Tag Archives: certifications

  • Getting Your Employer to Pay for Training

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    Whether you’re a programmer, Big Data analyst, or cybersecurity expert, your employer expects you to have the skills necessary to do your job. That means tech professionals must spend a lot of money in order to secure the schooling and certifications they need. And that can become an expensive proposition.

    In many industries, companies will pay for employee training. In tech, however, that’s not always the case, and that can frustrate those professionals who feel they must constantly evolve in order to prove useful to the business.

    According to Bob Hadick, president of Russ Hadick & Associates, a professional search and recruiting firm, tech employers expect their employees to live and breathe the job: “We find it easier to sell the guy or gal who shows a passion for the job by pursuing training on his or her own.”

    Tech employers consider positions such as developer or software architect as more than a mere title. “It’s an identity,” Hadick added. With that in mind, companies often look for employees who are intellectually curious, not to mention willing to work on tech-related projects on their own time.

    According to Carlos Pimenta, CEO of Macquarium, a digital experience design and marketing agency, the nature of the tech profession demands constant education on the part of workers. “A programming language is similar to a spoken language,” he said. “You can quickly learn enough to get by, but it takes a while to master.”

    Given how building systems that drive business operations is a complex and expensive process, it’s often easier and quicker for companies to find the people with the necessary skills, rather than train the ones they have. “If you don’t have in-house experience in that version of the programming language, you will typically work with proven partners to satisfy the client need,” Pimenta said.

    But you can still convince your employer to pay for training and certifications—provided you figure out the best way to spin the idea. Here’s how to broach the subject and sell it to your boss:

    Realize the Value of Training

    Before you bother to ask, make sure the training is something that your employer considers a relevant skill for the job. While companies want people who can do their job well, don’t try to pitch a certification that isn’t relevant to the job you currently perform or can’t help you get better at what you do, Hadick said.

    Argue for Training the Whole Team

    It might be easier to sell your boss on training the entire software development group and not just you, Hadick added. Suggest that training the team can impact the bottom line on the project or help move up the time to deployment. Pitch it in terms they can understand, but consider the time investment, too.

    Help Your Manager Justify the Expense

    Help your manager make the business case for training or certifications. Explain how the training will make an impact by filling a gap in a department need. If your employer is having a hard time recruiting the right people with the right skills, he or she might be more amenable to training current staff. Pimenta thinks the company’s decision will not only be influenced by business need, but also by the cost, timing, and ROI.

    Alleviate Your Employer’s Fear That You’re Jumping Ship

    Your boss may think you’re amping up your skills in order to find a new job. According to Hadick, it’s best to explain to your employer how a new training program or certification is specifically relevant to what you do and how it will improve your performance.

    Do Your Homework Before Accepting a Job Offer

    Corporate culture can be hard to change, and that includes getting an employer to pay for certifications when they aren’t accustomed to doing so. While tech companies that routinely pay for training are still relatively rare, there are tech employers out there who know its value. It pays to ask around and network with your tech friends to find out which organizations will pay for courses.

    When you’re interviewing for a position, don’t forget to ask about the company’s training initiatives. Pitch it to the potential employer as a potential perk of the job.

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  • Non-Technical Certifications for Tech Pros

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    Which certifications provide the biggest bang for your buck? While some key IT certifications can boost your career, you shouldn’t ignore the ROI that comes with certification programs that focus on non-technical standards and skills.

    With these non-technical certs, you often don’t need to attain the highest level of accreditation to increase your market value. Here are five that can add weight to your résumé and wallet:

    Project Management Professional Certification

    Thanks to an average salary of $109,405, the PMP is the fourth-highest-paying certification and the highest paying non-security related certification, according to training firm Global Knowledge.

    You don’t even need to be a project manager to reap the benefits of certification, according to Ed Tittel, a certification expert and blogger: “Stepping-stone certs such as the CAPM or the PMI-ACP validate fundamental principles, terminology and processes that apply to any number of IT roles.”

