Sunday, October 02, 2005

Follow-up - Certifiable

In the September 26th Computerworld magazine, Virginia Robbins wrote an article that essentially mirrors my position on employers who require certifications or degrees before they'll consider someone for employment.

In her article, she says:

"I have found not only that a computer science degree is optional, but also
that many successful technologists don't have any degree at all. I've had great
employees who never finished college, and I've had wonderful employees who have multiple master's degrees."

The point, as she succinctly puts it - "I've found no correlation between degree and competency" - is that the pieces of paper by themselves aren't important.

In fact, by themselves, they're not even relevant.

I'm fairly confident she believes as I do, that attitude and aptitude are the most meaningful factors in evaluating candidates. This is encouraging, because she's the CIO and Managing Director at Chela Education Financing in San Francisco, and we share an important belief for managers & executives who endeavor to build great organizations.

Certainly its easier for hiring managers to look for nice certifications, and nobody gets fired for hiring MBA's or MCSE's, but how often does taking the easy road lead to the best possible outcome?

Personally, I view companies that require degrees or certifications of their employees as types of bigots. They're effectively pre-judging candidates before they've met them, based on superficial and demonstrably irrelevant standards. (Ever met a "paper-CNE" or "paper-MCSE"? I have.)

I don't think they need to be tried in a court of law, but I do think they need to be called to the mat for this practice - publicly - and that self-respecting technology professionals should avoid them like the plague.

If you're on the wrong side of this fence (be honest with yourself) - keep in mind that people like me could work wonders for your company; and we won't come near you until you wake up and realize that talented people don't come with easy to read labels...You actually have to talk to us.

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