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I got my MCSE, still can't get a job. Which other certs would help?Helpful Member!(5) 

richmolinari (MIS) (OP)
26 Feb 10 14:39
I have no experience, trying for a career change (I know great timing and all, but I'm in the restaurant business and it's even worse off right now).  I got my MCSE about three weeks ago and immediately put out my resume.  Since then I've been applying to an average of around 10 jobs a day and haven't received even one response.  

I figured I might change my strategy a bit and possibly go for another certification.  Since I have no experience and most entry level jobs I've seen have been in desktop support, I was thinking of getting my MCDST.  However, other people have told me to get my CCNA since it is more impressive on a resume.  I really can't afford to take both (the MCSE took quite a bit of money)so which one should I go for?

Please help!
fisheromacse (IS/IT--Management)
26 Feb 10 16:25
I am not sure additional certifications will make you more hire-able.

You would likely be better off taking a helpdesk or other tech support level position to gain experience before spending the $$$ on certifications.

I type this as someone who, although having taken several class-type instruction, has no completed certifications.  It has been my good fortune to be hired into a tech position based on my years of experience with workstations/networking/servers/etc, and once in the door have had to learn a great deal about things I used to have no idea of (timekeeping software, SQL, etc, etc.

There will ALWAYS be more to learn, and along with that, more opportunity for certification.  

I am not saying certifications do no good, otherwise i wouldn't be wanting to follow that track myself, but they are often secondary to experienced application of the knowledge in the eyes of employers.
Helpful Member!  richmolinari (MIS) (OP)
26 Feb 10 18:18
I understand that at this point help desk/tech support is the type of job that would get me to where I need to be, but these are exactly the type of entry level positions I was talking about. What would help me get an entry level job, i.e. help desk, which in a different economy would be a position you could get without experience?
Helpful Member!(3)  kmcferrin (MIS)
1 Mar 10 10:44
You need experience.  When I see a resume with a higher level certification like MCSE on it with no experience then it immediately goes into the "ignore" pile.  I'm not sure why people don't get this, but certification is not a degree.  You do not get a certification to get your foot in the door.  You get a certification to validate your EXPERIENCE.

So here's what I would do:

1.  Take the MCSE off of your resume.

2.  Put MCP on your resume (you've already earned it).  If you passed the exams for Vista or Windows 7 then you also have an MCTS certification for those products.  List those on your resume as well IF you have them.

3.  Look for positions in helpdesk/PC tech.

4.  Consider getting a certification that is a little more generic like CompTIA A+.  While MCDST is great, it doesn't really deal with hardware while A+ does.

The problem in your case is that your don't have the experience to back up your certification.  If someone did actually hire you for an entry level job, your certification is a giant neon sign saying "I'm only sticking around long enough to get the next higher paying position."  Nobody wants to invest in an employee that they know will only be around for a year or so.  You need to downplay the MCSE until you have some more experience.

Depending on the exams that you took to earn your MCSE you may have also earned an MCSA.  You might want to drag that out at some point, but not until you have some experience.

CompTIA A+, Network+, Server+, Security+
MCTS:Windows 7
MCTS:System Center Virtual Machine Manager
MCTS:Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization
MCSE:Security 2003
MCITP:Enterprise Administrator  

mrdenny (Programmer)
4 Mar 10 2:58
I agree with kmcferrin 100%.

MCSA (2003) / MCDBA (SQL 2000)
MCTS (SQL 2005 / SQL 2005 BI / SQL 2008 DBA / SQL 2008 DBD / SQL 2008 BI / MWSS 3.0: Configuration / MOSS 2007: Configuration)
MCITP (SQL 2005 DBA / SQL 2008 DBA / SQL 2005 DBD / SQL 2008 DBD / SQL 2005 BI / SQL 2008 BI)

My Blog

edlcsre (MIS)
10 Mar 10 10:28
Spot on. You're 'paper certified' for the sorts of positions you are trying to get. MCSE doing helpdesk support? You'd be over qualified, and so are probably being overlooked for that very reason, plus no experience.

