I’m regularly reviewing candidates for PHP development positions, and I’ve noticed some very interesting trends with regard to the qualifications people list on their resumes. As with anything, here’s the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.
Despite general opinions from the community that it better reflects your ability to remember textbook concepts than actually code PHP, the Zend Certified Engineer (ZCE) qualification is about as good as it gets, in my mind. If someone takes the trouble to study and attain the ZCE, they’ve got what it takes to, for example, learn the framework we use in our development shop.
I appreciate that it’s no measure of experience, but it’s still a reasonable measure of capability. Having a ZCE is definitely a plus point on a resume.
Of course, I’ve had one candidate give me an executive summary as to why he intentionally didn’t get his ZCE, and we hired him on the spot.
The various online tests available, such as from Expert Rating, can occasionally be detrimental to your chances of being hired. I’ve had a candidate once show that he got 99% on an online PHP test, yet he had no other experience to speak of, and when I briefly quizzed him he clearly wasn’t terribly good with actual PHP development.
Given that these tests are open book – as in, there is nothing stopping you from consulting the mighty Google halfway through your test – the results are mildly indicative at best, entirely dubious at worst. There’s nothing wrong with such a qualification – I’ve got one myself – but they’re only really good evidencing your other experience. A solid resume of having worked on various real-world projects, combined with one or two certifications to show that you have the technical skills, is always a good idea.
The worst you can possibly do is have nothing to demonstrate your ability. If anything, bring along some code samples to the interview (or email them through). There’s a reasonable chance you’ll have someone technically-minded helping out with the interview, and if you can demonstrate that you understand the code, you’ll create a decent image.
I’ve had candidates send me incredibly-brief (how does seven words and four URLs sound?) emails listing a couple of sites they’ve worked on, including some hosted on free web hosts. Make sure you demonstrate some basic professionalism and ability to code if you have nothing else to speak of.