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Do Qualifications Really Matter?

goldennoodles profile image Rus Kuzmin ・3 min read

Do I think you should strive for qualifications? Yes...
Are they necessary? Not anymore.

There was a time when it was almost impossible to acquire a tech job without qualifications but oh how times have changed.

August 2015

I was young and wanting to get into tech, I applied to a job listing 'exaggerating' my experience (I did work experience at a company and instead of putting down 1 month, I put 3... (Should've put 6). It was a small startup and I had the interview with the CEO. As soon as I was called into his office I knew that there was some hostility towards me. Before I said anything, and I quote - "What makes you think you could get this job?". My heart sunk and I went into panic mode and started speaking gibberish (I've never been made to feel like that). It went on with him making constant remarks about me being young and not having any qualifications and that he didn't know why I was even selected to come in, etc. I'm still in panic mode and have become upset (not visibly but inside I was burning). I managed to stay put and finally got put onto an aptitude test (which are stupid btw) and a coding assignment. I spent 20-30 minutes on the aptitude test and about the same on the coding task. I finished and went down into the lobby while he and his senior engineer reviewed. I was called into his office and he was different, very different. He was happy, saying how I did a great job and that he didn't anticipate this from me, bla bla bla. I was offered the job. I refused. Why? Because I'm not working for someone like that. I'd rather go back to being a lifeguard (which I did).

Don't be that guy... And if you meet someone like that, thank them for their time then politely see yourself out.

GitHub

As an ex-recruiter, this was my #1 place to explore when headhunting. You can literally see everything which is why I always emphasize the importance of GitHub to those that have no qualifications. You are showing your skills, your thought processes when writing; your commit messages are a gateway into your mind (don't look at mine they're gibberish). Believe it or not but you can really tell a lot about someone from their GitHub account - How active they are, their level of experience, do they cut/paste from StackOverflow, or do they actually take the time to deconstruct and re-build? Do they commit buggy code? This doesn't remove the need to actually meet with the person and offer them a task to complete but many headhunters shortlist based on this.

The New World

We live in an age where technological advancement has had a massive boom, Computers are cheaper, faster, and more efficient/accessible. There is nothing stopping you from learning and picking up new things. I don't believe that a piece of paper should dictate how good you are at something. There were many a time when I picked the candidate that had no, or very little qualifications because experience and knowledge are king .

Portfolio

I believe that everyone in tech should have a portfolio, and if you do have one you should be constantly adding to it. Your portfolio could be your GitHub account (see what I did there) or it could be a simple - this is what I've made and have it showcased somewhere, I suspect this is a little easier when doing things with a frontend and more difficult for backend developers but I'm sure you can think of something.

The tech industry has changed and is changing every day, for the better I hope. I'd be very interested to hear about some of your experiences, good or bad.

It's my birthday but no gin... yet,

Rus

Posted on by:

goldennoodles profile

Rus Kuzmin

@goldennoodles

Just a dude with mediocre code skills. I do sometimes make cool stuff though.

Discussion

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On most companies it is, and this is for a reason.
If you get an official certificate, the company can see that you get a minimum knowledge about different parts of the development process.

Also learning by your own is possible but usually people who learn by tutorials/non official online courses usually take classes only about this things that they like more. If you do that this could be bad for you because you don't really know what you like if you haven't put your hands on properly, and on an official school you'll have to pass all subjects like it or not. If you don't like some subject (let's say networking for example) you will not probably dig deeper on that subject but, at least, when developing using something you like, but related to networking, you are not completely illiterate about that.

This can be extrapolated to tones of jobs in the industry so, if you didn't get an official certificate you can follow one of three paths:

Getting an almost non-qualificated job (i mean do these simple tasks that other qualified Devs don't want to because are boring) so you probably will never learn more (at job at least).

Specialising yourself on a language and getting a job on a big company but being the last stair on the pyramid, working on a cubicle and doing methods on the same language on (most times) the same project for years.

Luckily getting a good job on a little/mid company and increase your knowledge and salary by time.

The heaven of non-qualificated people working on a good position does not represent the truth, but bad jobs are present on all industries.
If you are applying for a dba, senior front/back, devops etc position, the only company that will hire a person without qualifications before some other with them is that company that don't want to pay the cost, or didn't find a qualiicated person for the job.

 

This is a tricky topic, I agree and disagree with some of your points.

I suppose it's different in different areas. I have no qualifications, but yet I managed to secure a position as a software engineer with no prior experience for a leading UK bank within Payments, I suppose this is due to me believing that anything is possible and that a door is only locked if you think it is.

I had no qualifications or real experience, I grinded my way through everything I could but, I believe you hit the nail on the head regarding the "You won't focus on the things that you don't like" and I couldn't agree more. When you're teaching yourself it's your responsibility to explore the good, the bad and the ugly ;)

Thanks for sharing!

 

Then you're the lucky between hundred, congratulations!

I want to see that if you have resources, take a degree or at least some official studies. If you have not and you are on a country where you have free or almost free access to public education, go for it, it doesn't matter if it's not a degree but something official certified by your government, because companies will hire you for sure after 2 years of official course and then you can follow the path you like most. This will give you more opportunities when searching for a new job, more linkedin requests for a position and so.

If you can't do any of those things, then fight for it like you did and you can get some effort paid back (and then, please, invest something to take some official certificate! hahaha)

Keep going and nice to hear that :)

best regards

 

There was a time when it was almost impossible to acquire a tech job without qualifications but oh how times have changed.

When? I got my first real development job in 1995 at age 19 with only A-levels (not IT related). I've had 9 jobs since then (in the UK and Thailand). Qualifications have never been an issue. I have no portfolio either.

I've always found if you prove you have the skills for the job, you'll get hired. Maybe you were just unlucky with employers

 

This is why I said almost. From the colleagues that's I've spoken to, this was an issue that they faced also. This also stems other areas but if you can't get your foot through the door how can you prove your skills? Imo the experience you gained was regarded high than the qualifications. But you are correct, everyone has different experiences. Thanks for sharing!

 

We'd take an average person who could just 'look at the project' and think about the UX - and help us "make things better" / over a programmer who can't.