Certifications are great for setting yourself apart from the crowd, showing expertise in a subject, and creating community.
Some certifications are more challenging than others, for example, PMP, CISSP, and Certified Technical Architect.
Certifications have these varying difficulty levels because each certification level should highlight an achievement, a mastery in a layered approach. Certifications were designed to highlight a standard
level of experience and knowledge about a platform.
We expect certification holders to have a standard level of comprehension commensurate with the certification they hold. If someone is a Platform Developer I, we hope they know about DML limits and triggers. If they are a Salesforce Administrator, they should understand when to use record types or design Permission Sets.
However, through countless interviews, I have noticed that individuals with 3 or 4 Salesforce certifications cannot answer the basic questions tested on those exams.
I have noticed a trend where individuals new to Salesforce are getting 4 or 5 certs through hardcore studying in 3-5 months with no experience on the platform, only brain dumping. These folks are getting certified to land an entry-level job!
I propose a few different ways to add to the glamor of certifications.
Certification tracks for Salesforce Partners/Consultants
Partners are incentivized to have as many certifications in their organizations as possible. More certifications equal higher partner status (combined with other things). Higher partner status equals more perks.
An independent Admin is at a disadvantage to the consultancies creating sharing programs with their employees. To be hired at some partners, they must pass a test in 30 days when the suggested experience – by Salesforce – is 180 days.
The fix is to create two certification paths: one for customers and another for partners. These paths can have different levels of experience and administration methods.
Several other companies do this for their consultancy partners. It preserves the domain in which experience is tested.
Add a “hands-on” component
Rote memorization can get you past most of the lower-level certifications. A good test taker or a pattern observer can get through them with a little bit of knowledge.
But is that what we expect from a certified expert? Or do we expect them to know how to configure the platform? As part of the certification, I propose that a candidate walkthrough the platform, knowing where to build the solution.
We already see this type of certification with Tableau. Analysts must interact with Tableau to answer questions to pass the exam. This adds a level of experience.
Don’t require certifications for employment
This is something we must recognize as a community. Requiring multiple certifications for an entry-level position is setting a bad precedent.
If newcomers see that certifications are required for entry-level roles, they will be incentivized to cram for exams. This encourages rote memorization without comprehension.
Certifications should not place an undue burden on candidates seeking career switching tracks.
Eliminate The Costs
Certifications and training are revenue streams for companies offering them. However, it creates an inequitable situation where a partner or employer pays for them.
Meanwhile, entry-level seekers are potentially paying thousands of dollars for certifications to land a job. Thousands of dollars to prove they have experience for a role that should require no experience.
If we want to leverage certifications for highlighting expertise, we must change. Or, we should continue understanding that for most, they’re a collector’s item.