If you have been following our industry certification posts on the Careers & Internships blog over time, maybe you have read Industry Certification Explained and Certification Success Strategies. Perhaps they helped you earn your first industry certification. (If so, great job!) After all the hard work you put into getting certified, you might be ready for a break. However, the end of your certification journey is the beginning of your career journey, so do not stop yet.
Complete these six tasks to position yourself and your new credential in the workforce effectively.
1. Learn about CEUs and credential maintenance
2. Be aware of annual fees
3. Update your résumé
4. Download your digital badge
5. Enhance your email signature
6. Add to your LinkedIn profile
CEUs and Credential Maintenance
As we discussed previously there are two types of industry certifications, terminal, and evergreen. Terminal certifications are time-specific and do not require continuing education units. They focus on a software-specific skillset that includes the year of the product you certified in, like AutoDesk Certified User: AutoCAD 2019. Evergreen certifications remain valid overtime when the certified person earns CEUs. CompTIA A+ is an example of an evergreen certification.
CEU requirements vary greatly by certification provider and are typically managed in a Certification Tracking System on their website. Some CEUs may be earned free over time. CompTIA certification holders can accumulate free CEUs by attending their annual summit, ChannelCon online, and participating in CompTIA community activities throughout the year. AHIMA certified individuals are required to earn CEUs too, including an annual self-review our Medical Coders take as part of maintaining their CCA certification. In addition, various providers offer paid professional development trainings that earn CEUs.
It is so important to get familiar with your certification’s unique requirements immediately after being certified. You do not want to face losing your credential, or having to recertify. If you have multiple certifications to maintain from different providers, create a simple system for yourself to keep track of it all. Ensure you always know how many CEUs you have accumulated, and when you must submit them to your certification provider. Record your accumulated CEUs as you earn them to avoid becoming overwhelmed or forgetting some. Do not rely solely on provider reminders, instead, create a certification maintenance routine and schedule it on your calendar.
Many certification holders will also be responsible for annual fees associated with their credential. Technology certification providers EC-Council and CompTIA, assess annual fees. Failure to be aware of this can come as quite a shock to those who are certified. The good news is the annual fee you pay to maintain your credential, often has professional association benefits tied to it and costs far less than recertifying.
With each new certification you earn, it is important to update your résumé. You may even consider adding a certification section to it. Make sure to use the formal name of your certification, in addition to any commonly associated acronyms, to ensure applicant-tracking systems recognize your certification. If your certification has a unique ID number, include that too, to help a potential employer validate your credential more easily. If your latest certification were more recent than your latest education, consider listing your certification section first.
A number of certification providers are choosing to establish a secure digital badging system for their credential holders. Real-time digital badge authentication makes it more difficult for individuals to position themselves as certified when they are not. Acclaim is a provider that supports many widely known certification badges. A great place to display your digital badge is on LinkedIn, and some individuals choose to embed them into their email signature. While badges require you to download a series of files and follow specific directions to set them up properly, it is time well spent.
You may find that some badges are too large for your email signature. Resist the urge to change the scale of the badge. Most providers have strict guidelines about how you can use their credential. Therefore, it is important to learn about their requirements. For now, use the badge on other social media platforms, and read on about how to list your certification in your email signature instead.
When you have earned a credential without a badge, amassed several certifications, or your badge is too large for your email signature, it is appropriate to simply list your credential. Just as we mentioned in the Digital Badges section, certification providers are strict about how they would like you to list your certifications. You will want to visit your certification provider’s candidate guide or website to learn more about their requirements. In the meantime, here are a couple of suggestions.
It is appropriate to list your certification acronym after your last name unless you hold a graduate degree. In that case, list your certification after your degree. Once you have earned credentials that supersede prior certifications, ensure you only list your highest level of certification earned. For example, a Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) who becomes a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) would no longer display MTA, because their new certification shows an employer a higher-level of skill, and the skills of an MTA are therefore implied.
Those who have general credentials and specialty credentials from the same certification provider should list their general certification followed by their specialty. For example, Registered Health Information Technicians who are also Certified Coding Associates, would list RHIT, CCA after their last name. Commas separate all degrees and credentials.
Lastly, it is time to update your “living” résumé, your LinkedIn profile. Create a separate section on your profile that focuses only on your third party certifications. As you did when you updated your résumé, ensure you list the full name of your certification, its provider, and the commonly recognized acronym. Allow recruiters to easily find your credentials through search terms and increase the possibility of them connecting with you.
Graduates Emily Varjassy and German Hall experienced this firsthand. Emily said, “Since earning my CompTIA Security+ certification…and adding it to my LinkedIn profile, I have seen an increase in the number of recruiters who reach out to me with opportunities…” While German leveraged his credential by seeking out cybersecurity recruiters on the platform and connecting with them when he began his job search. The connections he built, helped get his résumé directly to the HR department of his (now) employer.
Leveraging your industry certification to launch your career is easier when you learn about what to do after you get certified. Tasks like keeping a file that details CEU requirements for your credentials, budgeting for your annual certification fees, and keeping your professional presence up-to-date, will make a difference to you and your career when hitting the workforce certified. To our readers who have been certified, what do you wish you had known about maintaining your certification sooner? Tell us in the comments below.