I went to school with, there really isn't anyone at work I can ask specific java questions.  One guy who recently joined our area, looked like a real guru - ie he has alot of work experience and was working on a project using java.  Turns out he still uses notepad to code everything, has never heard of ANT, sprinkles his code with C style commenting, and avoids using layout managers and the newer Swing components, as its 'easier to write your own gui system.'


I am going to be taking the test and will see if work will pay for it.  My assumption is that they will, assuming I pass.  It makes for a win-win situation for us both.

I've programmed enough to know how programming 'works' ie - loops, conditionals, methods, etc and that learning a new language is a matter of learning the syntax to get to the things you know how to do.  Unfortunately, the java cert isn't going to test how well I can pick up any generic language, it only cares about the very specifics of Java.

So, any guidance on what things you think are commonly misunderstood? Any reference books you've found invaluable?

Regards,
Dr. A>
Offline swpalmer

JGO Coder




Where's the Kaboom?


« Reply #5 - Posted 2004-09-09 03:16:29 »

I'm looking over résumés for a Java job opening we have... I usually toss anything mentioning Sun certification in the bin.

I care about a "real"  Comp Sci, or Comp Eng. degree from a decent university, combined with real world experience on actual products that were finished (not course work).

Offline cfmdobbie

Senior Member


Medals: 1


Who, me?


« Reply #6 - Posted 2004-09-09 10:28:19 »

Quote
cfm -  Any plans on upgrading your cert to 1.4 or taking the  speciality exams?  I realize the programmer exame is an intro, but if I want to get any others, I need to start here.


Not unless I get really bored.  While getting Developer, Architect etc is an achievement, it's not one that any employers will give two hoots about.  Frankly, Sun have put no effort into publicising the certifications, so most employers are unlikely to know any difference between the various levels.  Getting the bare minimum is sufficient, at least until Sun's marketing department gets their act together.  And I'll probably be long dead by then.


Quote
I am going to be taking the test and will see if work will pay for it.  My assumption is that they will, assuming I pass.  It makes for a win-win situation for us both.


That sounds like a plan.  In most MS houses employers will respect certifications, and take great pleasure detailing their staff's qualifications to clients.

FWIW, my company paid for the one-week course and for a voucher for the exam.  The deal was one go on the company, and if you need any other attempts, pay for them yourself.  I was actually made redundant before registering for the exam, but the company was kind enough to let me use the voucher anyway.


Scott: I think actively throwing away CVs with a certification mentioned is a bit harsh.  As a techie you know what else to look for so you can safely ignore them.  But that doesn't mean that everyone with a certification is a muppet. Wink

Hellomynameis Charlie Dobbie.
Offline dranonymous

Junior Member




Hoping to become a Java Titan someday!


« Reply #7 - Posted 2004-09-09 18:29:00 »

swp - Ouch, you just toss them right away?  I have a CS degree, so would I get tossed if I had the cert too?

I look at it as having the cert shouldn't hurt you.  It may not help, but it does at least show that between two equalled degreed canidates with the same rough experience, one of them took the time to try and quantify their knowledge. ?

We had an applicant here recently, who listed a bunch of certs for things such as dreamweaver, java, etc.  Their interview demonstrated they in no way knew what their certs said they should.  We also checked on the various certs, to discover they didn' actually have them.

I realize that many people don't seem to care about a Sun cert, but it seems like a bit of an unfair state of affairs.  I can program in C/C++/C#/ Java/Assembly/ Basic/Pascal/ARexx, but my skills in each language are not the same at all.  I wonder if people have unfairly decided that knowing the syntax of a language makes you a programmer in that language.  A friend here at work is a EE and admits he's not a programmer.  He doesn't think in terms of OO or know terms such as MVC or event driven GUI's.  So even though he can write C/C++, he doesn't consider himself a programmer.  I'm not an EE, even though I can program EEPROMS and have done some PIC chips as well.  All that being said, should a Sun cert at least roughly guarantee that 3 people with the same cert will have the same BASIC comprehension of java?  That would seem to be a fair statement.

Regards,
Dr. A>
Offline Mithrandir

Senior Member




Cut from being on the bleeding edge too long


« Reply #8 - Posted 2004-09-09 19:29:07 »

For me, having a cert listed is a negative on a CV of potential employees. The way I view it is that the candidate doesn't have enough confidence in their own abilities and skill set, so they have to justify it through some external body.  

Being rather hand-wavy about it: if I got two candidates, with the same amount of experience, one with a cert, and one without, but competency in 2 different languages/environments, the later is the one that would get the interview, and the former would not.

