more-arw search

Q&A Forum

Certifications And Job Hunting

is it considered "bad" to have too many certifications / degrees on your resume'. I was just talking to one of my seniors and told him that i was planning to do couple of certifications / degrees in the future. His reply was "yes, its a good idea but remember you dont want to have too many of these on your resume' as it may not give a good impression". I have never heard of this before. is it true and why??? thanks


Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

When people see "too" many (too being totally subjective) they may say:

"That person loves taking tests"
"They must be smart"
"Do they have any real practical experiences?"
"Something is amiss here"
"When did they find the time to study, work, and live; did they have a life?"

So, like anything else, you'll impress some, over-impress some and just put-off some. It's a crap shoot. Maybe have multiple resumes that showcase the certifications/education that would make you an ideal employee for that job, and selve the other certifications until needed.

Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

As my answer to other "certification, degrees" questions here....

Based on a multi year study, Google no longer looks for certifications, degrees, university pedigrees or even GPAs. Ernst and Young is following their footsteps (but not heard how that is affecting their auditing/CPA biz). A lot of startups are doing the same and this includes (to reference a previous discussion)....industry experience.

What matters most is track record of deliverables, resourcefulness, and attitude/grit. Being able to DEMONSTRATE and prove your SKILLS by highlighting accomplishments and projects than just stating you have a certifications.....which only proves that you are a hard worker.

Now how is that translating to other companies? I hope it gains traction. I hope it gains traction in Finance.

I recommend reading Work Rules by Laszlo Bock. It will change your paradigm to a lot of things.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I read the reviews of the book you mention. Fascinating to say the least. One could say their experiement is working, but would it work for all?

Probably not, but a cafeteria type approach (or Chinese menu) might be a solid approach for most companies.

(Tax/Business Consultant) |

You must ask yourself:
1. Why so many degrees/certifications?
2. Who are you trying to impress and why?

Unfortunately, the world, esp. the business world, 'unofficially' Requires SOME certification or letters after people's names i.e. MBA, CPA, etc...

Then ask..
3. Do you Need it?

Will a Masters degree benefit you? Will a PhD benefit you?
Will 'x' certificate benefit you?
If yes, how?

It really depends on the situation.

One company may 'require' a certain degree (i.e. MBA ... financial related firms especially)
while another may not.

What the 'better' companies are doing are focusing on the 'experiences' of the individual so they would be better off hiring someone and either train them themselves or hire some experienced people, even those WITHOUT the 'degrees/certificates'.

One can have as many education as one can but all it means is that one is 'educated' or 'schooled' (i.e. educational credentials). It does NOT mean that More education would Make someone a Better person (i.e. Less Arrogant) or a more experienced person. Experience comes from either life or working.

Having 1 BS degree, then a MBA then MSF then CMA, etc... does NOT mean the person is Competent, experienced or a sociable person!

Sometimes, in my experience, more degrees make one More arrogant and narrow minded!

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |

Years ago, I sold my own practice and went looking for a job. Times were hard. I went months without gainful employment. It was hard for me to believe that I couldn't get a foot in the door somewhere.

I decided that I wanted a lower headache job and more time for myself. I was single and my financial needs were small. So, I started applying for jobs that were "beneath me". One's that did not require a college degree or other certifications. However, I left my college degree and certs on my resume, believing that would put me in front of other candidates.

I found myself getting few interviews and, when I did, the interviewer was often a lower level manager with no college degree that seemed more interested in trying to find out why I was looking at that level. Some seemed to want to tease and taunt me and boost their own sense of self worth. Vengance if you will, for all the jobs they couldn't get because they lacked a degree. It was humiliating and degrading. If one more floor supervisor referred to me as "college boy" in a demeaning way, I was going to show him how working out with weights regularly in college has prepared me to deal with the likes of him.

This experience taught me that you can't always be a Walmart greeter or a burger flipper when all else fails. It is extremely difficult to "go backwards" even when you want to and are willing to do so. You won't be accepted. The attitudes of employers about qualifications and the degrees and certificates that demonstrate them, works in both directions.

So, I took the degree and certs off my resume. I even changed professional experience, making it more supervisory or clerical than managerial. There was no way for a potential employer to know. Three of my past employers had folded and, the ones that were still operating, refused to provide any employment related information other than confirming dates of employment, title and pay.

