Simon Wistow simon at
Wed May 9 14:47:13 BST 2007

On Wed, May 09, 2007 at 02:11:29PM +0100, Dean Wilson said:
> First - a sweeping generalisation (based on my experience), big
> companies like degrees, smaller companies like experience.

I would concur.

> I think a lot of companies do this as arse covering. They don't know what
> they're looking for so they go for the boxes completed by others.

This is also probably true although I've not experienced it.

> What's your view on technical certifications? Do they add to an applicant?
> More or less than academic qualifications?

Yes, I'd say that, in general they add to an applicant (although I'm 
aware that there are some mickey mouse certifications out there).

> You're right in that it's a cultural thing. We prize people that are
> like us and value the same things we do. If you have a degree you'll
> appreciate what it cost to get it and this will be reflected in your
> CV slicing.

Read back again what I said. I don't personally discriminate based soley 
on degree or no degree but if I *have* to make a cut and ALL OTHER 
THINGS BEING EQUAL (emphasis mine) then I'll probably go for the person 
with a degree.

Why? I do think a degree helps. I think experience helps more but just 
occasionally a background in Computer Science helps - those 3 or 4 years 
being steeped in theory allow you to learn stuff you may not pick up 
through osmosis in the work place but suddenly come in useful. 

A while back (maybe a year ago) someone on this list who I consider to 
be exceptionally talented and knowledgeable asked a question about a 
subject that, whilst tricky, is 1st or 2nd year Computing Degree 

You also have to remember that, through a process of self selection, the 
sort of people who are passionate enough to be involved in Open Source 
work (whoops, there's another thing I discriminate with - no Free 
Software experience sets off warning bells for me. Now *that's* bias) 
and various communities are general a cut above those who aren't that 
bothered. Passion and enthusiasm goes a long way to helping people learn 
stuff in their spare time that they would have picked up in a degree.

However you will get people applying who don't have that passion to 
learn at which point a degree becomes a bigger factor.
> I don't have a degree and I'm not interested in working for a company
> that requires one. I don't feel bad about lacking one, I just consider it a
> warning sign.

I think the biggest problem here is recruiters. For any given post, at 
one of the big banks for example, they may have hundreds of applicants 
and no technical knowledge to help whittle down the numbers. hence the 
broad brushes.

Now we all have feelings about recruiters but they're a fact of life and 
you can't really expect them to know the nuanced differences between, 
say, J2ME, MIDP and CLDC.

I will say one thing though - I've never got a job through a cold 
application, only by word of mouth and personal reccomendation which, 
let's face it, is by far the best way to get jobs :)

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