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Offline JasonB

Junior Member





« Reply #9 - Posted 2004-09-09 20:08:23 »

Quote
The way I view it is that the candidate doesn't have enough confidence in their own abilities and skill set, so they have to justify it through some external body.  

Being rather hand-wavy about it: if I got two candidates, with the same amount of experience, one with a cert, and one without, but competency in 2 different languages/environments, the later is the one that would get the interview, and the former would not.

Well I don't quite see how they can have the same amount of experience if one has experience in more than one language & environment.  Of course you're going to go with the guy with more experience.  That's a no brainer.
But what if both guys have -exactly- the same amount of experience and one of them has a cert.  You're still going to view that as a negative?

I got my programmer certification back in either '96 or '97 (I forget exactly when), not because I had any lack of confidence in my abilities, but because, at the time, it was a selling point on my CV.  And shortly after, it did help me get a job.  So, quite frankly, your view (EDIT: and it seems also the view of a few others who have posted) errs more than a bit on the clueless side.
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Offline dranonymous

Junior Member




Hoping to become a Java Titan someday!


« Reply #10 - Posted 2004-09-09 20:56:51 »

Mith - I'm confused.  Are you saying what JasonB stated -

2 candidates, same rough experience (2+ years, x # of languages, same type of project work) 1 has a Sun cert.  The person with the sun cert is LESS of a candidate because of that?

If two people approached me with this -

A. 2 years working exp, some type of cert
B. 2 years working exp, no cert, 2 languages

I'd interview them both and see which one has the ability to do/learn what I need.  In that case having/not having a cert wouldn't be an issue.

In this situation -

A. No exp, 2 certs
B. 2 years exp, no certs

I'd roughly say I'd take B.  The experience is very valuable.  Now a toughy -

A. 4 years exp, no certs, no degree
B. 1 year exp, 1 cert, degree
C. 2 years exp, no certs, degree

Of course I'm getting a bit silly, but its intentional.  It seems like some people are just against certs of any type.   I know full well my CS degree is far far more valuable to me than any cert, but that doesn't mean someon who has them is instantly a 'weenie.'

Take the case of a motorcycle license, this might not apply as well in other countries.  Here you have to have a regular car license and then you can get a motorcycle license.  You also must pass a driving portion.  Dont' laugh, I failed it the first time.  It involves driving around a closed area, performing various turning manuevers, sudden stops, etc.  Lots of guys 'could' pass the test, but only some actually do.  I took a motorcycle safety course as well. Some would say my cert is worthless and doesn't make me a better rider.  My insurance company says it makes me a more informed rider and I get a discount on my insurance.

I guess if we could get a Java Coding Safety Cert, then maybe we wouldn't get paid as much Huh

Dr. A>
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


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« Reply #11 - Posted 2004-09-09 21:41:58 »

I can see both sides. My experience:

Statistically, based on past experience, someone who puts certs prominently on their CV is almost always a crap programmer who knows it but is good at bullshitting and getting the job - once in, employment laws in this country make firing them quickly damn expensive.

I have seen this *so very many* times in corporate environments; not so long ago IBM published research on the "negative programmer": the person who is so crap / lazy / wilfully incompetent that they are a net LOSS to the project: they not only add nothing, but damage so much of other people's code, or waste their time with stupid questions / incompetence that overall it would have been better if they hadn't turned up to work at all!

Usually, these people are the kind that sell themselves on paper qualifications (because they *cannot* sell themselves on anything else) - and have become *very* good at playing the "interview game", and leveraging their pieces of paper.

...

I wouldn't throw a cert'd CV out automatically - I'd look at how prominent the cert was. If I see the CV starts with 3/4 of a page listing programming languages, jargon words, and certs, I now know it's probably fake - that's probably a CV (re)written by the recruitment agency. I have turned up to an interview myself where the CV they had for me was *completely false* and had been made up by the agency; I was very ****ed off. It still happens - a lot.

So i put it on the "we know nothing about this person at all" pile. i.e. "will interview if we have the time".

If the CV starts with certs and is otherwise normal, I probably will throw it out; seriously - the best thing you have to offer is your certs? Yuk!

But...if the CV mentions the certs later on, e.g. after the main "experience" section, then I certainly wouldn't mark the CV down. From interviewing, most smart people who are looking for a good demanding job working with other smart people seem to know that primarily selling themselves on a few pieces of mass-market paper is not going to get them the kind of work they actually want.

