IT industry certifications retire. It’s just the way things go. As the technology we use evolves and improves, the certifications aligned with those technologies have to change too. And Microsoft certifications are no different. March 2017 will bring the latest round of Microsoft’s certification exam retirements. But what does that mean for you and your certifications? And what does it mean if you’re looking for jobs right now?
First, relax. The IT industry knows all too well that technology and certifications evolve, leading to retirements. So don’t panic. We’ve got some tips on how you can use your retired Microsoft certifications as you continue to advance your IT career.
5. Stay informed.
If you hold a Microsoft certification, you know that you get lots of communication from the Mother Ship – er, Microsoft. Pay attention to that communication so you know when your certification(s) may be up for retirement. Typically, Microsoft retires certification exams on a three-year cycle. If you’ve had your certification(s) for three-ish years, be on the lookout for emails or announcements from Microsoft letting you know about upcoming retirements.
4. Do your homework.
If you have a certification that is about to be retired, do your homework! Just because Microsoft won’t be offering that particular exam (or set of exams) anymore, doesn’t mean that your certification is obsolete! We all know that there are lots of organizations out there that are still using Windows 7, Server 2008, and other older technologies, which is good news for you! Your certification(s) are still valuable because the industry still needs to support those products, even if Microsoft doesn’t.
If you’re a job hunter, try to do a little digging into the organizations where you hope to work to find out what technologies they’re actually using. If you are able to walk in and talk about the actual products they use, you’ll be all the more impressive as a candidate.
3. Practice how to talk about your retired certifications.
Practice makes perfect. So be prepared to talk about your retired certifications in interview situations by practicing. Ask a friend or colleague (preferably someone familiar with the IT industry) to sit down with you and let you talk out what you need to say to frame your experience and certifications well. Then practice your pitch until you have it down pat!
2. Anticipate the question.
Be proactive in addressing the certifications you have that are retired. Don’t wait for your interviewer(s) to ask you about your “outdated” certifications. Instead, get out in front of the question by addressing your mastery of a broad constellation of technologies, both old and new, to better meet the needs of your organization and end users. (See what we did there? We just handed you a good start on your talking points!)
You might also want to point out that the new Microsoft certifications never expire. Not until the system changes again, at least. Let them know you’re eager to take your yearly MCSE or MCSD elective.
1. Show your passion for learning.
You can master technologies and products. You’ve proven that with your certification(s). Be sure your interviewers understand that, then pivot to your passion for ongoing learning. Show your passion for learning and developing real mastery by discussing the next steps for your learning plan. Demonstrate your readiness to take the next steps and continue your learning. Tell your employers what you’re most excited about learning next. Then, connect your next step to the needs of the organization with which you’re interviewing.
Holding retired certifications can be a tremendous asset in your IT job hunt. Make sure you are prepared to frame your certifications well and you’ll be set up for success, even if some of your certifications are retired.
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