One size does not fit all: Choosing the right certification
Nobody is born an expert or a specialist. It takes years of work to gain the skills and experience necessary to even get you started in a certain a field of specialized expertise. We live in a dynamic world with the only constant being “Change”! Industries are constantly changing, evolving, and developing new norms among its professionals. Simply keeping up is becoming rough especially with new trends and demands that will pop up in the most unexpected of places.
Believe it or not, certifications can massively help you advance in your career. Not only organizations prefer to recruit certified professionals but they also know that with them on board they will get to do better in the future.
I am a firm believer in the importance of lifelong learning. In most cases, I feel that certifications are indeed a beneficial career add on. But it’s crucial to have realistic expectations as the payoffs are not always immediate and most importantly pick the right certification.
Why professional certifications are worth it?
Professional certifications cost hundreds and even thousands. They most require a significant investment of time, effort and energy on top of it. The question here is, do professional certifications have a measurable career payoff?
-A Tool For Financial Gain
Professional certifications are considered as a tool for financial gain. If you add those special letters after your name or some fancy credential on your Linkedin profile, you automatically be in a better position to demand more pay or land a new and even better job. Many surveys indicate that employers pay up to 28% more on average for employees who are certificate holders. Yet, it is important to pick a well-known and accredited certification from a highly reputable organization or institution. Possessing a certificate that demonstrates expert-level mastery of the skills required makes sense for employers to pay more for professionals who have already proven their advanced proficiency in these areas.
-Skill & Knowledge Transfer
Keep in mind that companies are not paying for the certificate itself, they are paying for the value you and the certificate can bring to the organization. The certificate is something that organizations use as a sign to help them identify those who can deliver greater value from those who cannot and not capable of. What makes the whole difference is you showing the evidence of that value and capability.
-The Power of the certification
It’s not realistic to expect that all certifications will have the same powerful impact. Not all certification were created equally and not all of them carry the same return on investment (ROI). Some certificates are not well-known, some do not teach you the skills you expect, some don’t result in measurable value to you or even to the organization, some are not accredited, and some aren’t awarded from a verified and authentic awarding body.
– Enhancing Confidence
Most people tend to enjoy the process of certification as it is considered a confidence booster. It gives them the knowledge and the base for a solid start. It allows them to connect with other like-minded professionals. Some people enjoy learning purely for personal growth purposes which adds more value to you and your career and will pay off in more tangible ways over time.
There are some certifications that are a complete waste of time and the industry knows it, and there are some that are valuable. With people from all over the world applying for the same jobs, especially in times of crisis as the one we are currently going through, it can be extremely difficult to stand out in the sea of resumes. One way to set yourself apart is to earn a professional certification, a certificate that declares you have special skills desired in your industry. And they are truly worth it, when only a bunch of professional carry these certificates that make them unique and make headhunters spin around them and reaching out to them, thanks go to LinkedIn.
So, what’s next? …. Do Your Research
With the rise of online learning especially in the pandemic, professional certifications have increased in popularity and prevalence. They’re much easier to get these days, you can get certified with the comfort of your home computer. That’s very convenient especially for those who have too many commitments and physical classes are kind of a hard fulfillment. However, it has some downsides as the low barrier to entry that allows more people getting certified thus making its value really low.
If you’re considering investing in a certification, take a thorough hard look and practice your research. Make sure to cover the following:
- Check the organization/institution behind the certificate and whether they are trust
- Check if the organization/institution is well known.
- Research the organization/institution behind the certification and make sure it is legit.
- Make sure that the organization/institution issuing the certificate is copyrighted and preferably an awarding body. Such as:
Project Management Institute – PMI specialized in Project Management certifications
HR Certification Institute – HRCI specialized in Human Resources (HR) certifications
Global Innovation Institute – GInI specialized in Innovation certifications
Society of Human Resource Management – SHRM specialized in Human Resources (HR) certifications
Institute of Management Accountants – IMA specialized in Accounting certifications
Association for Talent Development – ATD specialized in talent development.
- Contact other professionals even if you have to do that via Linkedin. Those who have been certified with the same certification or with a similar certification from the same organization/institution will be a beneficial resource.
- Ask certified professionals about the value they found in it?
Remember that the combo of the name of the certification, the name of the issuing organization/institution, and the weight it carries are game changers. Make sure to carry a certification from a legit awarding body, an established organization/institution and a reputable one, this is what makes your certificate more compelling.
In my experience, professional associations are typically a great kick start. As a professional with six certifications, I would recommend prior to obtaining any certification do your homework extensively and don’t get swayed by lofty promises as there are many different aspects to consider before jumping into a professional certification program. Think of your next certification as an investment and keep in mind that learning always pays off if you pick the right certification and the right issuing organization/institution.