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Four Pillars Of An IT Career

“Because I get a lot of questions about how certifications fit into a person’s IT career path, I’d like to take some time to discuss the value of certifications, followed by which certifications might carry the most value for your individual situation.”

This applies whether you are new to IT, or if you have years of experience and or education in IT, and it applies whether your dream IT job is to work for a Fortune 100 or a small municipality. 

For a recruiter or hiring manager, there are 4 “pillars” which will hold up, or support your case to be hired for an IT position: 

  • Education/Training 
  • Experience 
  • Certification  
  • Soft Skills 

We used to call it a 3 legged stool – but then soft skills became more and more important, and now it may arguably be the most impactful of the 4 pillars. That’s because it encompasses such a broad range of skills –  

  • leadership skills 
  • people skills 
  • social skills 
  • communication skills 
  • personality traits 
  • attitudes 
  • social intelligence 
  • emotional intelligence quotient 
  • their competence with at least one recognized certification (more on that in the next blog). 

    One of the reasons I know that veterans can do extremely well in IT careers is that over the years, I’ve noticed that veterans are highly likely to score exceptionally well on soft skills (while there are always exceptions,  most veterans have these skills to a high degree, but it may take work to know how to highlight and translate them for a civilian employer). 

While the dream candidate for a position would have all 4 pillars covered equally, that doesn’t happen very often in the real world. Everyone will be stronger in at least one area and weak in another. But it is possible to make up for what you’re lacking in one area, by bolstering and scoring highly in other areas. Certifications can be an important way to compensate for a lack of specific job experience or education. For example, someone very new to IT, who lacks experience, can compensate by articulating their soft skills and having an industry-recognized certification to demonstrate the equivalent experience or education. 

In the last few years, when unemployment was low, especially in the IT sector, IT certifications were still important, but more for professionals seeking promotions, and employees receiving financial incentives for obtaining professional certifications. But with the recent spike in unemployment, even in the IT sector, technical certifications can be a significant factor in making hiring decisions. For a job-seeker, the significance of a certification isn’t to land the job for you – it’s to get you noticed enough to get you to the interview level 

I can be prone to ramble a bit. Luckily for both of us – we have some brilliant marketing people (thank you Kads!) who are great at telling me to cut it off and save it for another day. So I’ll chat about the specific certifications that could have the biggest impact in your specific job search in the next blog!