In the ever changing field of technology, continual skill development is essential for all IT professionals. What can you do to get a promotion, build your resume, or show a company you have what it takes to help them be a success?
New certifications are being created all the time, so how do you know if they matter and which ones are important to you? It depends on what role you’re in, and quite honestly, what a company is looking for. While experience and education are significant areas to highlight when applying for jobs, for some of our clients who are deciding between two strong applicants, a certification can be a tie-breaker. Although certifications are only a piece of the puzzle and are not necessary for all IT professionals, they may help you hone your skills and stand out from the pack. Below are 4 things certifications can do for you:
1. They Show How You Measure Up
Whether you’re new to the IT field or you’ve been around since computers occupied an entire room, ability and experience are not always equal. Finding qualified IT professionals, from project managers to web developers, with the right knowledge and expertise is proving to be difficult for many employers. Certifications like PMP or MCSE will give tangible evidence of your abilities to show you have what it takes to be a great hire. What’s more compelling within the skills and certifications listed on your resume: simply acknowledging proficiency in Java programming or listing yourself as a Java SE Certified Programmer?
2. They Validate the Self Taught
With the ever increasing cost of education, more talented, young professionals may begin to explore certification over a traditional four year degree. A certification can also help validate someone with a four year degree in something other than computer science or someone making a career shift. Certifications can fill in the gaps of your IT knowledge whether you’ve taken a traditional route in education, completed a two-year degree program, or are self-taught. MCSE, PMP, CSM, CSTE, CBAP and other certifications offer a concentrated focus and can be more valuable to you in IT positions, especially in certain specialties. Validate your experience and improve your skills through certifications in the technology focus areas that fit with your skills and career goals.
3. They Identify You As A Life-Long Learner
Information Technology is constantly changing, evolving, and innovating, so past experience and skills can become outdated faster in IT than in other fields. Certification often requires that you learn relevant material for your industry on an annual or semiannual basis. A CCP-M certification offers an exam every three years to maintain the certification while PMP certification requires attendance to several seminars throughout the year encouraging you to continue learning and growing in your field. By being willing to invest time and money into certifications, you show employers that you take your career seriously and have the passion and enthusiasm necessary for success in your industry.
4. They Help You Get Found
If you have certifications, be sure to include the acronyms on your resume or LinkedIn profile; recruiters, hiring managers, and applicant tracking systems will search for these first if they are listed as required, or even preferred on a job description. If you don’t list them, they might not find you and identify you as a strong candidate for the role.
As with everything when you’re searching for a new consultant role or full time job, don’t fall prey to shortcuts and rely solely on your certifications. They are not the end-all in differentiating yourself in your job search. The relevancy of your certification to the position you're applying and having realistic expectations for pay and benefits are vital to standing out in your search. If you have certifications, or are considering getting one, it’s important to know how to leverage them, but don’t forget about tried and trueresume and interviewing techniques and the value of continuing to improve your skills, whether certified or not. Check out these hot IT certifications for 2015 divided by IT practice area and these 16 Hot Non-Certified IT Skills as you set your mind on advancing your career in 2015.