In today’s increasingly competitive market, candidates, regardless of their experience and qualifications need a competitive edge over their peers. Professional certifications do just that for them. Rightly so, because hiring a candidate who does not have the right set of skills and knowledge affects him/her as well as the employer. This is not to say that certifications are the ultimate path to your career goals; you, of course, need to meet all the prerequisites mandated by your recruiters. Certifications are the best way to tell your employers that you belong to the category of niche professionals who can make a difference.
If you are already working in a team with people having varied skills, IT certifications are also one way to stand out. Not only will they help you enhance your skills and knowledge but will provide you the competitive advantage over your team members. Trending and up-to-date certifications will speak for your commitment and make you a valuable asset to your organization.
Speaking of certifications, Robert Blanchard, Director of Support Services, Aspen Skiing Services Co. said-
“The person with the certification is the one that is going to get hired.”
Why is to so necessary to get certified?
IT professionals are not new to being told that certifications are the gateway to countless career possibilities. But most of them have a tough time figuring out the smart and best means to make these certifications align with their goals.
First and foremost, it is necessary to understand why it has become so crucial to integrate your career with certifications.
Generally speaking, IT professionals usually consider certifications as the surefire ways to-
- Boost their earning potential
- Seek more opportunities in the job market
- Shift their career to the next best level
A latest article published by Forbes Magazine says that IT professionals with certifications are earning an average of $17,000 more per year than the median IT certification salary. From an employee perspective, certifications let you demonstrate additional qualifications on your resume in addition to getting hired faster.
Many of these certifications even come with digital badges, which according to your potential employers are the quickest means to verify the stated qualifications immediately. This is further supported by one recent statistics which says that in the UK’s office, for the last 3 years, 14% of 13,800 employees were not holding the qualifications which they claimed. To minimize the possibility of such incidents, more number of companies are preferring digital badges to verify certifications.
It is also worth mentioning that certifications are not just useful for the professionals seeking better opportunities, they are equally beneficial for the existing employees of a company who want to prove their skills to their employers.
Why do your employers handpick certified professionals?
The IT environment has matured, and so has the mindset of the employers. Today they just don’t look out for employees who are skilled and knowledgeable. They prefer a validation of your skill sets. More correctly, relevant certifications. This helps them ascertain the best fit who will help the organization keep pace with the fast-evolving industry.
In fact, more than on-the-job experience and quality of experience, recruiters of present times are on a lookout for certifications, especially the ones that are tailored to their ongoing project requirements.
In this section, we shall discuss various reasons as to why certified individuals are the prospective recruits in today’s market.
Certification and credential holders are the first ones to get noticed when it comes to hiring new employees. Given the intrinsically valuable nature of such industry-tailored certifications, the employers can be assured of the expertise levels of those employees.
A few salient features of the top certification programs will explain why employers like them so much-
- Clearly defined program goals and standards
- Customized curriculum with progressive levels
- Expected skill sets and knowledge upon completion
- Proper assessment criteria
- Hands-on projects (for certain programs)
That fairly explains why certifications enhance the credibility of new employees.
More often than not, companies have found critical skill gaps in their existing teams, that are mostly the barriers to progress. To address these gaps and uplift the team(s) as a whole, the employers recommend taking up professional certification programs.
Certifications can also be a saviour for the existing employees if any of the following situations arise-
- Departments are getting reorganized
- New projects are being assigned to existing staffs
- Cross-functional teams are working together
- Company is merging with other organizations, creating new responsibilities
In such cases, the top management often finds it difficult to hire new people with the required skills and let them upskill the teams. The prescribed approach, which is all the more realistic, is to have in-house experts who are already certified in the latest technologies.
Top certifications your employers are looking for
Before you decide to take up any certification, be sure of the value it holds in your career as well as the current market. An ideal example to cite would be that of ITIL®, which started picking up momentum post 2012. If statistics are to be believed, there are nearly 1.37 million ITIL® certifications out there. Way too many IT professionals have benefited from this certification. It has helped them understand the fundamental concepts of IT Service Management and service lifecycle to improve business decisions. Implementing the ITIL® best practices have been found to help these professionals streamline their processes for continuous improvement.
Two other top-rated certifications are Agile and Scrum, and PMP®. Agile and Scrum training and certification program is extremely useful for teams which have adopted the Scrum framework to simplify processes and work in a collaborative environment. The Agile methodology is provenly a major upgrade from the traditional waterfall method and transforming software development projects worldwide.
The Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification, on the other hand, is deemed the most distinguished qualification for the project managers working with several teams. It facilitates on-time and on-budget project delivery, mitigating risk factors and saving costs.
Will certifications secure your career?
It is safe to say they will. But certifications alone cannot guarantee your future in the IT industry. Even your employers will not solely rely on certifications to gauge your calibre. Additional skillsets such as soft skills, technical skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills are also the mandates to establish a firm foothold in the corporate world. It is also important to note that the certifications you opt for should be up-to-date and on par with the latest trends in the industry. Because in the end, your employers would handpick only the ones with relevant certifications and experience. After all, certified professionals are the catalysts for a major transformation in organizations.