    For instance, the CAPM covers project communications, stakeholder management and time management—and you don’t need hands-on experience to qualify. The PMI-ACP will increase your familiarity with various approaches to Agile, such as Scrum, Kanban and Lean.

    For $300 to $500, tech pros can get study materials and practice exams, and take the CAPM test. The exam cost for the PMI-ACP ranges between $435 and $495; the salary for certified professionals is about 28 percent higher than for non-certified professionals.

    ITIL

    Although you’ll need to pass five “books” and amass five years of management experience to score a master ITIL certification, someone involved in management or development can still increase his or her worth by obtaining a more entry-level ITIL v3 Foundation level certificate, according to Kirsten Lora, senior product director for Business Skills and Training at Global Knowledge.

    The cost of self-study training materials, practice exams and the certification test for the Foundation level is less than $500. The exam takes about an hour, and in return, you can expect a salary increase of $3,000 to $5,000, Tittel said.

    CRISC

    Although the CRISC program is geared toward employees who spend their days managing risk, its fundamentals can help you ascend into a management, consulting, or business-analyst role. (Plus you’ll have five years to meet the experience requirements once you pass the examination.)

    Boot camps can be pricey, so if your employer won’t pick up the tab, consider self-study and paying $300 to $500 for an instructor-led review course. The exam costs range from $440 to $750. By the way, the CRISC was the top-paying cert in Global Knowledge’s survey with an average salary of $119,227.

    CISSP (And Others)

    Knowledge of security essentials can bolster your personal job safety, as more organizations than ever are focused on weaving additional protections into their respective technology stacks.

    With an average salary of $110,603, a CISSP certification can increase your paycheck, but it requires several years of relevant work experience. Entry-level, vendor-neutral credentials such as the CompTIA Security+ and GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) don’t require previous experience, although the GSEC exam is quite a bit more expensive than the Security+ exam.

    Pay value for the CompTIA Security+ certification has grown 40 percent over the last 12 months, according to Foote Partners; a self-study package and exam will set you back about $500. 

    Cloud Computing

    With some 93 percent of companies utilizing the cloud, both experienced and aspiring network, storage or data center administrators can enhance their resumes by completing a vendor-neutral program such as CompTIA’s Cloud+ or Cloud School’s Cloud Certified Professional. 

    Most cloud certifications are relatively new, so the specific salary impact and ROI are difficult to measure. Even so, you can buy a study guide for Cloud+ on Amazon and take the exam for around $400. The cloud was one of the highest paying skills in the Dice Salary Survey (PDF).

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  • Will That Certification Actually Get You a Job?

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    Those willing to spend the time and money to earn a certification must feel that it will boost their careers. But experience often trumps certification, according to IT career experts.

    With the IT unemployment rate at just 3 percent, many companies aren’t putting many limitations on the candidate pool, according to John Reed, senior executive director for staffing firm Robert Half Technology: “A lot of things that might have been ‘must haves’ are becoming ‘nice-to-haves’ now.”

    While hiring managers usually value experience over certification alone, many companies want both, and some see no value at all in certifications. Having all its IT staff certified does offer a company some advantages, not the least of which is the ability to charge clients more, suggested Randy Russell, director of certification for Red Hat.

    Fortunately, a little bit of research can quickly show how much importance particular employers place on certification.

    Setting Yourself Apart

    Having a certification on your resume can be a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Linux advocate Shawn Powers recalls being hired to run the database department at a college, even though it was 100 percent a Microsoft shop. “I asked my boss about that later. He told me that they thought, ‘If this guy knows Linux, he can do anything we need,’” he said. “As a Linux system administrator or a Linux professional, you’re forced to think outside the box. … If you’re an outside-the-box thinker, you’re going to be a better employee in any situation.”

    Certification is actually most helpful, he believes, to those on the active hunt for a job. “A lot of the interviewing team is not necessarily going to have a way to measure your expertise,” he said. “Having the certification gives you some evidence that you’ve gone that extra step and you really do know what you’re talking about.”

