Advance your career with a professional certification
Today’s job market is tough, just ask any of my friends looking for a new role. One way of standing out amongst hundreds of applications is being certified in the field. Sounds easy, right? Well, not quite. Most professional certifications require practical experience, theoretical knowledge and passing that exam. How do you just find the time to pass your test while working full-time, looking after your loved ones, running a household and having a social life? You get organised!
Set your goal
Determine your overall goal and how this professional certification is going to help you achieve it. Are you looking at the next level within your current role? Are you taking the exam to get a job in a different field?
Study the requirements
So many times, students just start studying without even knowing what or why. Before you fall into that trap, identify what it takes to pass the test. Will it be multiple choice questions covering all topics? Can you pick and choose some areas? Do you need to write essays?
Get in the right mind set
Joseph Phillips encouraged his students: “You don’t sit an exam. You pass an exam.” You need to internalise your success and this starts by changing the language you use.
Create a realistic study plan
What is all going on in your life? Will you squeeze in time for the study preparations? Or will you make time? Do you notice the difference between the last 2 questions? It all comes down to how important this goal is.
Take a step back and determine realistically how much time you can devote every day or every week. For some, it’s easy to get up 30 minutes earlier and study a bit. Others prefer to block a few hours on a weekend and review the materials for their certification then.
Don’t push your calendar too full. Delays happen. Whether that’s being stuck in a traffic jam or being invited to a business dinner, we’ve seen it. If you fall behind, have a slot to make up for it and bring you back on track.
Say no to procrastination
Procrastination can be so evil and throw you back by hours or days. It’s so much more tempting to clean the dishes, watch another rerun on TV or check out Facebook. Block your electronic temptations through tools like Freedom and ask your loved ones for some time alone. They can set a timer and drag you away from your notes once time’s up.
Get a support and study group together. If you have study partners, they serve as your accountability partner and you track each others progress. They are a good way to test your certification knowledge and to explain concepts to each other.
Having a study group can also be very encouraging. They understand what you’re going through and the joined efforts pulls everyone up and through this preparation time.
Share your news
When you’ve obtained your professional certification, share the news with boss, colleagues and your professional network. If you’re eyeing with that promotion, you can show your boss how serious you are about your career. If you’re looking to move into a new area, this can become your stepping stone.
Keep an eye on the reward. Whether you’ll treat yourself to a relaxing massage or a weekend away with your loved ones, recognise the intense preparation time for your professional certification. Celebrate your achievement!
When I passed the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification exam on Sunday, a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The last few weeks were spent watching my online tutorial at Udemy, reading and re-reading a very dry book and carrying out plenty of activities to test my knowledge. For me, cleaning the kitchen floor became more exciting than ever before. Everything was more exciting than the actual preparation for my professional certificate. However, the idea of life without these books laying open on the dining table and being able to move on was what kept me going. You’ve no idea how much I love the dining table without any study materials now!
Share your tips on preparing and passing a professional exam. I’d love to hear what worked for you!
Until next time,