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The Subtle Art of Searching for Certification-Related Jobs

You might think that you could find all the jobs related to a given IT cert by searching job posting sites for the cert name or its acronym. It turns out that there’s a little more to it than that.

You can just do a random Google search when looking for certification-related jobs.I’ve been working in and around IT certification and training since the mid-1990s, and I did a brief stint as a course developer at Novell all the way back in 1988-1989. I hope that entitles me to claim that I’ve been around this game for a while, and have seen and done a lot of different things related to IT certification.


Ultimately, for the people who expend the time, effort and money necessary to earn them, certifications are about workplace status, employability, and pay. That makes searching for employment opportunities especially important for certified IT pros.


As a certified IT professional, it's critical to get good results while seeking to gather intelligence about one's current work situation, as well as when investigating potential future positions. This is the sort of thing that simply cannot be left in the hands of an indifferently formulated Google search.


Searching for Satisfaction


Under another of my compositional avatars, I maintain a collection of articles for Business News Daily (formerly known as Tom’s IT Pro). This collection is called Best IT Certifications, and it includes evaluations of the best credentials in 27 different sub-domains in the IT workplace.


Each of those articles uses job board searches to justify and explain the selection of a Top 5 slate for each category. We — that is myself, Kim Lindros, and Mary Kyle Inks — have been running this series for nearly a decade now, and we revisit each element in the series annually, to keep the information current.


Why am I telling you this? Because we’ve had a LOT of practice searching job boards, looking for relevant job postings that make direct mention of (or significant allusion to) specific IT certifications and related areas of skill, knowledge, and expertise. Read on for some interesting and hopefully useful lesson learned thereby.


1) It’s Not Enough to Search by Cert Name or Acronym


There are only so many 3- and 4-letter combinations possible, even with 26 letters in the alphabet. Sometimes, more than one cert shares an acronym with another. Thus, searching simply on the acronym may turn up lots of false positives that don’t really match up with a relevant job posting.


2) Remember to Use Quotation Marks


If you want to search on a cert name, remember that search engines, by default, search for words by themselves, as well as in combination. If you really want to find best results for Cisco Certified Network Associate, then you should put that enclose that string with quotation marks, like so: "Cisco Certified Network Associate" — simple enough, right?


If you don't use quotation marks, then you’re going to find lots of jobs that include one or two of those terms, but not necessarily all of them, and not necessarily all together, or all in that order.