IT certifications grow in importance

Employers are inclined to rely more heavily on professional certifications when hiring IT workers, but are challenged by credential evaluation and validation issues, research from CompTIA reveals.

Professional certifications are already viewed by hiring managers as a high-value validation of IT skills. The study suggests certifications will grow in importance as organizations seek to fill tech jobs.

Among IT hiring managers nearly two-thirds (64 percent) rate IT certifications as having extremely high or high value in validating skills and expertise. Eight in ten HR professionals surveyed believe IT certifications will grow in usefulness and importance over the next two years.

But employers also expressed concerns about some aspects of using IT certifications in the hiring process. There is a perception among some hiring IT managers that the HR department does not have a solid understanding of IT certifications. Some firms also said verifying a job candidate’s credentials can be a challenge due to the time involved (cited by 44 percent of hiring IT managers) and effort required (38 percent).

“The value of certifications can be enhanced in a numbers of ways,” noted Tim Herbert, vice president, research, CompTIA. “Stronger links with education; easier methods of verification; greater understanding of what IT certifications can and cannot do; and more organizational support for certifications as part of a professional development program all would be positive steps in this direction.”

Nearly 1,700 business, HR and IT executives participated in the survey, designed to gain insight into how they evaluate job candidates; the role of IT certifications in the hiring process; and how organizations support professionals’ development.

Experience, track record and accomplishments rank as the most important factors when evaluating job candidates, according to the study. But education and credentials such as certifications also rank high. For example, 86 percent of hiring managers indicate IT certifications are a high or medium priority during the candidate evaluation process.

“From the employer’s perspective, top benefits of IT certification are validation of an individual’s ability to understand new or complex technologies, higher productivity and more insightful problem solving,” said Herbert.

The study suggests that certifications will become even more important as employers struggle to find individuals to fill job openings. Despite a virtual buyer’s market for hiring, roughly eight in ten HR executives in the United States said it’s challenging to find the right candidate with the right skill set to fill their openings. Many IT managers in the study share a similar view. For certain positions, the pool of available talent is not as deep as they would like it to be.

“Now more than ever there’s little margin for error for making a bad hire,” Herbert said. “In an environment of needing to do more with less, organizations cannot afford the time and cost of bringing on a new employee who cannot contribute immediately.”

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