Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Certification or No Certification?


This is one of the most common questions I get asked by resume writers: Should I get certified? And, if so, which certification should I go for?

In the resume writing industry, there is no requirement that you get certified, but there advantages to investing in certification. However, I know some outstanding resume writers who have never pursued certification. And, unfortunately, there are some certified writers who aren't that great. And because some certifications don't require ongoing continuing education, someone who was certified in 2004 might not have the skills of someone who was certified in 2012. 

Certification itself does not necessarily indicate quality or proficiency (although you would think that would be exactly what certification would promise!). Ultimately the decision whether to get certified or not depends entirely on your own goals and needs.

There are a lot of experienced resume writers who do not believe that it's important to get certification. After all, they have demonstrated their competency through years and years of satisfied clients. A few of the existing resume writing certifications, however, are not "teaching" oriented programs — they only measure competency; they don't teach it. Instead of pursuing certification, you might instead take resume writing courses. Don't discount what you can learn by taking a really good course when it comes to resume writing. You might learn something that turns your entire business around.

As an unregulated profession, getting certification will make you look legitimate and may help you continue resume writing if ever certification becomes a requirement. You'll be ahead of the game. (I don't see the industry ever being that regulated, however, that a certification will be required.)

While it's true that some clients will be impressed by a resume writer who took the time and invested the money to become certified, it's also true that many won't even ask. And, because of the large number of certifying bodies and credentials offered, probably 99% of clients don't know the difference between a CPRW and an ACRW. But showcasing your certification (and educating prospective clients about the process involved in certification — especially the benefit to them from working with a certified writer who is committed to continuing education and knowledge development) can be something that sets you apart from other resume writers.

Ultimately, to be successful in resume writing, you don't need a certification. What you do need is:
  • An understanding of different types of career document writing (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, bio, etc.)
  • Strong listening skills and the ability to gather information from clients effectively (whether through questionnaires, review of previous client documents, client interviews, or a combination of these).
  • Solid insight into the hiring process and how employers review resumes and assess candidates.
  • Knowledge of best pricing and billing practices (you won't stay in business long if you can't figure out how much to charge, and how to collect from clients!)
  • Understanding of tax and legal obligations, including structuring an effective contract
  • Proficiency in technology — with a focus on Microsoft Word
  • The ability to plan and implement marketing techniques to attract clients
  • A commitment to continuing education (this industry is always changing!)
What do you think about certification?


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