Playing Columbo like that did the trick. I acted simple and I got more interviews.

P.S. I have a boss - like so many I've had over the years - who has no college degree. He is threatened by this. When he reviews resumes for a labor or maintenance position, he throws out any with college degrees. His boss and mentor holds an MBA and he never makes mention to her of his attitudes about degrees.

The envy lives on and manifests itself in many forms that you may not even be aware of. Yep. You can have too many for an employer's standards. Tread carefully.

Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Here is a point that has NOT been mentioned.

Get the degrees and the certifications because you want to IMPROVE yourself NOT because it will get you hired or not hired (look good or bad on your resume).

Whether you may want to put some or all of it on your resume is another story. I am on the side of being open and honest about what you have done or accomplished. And yes, that includes applying for jobs that are lower, lateral or a jump in industry.

Arthur Yip
Title: Audit Supervisor
Company: On Assignment Inc
(Audit Supervisor, On Assignment Inc) |

I would say the staple degree/certification such as a CPA, or an MBA from a top 20 business school is always helpful. An additional specialty certification such as a CMA or CIA is good too if you're specializing in that area. Having a string of certifications not relating to your work, or ones that no one has heard of will give the impression that you're just a certification collector. It may also give the impression that instead of letting the quality of your work speak for itself, you're more concerned with padding your resume.

(Tax/Business Consultant) |

"... the staple degree/certification such as a CPA, or an MBA from a top 20 business school is always helpful..."

This somewhat contradicts what you're saying and is what the real world and business world 'expects' from a job candidate.

Do you need a CPA when you're in private industry? No.
I've met many accountants who give up their CPA certification over time as it's NOT 'needed or required' while in private industry outside of public accounting.

Do you need it when you do NOT do audits or financial reporting? NO!
It helps with the 'credentials' but it's not 'needed' but the business world unofficially 'demands' it as those 'credentials' or letters after one's name is nice to have.

Similar applies to those with an MBA.
Do it 'truly' matter if one has one from a 'top 20 business school'?
Sorry, but that comment shows off your Bias!

Does a MBA 'help' one's career? Possibly, depending on what you do with it!
Met many people with MBAs from Ivy League schools and well...
I've spent TOO much time 'corrected' their 'mistakes' over the years!
Having a degree from a 'top' school means almost 'Nothing' except getting you a job first in front of someone else, probably more experienced, if not qualified!

The point is...
It does NOT matter how many degrees one has.
The important thing is how one Uses that education!
The business world and the general public (people) REALLY Forget that point!

Julie Gordon
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Melton Machine & ControlCompany
(Accounting Manager, Melton Machine & ControlCompany) |

Just want to comment on the CPA designation. I have my certificate, but am not licesned. The CPA exam is a difficult and comprehensive test, it shows that you work hard and know much in your field. A license hasn't been in the cards for me; but the experience of getting the CPA certification was somethng I wanted to do and worked hard to get. I believe it has opened doors for me. Later in my career I also finished my MBA. I did that because I wanted to learn about new methods, philosphy regarding business management and update my skills. I went to school with many younger students who only wanted the MBA on their resume and they really didn't apply themselves in class. So if you do have th MBA or CPA or another designation - show up and let the interviewers know that that was hard work and you are willing to do the same at your job.I agree with the last comment - You have to show that you can use what you learned on the job or it won't matter if how many designations or degrees you have on your resume.

Lynn Fountain
Title: MBA CGMA CRMA, Past Chief Audit Executiv..
Company: Business Consultant
LinkedIn Profile
(MBA CGMA CRMA, Past Chief Audit Executive, Business Consultant) |

I wrote a blog on credential credibility overload (I think it is still on the Proformative Platform). If you you at LinkedIn - it seems everyone has multiple credentials behind their name - many of which are specific to their industry.

The feedback I received from the blog was two fold. First - the younger generation feels they must take that extra step to show they are "keeping up with the Jones's). But then the opposite dynamic occurs when you reach the later stages of your careers. All of a sudden you are "overqualified" and sometimes those credentials may not help you out like you think.

