A topic that comes up on a regular basis is the struggle of getting and finding work. This seems to be especially challenging for those getting started. A common challenge is trying to find a job without experience. That leads to the challenge of getting experience without a job. Many seem to blindly turn to certifications with the expectation that it will fully resolve this issue. This article is an attempt to provide perspective on certification as it relates to that first technical job.
First and foremost, anyone seeking work in a given field should make sure that type of work is available where they are willing and able to work. Certification or no certification, businesses hire to fill a need. If a need does not exist, no amount of certification, education, knowledge or experience will produce need. This need for skills could be down due to too many job seekers or low demand. In any case the desired openings should exist or the job search will be challenging.
Quality experience is typically an important indicator to an employer. While certification is important, it doesn't overcome the lack of experience. The job seeker must understand is what his or her greatest challenges are and which ones they can reasonably address. Those struggling to land that first technical job should as themselves some questions.
Questions Job Seekers Should Ask
- Are the types of jobs I am targeting available in my area?
- Why am I not getting interviews?
- When I interview, why am I not getting the job?
If the answers to these question is not the lack of a particular certification, why would a certification immediately land them a job? Although my point sounds logical, it seems that many are quite frustrated when they obtain a certification and work still isn't readily available. My recommendation is to understand the job marked prior to, during and even after obtaining a certification. How well individuals do this will directly correlate to their ability to position themselves to meet the market need.
Certification is primarily just that, certification. The certificate means that a candidate demonstrated to a vendor that they have sufficient skills in some predetermined categories. These certifications are only important to employers for two reasons. As I mentioned, they demonstrate a level of knowledge. Employers expect this knowledge to help them meet their internal needs or the needs of their customers. Certified individuals are also a typical partner requirement for resellers.
For some, I fear that I am writing a bleak message. For those reading this in angst, I would say that it is best to understand what they are trying to achieve by the certification they are pursuing. This pursuit is certainly a way to structure some personal education on important concepts. The knowledge gained can certainly be valuable. However, it is important not to allow introverted tendencies or other fears, uncertainties or doubts to prevent them from looking for work.
Sales people realize that rejection is part of the process. Technical Job Seekers need to do the same. With each conversation, unsuccessful interview and day of frustration, there will also be new perspectives gained on what employers are and aren't looking for. For those not getting hired, it is important to ask and understand "why". Addressing this “why” may lead to new obstacles appearing. However, this process is one of peeling back the layers and eventually becoming employable.
This is the Cisco Learning Network and certifications are a big part of what we do here. However it is very important not to make blind assumptions. Certification are certainly important and are a piece in the employment puzzle. However, candidates must realize that it is not the only piece. Realizing this and understanding the big picture will lead to a much more productive job prep and search process. Job seekers need to do what is often difficult. They need to get out, talk to people and understand the gaps that exist in their career tool belt. By filling those deficiencies, they will be better positioning themselves for the next opportunity.