Engineering

How Many Certifications Do You Really Need?

Posted on January 13, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Cyber Security, Engineering, Executive Job Search, Healthcare IT, International Job Seekers, IT networking, Job Market Trends, Product Development, Programming, Project management, Software Development, Technical Sales, Technology, Women in IT, Work Issues |

certificationsJob-changers and entry-level job-seekers alike all seem to have the same question: Should I spruce up my resume with extra certifications? And if so, how many do I need to get the job of my dreams?

The answer? It depends.

Of course, showing off your skills and education is a good thing — but so is real-world work experience. It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of certification-collecting rather than working towards the skills that will actually move your professional life where you want it to go. And because you don’t have infinite time, you need to prioritize the ways you develop professionally.

(You also want to be careful that you haven’t fallen into the Career Credential Addiction that seems to be pervasive these days.)

So, before you start raking in certification after certification, follow these three steps: take a reality check, do your research, and strategize.

Reality Check

What certifications do you actually need for your job? Don’t get waylaid by job ads that ask for lots of certs — oftentimes, they are in the “nice to have” category and not the “need to have.” Always consult your hiring manager before jumping right into a new cert just to apply to a few jobs. Be aware that lower-level certs are usually worth less to employers than high-level ones, so don’t accumulate the basics just to have a few letters after your name.

Remember: Unless you are in a profession that legally mandates certification before you can practice your craft, there’s often some wiggle room in getting hired for jobs that ask for them.

Research

Here’s a tip that will save you time, money, and headaches: Research the people who have the job that you want on LinkedIn. What certifications do they have? Don’t stop at just one or two  — look for multiple people across the country who have the job title you seek, and keep a record of what certifications they have to their name. But don’t stop your research there. Scan as many job ads and company websites as you can to see where the common ground is. Chances are, if you see the same certs popping up over and over again, they are worth your time.

Strategize

Once you have the lay of the land, it’s time to come up with a plan. Will your current employer pay for certifications? Find out. Do you need to join a professional organization before you can get the cert you need? Ask. Boil down your plan to just the essentials, and ask yourself if it’s worth it. Never forget that relevant work experience is almost always considered more valuable than certifications, so factor that into your plan. Can you take on a new project at work, or volunteer your skills to an organization in need? Be creative in your approach.

Remember, it’s the quality of certifications — not the quantity — that matters in your job search. There’s no magic number. Certifications are shorthand for knowledge, but they aren’t the only way to prove your skills to potential employers.

Get comfortable communicating about what you do, and use your certifications as evidence to back-up your claims — not the other way around.

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The Real Skinny on Prepping for the 2015 Job Market

Posted on January 8, 2015. Filed under: Career Management, Consulting/Contracting, Cyber Security, Engineering, Executive Job Search, Healthcare IT, International Job Seekers, Interviews, IT networking, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, LinkedIn, Manufacturing, Personal Branding, Product Development, Programming, Project management, Recruiting, Software Development, Technical Sales |

2015 job marketGreat news: Bloomberg reports that after November’s remarkable hiring surge, the job market is expected to grow in 2015. If you’ve been stuck in a non-ideal or part-time job and are looking to make a strategic career move, now is the best time to do it. The way we hire and work is changing now more than ever, and there are many exciting opportunities for IT and other technical professionals. But what do you do if you haven’t been on the job hunt in a while and don’t know the new rules of interviewing and hiring?

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back!

  1. Expect a different hiring process

More and more companies are realizing that how they hire reflects well (or poorly) upon their brand. Today’s recruiters and hiring managers are aiming to make the process more human and relatable. Use this friendlier recruitment process to showcase your soft skills, but always keep it professional.

  1. Build a portfolio

Whether or not you have something physical to show for the work you’ve done, hiring managers will want to see examples of your work before you get the interview. Write case studies for projects you’ve worked on to broadcast your skills and back up your claims of success.

  1. Go beyond LinkedIn

If you haven’t spruced up your LinkedIn lately, now’s the time — but don’t stop there! Develop a social media presence that shows off your skills and interest in your profession.

  1. Ask the right questions

A report from LinkedIn says that many qualified job candidates don’t get hired because the interviewers don’t know the best questions to ask them. Learn the “forced-choice question” method — asking what the main objectives for the job are, and then using examples to show how you can achieve them — to help improve your odds.

  1. Anticipate a 3-5 year tenure

Perhaps the biggest change of all, many companies now realize that job seekers will only stay at the company for a handful of years. Know this when going into the interview, and stress what a difference you can make in a short time frame. Be sure to think of this job as the stepping stone to what’s next, not the position you’ll be in for the next several decades.

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Results of Corporate Entrepreneur Poll

Posted on December 9, 2014. Filed under: Big Data, Career Management, CIO, Consulting/Contracting, Cyber Security, Engineering, Executive Job Search, Healthcare IT, International Job Seekers, IT networking, Job Market Trends, Job Promotion, Job Search Tips, Manufacturing, Personal Branding, Product Development, Programming, Project management, Software Development, STEM, Technical Sales, Women in IT |

Last week I put out a call for responses to a poll asking our audience what the phrase “corporate entrepreneur” meant to them. This topic of corporate entrepreneurship will encompass my contribution to my upcoming book Uncommon with Brian Tracy (Spring 2015), and I wanted to get a sense of what professionals out there thought when they heard the phrase.

The largest response at 23% was that a corporate entrepreneur was “a strategist”. A three-way tie for second at 15% each included:

  • Someone who’s business savvy but probably more suited for self-employment.
  • Someone who sees what’s coming in the corporate realm and prepares for it.
  • A professional who knows how to apply certain elements of self-employment within the corporate structure.

If you’d like to participate in the poll, please feel free to do so. I’ve included it below and will keep it open a couple more weeks.

At that time, I will post the results and give an excerpt from the book discussing this issue. As a technical career strategist following the world of work closely, I am convinced that corporate entrepreneurship is going to be a “must” (yes, a must) for anyone looking to maintain their careers, particularly as we move through the next decade.

The shifting of corporate culture, the convoluted hiring practices, the mixed-generational workforce, and most importantly, the global market outlook are all bringing together a perfect storm that will forever change what it means to be in corporate. What we’ve seen so far is just the beginning.

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