14 Actionable Steps to Use Certifications and Find Your Dream Job

by Mirek Burnejko

DreamJob“A certification is very much like having your driver’s licence. It doesn’t prove that you’re a great driver, just that you know the rules and that you could operate the vehicle, but it’s really hard to get a driver job without the licence.” – Anonymous + Robin Basham + Miroslaw Burnejko

I would love to give you one, small exercise before I tell you how to use certifications to find a better job. Go to LinkedIN, type a job position in the search box (Database Administrator, Network Engineer, Project Manager, etc.) and check how much of them do not have any IT certification. (Hint: about 1%). More than 99% of IT specialists have at least one IT certification and work on another.

An IT certification is a tool. You must decide how you use it. A combination of certifications, experience and soft skills are the best way to become an IT Legend. In this article I would love to give you some ideas what to do, to squeeze from certifications as much as you can.

Why Certifications Are So Important?

For you:

  • It’s easy to show others you have right knowledge on a certain, standarized level
  • Certifications have the same value in each country around the world (CCNP in Canada = CCNP in Germany, the same exam, the same rules)
  • Some companies pay bonuses for certain certifications
  • Some companies require certifications to receive a partnership with a vendor (like Cisco)
  • You can measure the level of your knowledge

For Employers:

  • They know that your skills are evolving
  • They sure you can work with clients or partners on a certain level (RHCE will always understand RHCE and JNCIE-SP will understand JNCIE-SP)

For Head Hunters and HR People:

  • They can find exactly what emloyers need
  • It helps them to understand your skills
  • They can compare you with other certified people (Wow, another CCIE)

On an interview you must using your soft skills, your technical skills, knowledge that you’ve earned during preparation to certifications. It’s your game.

But first they must invite you !!!

We’re going to answer two questions:

1. What to do to let them find you, build a good picture about you and give you YES before an interview?
2. What to do to find the best job on the planet, without a lot of searching the internet?

Before We Get Started

You must know that there are thousands of certified people around the world. Thousands of perfect jobs were taken by those specialist that aren’t better than you. It’s your time. You don’t have nothing to loose. It’s time to find the best job on the planet, prove that your are ready to be interviewed. It’s time to let them find you.

Before we get started you must be prepared and look as professional as possible.

1. Create an additional email account as professional as possible. [Time needed: 10m]

Use them only to job related tasks. Our goal is to be as professional as possible.
Use a [email protected] or [email protected] format.
You can buy your own domain via GoDaddy.com for 9$ and create your email account there for free. Use this email to send all your resumes and to contact with recruiters.

2. Create a mindblowing CV. Use Eman’s Guide to Write a Perfect IT Resume. [Time needed: 2-3h]

There are thousands of websites that show you how to write a resume. Forget about them!

I had a pleasure to do a few recquiter processes. Let me explain you how it looks. With first 10-20 resumes you are really intersted about everything you read each line, read about education, experience, certifications, but after that it’s really hard to read every sentence. That’s why you must create an optimal CV. It’s your first step to a new job. So start with Part 1: Why No One Reads Your IT Resume (And What to Do About It).

Let Them Find You or Find Them

3. Create a LinkedIN Account. [Time needed: 10m]

LinkedIN is still a number one place to receive a job offer. Create your account as professional as possible. Make sure to add all information from your CV: experience, trainings, certifications.

4. Optimize Your LinkedIN Profile for Certifications. [Time needed: 30m]

Probably one of the most important step. LinkedIN (as Google) has its own search engine. After typing any keyword, like CCNA or MCSA some results (people) will be on the first place, some on the last. Head Hunters during a research start with the first page. Make sure you are there. Use this guide.

5. Connect with Head Hunters and HR people. [Time needed: 30m]

It’s a very important step. First, when you connect with a person there is a chance, he/she can have a job offer that fits to you. Second, keyword optimization on LinkedIN will be working more effective when a directly connected person is looking for results.
Use search engine to find theme. Type: recruiter your_certification (eg. recruiter ccie). Then connect with those people and write two-three sentences about you.

Hello Sam,
I see you are looking for Cisco engineers (program managers/security experts). I’m a CCIE and have 5 years of experience with the biggest networks in Poland. I would love work with you with future recruitment processes.

Mirek Burnejko.

6. Become a member of LinkedIN groups. [Time needed: 30m]

Join groups on LinkedIN. You can belong to 50 groups and use this privillage. Find groups connected with your certifications and your skills. You can find there tons of job offers. Try also to answer some questions and create some interesting topics to become more visible.

7. Login to Branchout. [Time needed: 15m]
It’s a quite new career network on Facebook. You can find there more and more head hunters. So complete your profile, add information about your experience and certifications. You should also connect with some head hunters via Branchout.

8. Login to Telent.me [Time needed – 15m]
Talent.me is also a career networking site. Just create a profile and update information about your certifications. In free time connect with head hunters and other professionals.

9. Follow Head Hunters. [Time needed: 10-30m ]

Use Twitter to follow head hunters. A lot of them tweet new job offers on Twitter. Make a connection with them, retweet their job offers to your friend. Make sure they know about you.

10. Upload Your CV everywhere with ResumeRabbit. [Time needed: 15m]

You can upload your CV to all job portals, but it’s an easier way. Use ResumeRabbit. It will post your resume to 85 job portals and you do not need to think about updating each site. Just send once and forget.

11. Use Indeed. [Time needed: 10m]

Indeed is my favorite job search engine. Indeed crawling data from the internet and give you clear results with (almost) all job offers on the market. Just use search engine or use the email notification system (my favorite).

12. Use Topsy. [Time needed: 10m]

Topsy is an amazing tool to search all Social Media networks. Just type any keyword (ccie job, hire MCSA, CWNA, etc.) to search Twitter for new job offers. You can also create an alert or RSS filter. When someone types your keyword on twitter, you will receive a message about it.

13. Become a Professional on 1st page in Google. [Time needed: 1h]

A head hunter now has your CV. Now he must check Google to find something more about you and find out if you are a real person :). Make sure that Google provides only professional information about you on the first page of search results. Just move to the Incognito Mode in your browser and type your name in the search box. If you can find something inappropriate about you on the first page, don’t worry. You can change that. Create several pages that are very respectable in the Google search engine.
Create a page on About.me, create a Quora account, make sure your LinkedIN account is updated. If you have a time you can also create your own page-resume.

14. Networking. [Time needed: Whole Life]

This is probably the most important rule. Friends and colleagues are the most important. The best option for you: Employer asks his friend: Do you know any CCIE, OCM. Sure, I know an amazing guy – (type your name) he will be the best for this job. After those words, you do not need to be worry about the requirement process.

So take your time and connect with other professionals, let them know about job offers your know, share your knowledge with them. Go to each conference and connect with people. Maybe someday one of them will tell you about your new dream job.

If you have any other idea how to use certifications and find a dream job, please share with us in the comment section below.