When the certs come before the main experience section, there'd damn well better be something intriguing or impressive in that first 1/2 page to make up for it; as I said, what starts the CV is your best points; if your best points is crappy certs, why would we want you?

(the "intriguging" bit is the get-out for good people with crap CV-writing skills who don't have a clue how to write a good CV; that kind of person will usually have *something* intersting in the first half page - so if I see something surprising, highly unusual (e.g. "Spent 2 years full time unpaid creating a national IT system for charity X") then I'll definitely overlook something like putting certs at the top.

Shrug. Recruitment is a lottery!

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline nonnus29

Senior Member




Giving Java a second chance after ludumdare fiasco


« Reply #12 - Posted 2004-09-10 01:04:41 »

This thread is interesting to me because someday I'd like to migrate from cobol-legacy-system hell to some real developement.  In my judgement  I'm a competant c/c++, java programmer.  I think I'd enjoy embedded system development, java, web, whatever.  

My problem is my degree is non IT/comp sci and all the work experience I have is cobol.  I'm about 6 classes away from a second degree in comp sci but it'll take a couple of years of night classes to complete.

So how could I jump into Java for example?  Would my only prayer be to reference this sourceforge thing in my sig?  Get some certs (apparently not)?  Anybody have any advice for someone in this situation?
Offline swpalmer

JGO Coder




Where's the Kaboom?


« Reply #13 - Posted 2004-09-10 04:38:44 »

Yep - I had about 150 résumés to go through.  I agree with Mithrandir, the Sun Cert implies to me that you are trying to compensate for real skill.

If you have a university degree in computer engineering or computer science, why on Earth would you take the exam for Sun Certifcation which is a much lower qualification?  That's like getting a degree from the best university in comp sci, but then getting another from your community college just to add another line to your résumé.  If you DON'T have a university degree then it is a different story.  Then you do need to list some kind of qualification and if the Sun Cert is all you have it is better than nothing.

Also if I read too many buzzwords in the first three lines - straight to the trash.  Some people just listed acronyms for 5 fully-packed lines.  Rubbish.  Tell me what you have actually accomplished, show me a link to a real product that you made a significant contribution to.  Briefly identify the important contribution that you made. Why it was a challenge.  What skills you had to use to meet that challenge.   Show me you are confident, that you know what you are doing... all in point form of course Smiley

I actually had one applicant that went on about his family history and that his parents didn't love him the way he wanted to be loved...  he claimed that he didn't get good grades, that he wasn't particularly smart etc..  it was amusing, but I can't for the life of me figure out how he thought he was helping his case.

Offline Mithrandir

Senior Member




Cut from being on the bleeding edge too long


« Reply #14 - Posted 2004-09-10 06:36:21 »

JasonB,  I think swpalmer summed it up better than I expressed it.  

Phrasing it another way, it's not based on cluelessness or some basic bias against certs, it's based on real world experience that has lead me to draw that conclusion. I've built 2 large project teams (one 15 people, one with 60) and had to be the one responsible for doing tech interviews of potential candidate employees for both my own projects and others. HR did the initial cull and then I had to go through and narrow down something like 20 potential candidates to 5 or 6 promising ones for an interview.

The one piece I didn't put in there but swpalmer reminded me of - I'm assuming a base level of competence of a comp sci degree. If the candidate doesn't have that, then I'll definitely look at other factors, one of which may include a cert. A comp sci degree states that you should have a minimum set of knowledge skills - experience in various different programming languages and styles, software engineering, formal programming etc. Although this wasn't the case back when I was working in a big company, it is now - the general Java programming cert requirements are covered by most introductory programming courses (most unis are now using Java as the first-up programming language).  Thus it should be easily achievable by anyone from about 2nd-year onwards, so it doesn't exactly say much.

Another contributing factor to why I would decide against someone with a cert is that I tend to favour particular personality types.  As is fairly obvious, I'm a person of strong opinions. When looking for someone to work with me, I'm not looking for a slave or someone that does only what they're told. I'm looking for someone that is willing to think outside the box, naturally curious and prepared to take a stand and defend it, even if contrary to my own opinion. These are the people that I can give a job to and expect it to be done to the best of their ability. I'm not sure how much interviewing of candidates you (JasonB) have done and thus what sort of bias you may have in your opinions. I've done probably a couple of hundred, so I've built up a reasonable amount of experience of reading a resume and being able to tell, quite accurately, a lot just from that.

