How do I increase my desirability (not the way it sounds. I mean to an employer ;)). The most obvious, but also the hardest ways are to get a degree or to get experience on the job. Are there any certifications I can get? I've heard there's no good C++ certification, but perhaps there are other types related to programming. Any other things that look good to an employer would be appreciated as well.
I got pretty luck with the only interview I've ever had for a programming related job. It was a job on campus for updating and maintaining the various web services we offered, and my interviewers were fellow students. It wasn't hard to build a good report with them in the first interview, and had I taken the time to learn SQL before the second interview I would have gotten the job.
As for certifications I often here talk of java certifications, but I've never even bothered to look into certificate for any language. While I've never had an interview for a salary based job (or any truly formal job for that matter) I've always been told it's the first impression that really gets you started. My dad always told me he studied a bit of psychology for this purpose; Knowing how to read body language well and being able to read into people responses can go a long way in figuring out how best to react in a given situation.
A good portfolio never hurt anyone, be genuine, helpful, dedicated, and positive and any employer will want you.
Of course don't base everything off your interview, building relationships with the people working around the office and the bosses can be extremely beneficial- gosh I just went to a place where I did an internship in my junior year in high school, and talked to the head of the dept. He offered a big programming project and a fantastic opportunity, just because I came in so long ago and have increased my skills so much. Impressions last a long time.
Think of it from an employer's perspective, if you were hiring people, would you hire yourself? If not, why? What do you need to change to be a good employee to yourself?