    Companies often look at certification in making hiring decisions, but it’s not the sole factor, Russell added: “If I’m a hiring manager looking at my pile of resumes, I’m not going to be able to interview everybody. I may not even be able to do a phone screen with everybody. So I’ve got to sort that pile.” Certification is a useful way to sort the pile—provided the recruiter believes in the certification.

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    In Context of Experience

    Yes, employers can be wary when they see a certification on your resume, according to Stephen Van Vreede, a Rochester, N.Y.-based resume writer and career strategist at ITTechExec.com. There are many certifications out there and employers aren’t familiar with all of them.

    “You have all these people who have the certification, but they don’t have the real-life experience,” he said. “So go into an interview and show, ‘Hey, this wasn’t just a theoretical training and certification program I went through. I have some skills that have been applied and here’s an example of how I put them into action.’”

    It’s best to put the certification in the context of your experience: either what you learned while gaining that cert, or how you’ve put it to work since.

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  • Certifications With the Highest Demand

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    For years, cynical IT pros have maintained that certifications aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. But recruiters and analysts report a growing interest in IT certification. While it’s true that employers still want to see experience, certification can provide outside validation of your skills… and signal a commitment to furthering those skills.

    Certifications in these areas are showing some of the sharpest growth in demand:

    Security

    The recent breaches at Target, Home Depot and the almost-daily privacy and security lapses at healthcare institutions are making security a hot area for IT pros.

    Fortune 1000 companies are now spending millions of dollars on their privacy programs, with financial services, consumer products, and retail firms leading the way, according to a survey by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). A third of the responding companies said they plan to increase their privacy program staff, while only 3 percent expect to cut staffers.

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    That’s why certifications such as GIAC Certified Penetration Tester, InfoSys Security Management Professional (ISSMP/CISSP), and EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker are among the fastest-growing with regard to premium pay, according to analyst firm Foote Partners.

    In addition, government jobs these days often require security certifications for contractors as well as staff positions.

    Mobility and Cloud

    In its predictions for 2015, Juniper Research maintains that mobile and cloud will alter the architectural landscape, and that DevOps techniques will revamp the way we deliver solutions to business stakeholders. Perhaps the biggest challenge facing companies, however, will be recruiting and retaining people will the skills to build applications quickly and to integrate them into legacy portfolios.

    Cloud employers are looking for pros skilled in Linux, Java/J2EE, SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), Python, virtualization, and other areas, according to a recent analysis of the Dice database.

    Amazon Web Services recently unveiled a new DevOps Engineer certification, which validates the technical expertise required for provisioning, operating and managing distributed application systems on its public-cloud platform. (It’s still in beta through mid-December.) To be eligible, you must already be certified as an AWS Certified Developer – Associate or AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate.

    Linux

    A new Gartner report cites a shift to open-source software as a major factor in the coming major disruption to data centers. IT leaders responding to a survey by TechPro Research put more faith in the future of Linux desktops than in the possibility of Apple elbowing ahead of Microsoft in the enterprise.

    Combine that with Microsoft open-sourcing its .NET code to run atop Linux servers, along with the wild popularity of container technology such as Docker, and the future of Linux seems bright.

    Linux Professional Institute certifications, CompTIA Linux+ and RedHat Certified Technician are among the skills making big gains in market value of late.

    While the ranks of Linux pros is growing, the segment isn’t expanding fast enough to meet demand, said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, in announcing two new vendor-neutral certifications: the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS), which covers the skills necessary for basic-to-intermediate system administration from the command-line for systems running Linux, and the Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE), which focuses on the design and implementation of system architecture. Both are performance-based and can be on CentOS, openSUSE, or Ubuntu.

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  • Is an Ethical Hacking Certification Worth Earning?

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    It seems like every other month that a major corporation suffers an epic hack, with millions of customers’ data stolen. In the aftermath of those attacks, many companies are turning to ethical or “white hat” hackers to test their defenses. But is ethical hacking an effective counter to unethical hacking, especially when those who practice the latter can do pretty much whatever they want with a wide variety of tools?