A lot of the person's personality comes over in terms of the way they phrase and organise a resume, as well as what goes in it.  That's why I say that, to me, a cert is a negative to a resume rather than a positive.  It's an indicator that the person is seeking to gain some extra external recognition for their skills rather than having their confidence to stand on their own. The alternate candidate with experience in a couple of different languages has shown some interest in getting a breadth of experience to draw from (particularly if a junior programmer, where the oppourtunity to branch out within a company is not exactly the easiest thing in the world to do).  Turning that on it's head; I would also reject someone with a Ph.D in Comp Sci unless I had a very specific, high-tech need to do so - too narrow a focus.

Other people may look for different qualities in their employees, and therefore weight things differently as to what is useful or not. I'm just trying to offer the perspective from someone that has sat on the other side of the table and having to decide who gets that interview and who does not.


Nonnus29, as for your particular situation, it would really be a "it depends".  What sort of job was being offered would have the biggest effect. For example, working in a financial institution that was moving over to a J2EE backend, you might move to the top of the pile, even with minimal Java experience. The industry experience is what matters - particularly if there are other Java experts, but not much Ye Olde World experience dealing with the incumbent systems. However, if it was for my current company, doing high-end 3D graphics, then you'd probably be near one of the first ones on the reject list.  At some point along the lines, one determinant would be the "other activities" bucket - you've not had much professional experience, but if you listed a Java-based open source project I would go look it up and check out the commit messages as well as mailing lists to see how many have your name on it and see what level of commitment, expertise and influence you've had. There's such a wealth of programming talent out there right now that an employer can be extremely picky - expect them to research everything you've put on your resume.  OSS is a current buzzword, but it is also something that can be relatively trivially researched. Don't just say you do "OSS development" List the projects you've worked on and exactly what sort of work you've done (eg bug reports, documentation,  CVS commit access, primary maintainer etc)

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Offline JasonB

Junior Member





« Reply #15 - Posted 2004-09-10 07:50:19 »

Quote
I'm not sure how much interviewing of candidates you (JasonB) have done and thus what sort of bias you may have in your opinions. I've done probably a couple of hundred, so I've built up a reasonable amount of experience of reading a resume and being able to tell, quite accurately, a lot just from that.

Well nowhere near a couple of hundred, but at least 40 or 50 in my time.  I don't deny your experience, but I still believe there's an unwarranted negative reaction to the idea of certification.  Sure there may be those who use certification to hide a lack of experience or ability, but tarring all with the same brush... well, it's lucky I'm not being interviewed by you lot.    Tongue

Also to swpalmer: I have a degree as well, but at the time I still felt certification was a positive feature to include in my CV.  Would I feel the same way now -- probably not -- but nevertheless I still include it in my CV.
Offline dranonymous

Junior Member




Hoping to become a Java Titan someday!


« Reply #16 - Posted 2004-09-10 14:12:01 »

I'm completely stumped.   :-/

It sounds as though no one here would have given me a second's chance of being interviewed.  Here's what my cv/resume organization looks like -

SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS: Analyst with 5 Years Programming Experience

Experienced technical programmer, with the ability to multitask and contribute as a valuable team member. Provide optimized software solutions and documentation, based on a solid understanding of object oriented programming and software design. Able to architect and implement solutions which address complex and unique problems, due to experience working with multiple OS platforms and embedded hardware.

Project work
(Short 2 or 3 sentence description of various specific project work I've done)

Programming Skills
(Bullets, listing specific programming skills)

Technical Areas
(high level bullets, covering technical work)

Education/Certifications
(Obvious)

Employment
(Lists who I've worked for and what I've done and for how long)

Personal
(Just nice to know stuff to give the interviewer - like I'm married, enjoy scuba diving, etc)

So, based on what I see has cert hate.  Would I have a chance at ANY position, if page 2 of my cv/resume showed a single, non bold face, regular text cert from Sun?

As a side note, when a friend of mine got an interview here, I helped him alter his cv/resume.  One of the gripes/adjustments made was to push his MCSE down on the list and not make it stand out.  He has a degree and it looked to me like he was trying to 'over advertise'.  He is more than compentent as a programmer though.

Certs don't make the person, neither does the degree.  I would rather take a poke in the head than hire or work with some of the people in my graduating class.  One guy did a senior project that basically got his AI checkers program to finally work!  Yikes!  An entry level person was loaned to us from another division to do some project work.  He knew java, but he wasn't a programmer.  He was amazed you could make a call such as - myObject.calculate(anotherObject.getFunction())  He thought you always had to declare a var to hold the result, then pass it in.  His degree wasn't showing through very well, IMO.