Consider adding a section to your resume which talks about you as a person, your personality, your work ethic. Something along the lines of you are a hard working, dedicated and meticulous person who, having spent XX years working in YY industry, and you are looking for a company who are looking for someone who is looking to employ someone who is eager to learn new skills, serious about doing the best possible job you can, and who is undertaking additional training to certify within XXX (pick something new ish, like Windows 7, if its one of the exams you've done)

What you can't do is hope to apply like for like against someone with an MCSE and many  years experience, who, having recently fallen on hard times, are now looking at these sorts of positions. Experience is everything. If you're keen to get some, consider volunteering to do IT for a charity, or at a local school/college, somewhere where you can start to get some hands on experience, and something that shows its not just about the money, you do want to learn a new area. Build your own kit at home and set up networks, troubleshoot computer issues, its all about knowing what to do in a given situations. The more times you get to fix things, the better you become at fixing things. Don't be afraid to ask people if you can help out here and there within a relevant field. Ask if you could be taken on for  trial period for free/low pay so they can 'try before they buy' so to speak.

Definitely DON'T do a CCNA. The worst thing you could do would be to rush through that, and get a job as a Network Engineer as you can wreck everything if you've got the skills to make changes without the experience to know what changes to make, and what not to!

Its a tough old world out there, so think about what you can put on your resume which will make an impression, make them want to meet you; thats the key.

Certification is largely a way of whittling down applications these days, must have MCSE eliminates a good number of CV's nice and easily for an employer. Its experience which is key, so look for different ways of being able to get work within IT, even if its unpaid a couple of evenings a week helping out somewhere.

Wish you all the best, just don't give up, it'll take hundreds of no responses before you finally get something back, just keep thinking about what you can put on your CV which makes you different. Why should someone want to employ you? Sell yourself, not your skills.

Take care


MCSE 2000

(and 15 years experience, the only thing that gets me a job these days!! ;)
progcompu (Programmer)
6 Apr 10 6:08
Theres nothing to stop you studying for other certifications in the meantime(possibly including CISCO) to show willing.

Employers may find this impressive as it shows the right attitude, even though you are currently looking for a support job in IT and have a regular job.

EV42TMAN (TechnicalUser)
6 Apr 10 23:38
I would say A+ because now I'm loosing poosible jobs because I don't have it and I do have experence to back my certifications. Other certifications to concider are network+ if you find a networking help desk position. Any technology specialist certification vista, xp, or 7 or you go for the mcitp enterprise support too. I'm not sure about all the win 7 certs but with vista they have consumer and enterprise support. I'd go with enterprise just because in my opinion the consumer support says "congrats your equal to a geek squad employee". Honestly in my opinion ms should just give you the consumer support when you pass the enterprise support.

Other then that maybe explore some virtualization certs because there is a need for that so you should be able to get a contract or 2 with virtualization that you can pad you resume with. So check hyper-v, vmware, and citrix.

Besides all of that go get certified in what interests you because at the very least you'll be prosuing some that interests you.

Good luck  

MCITP:Enterprise Support
MCTS: Vista Config

SimonDavies (MIS)
22 Apr 10 10:05
To be honest with you, you should remove the MCSE off your CV, go look into getting an A+ certification and try again.

Microsofts recommendations for the MCSE is 12 - 18 months of experience in the field for which you're studying, like alot of people have already said, with your lack of experience you have done yourself more harm than good with getting the MCSE.

MCTS:Windows 7
MCITP:Enterprise Administrator
MCITP:Server Administrator
MCITP:Enterprise Desktop Administrator
MCTS:System Center Configuration Manager 2007
MCSE:Security 2003
CompTIA Security+

adamcox27 (Programmer)
13 May 10 23:09
Poll your community for problems they'd like to solve.  Think of how to solve these with your skills.  Apply your skills to produce a solution.  Market your solution.  Hire people to help you sustain growth on this new demand (or market).  Oh!  I'm sorry.  Were you trying to get hired?  ;)
richmolinari (MIS) (OP)
14 May 10 1:41
Actually I have taken MCSE off my resume.  Since then I have gotten my A+ and my MCDST.  Now I list my certs as:

CompTIA: A+, CompTIA: Security +, CNA: Novell Netware, MCDST, MCP: Windows XP, MCP: Server 2003.