    Ethical hacking’s cause isn’t helped by the fact that the EC-Council, the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based organization that offers a certification in ethical hacking, was hacked in February. (It doesn’t get much more meta than that.) Michael Goldner, dean at EC-Council’s University, insisted in an interview that the breach occurred downstream: “Our website was secure, but the hosting company under contract had weaknesses in their systems.”

    Click here to find IT security-related jobs.

    Whatever the cause of the EC-Council breach, ethical hacking as a concept isn’t undermined—but it isn’t the sole solution to the Web’s chronic vulnerabilities. According to Jeff Williams, CTO at Contrast Security, a Mountain View, California-based interactive application security testing company, a realistic approach to defending an organization’s systems involves threat modeling, security architecture, building strong defenses, security testing, code analysis, and eventually some sort of ethical hacking to test potential vulnerabilities.

    Williams argues that unbreakable security is a myth: there will always be unethical hackers, and sometimes they will succeed in breaking into a system. “But if organizations monitor the attacks on their infrastructure and respond appropriately, they can learn and make themselves stronger,” he said.

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    So is there value in an ethical hacker certification? The hack at the EC-Council isn’t exactly a vote of confidence. But the EC-Council’s ethical-hacking certification isn’t the only one that falls under the umbrella of DoD 8750, the Department of Defense directive that established baseline certification guidance for Information Assurance (IA) positions; other, related certifications include the CISSP, OSCP, and Security+ CE. “Typically, these certifications are offered after a class,” Williams said, while cautioning: “None of the skills that hacking requires is easily measurable in a class and exam format.”

    Marc Maiffret, CTO of BeyondTrust, a Phoenix-based privileged account management and vulnerability management software-solutions company, admits that while certifications are a start, an ethical hacker needs real world experience and on-the-job training. Like Williams, he’s also a realist: “There is no match for someone with unlimited time and resources… If someone wants to get into your organization, they will.” To minimize the impact of an attack, he added, organizations have to adopt an approach that focuses on monitoring and regulating user privileges once a breach occurs.

    “Certifications are a calling card to say you’re committed to the industry, the profession, and lifelong learning,” said Philip Casesa, director of service operations at (ISC)2, a Clearwater, Florida-based nonprofit organization that specializes in information security education and certification. “To maintain certification with us, you have to do education credits. You have to keep learning new technology, skills, threats and protections.” An organization’s commitment to security, he added, ultimately matters far more than any one certification.

    Hiring managers are still on the lookout for certifications, and that’s what ultimately matters with regard to getting a job. Cameron Camp, a malware researcher in the San Diego offices of ESET, an IT security company, believes that certifications continue to offer substantial value and a bit more. “They provide a base level of knowledge, and that’s important,” he said. The onus is on the professional to put in the time on the job. “Core development work isn’t always pretty, but you need to apply your skills in the real world.”

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  • 6 Essential IT Certifications for 2015

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    Figuring out which IT-related certification program to pursue, from among more than 100 of them, can prove a daunting task for anyone. ITworld recently posted their top suggestions, based on a study from consulting firm Foote Partners. Add to that a very comprehensive annual evaluation guide from Pearson’s IT Certification website, which contains detailed information on many programs. Both are good places to start your own investigation.

    Any certification program is a compromise between your own skill and learning gaps, and where you want to take your career. Here are a few questions to ponder about as you begin your research:

    What is the total cost of the certification?

    Okay, you know the cost to take the certification exam. But you may not initially consider the cost of travel to a remote city if the course isn’t offered online or nearby, and there may be additional exam fees or annual maintenance expenses to take refresher exams to renew the certification. Some programs require that you join a professional association as part of the certification process, too. Speaking of which, you might want to check out joining the IEEE, where, for about $100 a year, you can access numerous books, online resources, and training classes from Skillsoft. Eric Geier, in this Computerworld article earlier this summer, offered other ways to pinch pennies.

    Do you have the time to complete the coursework?

    Some programs have completion time limits, and some have complex course requirements that could get in the way of a full-time job. Some employers expect you to stick around with them after you get your credentials, too.

