As a holder of many esteemed professional certifications, I often get on my soapbox about the importance of certifications and the need to “get certified” when asked for career advice.
I must confess that I did my fair share of complaining before I understood the value of certifications. After having spent several rewarding years in IT, I would like to pay my dues. I have firsthand heard the excuses people tell themselves for avoiding certifications. I have heard them all, too, and here I share some of them.
Most common excuses people make to avoid certifications.
I already know everything I need. What could I possibly learn?
It would be a waste of my time and energy.
I am buried in deadlines! (got work to do)
It’s just a piece of paper. Why does it even matter?
Investing in exams, certification, and training may seem like a stretch if expanding knowledge is a hobby and not something you are doing for career advancement. You could just read books, self-learn, or mentor with someone you know. However, when career is on the line, people pine for standard certifications that others will recognize. As then they don’t have the luxury of limitless time to become ready for growth opportunities. Worse yet, if the medium they pick fails to impart the skills and knowledge required for a job. Metaphorically speaking, you would be asked to leave before you are even allowed in the building. Below, I address each of the reservations about certification.
You must be the smartest person around to give out such a bold statement. No matter who I have interacted with – subject matter experts, training instructors, or renowned coaches – all have one thing to say – learning doesn’t stop when you cross college. In fact, it’s the starting point for a long practical session we call a career. It requires continuous learning, unlearning, and relearning. That’s how the top of the line professionals stay where they are.
Conventional playbooks offer linear pathways to career development. While now it isn’t unusual or injudicious to expect a marketing professional to possess knowledge of algorithms. If you wish to remain relevant, you must stay current and keep diversifying. Certifications are time-limited credentials, which reflect up-to-date knowledge. In addition, a certified status would give you greater confidence in being a subject expert you believe you are.
For people who are satisfied with the training and attending classes only, but never step up to get their learnings validated, they fall into one of these categories:
They think exams are either complicated or pointless
They have no time to sit for exams
They are ignorant about certification exams to prove competency
They have a fear of failing
Their company sends them for educational purposes only, and wouldn’t invest in a certification exam for the fear of losing employees
There are all kinds of learning resources and trainers. Some have high potential, others not so much. How, then, do you test your learning? More importantly, how does your employer test your skills?
Certifications act as a benchmark for measuring employees. They aren’t a waste of your time and energy. During this pandemic, many spent their free time learning about new domains and getting certified.
Testing reinforces learning. And successful completion of certification by passing the exam gives confidence to the employers of the skills candidate vouch for and leads to faster troubleshooting abilities giving you a leg up for promotion and raise.
Hundreds of people like you spend the better half of their work lives chasing deadlines. They make the mistake of not taking their career growth into their hands, and it is one of the biggest causes of job dissatisfaction.
This lament screams – “I am so busy in other works that I have no time to focus on my development!” To them I always say,
We make time for things that are important. If you are feeling a bit stale, achieving a certification could be just the thing you need to get your juices flowing. Especially so when the fast pace of technology is making things and people obsolete.
I have learned from every training program I joined and certification I enrolled for. From kickstarting a project in full form to dealing with complicated situations at work, they have helped me perform optimally and reduced my time of on-the-job training. So much so that I have had the privilege of being trusted by my employers and my team, like you would trust a licensed pilot jetting you to a different place.
You may think so, but employers don’t. A survey by HR.com showed that 100 percent of talent managers say that industry certifications are preferred during hiring – both for the new hires as well as internal placements. Certifications give off a “not your average candidate” vibe.
It is true that “endorsements” on social media or by word-of-mouth tries to achieve the same purpose, but in routine, they are losing credibility as people hand out compliments for skills they aren’t sure the other possesses, due to personal connection or in the hopes of receiving reciprocal recommendations.
Sure, your repo at the workplace helps in promotions and raise, but when it comes to winning over new business plans or jumping ships to a new job, certifications act as a conclusive badge of expertise.
These exams are developed by subject-matter experts who follow strict benchmarks as per the latest industry standards. Thus, a lot of work goes into successfully passing the exam.
This piece of paper can be your ticket to your dream job and lead you down to the path of lifelong learning – something increasingly been emphasized by employers as a skill.
For someone with several years of experience, certifications hold strong credibility. You don’t have to take my word for it. Ask someone who holds an industry-recognized professional certification.
I don’t see any sector with rose-tinted glasses. I see it as a tough and competitive ground where people who work hard and differentiate themselves thrive. A designation conferred upon getting certified says – I know what I am talking about. And I passed the thorniest exam to prove it.
To your surprise, even after 10+ years of working in a field, you will find that you have much to brush up on during your certification process. University education is designed as a slipway. Timely tests are good – for our long-term personal growth and building employer trust.
Be at the top of your game with continued education and learning. It will help you get to the top and stay there.