I have also started my own home PC repair business.  Everyone says I need experience, but nobody is willing to bring me on in order to get it.  So now I'm getting my experience on my own.

Thanks for all the help folks.  Hopefully someone soon will recognize that I do know what I'm doing and will give me the opportunity to show it.  Until then I'll just keep plugging away on my own.
SimonDavies (MIS)
15 May 10 2:15
Again you have too many certs on your CV, leave just the A+ and the MCDST on there and try again.

MCTS:Windows 7
MCITP:Enterprise Administrator
MCITP:Server Administrator
MCITP:Enterprise Desktop Administrator
MCTS:System Center Configuration Manager 2007
MCSE:Security 2003
CompTIA Security+

thetruth247 (Programmer)
7 Jul 10 2:30
Hi Rich,

First, keep your head up.  It sounds like you are doing all the right things.  The home repair business is a great start.  Volunteering or working at a local school/university is a great start, I'd keep that option open.  

Second, be sure and keep all your certifications on your resume.  Please ignore the above comments to not include them.  That, in my opinion, is poor advice.  Certifications are not experience, however, they prove that you understand the practical applications of the tools that you have invested the time to learn.  It is no coincidence that people with lots of experience value applicants with lots of experience.  What those people fail to see is potential.  And lets be honest, years of experience is not equivalent to quality experience.   I've met people who have worked in IT for 20 years and aren't as well-rounded or driven or gifted as a college sophomore with 2-3 certifications, but no experience.  A good manager or recruiter would take you because you have the potential to do great work and they can hire you for less (no offense) than someone with 10 years of experience who is comfortable where they are and not willing to obtain new certifications or even re-certify.  

Lastly, anyone who would put your resume or one like yours in an 'Ignore pile', trust me, you do not want to work for them.  They will only stifle your career thinking and behaving that way.  You want to work for someone who is more qualified than you, will mentor you, and can think outside the box.  Make sure they appreciate your certifications and who understands your potential.  Maybe you will only work for them a year or two, but if they take care of you and respect your work, they don't have to worry about you leaving.  The main reason great, high performing, qualified associates leave a company is because that company's leadership failed to recognize the associate's worth.  Hang in there, keep creating your own experience.  Eventually, a smart company will find you.
kmcferrin (MIS)
7 Jul 10 9:47


Lastly, anyone who would put your resume or one like yours in an 'Ignore pile', trust me, you do not want to work for them.

You can shovel sunshine, but I work in the real world.  If you have little to no practical experience then you're only going to be qualified for entry level jobs.  If you are only qualified for entry level jobs but advertise that you have a higher level certification then you are essentially eliminating yourself from consideration.

CompTIA A+, Network+, Server+, Security+
MCTS:Windows 7
MCSE:Security 2003
MCITP:Server Administrator
MCITP:Enterprise Administrator
MCITP:Virtualization Administrator 2008 R2
Certified Quest vWorkspace Administrator

richmolinari (MIS) (OP)
7 Jul 10 14:50
Hey folks, thanks for all the advice.  It took about 4 months and 4 different resumes, but I finally found one that worked.  After going 2 months without any interest, I've gone on several interviews in the last two weeks and was offered a position in a hospital yesterday.  I will be doing help desk support, both telephone and hands on, as well as assisting the network administrator.  As a side note, while I took off the MCSE and MCSA, I did leave all of the other certs that I listed above.  When the hiring manager explained the position and asked how comfortable I was with Active Directory, since it involves a fair amount of creating accounts and a lot of permissions administrating, I was able to tell her that in person that I had my MCSE and practice regularly on my home network (running a rack server with Server 2003, XP workstation, Vista Ultimate media server, Windows 7 laptop, and a MacBook Pro laptop).  She seemed pretty impressed with that as well as my ambition in starting my own business in order to get into the business.  As there were many candidates interviewing (this was the fourth day of interviewing apparently), I believe that these were the deciding factors.  The recruiter I was working with received the offer letter approximately three hours after the interview ended.

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