Over the past few years, the U.S. workforce has experienced unprecedented changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this shift, there are signs that things may be getting back to normal, as more individuals are getting back to work and competition for jobs is growing. In February, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the number of people not in the labor force, but who currently want a job, stood at 5.4 million.

Standing out in a sea of resumes in today’s environment can be tough. However, one way to shine is by obtaining a certification. Certifications demonstrate to the hiring manager that a candidate has applicable skills and that they are committed to learning and growing in their career.

Proof of Skills

For a hiring manager, a certification is a third-party validation that an individual has the relevant skills for the position. Beyond proving a candidate has the abilities to complete the day-to-day job tasks, certifications can also highlight sought-after soft skills that employers seek, often referred to as “21st century skills”  (i.e., collaboration, digital literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving). These skills are becoming increasingly important for the modern-day workplace. In fact, the one report suggests that the skills that will become most critical in the next five to 10 years will almost exclusively be those classified as “21st century skills.”

Continuously gaining new skills is essential for today’s workers and is something that can be demonstrated by obtaining a certification. In a LinkedIn survey of learning and development (L&D) professionals, when asked about their most important areas of focus in 2021, 59% of respondents said that upskilling and reskilling topped the list — a 15% increase from the previous year. Learning new skills enhances professional opportunities, increases marketability, and boosts adaptability – all of which give a candidate a competitive edge in the job market.

Industry-recognized Certifications

Beyond a two- or four-year traditional college degree, a certification is tangible proof of real skills and knowledge learned. Stackable certifications give proof of multiple skills and can add to one’s employability and credibility.

There are many certifications available on the market, but not all are verified by industry experts. The top certification companies work closely with employers to ensure that the certifications reflect the needed skills. Working with industry experts and educators, certification developers create exams with real-world scenarios that measure the skill sets employers are looking for. These industry-recognized certifications are the best choice for those looking to improve their skill set and resume.

In seeking out in-demand careers, job hunters can use industry-recognized certifications to validate their capabilities and commitment to ongoing skills acquisition.

Which Certification Is Right For You?

Determining which credential is right for you can seem like a daunting task. There are many factors to consider, such as your field, your career goals and the job requirements of your chosen profession. However, with a little research, you can find the credential that will best help you achieve your goals.

One way to start your research is to talk to professionals in your field of interest. Ask them about their credentials and what they believe is necessary for success in their field. You can also take an aptitude assessment to determine where your natural abilities lie. This can help point you in the right direction on what career field to get into, whether you’re starting fresh or switching careers. With careful planning and a little effort, you can find the certification that’s right for you and your career goals.

Certifications are one way to set you apart from the competition in the job market and show that you’re serious about your career. They demonstrate that you have the skills required for the job and that you’re willing to go above and beyond to develop professionally.