Doesn't a cert of any type, at least provide someone with a rough estimate of that person't minimum knowledge?  I didn't say skill.  Isn't a degree nothing more than a rough guarantee that someone has general knowledge about their profession?  I know about Pascal, but I've got very little skill in.

I always ask a potential canidate what about programming makes them most excited.  If its when the track down a bug and suddenly things work.  Maybe its trying new languages out, just to sample whats out there.  Maybe they really love it when the do a very optimized implementation of an algorithm.  Whatever the case is, I'm looking to see if their degree is in their blood.  You can tell it when its there.  Those are the people who program at home, research stuff because its fun, etc.  Its no different for Computer Engineering or EE.  You can ask a similiar question and tell the person lives to do that stuff.  Those are the ones I like to work with, as they have passion about their work.  Their degrees/certs/experience become focused for me once I know how they view themselves and what makes them tick a bit.

If the interviewers out there are really just saying that experience and a degree are much more valuable than any cert, I agree.  If they are saying its worthless and more like the plague, then I'm shocked.   Shocked

So am I doomed to never get a job once I get my cert?

Dr. A>
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #17 - Posted 2004-09-10 14:41:26 »

Quote
I'm completely stumped.   :-/

It sounds as though no one here would have given me a second's chance of being interviewed.


Not at all Smiley.

Quote

SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS: Analyst with 5 Years Programming Experience

Experienced technical programmer...

Project work...


See? For me, you've given me "important stuff" to read right from the start. From this point on, I won't see anything negative in seeing certs, because I know you've got real skills and experience (or at least you believe you have Grin).

Quote

Programming Skills
(Bullets, listing specific programming skills)

Technical Areas
(high level bullets, covering technical work)

Education/Certifications
(Obvious)


Perfect. I've read the main parts at the start, and have a rough idea what position you go for and what you do, and now you've given me a convenient summary of simple factual stuff that I can quickly glance through; I'll probably skim this, read the rest of the CV, then come back to this section in the light of anything else (sad but true a lot of people leave some of the most intersting bits until the end !).

Quote

Employment
(Lists who I've worked for and what I've done and for how long)


Like, I'll want to read this before I do any detailed look at your bulleted stuff above...

Quote

(Just nice to know stuff to give the interviewer - like I'm married, enjoy scuba diving, etc)


Personally, I get annoyed by this; if it's at the end, I don't care - I'll just ignore it - but it's a pet peeve. It's a waste of my time; although I'm guessing it's valuable to some interviewers because of the number of people that do it. I'm always shocked at the number of technial people aged 30-35 who start their CV:

Marital status
Number of children (sometimes names and ages too!)
D.O.B.
Home-town

...and that's just the "common" stuff. A few rare cases have twice as much!

In the EU, IMHO, anyone who puts *that* detail is shooting themselves in the head. As an employer, I'm legally bound NOT to make any decisions on your race, background, etc - and so I'd rather not know. If your CV goes to an agency, they will definitely strip this stuff immediately.

Quote

I would rather take a poke in the head than hire or work with some of the people in my graduating class....His degree wasn't showing through very well, IMO.


If I'm considering someone with a degree I *always* check on their uni. In the UK, finding out the relative quality of a CS degree is quite easy, given the relatively small number of places you can get a degree, and the broad categories they fit into.

A degree doesn't say you're a graduate (despite the absolutely mindless stupidity of UK politicians who are thick as two short planks and believe "degree == very clever; highly skilled"). A degree says "you can look at my course, read the syllabus, find ex-colleagues and friends who know the relative quality of the course and graduates, and get a feel for the type of person that comes out of that course". I'm helped by doing occasional tutoring for undergrads - I get to see quite a few undergrad courses from the inside-out.

If I can't find out anything useful about a given degree course, I treat it with suspicion, and will probably rate the person almost entirely as if they were non-graduated - i.e. based on their practical experience and performance at interview.

Quote

Doesn't a cert of any type, at least provide someone with a rough estimate of that person't minimum knowledge?


As others have pointed out, yes - BUT the "minimum" is so *very* low that it's often worthless. Or else it's knowledge that is esoteric and bears little or no resemblence to the stuff you actually need to know in the job...

Quote

If the interviewers out there are really just saying that experience and a degree are much more valuable than any cert, I agree.  If they are saying its worthless and more like the plague, then I'm shocked.   Shocked


Personally I said neither : I said that if someone tries to *sell* themselves on it, then it's the plague, whereas if they list it as relevant secondary information then it's never negative and may or may not have some positive effect.

