Speak up for your certs: What employers may not know can hurt you
Posted on
July 8, 2016
Knowing how to talk about your IT credentials is vital to success.

As the field of IT becomes more competitive, having the right certifications is becoming increasingly important. Without the right credentials, distinguishing yourself from other job candidates and demonstrating that you have the skills and experience necessary to work in IT can be difficult.

As important as it is to actually have the required certifications, however, it's equally important to be able to effectively showcase them in a way that resonates with employers. Many IT employers aren't necessarily aware of particular industry certifications. And unless you do a good job of demonstrating your credentials, they might not even be aware that you have them.

Let's take a look at some tips and best practices for effectively showcasing and explaining your IT certifications to employers for maximum impact.

Showcasing Your IT Credentials

Whether you're applying for a new position or just want to be considered for a promotion, effectively demonstrating your IT certifications is important for giving your employers an accurate sense of the knowledge, skills, and experience that you have.

Showcasing your IT credentials boils down to several key areas: being able to explain and defend the value and utility of your certifications in a way that resonates with employers, making your IT certifications visible on resumes and in interviews, and demonstrating your certs on social media and networking sites so that your credentials are both visible and accessible to the world.

Explaining and Defending Your Certifications

Given how many certifications there are, a common problem many IT professionals run into is that current or prospective employers simply do not know what a particular IT certification is or what kind of value it represents.

In these situations, it's up to you to succinctly and effectively communicate your certification and its value to your employer so that you maximize the utility of your credentials. There are few tips and tricks that you'll want to keep in mind when explaining a cert to an employer and trying to convey its value.

Appeal to authority — If the cert you're explaining was issued by a well-known association or an IT company with some clout in the industry, be sure to mention that to your employer. Even if an employer might not know what a specific cert is, he or she may be familiar with the issuing authority.

Demonstrate relevancy — Whether you're explaining a cert to a current employer or you're doing it in an interview for a new position, be sure to point out how the cert is relevant to the specific tasks of your position. The more specific you are with your examples, the more value your employer will see in the cert you're explaining.

Demonstrate competencies — Most IT certification exams test for specific skills and knowledge. Be sure to mention these skills and knowledge to your employer when you're explaining your cert. Many IT cert tests will have "exam goals and objectives" explicitly listed in the beginning portion of the test.

Know other certifications — A lot of certifications test for the same or similar skills and competencies as each other and many employers will want to know how your specific certification stacks up against other comparable IT certs.

Take some time to familiarize yourself with comparable certs to the ones you have and be prepared to explain why you chose your specific certifications and why they are preferable when compared to the other ones out there.

Show thoughtfulness — When you're explaining or defending a certification choice to an employer, try to demonstrate not just why the certification is useful, but how the certification fits in to the larger scheme of your career in IT, and how it is relevant to the direction that the industry is headed in.

Be vocal — If you are going to an interview, be proactive in telling your potential employer about your certifications and how they are relevant to the position rather than expecting your interviewer to ask about them.

If you're acquiring a new cert while working, be sure to mention it to your employer either in person or via a short email, and include some information on how it's relevant to what you are currently doing.

If your company has weekly meetings where everybody updates the team on what they're currently doing, that might be a good opportunity for you to mention any new credentials you're working on obtaining.

Presenting your Certification on Your Resume

An important part of showcasing your IT certifications for maximum impact is to have a dedicated section to display them on your résumé. Have a "certifications" section on your résumé that lists all of the relevant certifications for the job you are applying to.

Include some basic information about what skills the cert tested for, when you received the cert, when it expires, and who issued it. To maximize the visibility of your certifications, have it as the first or second section of your résumé and include only the certs that are specifically tied to the position you are applying to.

Knowing how to talk about your IT credentials is vital to success.

Presenting your Certification on Online Networking Sites

Regularly update your LinkedIn and other online networking profiles with your certifications. Most digital networking platforms have a dedicated feature for addition certificates and other credentials.

For example, LinkedIn offers a feature called "Direct-to-Profile Certifications" which automatically updates your certification log after you complete courses from a wide variety of certification providers, including Coursera, EdX, Pearson, Udacity, Udemy, and others.

Certification Makes an Impact

Having the right credentials has never been more important in IT and, as such, having the ability to showcase, explain, and defend them to prospective employers is crucial. Many employers might not know the value a specific certification represents or they might not be aware that you have a particular cert, so it's up to you make sure they are informed.

Making your credentials available and visible on your resume and online networking sites is key in letting employers know about your certifications. Being able to defend and explain the value of certifications is crucial in maximizing the impact they have on furthering your career in IT.

About the Author

Nenad Dumanovic is the founder and principal of Impressify, a PR company that specializes in delivering PR, content marketing, and business writing services for startups, entrepreneurs, and not-for-profits. He is the editor-in-chief of Konstantine News, a digital politics magazine launching in April 2016.

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