You studied hard, left sweat on the testing center mouse and BAM! you passed your certification exam. You’re officially certified as an IT pro — now what? Beyond the social high-fives, like telling your friends, there are some strategic moves you can make to get the most traction from your new technology certification. Here are four ways to take immediate action.
1. Tell Everybody — Online and in Real Life
Update the certifications section of your LinkedIn profile and plug your new credential into the education and certification sections of Indeed and Monster. Spell out acronyms like the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certification and include the abbreviation in parenthesis.
“There are a lot of searches being done out there that aren’t going to be looking for a specific person, but a specific set of skills,” said Logan Murphy, a technology consultant who helps new IT pros get their feet wet. “Recruiters have a better chance to find you if your certifications are on your profile and your profile is up to date.”
CompTIA alumni use the hashtag #CompTIACertified to announce the news and connect with hiring managers. If you’ve already got a job, tell your boss about your new cert. Print it out and hang in on the wall. Advanced skills could lead to more money and power.
“I’m not currently, actively looking for a job, but I don’t let anything get more than three months out of date,” Murphy said.
2. Search for Jobs Asking for Your Specific Certification
A certification shows your commitment to technology and builds instant confidence in people looking to hire. By earning a certification, you’ve ticked the right box for some people. If you’ve earned your CompTIA A+ and find an ad reading “Education: A+ preferred,” you’re ahead of the curve — go find out who wants your skills.
Search Twitter for the name of your certification or try #CompTIACertified to find posts related to IT job openings. Scroll IT job boards for your cert and start looking for patterns. What kinds of jobs require the IT certification you have?
Work with recruiters, find hiring managers and talent scouts online, and use tools for the IT job hunt to start navigating the landscape.
“Even if it’s not the position you think you’re qualified for, it’s worth linking up with those posting firms,” Murphy said. “Look for what they post next. It’ll probably also be something you’re interested in.”
3. Meet Up with IT Pros and Recruiters
Use the momentum of your new certification to contact recruiters directly, and open with the news that you’re now IT pro certified.
“Maybe when the next opportunity comes up, they reach out to you directly instead of posting the job, or suddenly you’re on the short list of people who are competent and who they’d like to trot out for a job,” Murphy said. “Even if you don’t get a position through that recruiter, you can go back to them and say, ‘Hey, we talked a while ago, and now I've been doing this for six months and I have all these skills.’”
You can also meet up with other IT pros in your area, certified in the same skills. Try online groups or IT professional groups like the CompTIA Association of IT Professionals (AITP), with chapters all over the country. You can also find online gatherings for IT certifications, like the CompTIA Certified Professionals LinkedIn group.
“Make relationships,” Murphy said. “Relationships are how things move forward.”
4. Mark Your Calendar
Circle the date you passed the exam on your calendar to celebrate your success, and then flip three years into the future, when the exam recertification time comes around. Set a calendar reminder for that far-off date so you won’t be caught off-guard and can give yourself plenty of time to refresh and renew your certification.
“Once you’ve gotten a certification like that, you don't want to just let it go away,” Murphy said.
NEXT — Find out how to use your certification to flex your new skills, apply for jobs with abandon and advertise your IT services in the next piece in the series, 5 Ways to Get More Mileage out of Your IT Certification.
Get a head start on your certification renewal with CompTIA Continuing Education.
Michelle Lange is a writer and designer living in Chicago.