5 Pillars: Certify Like a Pro

Credit: Aaron Burden via Unsplash


Achieving the #1 certification in your industry signals credibility and creates network.

  1. Consider your target roles. What is the most relevant certification?

  2. Look at your highest value Project. Is there a certification that naturally complements this project?

  3. Start small. Take a skills training and exam prep course (often as little as $15 on sale). Validate every step before making bigger time commitments.

  4. SPEAK UP. Create Visibility with Mentors and peers. Find colleagues and community online to share your journey with.

  5. Don't hide your accomplishments. Cite your certification clearly in a modern resume format, and whenever an interviewer asks about motivation and readiness.

To become Credible, Capable and Visible in your industry, getting the #1 certification is a powerful complementary tool. I remember the day I passed the key certification and gave my well-placed Mentor this Reason to Believe. I skipped back to the office and walked up to my study partner with a huge grin on my face. We had been quietly studying for weeks, and I was the first to go in.

My wife rushed to meet me in the lobby and we embraced. I had been studying evenings and weekends for months. She knew how much pressure I felt to pass this on the first try, before my final interview.

I had taken an exam meant for new hires approaching 6 months tenure, and passed it before the interview. According to the hiring manager, this would create leverage in our favor for the debrief.


The most motivated professionals are looking for every advantage they can create for turning points like hiring debriefs, promotion reviews and investor pitches. We all want to create defensible evidence that speaks for us when we aren't in the room. We are asking someone to take a risk on us, so let's create Reasons to Believe and make that task less complicated.

Below, I address 3 common arguments not to invest time and prioritize a certification. In my view, these are misconceptions. I advocate a moderate, informed and balanced approach to certifications as part of your total 5 Pillars effort.

1. I don't need certifications because I'm 'not a technical person'

Our jobs economy has changed. We exist in a skills based economy where we are competing to be Credible, Capable and Visible. Sales, Finance, Engineering, Marketing, HR are tackling old challenges with new AI-assisted methods and data-driven business insight.

Our productivity depends on speed to actionable insight, and the agility and digital dexterity to anticipate and respond to change on time.

Bottom line, companies want to hire and promote employees with current, demonstrable skills. Self-limiting titles like 'non-technical founder' are less attractive every day.

Certifications make our capabilities credible and explainable during decisions on hiring, firing, promotion and funding.

2. It's a waste of time because I'm already capable and doing the role.