    What is the salary benefit to the certification?

    There are two good sources for independent evaluations of these programs. The first is from GoCertify, and is an online evaluation tool that asks you a series of questions, such as what subject area you are interested in, and whether you need to renew your certification or obtain a new one. A second resource comes from Ed Tittel, author of the aforementioned Pearson annual guide. He has his own set of metrics that he includes in that roundup, and he shares his methods here.

    Tittel told me in an interview about a very simple measure he uses to evaluate the salary benefit: “A certification that costs tens of thousands of dollars to earn had better also improve its holders’ income potential by at least one-third of those costs in yearly compensation increases.” Why one-third? This assumes that the typical lifetime of any certification is just three years, so he wants to see a payback over that period. “Otherwise, the cost-benefit argues strongly against shelling out the cash for somewhat less salary gain.”

    Is this certificate actually in demand?

    It’s one thing to want to get certified. But does any hiring manager really care? One way to find out is to scan the job boards, to see if the certificate is mentioned in job requirements or even in the titles of the job posts. Use the acronym of the credential in your search. Also, check the news posts on Dice and see if the acronym is mentioned in those articles.

    Do you have any peer support?

    Look at the study groups, meetups and other resources that are available online and in your local city; these can help supplement classroom training and also provide a handy shoulder to cry (or brag) on. “Put extra effort into creating a community of learners,” suggested Jonathan Haber in this post.

    In addition to having taken several online classes, Haber is the author of an upcoming book on online training. “It’s all too easy to get lost in the crowd in an online course,” he thinks. If you can’t find any of these resources, that’s a sign that perhaps you should consider pursuing some other credential. Look at vendor-sponsored support programs as well, such as the Cisco Learning Network, Microsoft’s TechNet and Microsoft Developer Network sites. If you are using a third-party training vendor, examine the array of support materials that comes with their classes, such as customized or real-time coaching, sample practice exams, test-taking exam prep guides, certification details, offline training resources, and virtual environments for code writing and debugging. The more ways you can learn the material, the better.

    And so, without further ado…

    Six Leading Certifications

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  • 2 Little-Known Certifications That Could Get You Promoted

    When it comes to earning certifications, tech professionals always worry about whether it’s worth their time and money. For enterprise architects and IT specialists , there’s some good news: Two credentials earned through the Open Group — including its Open Certified Architect and Open Certified IT Specialist — pay off, though not as you might think. Their value seems to be higher when it comes to moving up within your existing employer, as opposed to getting the attention of new hiring managers. One reason might be mindshare: There are a lot of certifications in the market and it takes time for a smaller vendor-independent consortium like San Francisco-based Open Group to build awareness among recruiters. James de Raeve, the organization’s vice president of certification, told Dice that the credentials are certainly “more popular with people who need to show clients their level of skill and experience.” Also, more companies are using the certifications internally to identify their best talent. Click here to find enterprise architect jobs. Basically, Open Group has a framework for identifying industry standards, emerging requirements and best practices for architects and other IT professionals. Its Open Certified Architect designation is a credentialing tool focused on verifying experience with IT architecture. The Open Certified IT Specialist is designed to confirm expertise in the development, implementation and operation of IT solutions. The process for both credentials requires candidates to prove years of experience and client/technical focus by way of a written application process and peer interviews. There are no training courses or written exams. A Small Network Currently, the Open Certified Architect is held by just 3,925 people at 160 organizations. The Open Certified IT Specialist has 3,028 holders spread across 72 organizations. Both the Open CA and Open CITS programs have three levels. They include Certified, Master and Distinguished, each based on years of experience. The most popular is the Level 2 Master Certified designation. In both programs, that requires three years of lead experience. Given those numbers, the ROI may come as something of a surprise. According to the IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index of Foote Partners, a Vero Beach, Fla., firm that tracks certifications, those with the Open Group Certified Architect credential experienced a 16.7 percent pay gain in 2013, while those with the Open Group Master Architect certification saw a 14.3 percent increase. “We developed these programs because our members asked us to help them identify their senior professional architects and IT specialists,” says de Raeve. “We did this by providing clear skill and experience requirements that such professionals must meet, a process for evaluating candidates through peer review, and a certificate and logo for the successful candidates.” Corporate Participation The Open Group also has an accreditation mechanism through which companies can operate the programs internally. “Some organizations tie certification to promotion,” notes de Raeve. IBM , HP and CA Technologies are accredited for the Open CA program. IBM is also accredited for Open CITS. Despite the company adoption, de Raeve admits the certifications haven’t gained nearly as much traction as his organization would like. Because they’re not exam-based, he says, “recruiters seem to have difficulty fitting them into their mold. Communicating the value widely is a major challenge for a small organization like the Open Group.” Matt Brosseau, director of technology for Chicago IT talent management and consulting firm Instant Technology , observes that hiring managers without a deep understanding of the related skills might not recognize the significance of, or even know about, the Open Group credentials. But having relevant industry certifications on your resume can never hurt, especially if you’re looking to move up. At the moment, he says, the credentials take you “from being knee deep in coding to an artisan of the craft.” Related Stories What’s Better: Online IT Certifications or Advanced Degrees? A Hung Jury on Certifications New Certification: HP Focuses On Embedded IT The post 2 Little-Known Certifications That Could Get You Promoted appeared first on Dice News .

