We don't have to tell you the job market is tight, and as long as it's legal and ethical, job seekers need to be setting themselves up with every credential they can get to make their resume pop. Leaving aside the most obvious resume points like bachelor's degrees and basic licenses, we've lined up the must-haves for all the major fields in the American job market, in alphabetical order.
Arts and communication:
For creative people, the name of the game is portfolio. Assembling a dossier of original work that displays your abilities is critical to landing a job as a journalist, photographer, musician for hire, an artistic job like a graphic designer or animator, or even an architect. As far as the resume side is concerned, these days creatives are expected to wear a number of different hats. As media has become as much an online product as a real-world one, employers want people who can not only produce Web content but also edit, publish, publicize, and monetize it.
A few credentials stand out for those in management, business administration and services, and international business. The Certified Management Consultant (CMC) certification is a great one for management analysts. Unsurprisingly, bilingual (or even better, multi-lingual) job candidates are prized possessions in the international business job market. For those with a bachelor's in business administration, MBAs are still great to have, but we won't go so far as to call them essential. As the field is already generalized, the essential cred you need will come via a certification or experience in the particular area you want to work, whether HR, accounting, or something else.
Oh, you haven't heard? E-learning is kind of a big deal now, and this facet of education is a must-have for teachers who want to have their pick of teaching gigs. Just note the number of current teachers being trained in technology use and you'll have a good idea how important this is to pedagogy today. Whether it's familiarizing yourself with hardware (tablet computers, smart boards, Active Tables) or software (Google Docs, iMovie, MimioStudio), educators should have an array of edutech tools in their arsenal. As a way to prove both a modicum of tech proficiency and in-class teaching skills at the same time, many teachers have taken to creating video resumes to supplement, not replace, traditional ones.
In just the past few years, the market for engineers has swung from picky to plentiful. Sustainability has become a hot area for a master's and can be attained by anyone with a bachelor's in one of the diverse engineering focuses. For mechanical engineers, the most prestigious certification provider is the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Process and manufacturing engineers should check out becoming Six Sigma Green Belts. For jobs in design and product development, don't leave home without a portfolio of your previous engineering projects and designs.
Like engineering, the certifications are rampant in the field of finance and can be easy to lose track of. Accountants, you already know you need to become a CPA to get ahead. The elite certification for actuaries is the Fellow of the Society of Actuaries (FSA). Portfolio managers and financial analysts will want to look hard at the grueling, three-part exam that is the CFA (Certified Financial Analyst). For those in the banking sector, the American Bankers Association offers a host of worthy certifications, for everything from retail banking and lending to risk management.
Don't write off this big chunk of the job market; it accounts for about 17% of the entire U.S. workforce. A Master's in Public Administration is generally the benchmark for the best public sector posts like city manager and public affairs director. Volunteer work can be an especially apropos asset to mention on a resume for a job in the public sector. For work in criminal justice, you'll have to have a clean background, because it will definitely be checked.
HR is no longer the safe haven for paper-pushers that it was once thought to be. Like content creators, HR reps are taking on many more roles not previously associated with their field; there is a mix of management, marketing, and technology. For example, drafting fail-safe social media policies are now under a HR employee's purview. According to HR expert Dave Ulrich, today's reps also have to be "strategic positioners," which means knowing the business well enough to both advise credibly and bring on people who will benefit the company.
What should database admins, programmers, software engineers, systems analysts, and other IT guys and gals be looking to pump up their resumes? Just follow the money. People with their Project Management Professional certification are highly sought, since it requires 4,500 hours' experience with a college degree (and 7,500 without one). As tech security has become a major corporate concern and potentially huge liability, IT-ers with their Certified Information Systems Security Professional can write their own ticket. For a cert with no prereqs, Cisco offers the respected CCDA (Cisco Certified Design Associate) that attests to a worker's mastery of all things network.
Cool as it sounds to be a "master of laws," recruiters have actually begun to advise most young attorneys against including LL.Ms on their resumes, as firms consider the advanced degree a sign of uncertainty or doubt about starting a career. Instead, they recommend plain old experience as the best way to land a spot on a legal roster. Hirers are also united in their desire that new lawyers pass "Business 101," or the economics of the legal profession. For legal assistants and other non-lawyers, the consensus is that resumes should be tailored for each particular position.
This is a huge industry to lump together, but here goes. Two-thirds of consumers want their doctors to be board certified and maintaining that certification, making it a vital resume feature. As for nurses, getting the RN certification provides more opportunities than a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). One of the best career moves medical assistants can make is to become a CCMA (Certified Clinical Medical Assistant). No matter what level a medical employee lands on, supervisors and hiring managers want to read resumes of people that are energetic about helping the sick and who have good teamworking and communication skills.
The mantra for today's marketer should be a paraphrase of Horace Greeley: Go Web, young man! An online presence that facilitates relationships with customers is crucial to business big or small now, and marketers need to have proven experience or at least the ability to create that environment. Similarly, SEO is on its way out, replaced by content marketing — bringing customers valuable content they can use. As a fairly creative field, marketing is not as concerned with certifications. That being said, a respected cert comes from the International Institute for Procurement & Market Research. CRAs (Certified Research Analyst), CREs (Certified Research Expert), and CRP (Certified Research Professional) are well-appreciated in the world of marketing research.