VCP6 on a Budget

Obtaining a Certification is a great way to validate to employers, both current and future, the knowledge and experience you possess in your field of expertise. Sometimes getting those certifications can be very costly. So, how can we get these certifications while not spending thousands of dollars in the process? Let me share with you how I managed to get my VMware Certified Professional in Data Center Virtualization for under $500.

First, and the most expensive part typically the training course required by the manufacturer. In my case, VMware, required a course as a perquisite to the exam. I remember going to their site and seeing prices ranging from $2500 all the way up to $7500 dollars for the different classes!

Immediately, I started web searches, and luckily was referred to Stanly Community College, which offers an online class for only $185 (Course List)! Stanly Community College did require that I purchase books, which totaled $36.95 before tax.  After completing and passing the course, I received vouchers to use towards exams. To achieve a VCP certification, two exams were required – the VMware Foundations Exam, which will run you a solid price of $36 after applying voucher ($120 regular price). Then, it’s time for the final exam, the VCP6-DCV (2V0-621), at the price of $67.50 after applying voucher ($240 regular price). After passing the exam and a few days of processing, I am officially a VMware Certified Professional!

Now, if you do the math you will realize I achieved a VCP certification for only $325.45 before tax! Needless to say… that is a lot of money saved!

One last thing to mention before you embark on this adventure on your own. It is my opinion that you should always purchase a study guide, and practice with the software prior to the test. These type of books will typically run around $30-$100, but are worth the investment.

So get busy, good luck on your exams, and be cost savvy!

Get the Most out of your Candidate Interviews!

Conducting an interview can be just as hard as (if not harder than) being interviewed. We think it is equally as important to share interview tips with those conducting the interviews as it is with candidates, to ensure the best resource for the position is identified. Please take a few moments to review these tips:

• Prepare by conducting a "job analysis": Interviewers should consult with at least one "Subject Matter Expert" to generate a specific list of the most important aspects of the job and what is required to perform it successfully. Not only will this make the interview more relevant to the job, but job candidates and interviewers will also view the interview more positively.
• Prepare questions in advance: An interview format in which all job candidates are asked the same specific questions further ensures that information obtained from candidates is relevant and comprehensive. This method also helps avoid irrelevant content. Asking uniform questions makes candidate responses more directly comparable. Also, be sure to ask open ended questions, requiring the candidate to give examples or elaborate on their skills.
• Maintain some flexibility: What if the interviewer asks a pre-developed question, but the candidate doesn't provide enough information? Interviews who simply move on to the next question without leaving room for follow-up questions usually don’t collect enough information from candidates. Additionally, both job candidates and interviewers often perceive this rigid format negatively.
• Ensure the interview isn't too short or too long: Since it is important that all candidates get the same opportunity to answer the same questions — without feeling rushed — it is generally best to limit the number of interview questions. A good rule of thumb is to ask no more than four to six questions in a 30-minute interview, and no more than eight to 12 questions in a one-hour interview.
• Focus on the interview portion first: Despite what some experts recommend, the evidence suggests that soliciting candidates to ask questions too soon reduces the interview's reliability. Candidates should only be solicited to ask questions after the conclusion of the interview, allowing engagement on a more personal level.
• Include more than one interviewer: The use of multiple interviewers greatly increases the reliability of the process. Different interviewers in separate, subsequent interviews are more likely to agree on the right candidate.
• Interview evaluation:  Note-taking during interviews portrays interests in the candidate and makes a candidate feel respected. Since human memory is limited, it is easy for interviewers to confuse candidate’s responses to the same questions.  Be sure to complete an interview evaluation immediately following the interview, to ensure your feedback is fresh.

Want to nail your interview? Here’s how!

• Review the job description:  Read the description carefully, and highlight the key focal points or requirements that you feel are important to the client based on the overview, especially those you feel align well with your skill-set and experience. Your recruiter will assist you with this as well.
• Think about what interests you about the job:  Be prepared to explain why you are interested in the job. Avoid negative comments regarding past employers or positions.
• Prepare stories and examples:  Based on the skills highlighted in the description, come up with a few short stories or examples to explain your related experiences in these areas. Once you get a clear understanding of the role from the interviewer(s), choose a few stories to share. Stay on topic and focus mainly on achievements. Also, provide a few examples of hurdles and how you overcame them. Focus on the STAR method:
    S: The Situation – describe it

    T: The Task or problem – what dilemma or problem did you face?
    A: The Action – what action did you take?
    R: The Result – what was the result of your action?
• Define weaknesses:  Be ready to clearly describe your weaknesses. “I work too hard” is not an appropriate answer even if it’s true. Weaknesses don’t have to specifically relate to your field, but can be areas where you may have little interests, or that don’t directly relate to this job or project.

• Define strengths:  Identifying strengths is usually easier than defining weaknesses. Consider past supervisors or co-workers… what would they consider your strengths? Where do you excel? Don’t go overboard, and only share skills or qualities that you can prove or exhibit.
• Remember names:  Pay close attention to the interviewer(s) and listen for their names and roles. Respond to individuals by name. This not only is a way of showing respect, but also interest and attention to detail.
• Think about your speech pattern, and breathe:  Often times when nervous, people speak quickly or ramble. Pay attention to your speech pattern, breathe deeply, and speak clearly and slowly. When asked questions, pause for a moment to formulate your response to avoid rambling.
• Test your phone equipment ahead of time: When interviews will be held via conference call or video conference call, test your equipment prior to the interview date and time.

• What Skype says about you:  When using video conference calls, look around the room. What is in the background? Is the room cluttered, or neat and clean? Remember, interviewers are looking for insights as to your character.
• Ask questions:  Be sure to ask a few questions about the job, this shows interests in the position. Questions can relate to the technical aspects of the job, or even the work environment.
• Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know:  It is completely appropriate to admit that you may not know something being asked of you. This can be followed up with “I don’t know, but I enjoy challenges and opportunities to grow….”

• Prepare a closing statement:  Think about saying something that will portray gratitude for giving you consideration for the job. Reiterate your interest in the position, and the value you will bring to the table. Request that they give you strong consideration for the job if you feel you are a great fit.
• Edit your online profiles:  Prior to your interview, be sure to clean up your online social media content. Clean up the “trash” and ensure the character you are portraying is one that is hirable!

… And finally, be sure to bring your game face!

Social Media is Life’s Open Book

It’s common for people to share their daily lives via social media – some more than others. But while doing so, do we stop to think about how these posts actually effect our reputation?


It’s a fact that roughly 80% of employers are taking a peek at social media to get a feel for a candidate’s overall character and personality prior to contacting them for interviews or job consideration. Were you considering this when you posted your Friday night photos, provocative photos, or even ranted in your posts? How about when posting your complaints about your bad day or your job? Posting distasteful jokes?


Let your “Open Book” serve you well! Below are things you want to consider doing while posting info:

  • Stay positive
  • Create a profile that accurately displays your personality
  • Be creative
  • Exhibit strong communication skills (grammar)
  • Be well rounded


Postings that can damage your reputation or reflect negatively may include:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photos or information
  • Content regarding drinking or drugs
  • Negative comments (even if you consider them to be true) regarding your past employers, friends, etc.
  • Poor communication skills
  • Discriminatory comments
  • Sharing information that should be considered confidential about others or your past/current employer

So, as you update your resume or consider applying for new employment, be sure to also do some social media “clean up” as well. Remember, it’s out there for the whole world to see!