At a PMI Chicagoland meeting I recently attended, I met a person who was asking which certifications she should get to make her more marketable in today’s economy. I believe you should decide what you want to be when you “grow up” and then determine what are the “keys” to what you really want to be doing.
Many (Almost Too Many) IT Certification Choices
There are so many certifications, it is hard to know which ones are important. Project Management Professional (PMP®); Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® ; Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)® ; Program Management Professional (PgMP)® ; Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® ; Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL®); Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE®); Cisco Certified Network Engineer (CCNE®) With so many to choose from, which one is right for me and how many do I need? The Project Management Institute web site, PMI.org states, “You need to choose the credential that best fits your knowledge and experience, as well as your future career plans.” I maintain these certifications are all keys and you need to decide which door(s) you would like to open.
Do Some Soul Searching
”Focus” is a driving force to lead you where you want to go. One of the tricks I learned is that if you want something, paste pictures of it everywhere you are going to be so that your mind will focus in on it. It will help you to achieve your goal. If you want to take a trip to Italy would you prepare by learning Spanish? Your choices might not seem this simple, but if you stop to think and focus on your career goals you will see the key to your success.
Be Wary of Distractions
When you make a map of where you want to go, You may encounter a few detours. One team I worked on called these distractions “shiny things” – things that are distracters and take you off track. Sometimes detours are good, as you learn new things, it will make you a more interesting person; it may become your new path. Just make sure you set up guidelines; how long will you allow yourself to stray.
I live in Chicago area, and it always amazes me when someone comes to visit and we go downtown. The awe they find helps me see new things as I watch them experience the city. There are things to do here that I may never have had an interest in doing. When taking visitors around and experiencing the city in their eyes I have a learning experience. That doesn’t mean I need to sign up for a class and get a certified in everything that interests me or them. It does make me a more informed, more interesting person.
It is good to be diversified, but don’t get too far off the track and don’t make yourself highly skilled and marketable in a field in which you really have no interest. Because if you advertise that you have these certifications, and highlight them in your job search, that is the job you will be offered.
A Critical Choice
Let’s say that you hate working on computers, but you find out that the market is looking for IT professionals who are ITIL certified. If you take the class, to be more marketable, you will end up being qualified to work on computers. Which is what you don’t like doing! The better approach is to decide what it is you want to be doing and then find out if there are any certifications that would qualify you for that position. If you want to be managing ITIL technicians, maybe you do need your ITIL certificate, but would a Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification be a wiser choice? Even if you take the ITIL class to broaden your knowledge do you want to highlight the certification on your resume? Your resume needs to articulate who you are and what you want to do. It does no good to use key words and sell yourself as one thing and then hope to get an interview/job offer to do something completely different. Talk about sending a mixed message.
Consider the Investment
It is never hard to make a payment if you have invested in something you want. Arm yourself with training and certifications that prepare you for what you want to do. A certification does not give you the experience to do the job. It is a key to help you unlock the door to your career. Training can be costly and take a lot of time and energy. It is wiser to spend the time and money on something you enjoy doing or learning about rather than a job requirement for something you have no plan of ever doing.
So, what’s your plan?
As PMI’s website so aptly says on their web page, “You need to choose the credential that best fits your knowledge and experience, as well as your future career plans.” These are the certifications you should identify and go out and get. Then list them on your resume, post them on your walls and live them to the best of your ability. Focus, confidence, knowledge and passion. Build your hopes and dreams on these and you will be successful – but you need to write your own definition and ultimately your own story. The final destination is yours, these are just a few keys to assist you in your endeavors along the way. Choose wisely.
- Gaining a Competitive Edge with IT Certifications
- IT Career Spotlight – Jim Tomczyk
- IT Career Spotlight – Bernadette Floyd
- Set Goals for the New Year