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


http://t-machine.org


« Reply #18 - Posted 2004-09-10 14:50:09 »

IMHO, the problem is basically the commercialisation of education, lead by America's naivety, and now an international problem. They make the same mistakes over and over again ("Capitalism solves all problems; No manager or politician or anyone in a position of responsibility needs to make a decision: let the free market decide!"). This lack of personal and institutional responsibility-taking has screwed up their education system, their mobile phone system, their patent system, their corporate governance, etc. A similar pattern is being repeated elsewhere (e.g. here in the UK) although at a slower rate. I suspect the slower rater is largely because of conservative attitudes towards change rather than because the decision makers have seen the errors of that way.

Basically, you can no longer trust a certificate, because certification is a HUGE market, and the cert-granter has huge profit margins on it - the mistake of the "capitalism needs no regualtion" believers (as opposed to the "capitalism is great, but you still have to regulate" believers) is not to see that "maximising profits" has little to do with "increasing or preserving quality".

</political rant>

malloc will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...
Offline Mithrandir

Senior Member




Cut from being on the bleeding edge too long


« Reply #19 - Posted 2004-09-10 15:09:10 »

My reaction is fairly similar to blah3. The one area that I differ to him is in the other activities section.  

I like to see some of that information, particularly regarding other interests. This indicates the type of person and possible range of external influences and skills. For example, a guy that doesn't have any external interests is probably a stereotypical closet nerd.  Having some other hobbies listed shows that the candidate gets out and "has a life" other than looking at a monitor.  Some things are quite handy to know, particularly if the programmer has non-mental interests such as rock-climbing, music, martial arts or anything along those lines.

One thing that I wouldn't put on there is marital status. Some employers would see that and instantly say "won't be committed enough, goes home at 5pm exactly every day".  That sucks, and is a really bad attitude (maybe that's an employer that you wouldn't want to work for anyway), but I heard of quite a lot of companies that use it as an excuse to cull the list down.

Quote

If the interviewers out there are really just saying that experience and a degree are much more valuable than any cert, I agree.  If they are saying its worthless and more like the plague, then I'm shocked.


For me, it's not a positive (within the exceptions I stated earlier in the thread about some of the really high-end certs). I may be neutral or negative about it though.

The site for 3D Graphics information http://www.j3d.org/
Aviatrix3D JOGL Scenegraph http://aviatrix3d.j3d.org/
Programming is essentially a markup language surrounding mathematical formulae and thus, should not be patentable.
Offline dranonymous

Junior Member




Hoping to become a Java Titan someday!


« Reply #20 - Posted 2004-09-10 15:31:43 »

Ahhhhh.. Deep sigh, at least I know I'd have at least one chance of being hired - of course I'd have to move over seas, but thats ok.  Not sure if my wife would agree.  Wink

I'd have to agree that American education is some of the goofiest around.  I just sort of assume that German/Indian/Japanese students for example are in general smarter (or at least more prepared) than their US counterparts.  Of course I also believe education is what you make of it.

<off-topic>
Case in point about our weird education and capitalism. We have many immigrants who speak spanish and its derivatives.  Rather than make people learn english-us version, money scum bags have started labeling cereal in spanish.  Automotive stores have signs indicating whats in the aisle in english and spanish.  Why not funnel the money into educating people?  If I went to Switzerland, which I hope to do some day.  I in no way expect anyone or anything to be english related.  I fully expect to speak french or else flounder in my abilities to communicate.

We have schools that teach in spanish up into middle school.  Sad   When my grandparents moved near us, I learned sign language the way all other kids did - I used it.  My grandparent's weren't going to start talking, given they are deaf.  When I stayed the night at their house, I learned to sign, because I had to.  There was no 'transition' so to speak.

Now, I think speaking multiple languages is great.  I think people moving about to different countries is great too.  I just don't think its any countries 'job' to do anything but carry on educating people in the language of the country, whether we admit its official or not.

</off-topic>

So, since this thread turned into a how people are viewed with a cert, I just ordered the book I thought of originally.  I'll fill you all in with my progress.  Hopefully, I'll be adding a very small, un-obtrusive bullet to my cv/resume soon.  Smiley

Dr. A>
Offline Mark Thornton

Senior Member





« Reply #21 - Posted 2004-09-10 15:49:17 »

Quote
Turning that on it's head; I would also reject someone with a Ph.D in Comp Sci unless I had a very specific, high-tech need to do so - too narrow a focus.

Although this attitude is common I think it is also rather unfair. Of course as I have a PhD myself I would say that. Undoubtedly some PhD holders do have a narrow outlook, but many others do not. After all it is quite common for such people to end up in areas significantly removed from their original research.

