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On The Job: From Paper To Pro

On The Job: From Paper To Pro


Download the authoritative guide: Data Center Guide: Optimizing Your Data Center Strategy

Download the authoritative guide: Cloud Computing: Using the Cloud for Competitive Advantage

Deb Shinder

You poured through thick books and obscure articles. You devoured Help files for breakfast, memorized TechNet, and downloaded half the Internet to prepare for those excruciating certification exams. You spent your hard-earned dollars on study guides and practice tests, stayed up late nights studying and worrying over whether you were really ready. You finally bit the bullet and sat yourself down at that Sylvan or Vue testing center and subjected yourself to screen after screen of tricky, complex scenario questions that left you mentally wrung out by the time you reached the end and saw - to your delight - the famous green bar indicating you passed!

You poured through thick books and obscure articles. You devoured Help files for breakfast, memorized TechNet, and downloaded half the Internet to prepare for those excruciating certification exams. You spent your hard-earned dollars on study guides and practice tests, stayed up late nights studying and worrying over whether you were really ready.

Congratulations. It's official. You're an MCP or MCSE or CCNA or CNE or A+ or Net+ or - well, anyway, you have something to show for all your effort: a nice piece of paper to frame and hang on the wall. But that's only the first step.

Being certified is good. Being hired is better.

Presumably, your pursuit of the former was intended to expedite the latter. Assuming that's true for you, how do you parlay your certification into a job?

There is a great deal of talk in the IT industry (little of it good) about so-called "paper" certs. The business is full of tales about the MCSE who doesn't know how to save a file to floppy, the CCNA who has never touched a router, the CNA who read a book on NetWare and passed the exams without ever seeing a Novell server. Human resources people at tech companies shake their heads and laugh over all the certified newbies who come in expecting to land their dream jobs the day after they pass the last exam. "He/she's just paper" has become a familiar derision applied to someone who has the "book learning" but no experience.

In this article, we'll discuss the hard truth - and the myths - about the "paper certification" phenomenon, and how you can overcome it and move from the "paper" category to the "pro" category, in a few easy steps.

We'll take into consideration the following:

  • Almost everyone starts out as "paper"

  • Is your certification worth the paper it's written on?

  • How to build and maintain a professional image

  • Summary: you've got the paper to prove it

This article was originally published on Sep 18, 2000
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