Learn yourself hireable: Top tips for improving your tech appeal

No time? No budget? No problem – get yourself skilled up

There comes a point in most people’s career when they get a bit bored of the day job and start looking to move. but one factor that can prevent upward mobility is a tired CV.

Aside from the obvious updating and checking for grammar and punctuation errors, what else can give that bit of sparkle back to the resumé and get it noticed?

A lot of companies are reluctant to provide staff with specialist vendor training courses, not only due to cost but also because of the sometimes-misplaced belief that once a staff member is trained up, they may look to move on. If your company is one of these types of employer, how can you escape this catch-22?

We all know that the courses that you really want are the ones that enable you to sit the vendor's professional exams. It is not uncommon for vendors to restrict an exam to only those people that have taken the requisite course and therefore are worthy of the prestigious professional title. Such courses can easily cost several thousand pounds even without the exam, by the time you have paid for the training and all the ancillary costs, such as subsistence and travel. What can you do to fix the issue?

Fortunately, it turns out there are a number of courses and exams available that don’t cost an arm and a leg that can help prove understanding of the fundamentals. Examples of quick wins to help you get your CV back in the game again include:

Associate exams

The associate exam is perhaps the easiest, but most-maligned route to getting extra CV pop, but it serves its purpose well. It is there to prove to prospective employers that you have a basic understanding of the product in question. Whilst not held in as high esteem as the professional level, it does prove that you have a certain amount of familiarity with the product and are not liable to break it accidentally. Most vendors do provide such a course, including VMware, Cisco, Microsoft and most other vendors. They just don’t shout about it so much, as there is little profit in it for them compared to providing the full course and professional exam.

The good news is that some vendors are completely open and don’t tie their exams to course attendance – Red Hat being a prime example. The basic professional Red Hat administration exams need no formal course attendance before sitting them. The only downside is that Red Hat exams are extremely expensive (£400 or $400 dollars depending on your location), or around one third more than those of other vendors. If you are a knowledgeable Linux person it shouldn’t be that difficult to pass. The one thing you do get from attending the course is hints as to what you may find in the exam from the course material. It is not really rocket science, but if it wasn’t covered in the course it won’t be in the exam. This little fact became evident when a walk-in at the end of the RHCSE course attended the exam and was literally pounding the keyboard with his fists in frustration at being unable to complete the first task in the exam that was covered in the preceding days, preventing him from moving on to the other tasks.

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