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Learn yourself hireable: Top tips for improving your tech appeal

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Just contribute to a project

Same (or better) result, fraction of the cost and a "live CV" you can point at - "I am the guy who wrote this". You also learn stuff in the process - how things work, compliance practices, coding practices, testing practices, integration practices, etc.

It is not necessary to be a developer by the way - there is plenty of sysadmin, automation, etc projects to go around which can be used for such a CV uplift.

Yeah, I know, unpopular compared to "loading the tape*" with the latest "career info" into your head at a course/exam.

* The "tape" reference is from Azimov's "Profession". It used to be a mandatory reading for an engineering degree in MIT. Probably still is.

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Re: Just contribute to a project

Being able to spell Asimov's last name used to be mandatory too.

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Re: Just contribute to a project

Same (or better) result, fraction of the cost and a "live CV" you can point at - "I am the guy who wrote this". You also learn stuff in the process - how things work, compliance practices, coding practices, testing practices, integration practices, etc.

Be careful there. I've sat on both sides of the interview table at various points and it tends to replace experience rather than qualifications. I've said before that I'll accept a completed, working 10,000 line program I can inspect (i.e. open source) in place of a couple of years but that is as primary author which shows the full range of skills not shown by qualifications - i.e. planning, design, documentation, motivation, testing and bug fixing etc. Those are all things you need when building any project of any complexity but not something shown even by a degree - it's quite possible to graduate never having written a program exceeding 1,000 lines.

The problem with contributing to an existing projects is that you don't necessarily demonstrate those skills, and indeed you can very easily end up riding on the coat tails of others and vastly overestimating your own contribution. I know a few years ago we had a candidate who claimed to be a key member of the GIMP team. Great, that's something we can assess. Sadly it turned out that over 18 months his contribution amounted to around 30 messages on the mailing lists. Half a dozen were asking user-style questions, another dozen answering the same kind of questions, the rest were mainly opinion and preference type stuff rather than actual concrete engineering stuff. He had a couple of contributions - one about thirty lines, the other about eighty if memory serves.

He seemed stunned when we summarised his contribution in those terms - rather than being some crowning glory it looks very threadbare - but no, he couldn't turn up anything of substance that we had somehow missed. I've no doubt he was genuinely surprised but I can see exactly how it can happen - spend a couple of hours a day reading the mailing lists and seeing a hive of activity seemingly all around you it's very easy to become caught up in the activity of the community as whole. You're not aware of how little you have contributed yourself.

So no, he didn't get the job. That wasn't the only reason but it certainly didn't do him any favours.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Unfortunately on a CV being able to say "I have a qualification in XYZ" sometimes carries more weight than "I have done XYZ for 10 years".

Sad but true :(

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"actually being able to make the technology work is, suprisingly, more important"

You clearly haven't met most hiring managers.

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Unhappy

Or the automated filters that just look for keywords!

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This post has been deleted by its author

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Boffin

Keep an eye on Grouon, LivingSocial and the other similar sites. There's regular offers on online courses dirt cheap. I got a years access to the entire set of Cisco courses for £99, and I saw one recently that had access to 4-5 different vendor related sets (which included the Cisco and Microsoft courses) for about £300

Doesn't get you the exams, but if you can find the time and can't afford to pay for the classroom courses it might be a viable alternative.

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Re: Groupon etc

These deals can be really good, particularly if you are a bit rusty on out-of-hours learning (having a young family does curtail your 'free' time), as if you find you run out of time, you don't end up writing off relatively large amounts of money.

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edx and coursera

edx running free microsoft courses on typescript, botostrap etc.

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ITIL??? Sweet lord NO.

I did the three day foundation course.

I nearly killed myself through sheer boredom.

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Re: ITIL??? Sweet lord NO.

Try working in an environment that fully embraces every word of ITIL. If you aren't careful, it's suicide inducing. I work primarily for IT services companies, and a lot of them haven't learned that ALL of ITIL is not meant to be implemented in every environment. Prepare to wait 3+ weeks for changes to happen that fall even slightly out of the routine maintenance type of changes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ITIL??? Sweet lord NO.

3+ weeks - you youngsters don't know you how good you have it. When I were a lad you had to ritually sacrifice your grandmother to the IT change management board, and then if you were lucky you'd be granted permission to make the change at 23.59 on your only day off that quarter. Kids today mutter mutter.

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Re: ITIL??? Sweet lord NO. @Yugguy

Yeah - it wasn't the most thrilling course I've ever been forced to attend. I did ask for a few high profile examples of successfull Government IT projects that had been produced or managed using ITIL, but the sound of silence from the tutor were deafening.

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Re: ITIL??? Sweet lord NO.

Reading the article gave me my first example of ITIL and great being used in the same sentence without "big pile of steaming shite" being present.

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A useful one for Office 365...

This is the book that will prep you for the MCSA exams for the office 365 suite (thats including Exchange Online, ADFS, etc).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Office-365-Migrating-Managing-Business-ebook/dp/B00HG2CQ4I/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

The really good bit is that if you have the kindle app then it's completely free...

Enjoy :)

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Anonymous Coward

ITL exam only

Can anyone suggest a place in the UK that offers the ITIL exam only option? Everywhere I've seen seems to bundle it with the course. I'm not keen to do it "online proctored" as I've heard bad things about them (being failed if you look away from the screen, or a dodgy connection drops your webcam for a moment)

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Re: ITL exam only

ITIL Exam only try the BCS:

http://certifications.bcs.org/category/15421

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Anonymous Coward

I'm going to try a different approach

A CV is all well and good, but I'm going to try rocking up with an Apple Watch Edition, rose gold, so the interviewer can see that I'm:

- Cool with impeccable taste.

- Tech savvy.

- Fashionable.

- Dollar-heavy.

- Down with the kids.

- And not a Barista.

After all this I don't expect they'll need to ask me many questions.

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Another thing that helps is 7 years of experience with a product that has been out for 3. At least, that's what all the job ads seem to be looking for. Does 5 months count if it felt like 7 years?

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Value of vendor certs?

I have interviewed a large number of CCNAs and CCNPs. Not one has been able to tell me what they stand for, let alone answer a simple networking question. The likes of pass for sure makes these certs worthless as anyone who can remember the current bank of questions can get one.

The result is I view a CCNA or CCNP on the CV as a sign I shouldn't even bother interviewing. i.e. they are a negative mark, not positive.

I once spent over an hour with a colleague grilling a CCNP, trying to find a simple network question she did know the answer to. We drew a blank. She rang the recruiter the next day asking if she got the job after failing to answer a single question for a whole hour...

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft Exams; training unfit for purpose...?

I done only one Microsoft exam, a *long* time ago, after completing self-study training from Microsoft, and was very disappointed. (I passed first time, but still...) Have done other exams (Novell, Security+), and the training materials have been suitable preparation for the exam.

In my experience, Microsoft training materials (books, training kits, etc) don't seem to have sufficient content to be able to pass the exam. That is, I think, unfair.

This isn't a debate about paper qualifications; whatever your thoughts on that topic, it is reasonable to expect that vendor's training materials cover their exams in sufficient breadth and depth to pass the exam. Instead, the training courses tend to be a relatively shallow introduction, and simply not enough to complete the exam.

welcome your thoughts, experiences and opinions...

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acm.org

The ACM has a great number of useful online courses which you can access free as a member. Membership starts at around $100USD per annum. They have good coverage of a lot development and administration of Unix and Windows related areas as well as much more (including the much loved ITIL mentioned above.)

As a side note I don't remember the bit of ITIL that mandates a three week change process. Sounds to me like a broken adoption of ITIL if that is the outcome.

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