Tuesday, January 14, 2014

You are more than your certifications

I spend a fair amount of time on LinkedIn -- primarily answering questions in a couple of Oracle certification groups there. Recently I have started to see people that use their Oracle certifications as the primary title for their profile. For example, mine is "Database Engineer at Computer Sciences Corporation". I have seen people that use "Oracle Certified Professional DBA" and recently, I saw someone list their title as "Oracle SQL Certified Expert".

The first is not too bad -- the DBA OCP is fairly broad and includes both training and multiple exams. However, I still do not consider using it as a title to be a wise choice. The SQL Expert, however, is a single exam with no required training. Taken in isolation, this certification says almost nothing about an individual. There is a specific place in LinkedIn profiles for professional certifications. Listing all of the credentials that you have earned in that location is what you should do. Any employer or recruiter that is interested in people with a particular certification will find it there. Placing the same information in your profile title sends an entirely different message.

Oracle certifications are a great method for learning about the various applications and skills required to be an Oracle professional.  However, when you get right down it, what any given IT certification really means is "I passed a test" (or two tests or three tests...). Using a certification as the primary title in LinkedIn therefore is essentially describing yourself as "Someone who passed a test". As I discussed in one of my earlier posts, while the Oracle Expert series is a really nice set of exams, passing one does not instantly make you an expert. When I saw the LinkedIn profile where someone had used "Oracle SQL Certified Expert" for a title, my first thought was not that he was expert with SQL but rather than he had nothing to say about himself except that he had passed an exam.

If you are not currently employed and do not have a job title, you can still list yourself as an "Oracle Professional", or an "Oracle Developer". If you are not tied to Oracle, for example if you would also consider a position working with MySQL or another database technology, you can use titles such as "Database Professional", "RDBMS Professional" or "Database Developer". Any of these is better than describing yourself as a piece of paper.