Many more companies are beginning to understand what it takes to develop and retain skilled IT workers.

Does Your Company Rate?

Many more companies are beginning to understand what it takes to develop and retain skilled IT workers.

This month’s cover story, in which we profile a series of companies with exceptional treatment of high-tech professionals in general—and MCPs in particular—has been something of an energy renewal for me. Because I read and think and write about Microsoft certification constantly (seems like it, anyway), I sometimes become jaded about how satisfying it still is to become an MCP, how tough and challenging it is to become an MCSE—and what those achievements can mean to you and your career.

In conducting some of the interviews for our cover story, the enthusiasm and excitement of the people I talked to were infectious. One story I love came from a Web specialist at Star One Federal Credit Union in Silicon Valley. The first MCSE at his firm, he’s now encouraging a coworker to follow in his footsteps so that she too can qualify for a bonus, a promotion, and new and exciting project assignments.

People like Fred Shuherk at Star One made it clear that certification has become a highly useful lever for IT professionals to advance their careers. It’s also a tool for more and more employers. Some use it as a hiring bar, along with other measures like college degrees, years of experience, and references. Some prefer to hire first, then help employees earn the titles they want and need as they go along. Read through our interviews and you’ll see some of both.

And managers, here’s another fact the survey highlighted: Paying top dollar isn’t necessarily what it takes to retain the best. In our interviews, public recognition of achievements, hot project assignments, and encouragement from management got plenty of mention. Those kinds of perks cost little or nothing.

Just over four years ago, we ran an article in which we interviewed a series of IS managers and asked them whether they valued Microsoft certification in employees. We had to work, believe it or not, to find enough interview subjects who cared—or even knew—what Microsoft certification was. Not so any more, of course. That sea change in itself is noteworthy—and an indication of what the future holds for companies using certification to their advantage.

Finally, rather than a definitive list of the best companies to work for as MCPs, our cover story is a starting point. For us, it will become a yearly feature in which we’ll try to highlight firms whose treatment of their IT employees, especially those with certifications, is outstanding. For you, perhaps this article will serve as a catalyst to move you to seek another certification, a promotion within your company, a new assignment and set of challenges—perhaps even a new job.

If you’re already thinking to yourself that your company should have made the list, don’t worry. We’ll be repeating this feature next year about this time. Look for notices on our Web site at

In the meantime, what makes your company an absolute primo spot (or the pits) for MCPs? Write me at [email protected]. We’ll print the top “companies we missed” letters in an upcoming issue.

About the Author

Linda Briggs is the founding editor of MCP Magazine and the former senior editorial director of 101communications. In between world travels, she's a freelance technology writer based in San Diego, Calif.

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