CAREER RESCUE Could a certification help my career?
Q: I have been working for several years and have a good work history. Recently, I was passed over for a promotion and found out the person who was offered the job had a certification. I attended school but never graduated with a degree and am wondering if a certification would have helped me. What are your recommendations about certifications, are they worth the time and effort?
A: Having a good work history is important, but in today’s marketplace, it doesn’t guarantee a promotion. There could be numerous reasons why the job went to another candidate and while it might not feel good, you grew from the experience.
Outside of certifications, building good working relationships and keeping up with the trends in your field of interest help you broaden your knowledge. You can strengthen your skills without a certification and in some careers, a certification may not be worth the time and financial costs.
In some industries, solid experience might be more significant than a certification because you have build a reputation in your field.
Not all certifications are created equally, and before signing up for the coursework, make sure it’s something you are interested in obtaining. Go after a certification for the right reason, not just because you think it might look good on your resume.
Technical careers often seek certifications in specific software or coding skills that are requirements for the job, whereas in other fields, a certification would not make the same impact during the hiring process.
Certifications are beneficial in career fields where they are recognized as credible steps toward your profession. For example, a certification in project management, PMP (project management professional) can increase your compensation from 20-22 percent, depending on your industry. Making the time for acquiring a PMP can be well worth your efforts.
A certification also validates your competency in a specific area; most require coursework and passing an exam. During an interview, a certification could influence a hiring decision-maker when you are competing for the same job and resemble a seal of approval from a national board of standards.
When your work experience is combined with a certification that meets shared industry criteria, it shows you are making an investment in your career and are serious about your profession.
One of the best ways to determine if a certification would be helpful is to conduct informational interviews with those in your career field. Study backgrounds of those who have been successful and how certifications supported their growth. LinkedIn groups are often good ways to confirm the value of specific certifications.
Kimberly Thompson is a board-certified counselor. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or Houston Chronicle, P.O. Box 4260, Houston, TX 77210. Visit her blog at www.blogs.chron.com/careerrescue.