The Multiple Certification Strategy

Competition is tight in the job market. This is especially true in the market for project managers, where so many people have the PMP certification that it is not so much of a differentiator - unless you DON'T have it!

So how do you deal with this disturbing reality, and turn things to your advantage?

First, it's great to earn the PMP certification if you don't already have it. You'll learn a lot, be confident that you've achieved it, won't be eliminated from some job possibilities because you don't have it, and may even gain some opportunities because you do have it.

Second, the PMP as a differentiator may not be enough, but there are many other things you can do. Here are a few, and I'll offer some suggestions for selecting the best for your situation:

  1. You have industry expertise. This could be pharmaceutical, defense, financial, manufacturing...
  2. You have specific technical skills by education or experience. This could be an engineering or science discipline, mathematics, networking, construction...
  3. You have specific functional skills, which could include accounting, military, production management, retail management, customer service,...
  4. You have experience, and perhaps a solid position, within a market leading company like IBM, Google, Chase, Merck...
  5. You may have a specialty in certain types of projects, like R&D projects, IT projects, construction projects, development projects...

Often, however, you are in a position where you don't have some specific expertise YET, and would like to add some differentiation. In those cases, it is helpful...or should I say EMPOWERING...to be able to take some steps in the short term to make that happen!

Education has always been a great enabler, where you can take charge. However, education can tend to be long and drawn out - and expensive. And it's also usually too general, falling short of satisfying the needs that employers have right now.

Also, many people have degrees that provide a great foundation...but need specific in-demand skills. And others may not have degrees...but want to anchor their substantial experience with some sort of credentials that provide greater credibility.

The opportunity to earn a new credential is something that provides mobility...and the chance to take control of your destiny. It's a new chance to differentiate yourself from the pack, and in ways that build a core of skills that complements your natural abilities. In short, it's all up to you!

Here are some examples of some certifications that project managers can earn that would help differentiate them in the marketplace:

  1. PRINCE2 - PRINCE2 is widely recognized in certain parts of the world, especially Europe. If you have a PMP and are dealing in European markets, it could be helpful to you to earn the PRINCE2 Foundation ce5tification to complement your PMP.
  2. Agile PMI-ACP - Agile is hot and has been on the rise for a number of years. Have a combination of traditional as well as Agile skills is very beneficial and broadens and deepens your skill set.
  3. Business Analysis - Both the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the International Institute of Business Analysts (IIBA) offer Business Analysis certifications, although the latter is more focused on BA and has been at it longer. BA skills complement and enhance PM skills very nicely.
  4. ITIL - If you are in IT, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundation certification can give you a good taste of the business processes around managing IT using best practices. It's also a framework that is used widely worldwide, so it is very recognizable and portable.
  5. IT certifications - for vendors including Oracle, IBM, Microsoft,... Even when you are in project management, or intend to be at some point, building technical foundation is always helpful.

One final note. Earning any of the "business" certifications above will generally also earn you a good number of PDUs toward your PMP continuing education requirements.

So, whether you are just starting out, or are well along in your career, adding a credential can be very beneficial as part of your strategy to define and re-define yourself in the marketplace. It is a way that you can take control of your future.

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