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What certifications make you more employable

Veteran

Danika Wynn Seattle, WA

Looking to gain more knowledge to attain certifications.

15 November 2018 3 replies Education & Training

Answers

Advisor

John Slater Fullerton, CA

Hi Danika. Thank you for your service! Continuing education is very important and being cross functionally trained is a discriminator over being singularly focused. In my case, I have been in a variety of Supply Chain and Contracts roles and have used knowledge from one role to augment the other. I have numerous certifications internally and externally and each one adds to my skill set. They can also help with understanding where you might not be very experienced. Pursuing a certification has many benefits and I encourage you find those that are most pertinent to your desires. They are like stepping stones to get you across the creek and it certainly won't hurt. If you don't have considerably time experience in a field, certification can make up for some of that and could lead to consideration even though you don't meet the posted job req "required" years of experience. I have also found that job reqs requirements are often for an ideal candidate but not always restricting. If you have some of the skills required, more often than not they can teach you the rest. Don't be intimidated and there is nothing lost in applying. Keep it up and don't ever stop learning.

Advisor

Kasim English Richardson, TX

Hey there Danika,

Derek hits the nail on the proverbial head here when it comes to certifications. I can honestly say I was, up to and immediately after I got out years ago, in the same position you find yourself in: "what certs do I need to get paid??" When I was in, most of my colleagues put a lot of focus on getting certifications in Networking related technologies as well as general Systems Administration. That being said, the mad rush to focusing on certifications alone, and not being able to make your inherent skills stand at equal footing (if not higher) is analogous to being as wide as a lake but only as deep as a puddle. You don't want that.

Instead, as Derek already suggested, spend more time finding areas of your current time in service that directly map to civilian/private sector job skills. Some techniques I would often use when I was first looking for work after I separated:

- Review my current AFSC's job description and skills required for a foundational frame of reference. This is especially important if your looking for work that aligns closely with what you're still doing. Mind you, this will "usually" be easier if your in a career field that deals with jobs that often require certifications (CompTIA Net+, CompTIA Security+, etc.)

- Review my collected Evaluation Performance Report (EPR) "bullet points" from my most recent duty station experience(s). These cause-effect clauses are almost always aligned with the skills that Derek mentioned: leadership, problem-solving, and so on.

- Carefully read and understand what an employer you want to work for is asking for when it comes to their list of "Minimum" versus "Preferable/Desired" skills and abilities. If someone you want to work for clearly says that they "Prefer" someone with a Certified Ethical Hacker Certification, chances are they may look past your resume unless you can demonstrate that your sum experiences eclipse what a CEH cert holder can offer with only academic experience.

The take away is this: simply getting a certification isn't a "magic key" to getting a call-back for an interview, or a job. It only helps in the right context and only when it can buttress the inherent skills you already have from and before your time in service.

Advisor

Derek Nielsen Hudson, NH

Danika,

That is a very broad question. I would first ask you what field you were seeking employment in? In my professional opinion, certifications in and of themselves do not hold a whole lot of water without experience. There is theory and practical application. The two tend to diverge quite a bit regardless of the field you are in. I have experienced plenty of people through my career who focused on the academic or theoretical nature of certifications only to find out that it doesn't really work that way "in the real world" or in practical application when they get to the job. I would suggest your skillset gained during your service is more valuable than a certification as a primary focal point. Many military skills are relatable to civilian employment, I.E. leadership, problem solving skills, delivering results under pressure. All that being said, certification are definitely field dependent as to their worth to employer.

Regards,
Derek

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