Naturally we look for experienced and capable developers first. If the candidates are well qualified, it's a bonus, but we don't discount people who fail to meet some sort of qualification threshold. However, we consider a degree a plus and we're particularly interested in someone with a relevant degree, preferably in computer science or mathematics.
Having a degree versus not having one If someone has an advanced degree it normally means that they have a proven ability to solve complex problems and absorb information (although we've seen some interesting exceptions). Somebody with a degree naturally carries more credibility than someone who doesn't have a college degree, and a college graduate is generally easier to propose to our clients.
Of course, the best person for the job isn't necessarily the most academically qualified-after all, a degree from the University of Hard Knocks usually means the candidate has pragmatic skills and we all know that true wisdom is the actual application of learned knowledge, not just knowledge per se. That said and human nature being what it is, however, it's often the most academically qualified person who will get the first interview. The bottom line is that having a degree helps, whereas not having one probably hinders, everything else being equal.
MCP certification Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) have a proven level of competence with Microsoft technologies and tools, so certification is usually viewed as a positive attribute. As a services company, we find an MCP certification is a positive sales feature. However, don't rely on it too much. Conduct your own independent skills assessment.
Ideally we'd all like to hit what we call "the red zone"-well qualified, lots of experience, and good personal skills. (See Figure 17-1.)
Figure 17-1 Nerdvana: the ideal skill set
But what's ideal for your organization is for you to decide. Which of the three qualifications is most important to you? Brainstorm about what you want and then move on.