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Last summer I attended course for "Certified Ethical Hacker" led by Mr. Wayne Burke. The course was great. Mr. Burke was awesome, flashing with energy all the time, he would stay hours late just to share another piece of his experience with us.

I learned a lot of new things, took lot of notes (to which I keep returning), and most importantly, it pushed my way of thinking in a direction.

However, due to unfortunate circumstances, I did not attend the actual certification exam, therefore I do not hold the certificate.

Now I'm looking for a job (in QA, not necessarily security-related) and while updating my CV, I ask myself: Should I mention the course in the CV? I'm thinking about two possible final effects:

  • positive, since I have been there, seen it, understood most of it---better than nothing, well?

  • negative, as it could be perceived as failure, so why remind it? Plus, I definitely don't want to look like someone who is boasting with CEH and then turns out he did not make it

Is there a recommended rule of thumb on these situations? Does anyone have similar experience?

Note: Frankly (aside from what should be considered rational in context of career market), personally I do feel strongly enlightened by the course, and I do believe it helped me a lot in my growth. I don't even consider the missing cert as a personal failure: compared to the actual course, the (preview) questions were a bunch of numbers and tool names to cram up my head.

Update: Finally I decided to list the course, in spirit as @tdammers wrote about.

Anyway, in of interview I've been to, I was not given questions about C|EH--neither technical ones nor "where is your homework certificate", which is not surprising since as I have pointed out, I wasn't looking for particularly security-centered position.

Now I have a new job--just as exciting as I hoped for.

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1 Answer 1

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The general rule of thumb is, if you're prepared to answer questions about it, and you think answering them will make a positive impression, then put it on your resume. Otherwise, don't.

In this particular case, if the reasons why you didn't take the exam are reasonable and won't sound like "dog ate my homework" type excuses, and you think talking about this particular course will give prospective employers a positive impression of this part of your skill set, then yes, put it on your resume. Specifically, not taking the exam at all for personal reasons is quite different from taking the exam, failing, and not trying again.

Also, if you decide to include the course, just mention the course without any reference to a possible exam or certificate, so: "Followed course X on date Y", not "Followed course X on date Y but did not get certified".

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Yes: Mention what you do have, and don't worry about (or mention) a certificate you don't have or need. –  alexis Feb 22 '13 at 17:25
after "... then put it on your resume..." I would also add, ...and prepare to give in-depth answers at every interview you attend, and don't fall in the trap oh I know it already, need not prepare again - interviewers just love to drill into areas you brag about in your resume. I failed this way once and this taught me forever (I hope)... heck it looks like even Erik Lippert got caugh like this "I not only knew the answer to cold, I had written a freakin' blog article on how to do it... I just blanked on it" –  gnat Mar 4 '13 at 22:16
Finally hired (updated Q). Thanks for helping me get this off my mind. –  user82237 Apr 4 '13 at 21:02

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