Certification can help you swing IT like Silent Cal

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Preparation and calm helped President Calvin "Silent Cal" Coolidge keep his cool. Certification can help you keep yours.In 1925, the American Society of Newspaper Editors invited President Calvin Coolidge to address their national convention. During his remarks, he said, “The chief business of the American people is business.” Many people cite this quote out of context to buttress their mistaken argument that Coolidge was blindly pro-business.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The President’s speech was titled, “The Press Under a Free Government,” and he was stressing the importance of the press maintaining “an intimate touch with the business currents of the nation,” so that they would be more reliable reporters of the news.

Far from the Gordon Gekko-esque “greed is good” imaginings that future generations would tag him with, Coolidge did not justify wealth accumulation as the “chief end of existence.” Rather, he saw wealth not as an end, but a means to making life better for all.

Coolidge believed that the accumulation of wealth by a society would inevitably lead to “the multiplication of schools, the increase of knowledge, the dissemination of intelligence, the encouragement of science, the broadening of outlook, the expansion of liberties, the widening of culture.” In short, widespread wealth accumulation is good, and positive results follow in its wake.

A proven method for accumulating wealth is to start a successful business — not as easy as it sounds. For myriad reasons, two-thirds of new ventures don’t survive more than a few years. Those that do survive (and thrive) are run with vision, drive, planning, and a fair degree of luck.

Operations aren’t reckless or slapdash. Management is careful. They like to play things safe, avoid unnecessary risks, calculate and weigh the likelihood of potential actions and worry constantly about unforeseen events that could upset plans. This is the way it has always been and it’s still that way.

If anything, today’s successful businesses tend to be even more careful when making decisions, particularly when it comes to hiring. The last thing any hiring manager wants is someone who can’t do the job. Replacing a bad hire can, and often does, shred an organization’s budget, cause delays and a decline in productivity.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average cost for a bad hire is approximately 30 percent of that person’s annual salary. If their salary is $45,000, the real cost to the company is $58,500.

The importance of a good hire

The challenge of hiring the right person for the job is especially pertinent for people entering the IT field. Competition for skilled workers is keen, and hiring managers are constantly on the lookout for quick and inexpensive ways to find the right candidates.

One increasingly popular method used by HR personnel to sort the wheat from the chaff is certifications. Certifications are frequently listed as “essential requirements” in job listings. According to tech industry association CompTIA, 96 percent of HR managers use certs as screening or hiring criteria during recruitment.

You may be “Mr. IT,” and the one your friends and family go to for computer solutions, but without a verifiable certification, your résumé can easily find its way into that old round file. A certification isn’t necessarily a guarantee of knowledge, but it does demonstrate to a potential employer that you have the ability to take on challenges and see them through.

With more than 500,000 IT jobs opening up in the U.S. each year, employers have learned that certifications are quick and easy way to validate a potential employee’s skills and knowledge. Screening candidates based on certification can save time and money, as well as make the hiring process more effective.

There are three more good reasons to get a certification:

90 percent of employers believe candidates with a cert are able to learn faster, once on the job, than non-certified employees.

92 percent say they give higher starting salaries to certified individuals than to those who lack IT certifications.

90 percent of employers agree that IT-certified individuals are more likely to be promoted than those who don’t have IT certifications.

Coolidge’s dominant trait was a cautious confidence. He was serving as Vice President in 1923 when President Warren G. Harding passed away. Awoken in the middle of the night and told he was to assume the presidency he was calm.

Coolidge’s father, a justice of the peace, administered the oath of office, and then, cool as a cucumber, Coolidge went back to bed. Asked later if he felt nervous about the challenges of leading the nation, he replied, “No. I thought I could swing it.”

While it is almost certain that you (or I) will never be president, as an IT professional, you will face challenges and opportunities. The best way to prepare for each is with certifications. So, when your opportunity comes for a new job and more responsibility, you’ll be able to be like Silent Cal and say, “I can swing it.”

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Calvin Harper

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Calvin Harper is an associate editor of Certification Magazine.

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