IT Experience versus Certifications
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Whether you are a project manager hoping to boost your career prospects, or a company looking for a talented PM candidate, a common question usually arises.

Are certifications or tangible experience more indicative of the ability to manage technical projects? The answer to this important issue truly depends on the specific situation. Let’s look more closely at project management certifications versus real-world experience with the hopes of giving your organization a better chance of hiring the right candidate for your needs. Ultimately, there remains no substitute for a close analysis of each candidate.

The Importance of Actual Project Manager Experience

While professional technology certifications illustrate a candidate has been exposed to certain subjects within the tech world, there is no real substitute for actual, verifiable, on-the-job experience. This “golden rule” especially holds true for the project management role, considering that softer skills – communication, fostering teamwork, etc. – aren’t things typically learned in a certification class. They are either forged in the fires of an IT shop or simply innate abilities.

A candidate with one or more PM certifications under their belt, but without any tangible project management experience is more appropriate for a junior PM role. This lets the new hire get their feet wet while working with a manager able to help guide them through the vagaries of technology projects not covered in a certification class. There is no true alternative to exposure to actual, real-world projects.

Where Project Management Certifications Are Useful

The information technology world changes at a rapid pace, with new innovations, methodologies and organizational structures appearing on a yearly basis. For busy PM professionals, who typically work in an environment where the Waterfall methodology is standard, earning a certification in Agile is smart for their career. An Agile organization looking for new project managers benefits from considering this kind of experienced professional certified in Agile, but who has yet to work on a project using the newer methodology.

The bottom line is simple. Certifications are a great way for professionals to expand their skill set, while showing potential employers their exposure to these new concepts and ideas in a classroom setting (actual or virtual).  However, tangible project management experience still holds more weight than merely earning a certification.

Consider these insights before making your final hiring decision.

When you need additional insights on building a talented technology team, talk to the experts at The Ceres Group. As one of the top IT staffing agencies in the Boston metro area, we offer the experienced candidates able to make a difference for your firm. Contact us to learn more or request an employee today.

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