Ok.  I’m not the first person to write about pros/cons of certifications.  However, not to long ago an incident occurred that really highlighted my angst with certifications.

At a recent meet-up, there is was an opportunity for anyone looking for a job or hiring to announce.  A gentleman spoke up indicating that he was struggling to find a ScrumMaster position.  That he’s been sending his resume but can’t get any bites.  Given the volume of Agile positions currently hiring this seemed odd.  A few of us inquired a little deeper and his answer was along the lines: I wanted to change industries and ScrumMasters seem needed, so I took the 2 day certification.  Let me be clear, he had zero experience with software development, let alone Agile and/or Scrum except for those two days.

Now on one hand, I absolutely applaud people exploring new industries/roles/etc.  However, what would make someone think that after only 2 day certification that you are qualified and experienced and should be a catch to any organization?!?!?  Now if he had come in saying he wanted to shadow, intern, or at least recognize that a company would be taking a chance with him…I would have been all about that.  I think that’s awesome.  Instead, it was this “I have a certification so of course I’m qualified”.

Now I’m not as strong with my opinions on certifications as some.  I don’t think getting them hurts.  But I just don’t think getting them guarantees you a job nor the company that you are good.  I am a much bigger support of system/technology specific certifications than I am on ScrumMaster, PMI-ACP type certifications.  I have had my PMI-PMP since 2005.  I am a good project manager but it’s not because I have a PMP.  I got a PMI-ACP certification this past year, that’s not the moment that I added value to a company.

When I’m asked if someone should get a certification, I ask them why they want it.  More often than not, I will say go for it but I will follow it up with a long list of other things they should have in addition to that certification to meet their objective.  But please if all you want to do for experience is the work it takes to get the certification, save yourself the trouble and consider other options.  And if you are a company recruiter and you are screening quality applicants out because they don’t have a ScrumMaster, ACP, etc certifications…you very well maybe missing the quality candidate you need.

In the spirit of the Agile manifest…Experience over certifications.




Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick

Tricia Broderick is a leadership and organizational advisor. Her transformational leadership at all levels of an organization, ignites growth of leaders and high performing teams to deliver quality outcomes. Tricia has more than twenty years of experience in the software development industry. She is a highly-rated trainer, coach, facilitator and motivational keynote speaker. Beyond her extensive knowledge and skills, her biggest offering is inspiring people to believe anything is possible.

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