I also have done some Microsoft certifications, not because they were relevant to my work, but because the company needed x certified people and I'm the expert at passing exams with minimal preparation.

Just as well that I don't have to prepare a CV very often.
Offline Mark Thornton

Senior Member





« Reply #22 - Posted 2004-09-10 15:54:41 »

Quote
If I went to Switzerland, which I hope to do some day.  I in no way expect anyone or anything to be english related.  I fully expect to speak french or else flounder in my abilities to communicate.

French is but one of (I think) four official languages in Switzerland. Unfortunately they sometimes aren't very helpful if you use the wrong language for the locality.
Offline JasonB

Junior Member





« Reply #23 - Posted 2004-09-10 21:09:08 »

Quote
If I can't find out anything useful about a given degree course, I treat it with suspicion, and will probably rate the person almost entirely as if they were non-graduated - i.e. based on their practical experience and performance at interview.

That's an odd attitude.  Assuming you can verify the university and that the degree is valid, but you can't get the level of detail about the course that you want, you would still rate the person as a non-graduate?
I'm not sure you'd find what you wanted about my degree, but from what I've heard degrees from my uni are generally accepted as being better than the equivalent from the US (and at least as good as the UK).

No offence to the various posters but there doesn't seem to be a lot of open mindedness here.  Case in point, I've worked with a PhD who was absolutely useless.  Would I therefore view all prospective employees with PhD's as the same?  No.  But (whether or not it was the intention of the posters), you get the distinct impression that their hiring is based upon personal stereotypes.
Offline Mithrandir

Senior Member




Cut from being on the bleeding edge too long


« Reply #24 - Posted 2004-09-10 21:26:25 »

Yes, your last statement is more correct than false. Somehow the person doing the hiring has to trim down the list of applications down to around 3-6 interviews.  HR trims out the really offmark ones, the techies doing the interviews trim the rest. Unless the resume stands out from the "stereotypical" one, it's more likely than not to be not considered. Most of us that are on the other side of the fence have been around the traps for quite a number of years and built up a list of likes and dislikes in people they've worked with and use that to decide who gets the nod for an interview.

The site for 3D Graphics information http://www.j3d.org/
Aviatrix3D JOGL Scenegraph http://aviatrix3d.j3d.org/
Programming is essentially a markup language surrounding mathematical formulae and thus, should not be patentable.
Offline JasonB

Junior Member





« Reply #25 - Posted 2004-09-10 23:15:07 »

Yes, but personally I try not to put arbitrary conditions on who I'm going to interview based on my own likes/dislikes.

i.e. we need someone with a degree and with x amount of years experience in whatever buzzword-compliant technology we're hiring for.  I do not automatically cross someone off the list because they also have certification, or have a PhD.  Frankly I'd rather do 6 interviews than 3 (and I absolutely loath interviewing) if I couldn't reduce the list other than by using stereotypes.
Offline Breadstick

Senior Newbie




while(true) me.doAction(Act ions.PWN_ALL);


« Reply #26 - Posted 2004-09-11 09:28:53 »

Quote

He knew java, but he wasn't a programmer.  He was amazed you could make a call such as - myObject.calculate(anotherObject.getFunction())


That's ridiculous.  So wouldn't having certification pretty much ensure that you know the skill/language well enough to know the basics like that?

Also, what's a CV? Is it like a term for a résumé?  Acronymfinder.com is leading me to believe it stands for Curriculum Vitae...

I got into programming a few years ago, and ever since then I've been trying to pick up as many languages as I can.  I guess it's won't be very useful in the long run, as I'll probably only use one or two of them in whatever job I land.  The main reason I've been doing this is because I love to program, and I love learning new things.  Also, I would say that I learn pretty fast.  A big part of it however where some articles I read back in the day about how to get a job doing web development.  They gave examples of sample resumes, and basically said that you want to learn as much as you can, because most of the jobs you'll get will be language specific, and you want to be prepared for everything.  Do you think if I'm getting into a web development job that will only entail using saw php, mysql, html, etc... that I would also include my profficient knowledge of java, c++, etc..?

The same would apply with certifications.  From what I'm reading, there are situations in which certification will hurt your chances of landing an interview.  I'm a young college student (pursuing a degree in cs), with no real world experience yet, so I don't expect anyone to hire me anytime soon, but I put my resume on the web just for fun.  I actually went to some crap site (www.brainbench.com), took there little java quiz (and some others), and put there images saying I aced the quizes on my resume site.  They wanted me to pay for the actual piece of paper saying I passed, but I settled for the image  Wink

I knew that their little certification wouldn't matter if somebody saw my resume, but I certainly didn't think it would hurt me.  I put them at the bottom of my resume, because I knew they were the least important things, but I'm taking them completely off tomorrow, after I get some sleep!

