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CompTIA survey: Certs key in IT hiring, but real-world expertise still trumps

The value of IT certifications as a gauge of technology skills and product knowledge is on the rise and likely to continue along that path — even as companies struggle to find enough candidates for open positions, according to a new survey by CompTIA.

But the person’s real-world experience, track record and past accomplishments still are the most important factors when screening a candidate, the data show.

Approximately 86 percent of the close to 1,700 executives (which included 300 human resources professionals, and 1,385 IT hiring and business managers) surveyed in the CompTIA study report that a review of the candidate’s IT certifications is a medium or high priority during the recruitment and hiring process. What’s more, eight in 10 of the human resources managers in the survey group believe importance of IT certifications will continue to rise.

Verifying those credentials is another matter, though, because of the time and effort required by IT managers. According to the data, this is a problem with at least one-third of the IT hiring managers, who just don’t have the time to sort through the verification process. There may be a level of disconnect between IT managers and human resources personnel on this matter, as well. According to CompTIA, the data show that many human resources managers don’t necessarily share the same perception of certification as IT hiring managers.

I know from many years of experience that IT certifications are one of the most contentious topics that you can bring up with an IT solution provider, because many certifications are very vendor- or product specific. But in my mind there is one big reason to keep investing: As businesses find themselves in a pickle trying to find internal candidates with specific skill sets, your own technical bench becomes valuable. This is both a value — you might find yourself at the front of the line for certain projects — and a risk — your people might find their salaries bid up from companies desperate to add their expertise.

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