The job market for the past several years has been bad in the United States and around the world. One of the few job markets that has never really stopped hiring (although it certainly slowed for some time) has been Information Technology. In the past year or two, I’ve seen the number of open positions start to grow rapidly once again. There is almost always a shortage of skilled IT professionals. It’s no surprise then that a large number of people are interested in entering the IT field, or that they see Oracle Certifications as a means to do so. I fully agree. I have been in the position of looking to fill entry-level slots for Oracle professionals and candidates with Oracle certifications are certainly something I look for.
What is disturbing to me, however, is what I am seeing on forums, blogs, and certification sites. It appears that a rising number of people, primarily candidates with little experience, are looking for shortcuts to Oracle certification. Specifically, I’m seeing a marked rise in candidates who are openly seeking ‘brain dumps’ to use in trying to pass a given test. Brain dumps are sets of ‘supposedly’ actual test questions and answers from Oracle Certification tests. If you have either used, or have considered using brain dumps, take a few minutes to give the concept some thought. Since no paper is allowed in or out of testing centers, these questions and answers are coming from the memories of previous test takers. Whether the dumps are really actual test questions and answers depends on the memories of the test takers. However, for this article, I’ll simply assume that dumps contain real questions with correct answers. After all, any candidate using these dumps is making that same assumption.
Some of the candidates who use brain dumps argue that they aren’t cheating, but rather that dumps are simply another valid method of studying for the exam. This argument is completely and obviously wrong. ‘Studying’ for a test by memorizing actual questions and answers is not studying. It is cheating. This activity does not give you the background information the test is designed to determine if you have. If you’re willing to cheat on a test, I seriously doubt that you will change your mind based on this article. However, you should be honest enough with yourself to admit that this is exactly what you’re doing.
That aside, what you as a certification candidate should focus on is this: Oracle certification tests are designed to determine if you are skilled with some portion of the Oracle suite of products. This shouldn’t be a shock — an algebra test is designed to determine whether you really did your algebra homework, and a history test is designed to determine if you were listening when your teacher discussed the French Revolution. The difference is that the people taking Oracle certification tests are doing so because they intend to work with that product. On a typical workday, you’re unlikely to be asked to solve a quadratic equation, or to discuss the socioeconomic policies that led to the collapse of the French monarchy. However, you might very well be expected to recover from a database failure, troubleshoot a database performance problem, or write a complex SQL statement. If you passed your 11G Administrator OCP exams though the use of brain dumps, and then got a job on the strength of that certification — chances are you can’t do any of those tasks as well as you should be able to.
If you’re going to work in this field, then many of the questions being asked in Oracle certification tests are regarding things that you really should know and will need to learn sometime. If you need to know the information, it is *much* better to learn while in the context of studying for a test rather than in the middle of a real-life crisis when you’re being watched, timed and evaluated by the people paying your salary. If you gain certifications without having the knowledge behind them, this will become obvious sooner or later. There will be some hiring managers that might not be able to spot candidates with a thin veneer of Oracle knowledge during an interview. However, most companies hiring for entry-level positions will have one or more senior Oracle personnel sit in on the interview. I’ve been in these interviews and have outed unskilled candidates. Even if you get hired, sooner or later if you don’t become knowledgeable about Oracle, it will be obvious that you can’t do the job and you’ll be fired. If your plan is to learn the skills you need after getting hired, why skip learning them for the certification? Using dumps means you risk losing your certification for cheating. If you’re hired on the basis of the certification, you risk being outed as a fraud if you can’t do the work.
I stand by the article title. If you still think that using dumps is a good idea, more power to you. However, you’ll never make it into any company where I have a say in the matter.