By Jim Annis, CEO
From the break room to the boardroom, you have admired them from afar. They are magnetic personalities who truly take care of themselves physically. They are committed mentally to lifelong learning — including developing their career through certifications or college degrees. At a cocktail party they may be fascinating with a ring of people hanging on their every word. In the HR department, we can spot them before they come into the interview. It may not be fair to judge them based on that fact; however, it is an observation proven repeatedly. On the flip side, during our company's official casual days, we have observed that employees who consistently wear jeans, t-shirts and ponytails seem to be the same ones that have no real interest in personal or professional growth. We desire to see everyone strive to be the former.
What's certification worth?
Explore the options and show some initiative with due diligence. Hire a career coach, ask a mentor or a mastermind group — someone you trust to give you guidance and share experiences. Research your company's tuition reimbursement program. Make sure the degree you seek fits the company and/or career path. There are many industries in which people simply "collect letters" behind their name without any purpose behind them. Don't be "that" guy. If you are new to the industry, get some experience under your belt first and then get the certification to be sure you are committed to the long term.
People who truly pursue life wear it on the outside. They ask more questions. They invest deeply in their relationships. They strive to become more marketable. They dig deep, discover their strengths and demonstrate a higher level of ability. By investing in yourself, you feel more confident and give yourself a personal boost. This puts you in control of your future and makes you more flexible if something happens and you need to find something else.
When should you or your company pay?
This is one of those gut response questions. Are you in it for the long run at the company? Then research the tuition reimbursement policy. If leaving is the ultimate goal, then please pay for the education yourself. At The Applied Companies, we will pay even if the degree or certification is not related. We want people to be more educated, regardless as to if they stay with us or not. Does it mean that someone can take advantage of us? Sure! We still hold ability to manage it.
Great, so where do I start?
If you have been putting off investing in yourself until you can immediately achieve your big lofty goal, rethink your strategy. Habits start with one little change. Invest sooner than later with baby steps. It's easier than you think. You are absolutely worth it.
Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Applied's COO, contributed to this article.
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