5 Top Certification Mistakes To Avoid

Jan 16


Jide Awe

Jide Awe

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In the Information Technology (IT) industry,5 Top Certification Mistakes To Avoid Articles certification has become a globally recognized tool for professional development. Globally there is a huge need for qualified IT specialists. This has resulted in a mad or is it gold rush into certification. Certification is now a buzzword in IT. Unfortunately, many who go through the certification process get their fingers burnt. Even though certification has been a powerful advancement tool for some time, it has not been smooth sailing in all cases. There are many fallacies running riot within the industry regarding the requirements to get into and be successful in the I.T. industry. Let us attempt to look at the most common certification mistakes with a view to getting certification candidates to avoid them.

We will look at why it is possible to spend money, time and effort and still not get the desired results. We will not be able to cover every single certification blunder, but let's look at the 5 most common howlers.

1. Choosing a certification because it is hot
This is a common problem I encounter with most certification candidates. They have no idea of what the certification involves but they love it because it is hot. Should you be picking a certification that does not match what you want to do or be? Do you know what you want to do or be? Don't just go for an MCSE and assume you'll make it. Going for certification for the wrong reasons is both wasteful and unreasonable.

Are you new in IT? Your first step towards a successful career should be researching the different options available. Learn about these options. Yes, you may love computers, but what aspect? What is your background? Skill base? Personality? All of these factors can tell you not only if you're really cut out for IT, but what type of IT field might be best for you. For those already in IT, are you choosing a certification because your job requires this specific certification or is it a crucial step in the direction of your long-term career goals? Otherwise, it may not be worth your time and resources. MCSEs, for instance, look after Microsoft servers and networks. But if programming is your passion, go for a developer's certification such as MCSD or Java.

Whether you're new to IT or already in IT, certification should not be seen just as a meal ticket. It should be part of an individual's career development strategy. Don't rush into it because it is the vogue in town. Depending on what stage you're at and your career interests, your need for certification and type of certification vary from individual to individual. Certification is only for you if you have identified your career goals and you see it as a tool for getting you from where you are to where you should be. The worst thing you can do is to choose a certification without thinking about your long-term career path.

2. Underestimating the real cost of certification.
How much does it cost to get certified? Too often we underestimate the costs involved. Most people believe it is just a matter of the funds required for training, books, training CDs, manuals and the certification exams. A good certification is built on the realization that money is not the only resource you need to get happily certified. I know quite a few people who register for courses but who keep on dropping out due to one commitment or the other. You've paid for the training and you've bought the books, but how committed are you?

Do you have the drive and zeal that requires reading, attending training sessions, and practicing? Do you love studying? How will you handle your other commitments, social, work or family? When it comes down to the crunch, can you make the effort? Sometimes, it even requires extra effort. Most especially if you already have a tight schedule. Are you capable or ready to read and master (not cram) your certification objectives? Now and then with certification, the going gets tougher. It is a shame that many spend so much to acquire certification resources, but they never really get off the mark when it comes to effort.

Candidates who are successful in certification ALL possess the drive and motivation to succeed and advance their careers. Success with certification costs more than just training, certification tools and materials; without effort you're going nowhere.

3. Going to sleep after getting certified
Many certification candidates believe that once they are certified they no longer have to work to increase their skills (value). It will be a big mistake for any professional to simply bask in the euphoria of getting certified and forget about continuing requirements. Once you achieve the certification you must set new goals. As stated earlier certification is not an end in itself. It is a career development driver. At each stage in your career you have to ask yourself: Where am I? Where do I want to be? How do I get there? If you stand still, your technical skills will stagnate.

To stay ahead, you have to keep on learning. If you don't continuously develop your self the value of your certification falls. How can you hate continuous self-development and hope to succeed in the IT industry? It's no wonder that re-certification requirements are becoming more common. Going to sleep after getting certified means you wasted your time and money. Don't become a dinosaur. Look here for More on lifelong learning:

4. Failing to prepare equals preparing to fail
Poor preparation is a major killer of certification aspirations. It is not enough to choose a training center. Many fail because they choose the wrong training center. How did you marry your training with your exams? Do you need or did you take any time for revision after training? Did you go for the test without knowing the exam simply because you're an expert on the field? What are your study habits like? Are you a smart guy that doesn't need to study? Or are you the cramming expert? If you prepare for certification based on cramming, you fool no one but yourself.

And you have to be truthful to yourself; do you have the work experience needed for that certification? Too often candidates don't prepare well due to overconfidence, ignorance of preparation options and poor personal organization. How can you succeed if your arrangements are too little, badly organized, and too late? Look here for More on certification preparation options:

5. Unrealistic expectations
Going into certification for the wrong reasons breeds unrealistic expectations which eventually leads to frustration and dissatisfaction. Here are some of the expectations: "A certification is required to get a job in the I.T. industry. Certifications are my ticket to success. Get certified and get your dream job! Certification rules the IT industry. Certification is a goldmine. A guarantee of career success." But is certification really your gold card to IT career success? Failure to understand what certification is all about leads to unrealistic expectations

Let's smash these myths to smithereens once and for all. Certification is no guarantee of career success! Period! In most cases, it takes experience, dedication and a lot of hard work to ensure IT career success. There are no free giveaways in life.

It's not certification, but job effectiveness and planning that count most. You must consider these two factors in making any certification decision. Employers aren't just paying for a piece of paper--they want job effectiveness. You must not only be able to do the job assigned; you must do it meeting high standards, within budget and on time. Certification tests product knowledge, logical thinking, and problem-solving approaches. But clients and employers demand the combination of experience, knowledge and skills. Certification can't give you experience.

The real world is more complex than the world of certification. Quite often you have to get your hands dirty to gain important knowledge that is not tested in any exam.
Furthermore certification focuses to a large extent on technical skills. You cannot succeed in IT with tech skills alone. Do you know how to deal with customers? "More often the industry is looking for those who have experience, skills, and a solid ethics attitude first, before education". To succeed in IT you need people skills, resourcefulness, knowledge, experience and a corporate focus.

So, if you are considering going in for a certification program, make sure you understand what you are signing up for, and your likely future once you complete the program. Get informed from career counselors, past candidates, IT managers and from industry, to have a more realistic view of the value of the certification programs as well as its likely future prospects, and how it fits into your career strategy. Look here for More on the realistic approach to certification:

Mistakes are not the end of the world
So have you made mistakes? Who hasn't, you ask? First face the facts. You don't help yourself by living in denial. It can be painful when we make mistakes. But at the same time don't let mistakes shut you down. Continue with your high energy, positive outlook. What is important is how we respond. The solution is not to worry or moan. Self-pity is wasteful and pointless. You have the ability to turn your minus into a plus. Try to look at the process as a learning experience. Learn from mistakes, get over them and put them to positive use.

Have you invested, or are you about to invest, in certification? The success of your certification choices depends on a sensible combination of career focus, planning, resourcefulness and hard work.

Avoiding certification mistakes is about being wise in your decision-making. You need more sense than skills to create your amazing future.

All the best in your IT Career!