I don't know anything about writing a resume, but I put the languages I'm very experienced with in a table of their own at the top, followed by languages I know, and have used, but don't use often.  After that, I put a list of applications I have a lot of experience using.  Next is a short description of me, what I'm doing, and what I've done.  Finally is a section is an awards and certificates section.  I'm just out of high school, so that's pretty much all I've experienced.  So I put the awards I've earned in state competitions through clubs I was in in that section, as well as the images for the certification I earned through brainbench.  Maybe you guys could check it out and tell me what needs to go:
http://gaming.cyntaks.com/projects/resume/

For somebody like me, with no experience 'working' in the industry, do you think getting certification would help me, or hurt me? Or would it still be on a case-by-case basis, even though I have no experience?

A few last questions.  You guys were saying that one of the java cert tests is a week long?? Is it like a little course you have to take, and then you take a test at the end? Or do you take the test for a week? Or... is it only like that in the UK? Sorry about the many newb questions + lots of irrelivant nonsense  Tongue

- Breadstick
Offline Mithrandir

Senior Member




Cut from being on the bleeding edge too long


« Reply #27 - Posted 2004-09-11 15:40:17 »

Quote
Also, what's a CV? Is it like a term for a résumé?  Acronymfinder.com is leading me to believe it stands for Curriculum Vitae...


That's correct. Another description for acronym, more likely used in the Commonwealth countries.

The site for 3D Graphics information http://www.j3d.org/
Aviatrix3D JOGL Scenegraph http://aviatrix3d.j3d.org/
Programming is essentially a markup language surrounding mathematical formulae and thus, should not be patentable.
Offline Breakfast

Senior Member




for great justice!


« Reply #28 - Posted 2004-09-11 21:28:46 »

I have a bunch of MS certificates and not only do they seem to have a little more prestige in terms of potential employers - perhaps because if you are working with microsoft technologies you are more likely to be recruited by a PHB than a technical specialist like Mithrandir or Blah3 - and having a couple of certified developers gets you the kind of Microsoft Friendly Company status that allows you to get cheap licences on loads of their products.  I don't know if Sun does anything similar or whether they even could do something with the same appeal to the SME on the street, but it does work pretty well.

I heard somewhere that the higher level Java certs actually require some kind of project type work as well as answering a few questions, but the person who told me that was a bit dodgy and I have no idea whether they were lying or not.
Offline cfmdobbie

Senior Member


Medals: 1


Who, me?


« Reply #29 - Posted 2004-09-12 08:53:09 »

The thing you have to realise about CVs is that their primary purpose is not to get you an interview, it's to stop yourself being rejected for an interview.

When a recruiter is hiring, they will recieve many, many times more CVs than positions available.  It's impractical to interview everyone, so you need to whittle the list down a bit (or sometimes a lot.)  It's frequently impractical to even read all the CVs that come in, so often the recruiter will choose to discard everything that's not x pages long, or everything not in black-and-white, or indeed just discard the first half of a pile.

Also, note that it's reasonably unimportant to get the right person for a position - the really important bit is not getting the wrong person.  While the almost-right person won't be quite as useful to the company than they could be, the wrong person will waste time, set projects back, and generally cost the company money.

These two together generally explain why the above people, who have lots of experience with this kind of thing, are so draconian with their CV selection.  If someone doesn't rate certifications, then they will treat people quoting it with suspicion.  If there's the slightest possibility that a person is the wrong person for the job, it's good business sense just to ditch the CV and continue.


But do note that the people above aren't representative of the whole industry!  While they don't like certifications, many people do.  For what it's worth, I've been to many, many interviews where people have commented on my certification - in a positive way.



Edit:
Quote
I heard somewhere that the higher level Java certs actually require some kind of project type work as well as answering a few questions, but the person who told me that was a bit dodgy and I have no idea whether they were lying or not.


Whoops, sorry, missed this!

Yep, the Developer exam requires the candidate to undertake a full-lifecycle project, from concept and design all the way to packaging for delivery.  It's usually a database app with a GUI front-end, using as much "cool" tech as you can fit in.  You get marked on project planning, efficient design, correct implementation etc.

Hellomynameis Charlie Dobbie.
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