August 4, 2010

Credentials, Please

Credentials, Please

Credentials?  Qualifications?  Well, what sort of professional development have you done lately?  In today’s uber-competitive, ever specialized workplace having an additional set of skills is absolutely critical for career advancement.  Whether it’s LLM, PMP, CCIE or MBA, the acronyms can be dizzying but from my vantage point it takes certified, specialized knowledge and training to really pass muster these days.

It first requires having a career path in mind.  Some have known all their lives what they want to do while others meander, swerve, skid a little, and then land into something they never saw coming. I have often considered earning advanced degrees or specialized continuing education beyond my B.A., but often struggle with what I want to study and that which I need to study to get ahead in my field.  It comes down to answering two questions: what is important to me and how do I get it?  A good friend once told me as we discussed the idea of going back to school for an MBA, he said “more education is always a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but where are you trying to go and do you need an MBA to get there?” Good question.  Do I really need the MBA to get ahead, or do I simply think having one will help map out my career?  Sometimes you need the extra education/qualification.  If I plan to hire an attorney to help with estate planning, I’m going to make sure they have the appropriate Tax Law credentials to ensure they are experts in that field. 

Once you’re on your path, take a closer look.  If my aspiration is to be a PV system designer, is it good enough to just know AutoCAD?  Maybe it is, if I can tolerate knocking on enough doors of prospective employers until reaching the one place that is willing to give me a shot.  I would rather skip to the front of the line with my resume and list of backing qualifiers that exalt my (certified) ability to get the job done.  Make no mistake, simply having a few extra letters after your name in no way entitles you to or guarantees you will do a good job or even get the job. But the alphabet soup will show your commitment and dedication to not only your own personal development but also to your employer.  This will help get the conversation [interview] started.

Sounds great, how do I get it?  This is the tricky part, getting extra education when balancing work, kids, school, social life, family, etc feels like balancing a dozen spinning plates in the air on broom handles.  For some certifications you may only need devote a weekend, for others part of a lifetime.  Only you can decide commitment level and what to gain, but it starts with networking – staying connected with your industry.  From online forums to multi-day seminars, stay in touch with what your industry offers.  Not all certifications (in a particular field) are created equal.  Research the most popular ones and what they offer in terms of becoming the expert.  Talk with a recruiter or professional development coach and find out what employers want to see in a related field.  It may help minimize the meandering and set you on your course sooner than expected.

For more information on professional certifications desired within the green energy and cleantech industry, or to identify and bring onboard the right talent, call Austin at Redfish Technology. 

Austin Bristow is entering his fifth year in green recruiting, and is the Manager of the CleanTech division at Redfish Technology.

 

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