  • How to Tell If an Employer Takes Training Seriously

    Software engineers , architects , programmers and project managers are often left to their own devices when it comes to training. If they’re interested in learning new programming languages or updating certifications, the work often gets done on their own time. But according to Edmond Freiermuth, a Los Angeles-based management consultant, there’s a link between training and corporate culture. Companies that want to train their people, he contends, generally pursue a longer-term commitment to their workers, one that translates to the employee’s emotional well-being and professional success. For tech professionals who often decry the lack of employer-backed training, that conclusion comes as no surprise. The problem, it seems, is that company training is the exception nowadays, though more businesses are using it as a retention tool. For candidates, the challenge becomes figuring out whether a prospective employer is serious about learning. After all, “all companies are not created equal,” observes Jeff Kagan, a technology industry analyst in Marietta, Ga. Some are purely focused on their investors and customers, while others give their employees much more consideration. “Some companies invest heavily in their technology and the training to better utilize this technology,” Kagan says. But since some don’t, candidates have to dig deep to find out exactly what the business’s approach might be. And that means you can’t rely on what hiring managers and others have to say. “Try to talk with the workers, if you can, and not just the managers to find out what kind of company it is,” Kagan suggests. Performance Counts Not surprisingly, the financial health of a company is one indicator for prospective employees to consider. If companies have cash, they’re more likely to think about technical training, Kagan says. He notes there’s usually a direct path from a company’s financial strength to education and training.   Larger companies, especially those in tech, generally have formalized programs for tuition reimbursement and certifications. For instance, Adobe kicks in the cost of fees, tuition and books for appropriate business courses and certifications up to a specified amount. It also offers on-site technical programs. Microsoft has a similar deal, providing business-related tuition assistance for undergraduate or graduate coursework and extensive internal training programs online or in classrooms.   At Smaller Companies Most smaller companies aren’t able to afford similar benefits, says Freiermuth. However, you shouldn’t overlook the value that a company or outside mentor can offer in the way of both direct hard skills and softer ones. Plus, if you hitch your wagon to a more entrepreneurial company, it’s possible that you’ll have more learning opportunities by holding greater responsibility, he says. “That’s especially true at tech companies.” It’s Still on You However, just because a company is concerned about keeping its technology staff current doesn’t mean that you can turn over your continuing education plans to your employer. Freiermuth argues that you can’t blame the company for a lack of learning new things. Whether it’s keeping up on your programming skills or learning how to blend business and tech knowledge, you need to be aware of how the wind is blowing at your company and sector. And, you may have to go out and pursue a training solution yourself. Simply put, complacency can be a job killer. The post How to Tell If an Employer Takes Training Seriously appeared first on Dice News .