How to Make the Most Out of a Challanging Certification Starting on Day One
Obtaining a certification represents an investment in increasing one's "explicit value" as a Subject Matter Expert and as a Candidate. You can get value out of your certification when you start studying and not only after you get certified.
Obtaining a certification represents an investment in increasing one's explicit value as an SME (subject matter expert) and the value of the company(ies) with which one collaborates.  In these lines I'm not referring to any certification in particular, but I'm certainly writing thinking about those (#PMP, #CISSP, #ITIL) that I obtained firsthand.

It is clear that the more selective the certification, the higher its value on the market will be. It is not difficult to recognize a selective certification among the thousands of certifications available through: 
  • job postings requiring the cert
  • online forums and comments
  • the fact that the certification presents "situational questions" and/or requires you to approach the exam "thinking like a manager"
  • having the texts available while answering the questions is not of great help (because there is not much time, and the questions require you to think about the information present in the text)

A positive aspect of these “hard” certifications is that they are supposed to maintain their value over time as:
- they require you to maintain your knowledge over time with continuous training
- the certifying bodies have an interest in maintaining their selective certifications over time and in keeping high the visibility of its brand and therefore of its members
- you have to pay to keep your certificate id (and spending money is usually a good motivating factor to get some value out of it)

However, it also seems that there are several shortcuts available online: Videos entitled "Get your certification in 2 weeks", People who contact you through every channel offering sprint courses at bargain prices, 20 pages books with promising titles, and so on. Exploiting one of these shortcuts is the first cause to completely deplete a certification of its value. Getting certified with a sprint approach, assuming you manage to pass the exam, means adding a small star to your CV. A star which, let's face it, matters very little to companies and headhunters. So, my advice if you want to avoid that your study path ends with nothing more than a post on linkedin "Let's celebrate I got my cert" are:
  • Find a way to distinguish yourself from other aspirants during your studies (before you get certified).
  • Network constructively, concretely, and practically with other students. Other aspirants could become important stakeholders in your future projects.
  • Become aware that while you are studying there will always be many people who know more than you from whom you can receive content and suggestions, but there are many others who know less than you and who may need your content and suggestions.
  • Get used to expressing and exposing yourself, publishing your doubts and questions but also your schemes and your study material

If you are studying for a challenging certification, and you want to put these suggestions into practice, contact us, we can help you.