Certifications. We’re used to seeing them in resumes as strings of letters after people’s names. We’re used to hearing about them at professional associations. We’re also used to people talking about them . . . especially people like me.
So yes, you know how it goes. Go get certifications, etc. But why do people (OK, again, people like me) emphasize them? There are six major reasons:
Certifications Are Easy Recognizable: Those few letters after your name are easy for potential employers and clients to recognize. That gets their attention fast, and when people are scanning your resume or portfolio, that moment of “aha” is very, very valuable. Attention is important.
Certifications Are Usually a Good Time/Money Bargain: A lot of certifications involve a few hundred dollars for a test that can be taken in an afternoon, which is a pretty good bargain if you know the subject matter. Even if you need to study for it, you can usually study on your own time and own terms, letting you better manage your life and your career.
Certifications Can Come With Specialist Classes: Some certifications are only received after taking some specific classes. I usually find these class-and-cert combos are pricey (one or two thousand dollars for many of the ones I’ve seen in Project management), but they’re often well-regarded, especially if you get a good instructor. I still note how my Scrum Master class was taught by a well-regarded gaming professional.
Also these classes can at least go fast; a few days at most. You may then see benefits quickly as well.
Certifications Open Social Opportunities: A certification doesn’t sound like something that’s going to connect you with people, but think about it a bit more:
- If it involves classes or social time after the tests, you have a chance to meet a lot of fellow professionals.
- It’s a great conversation point when you’re networking – and in some general social situations.
- There are organizations that support and provide certification holders, and having that certification is a real advantage.
Certifications Often Need Upkeep – And That Helps: Sure having to re-certify every few years or maintaining your accreditation sounds boring. The thing is this lends even more credibility to the certification in the first place. Even if all it is is shelling out some money for an organizational membership it at least shows you care. These kinds of certifications look good to recruiters (and if they don’t get it, you can subtly mention it to show how committed you are).
Certifications Push You: Getting a certification really pushes you. You need to find which ones work for you. You have to study, or validate your choice, or measure your financial risk. You have to do a lot of research. Just the act of analyzing certifications will teach you a lot – let alone getting one.
Certifications, well-planned, are bargains for your career. Go take an inventory and see what’s out there.
It may take effort. It’s not always clear. It can cost money. But I’ve found that if you put the time to research it, you’ll get one that fits your needs.
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.fantopro.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at http://www.stevensavage.com/.