What Being a Certified Information Professional Says


Certified Information Professional logoIt’s been almost six months since I took and passed the CIP exam, becoming a Certified Information Professional. At that time I said I thought it was a valid measure of someone’s worth as an Information Professional. Since then, everyone I’ve talked to that has taken the exam has concurred.

If it is a valid measure, then those who have become a CIP are the kind of person you want in a senior role on any Information-centric project. Right? Is that a true statement?

What about a Big Data project?

Let’s be honest. Every certification in evolving fields has a certain latency in what it tests. The CIP doesn’t cover Big Data because even now, Big Data is still evolving. As I considered this weakness, I asked myself this question:

If I personally couldn’t be on a Big Data project upon which my organization needed, would having a CIP involved make me feel better about the potential for success?

The answer, after some thought, was Yes.

Why?

For that answer I have to go back to my exam experience. As you may recall, I took the exam without studying at all. I did not even take the Sample Exam for the CIP. While this isn’t a process I would recommend for anyone, I did gain some valuable insight into the true value of the exam. I also felt like I had failed the exam, though I did much better than failing.

How much better?

A passing score is 580 out of 800. I scored over 700.

It wasn’t easy. Remember, I thought I failed the exam when I finished. There were too many questions for which I had to deduce, rationalize, or make educated guesses. I knew some areas quite well. For other areas, I had to settle for just knowing the terms involved, even if I didn’t know the best practices.

And during the exam, my consulting fallback answer, It Depends, was not a valid answer.

What this tells me is that becoming a Certified Information Professional is more than a collection of terms. It is being able to apply that experience to new information challenges and coming out the other end with a success.

This means that someone who has proven themselves in the Information Management space with both projects and a CIP are likely equipped to tackle the latest technology to hit the space.

If you can find me an Information Professional who has passed the CIP, that might be the person needed to help lead that cutting edge Big Data project.

6 thoughts on “What Being a Certified Information Professional Says

  1. Lawrence, certifications just as university degrees including PhDs mean little, except that the person saw a benefit in having those. My experience is that people are either really good at what they do or not and I have not found a correlation to degrees or certifications.

    While with a university degree from the right university at least you know that the person has some stamina to pull it off. When ‘experts’ show up with a lot of certification then I get typically weary as that is usually all they have.

    I have people showing up with degrees and no experience and they really are so arrogant to think they know it all because of it. I prefer people who can show that they always worked and learned and are still working and learning everyday.

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    • Max, I can always count on you to try and poke holes. I’d actually never place a premium on any certification without experience that took place BEFORE the certification. They are always move valuable when they are taken as a measurement of experience. Certification and then experience dims the value of a certification in my mind.

      Take the PMP. I value PMPs on projects and have seen noticeable differences between those with and those without PMPs. I’ve also seen a PMP who was only passable as a PM due to their people skills and one non-PMP who was very good. In my experience a bright person with a PMP and experience is usually a good PM, ~80%. A bright person with experience is usually only a 50/50 shot at being a good PM. I’ll take 80% odds over 50% odds any day.

      A valid certification can serve as a measuring stick. It doesn’t promise anything. It can help you determine which unknown resources you should take a chance with. It doesn’t provide absolute certainty (though nothing does) and if their is no related experience, those lessons were memorized, not learned.

      College degrees are a whole different matter and part of a different discussion.

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      • Pat, thanks for the link. I hadn’t seen Mimi’s evaluation but knew she was writing one. To be honest, I’d expect you to pass fairly readily. I’d consider either of you solid Information Professionals. Of course, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to interact with you both prior to the creation of the CIP. I wouldn’t hire a CIP over you because they were a CIP because you are a known quantity, though it is rare that I get to interview only known people.

        Which is part of my point. I do understand the criticism of certifications. Take any Microsoft certification. There are sets of classes that can be taken to set yourself up for an easy pass. I won’t hire one of those people, at least not at a premium. If they get their MS certs after earning experience, then the cert serves to validate that experience.

        I know a lot of people that have decent looking Information Management resumes that I wouldn’t hire. They either weren’t significant contributors to the project or just executed without learning the why of any of it. They also would have a heck of a time passing the CIP. The reason is because it isn’t about terms but also about best practices.

        This is how I look at the exam, if all the people I talk to at conferences and on Twitter take it and pass, it means very little. I know most of them are good. What will really define the value for me is when junior-mid level professionals take the exam, seeing their pass rate, and then cross-referencing their reputation on their projects.

        Regarding the Kool-Aid, I can’t say that my post isn’t influenced by my role at AIIM. I can say that I didn’t write this because I was asked or because I was trying to accomplish a business objective. I haven’t written about the CIP since January and some recent conversations made me think about the issues in this post. I hadn’t directly addressed the issues, so I wrote the post.

        Finally, ask yourself this. If established and respected Information Professionals can pass the exam with a minimal amount of review, is that a problem? The goal is to identify Information Professionals. If ANYONE can pass it easily, that is a problem. I haven’t checked the numbers as I don’t track them like Jesse, but the last I heard, a majority of those that had taken the exam were known quantities (people we expect would pass). Only as more people take it will we be able to evaluate the pass-rates and determine how to adjust the exam. I’m sure it will have to be adjusted, but that has to be done with metrics, which are being collected.

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  2. My intention, like Pat’s, is to go in cold. I don’t know what Pat’s goal in sitting the exam is, but mine is to use it as a way to measure if I’m as knowledgeable as I think / hope I am.

    Like most right thinking folks, I don’t care if the person has letters after their name or not, I care about whether or not they can do the job asked of them. Certifications may be useful in evaluating junior level candidates, let’s say less than 3yrs experience. Beyond that, if one can’t do the job then they’re pretty much useless regardless of certifications.

    I think one of the issues surrounding the CIP & other certifications is that some people are looking at them in the same way as they look at professional designations (e.g.: accountants, engineers). That’s foolish, but may be an eventual end state. A designation or certification that demands a certain amount of time in the field (CRM, PMP) is of more consequence to me than one that doesn’t. However, I’ve known PM’s & CRM’s that I wouldn’t hire to bag groceries, much less run projects or manage information assets.

    Unless designations / certifications are legally mandated (lawyers, doctors, accountants) I generally tend not to put too much stock in them. What they show me is that the person who has attained it can study, memorize, and assimilate information. It doesn’t show me that the person can deliver the goods when the poo hits the fan.

    I’m not saying that I would ignore candidates with certifications, but I certainly would not filter out those that don’t have them. I think the CIP is currently too immature to be of real value in making hiring decisions, but if nurtured properly may be a useful aid someday. In it’s current state, for me, it will serve as an assessment tool and to identify knowledge gaps.

    A little personal anecdote … several years ago it was suggested by an employer that I buckle down and go for my PMP. My response was “If [name withheld] can get it, I don’t want it.”

    Uhm, what flavour is the Kool-Aid?

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    • Thanks Chris. The Kool-Aid is Plaid flavored.

      One thing that I like about the PMP, and the CIP, is continuing education. Once a PMP does not mean always a PMP. Same with CIP. You are correct, it is an immature cert. The concept of prior experience, which I also like in the PMP, is something under consideration for the CIP. In time, I think it will be required.

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