I get a lot of questions about whether or not certifications and professional affiliations really add value and whether or not they make an individual a more attractive job candidate. Like so many areas in the world of employment and career development, the answer is un-satisfyingly vague... It all depends. Recently, I worked with a client who felt the need to explain why she was not listing any certifications for her area of expertise – graphic design. In her mind, the options for certifications in this arena did not add enough value. While some might argue with that point, her reasoning is sound.
Well-established, well-regarded certifications are great. They confirm your expertise in a specific area and bolster your bona fides. Additionally, being a member of a professional affiliation shows your commitment to staying on top of developments in your industry / area of focus (they are also excellent networking opportunities). But certain certifications / affiliations add little value or, even worse, can actually diminish your “brand.”
For example, I hold an MBA and professional Human Resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute – a widely respected institution and a certification that is the industry standard for HR professionals. On the flip side – despite providing job search and career development services – I have chosen not to pursue a resume writing certification because, with my far-reaching background, experience and education, it would be much too "junior" for me. It would dilute the value of my more rigorous graduate degree and professional certification.
Securing a certification or being an active member of an affiliation is a huge time and energy commitment. Regardless of your arena, it is important to research how a specific certification / affiliation is going to impact your brand and how it will likely be perceived. You certainly don’t want to be wasting your time.