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I have noticed that quite a few people that are pursuing a technical career hold off on looking for an internship or job until after they have earned or acquired a certain qualification, such as a degree or a certification.   I often wonder how they chose their qualification, and why they believe that that one in particular is the high water mark that they need to meet before they should begin their search.

When I suggest to people that they should begin their career search now and not wait to earn their qualification, many think that I’m putting the cart before the horse, but I disagree.  Here’s why getting started on a job search now instead of waiting for a qualification can pay dividends.

  1.       Your qualification may not matter that much to an employer.  Recently I had a student that was holding off on his job search because he felt he needed to complete his Cisco CCNA certification first.  He planned to test within two months. I had to ask him: What made you choose the CCNA as the benchmark that you need on your resume before you’re ready to send it out?  It’s possible, and perhaps even probable, that any employer he would want to connect with either isn’t familiar with the certification, doesn’t care about the certification, or isn’t even using Cisco equipment (or some combination of the three.)
  2.    Your qualification is unlikely to create much of a salary increase, at least right now.  Qualifications do bring more money, or are supposed to, which is why we pursue them in the first place.  But any impending qualification can always be included in negotiation. You have the option of listing intended qualifications on your resume.  You can also cite them in an interview. And you can negotiate a pre-determined raise once you acquire them. Because of these factors, holding out for the sake of more money doesn’t seem to be prudent.
  3.       When you wait, you miss out on opportunities that are available now but become filled by the time you’re ready.  A job opportunity is no different than a good deal on Craigslist. Wait too long and someone else will get it instead.  By being in the game early, you are giving yourself access to more opportunities, plain and simple.
  4.       Starting now gives you more practice in communicating with employers and interviewing.  By starting now, you have an opportunity to work on your resume, get it out there, field responses by employers, go on interviews, and perhaps field job offers.  With all of these things, you get better with practice – and that’s exactly what starting early becomes. Practice.

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About the author 

Matt Day

Matt Day is a cybersecurity professional with over twenty years of experience in the IT, cybersecurity and technology training fields. He has a degree in Computer Information Science and CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+, Server+, CySA+, and Cisco CCNA certifications. Matt is the author of the courses CCNA Troubleshooting Mastery and Cybersecurity Career Launch, and the book CCENT Troubleshooting Guide.

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