I believe it is everyone's individual choice. Some people like to continue their learnings. And remember a "certificate" isn't the same thing as a "degree" or havimg a license like a doctor, lawyer or CPA. Having the certificate just shows you passed an exam. So use it wisely on your resume. As an example - let's say you took the Certified Fraud Examiners exam and passed it. That is a great credential but if you've never used the certification to investigate or evaluate a fraud - then you simply passed a test. Ultimately your experience is your best resume point.

Pat Voll
Title: Vice President
Company: RoseRyan
(Vice President, RoseRyan) |

I agree with most of the comments posted here -- and I think Lynn said it very well. Having relevant experience is critical. Proving your competency is important. When I look at a resume, I look for the candidate's experience and I look for clues to assess competence. Having a degree and relevant certifications are a good start and can help differentiate a candidate from the pool. Having multiple certifications may indicate the candidate is a continuous learner. That said, this is just one data point on a resume.

Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Should it not be the other way around?

Proving your competency and skills that you can do the job IS the critical one. Having relevant experience is just one way to show or prove competency/skill?

(Chair- Department of Business, Technology and Engineering (BTE)) |

Having experience is one major way to show what you have done and can do. Degrees and certifications show what you have learned ....and can apply to the particular position that you are seeking. Certifications gained recently, moreover, have the advantage of showing that your skills and expertise are current. Beyond a degree, typically earned at the beginning of your career, certificates show a motivation to continue to learn, to stay current, and often to broaden your skill set.

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |

Interesting point.

I recently filled out a job app and provided the app, resume and cover letter for a position that would be a lateral move for this CFO. But, provide a new challenge.

I'm reminded of this by this discussion because, like so many others, the application wanted not only any college degrees I had, but the school and the date they were awarded.

The "date" is also an age signaling mechanism. Nothing more. I left my 1979 graduation date off my resume years ago, when I sensed that being over 40 was working against me in seeking new employment.

Part of my proof was in how many interviewers, noting that I hadn't provided a date of my degrees, would ask me during the interview, often via telephone where they couldn't assess my personal attributes as a measurement of my age, what year I earned that degree.

The worst were third party recruiters. Several not only demanded that I provide the year - and, believe me, they weren't calling my alma mater to verify my degree - but flat out told me that leaving it off my resume was a mistake; that I needed to include it.

If they weren't trying to figure out how old I was, why does it matter?

Rich Robins
Title: Accountant
Company: Tec
(Accountant, Tec) |

People on here have yet to address 2 critical items, HR and advertising/dream selling Let's not forget that the people reviewing job applications/resume are HR people; and they tend to have a copy cat generic approach, per industry and job type. Look at a handful of job postings on any job site. What ultimately trumps is experience doing the job they are posting. And it is always helpful to know someone in the company. I'm not of the disposition to spend to much time and money on degrees and certs. After all, you want them because of their slick advertising and "promise" of continuous employment and high pay. But NO degree or cert can truly gaurantuee those things.

Linda StClaire
Title: VP Finance
Company: Extron Inc.
(VP Finance, Extron Inc.) |

When I immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands, in May 1980, it was not very well planned, although I did takes the SATs (perfect scores). I had heard of Stanford and UCLA-and UCLA was out, no way I am living in LA. So I took a Greyhound to Stanford, walked into admissions and said I want to go to school here; they did not laugh! But their freshman class was already set in Feb, so they sent me to UCSC. Both schools required an essay. The bottom line of my essay was based on my extraordinary education, I had learned one thing: I had learned HOW to learn; both schools wanted me bad because of that insight. We need to show that we can continue to learn, in an occupation that is constantly changing: CPA, CMA, whatever, show you can learn. We have not been "bean counters" decades, we are the educators, the ship's first mate, we are the economic leaders. Initials may look good on paper, but unless you demonstrate your ability to adapt to a constantly changing function, the initials are meaningless. And I am skeptic of CPAs in industry: they are taught how things should be, but corporate reality is a whole different animal.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Very well said Linda!

Products and Companies

Get Free Membership

By signing up, you will receive emails from Proformative regarding Proformative programs, events, community news and activity. You can withdraw your consent at any time. Contact Us.

Business Exchange

Browse the Business Exchange to find information, resources and peer reviews to help you select the right solution for your business.

Learn more

Contribute to Community

If you’re interested in learning more about contributing to your Proformative community, we have many ways for you to get involved. Please email to learn more about becoming a speaker or contributing to the blogs/Q&A Forum.