What to do when an employer insists on an irrelevant certification

Employers often use certifications to screen resumes -- which is one more reason to not feed your resume into the standard process

Dear Bob ...

I suppose this is more of vent than an actual question, but if you have any insight, I'd appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

[ Also on InfoWorld: When trying to get hired, the answer is more math than preference | Get sage IT career advice from Bob Lewis' Advice Line newsletter. ]

I'm a victim of the economy, looking for a new job. I'm primarily a Tier III desktop support person, with some systems and network administration stuff as well.

I've lost count of how many job descriptions I've read for Tier II or Tier III desktop support where the recruiter/company/whatever is looking for someone with something like an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) or a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate).

Do you have any idea why so many people make such absurd conditions for job qualifications? Or, perhaps more pertinently to my job search, if I see a desktop support position that I think I would be good for, but in which the hiring manager has placed this kind of condition on the position, do you think there might be a way to send in an application and politely tell the guy that my "piddly" A+, Network+, Security+, and MCP are more than sufficient for desktop support and that it makes no sense to be looking for a CCNA?

- Certifiable

Dear Certifiable ...

The CNNA baffles me. The MSCE makes more sense. Some managers get a sense of additional comfort that they're making a good hire when they see certifications behind the name of a technical professional, just as many hiring managers look for a PMP when hiring a project manager, or an MBA when hiring an executive.

Not sure which MCP certification you have. You should probably spell it out. To answer your question, though, no, there isn't any way to let the resume screeners know their criteria are inappropriate. They're doing what they've been instructed to do, which is skill-to-task matching via keyword, and no applicant is going to change that.

Far better is to bypass the internal recruiting function until after the hiring manager already wants to bring you on board. I've written a lot about the techniques for accomplishing this. I've borrowed most of them from Nick Corcodilos at AskTheHeadhunter.com, so if you need to dig into this subject, that's the site you should visit.

- Bob

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