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Coming Out of High School with Street Cred

Technologists are very much like doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects and other professionals. You provide expert services in return for appropriate fees. Unlike those other professionals, you don’t yet have total accreditations like MD, JD, CPA, etc.. Instead, you have very direct certification on very specific skills that are even more valid than these other professional credentials. Here’s how to mobilize your certifications to earn you the employment of your dreams.

Professional.

Few words pack as much meaning. Professional connotes a code of conduct, an observance of ethics, a manner of behavior, a wealth of experience, and achievement of a specific level of education.

When we think of professionals, we think of doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, and others. But do we think of information technology (IT) experts? People who design, deploy, support, and manage information systems have long been referred to as System Engineers or Network Engineers, yet they receive resentment from those who have achieved professional accreditation as electrical or design engineers who say they don’t deserve to use the professional title “engineer.”

Yet those who provide professional services surrounding information technologies are very experienced, conducting themselves with the utmost character, ethics, and concern for the increased success of their clients. Like their medical, legal, and other brethren, they provide highly valuable services for a reasonable fee and stand solidly behind their work. They are also highly educated and they can prove it.

Certifications as Documentation of Professional Status

Just as other professionals have diplomas and licenses to document their education and the passing of examinations, IT professionals have certifications. Many are issued from the developers of the hardware and software products they service, and others are conveyed by industry associations. All commemorate the passing of examinations following deep investments of time and effort in education.

Most IT professionals only present these certifications to prospective employers when seeking new positions. Yet, from the earliest days of the IT industry, many have chosen to include such venerable acronyms as MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer), CCNE (Cisco Certified Networking Engineer), and more recently CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) on their business cards.

The most important element of any servicing relationship is trust. Before service has been rendered and the client has had an opportunity to observe an IT professional in action, they have no evidence available to justify their trust other than the certifications held by the professional. Yet these are the best evidence that the professional has earned that classification. If the client hasn’t been presented with the certifications, they have no reason to invest initial trust.

The certifications that you invest your time, energy, and funds into are the best documentation of your professional status, and they are, therefore, very important to your clients.

Leveraging the Documentation

You have a right to leverage your certifications. You may choose to list them in your email footer, or present them upon meeting and greeting a new client in a printed document. Where doctors and lawyers post their diplomas and licenses on the walls of their offices, you more often visit your clients at their premises, so you’ll need a different strategy.

Until the IT industry establishes educational accreditation that leads to accepted professional licensing, your best strategy is to present clients with documentation of your certifications that is not obtrusive, but rather a natural part of the process of introducing yourself to them upon your first arrival at their premises. Include an explanation of why these certifications are of value to them, and your own personal commitment to pursuing those that are pertinent to your practice of technology services. Clients will appreciate the pride you take in your own professional development and will be well on the way to respecting, appreciating, and trusting that their high-value information assets are in good hands.

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