Saturday, 26 April 2014

Please, let me qualify…

I know what people say and I entirely agree. Achieving the qualifications in your profession is really important because it benchmarks your ability to do the job (to an extent). Like so many others I went through the academic rat run to tick the career boxes but it doesn’t stop there. In applying for your first round of jobs you'll quickly spot the additional section for “professional qualifications”. So which ones should you go for?

Obviously there are a few bankers that you'll need to look at such as the ones required to meet criteria for applications etc. but which ones should you go for beyond that? In my experience I initially knew that I had to sit a specific exam to even get a look in at interviews. It’s only now that my exam is a few weeks away that I’m starting to look forward and I can feel the confusion setting in already... Which course should look at next? How will I fund it? How long will it take? How does it fit in with my wider career plan? Etc. All confusing stuff and to add to this you then get the guidance from colleagues and peers (with the best intentions of course) about the ones to take first. In light of all of the above I would suggest the following:

Back to Basics

Something I quickly realised in coming fresh out of University and jumping on to virtually any courses my bosses would fund is that there are definitely some overlaps between academic and vocational training. Depending on what it is that you studied and what you now work as you may become a little frustrated that some of the training material is a somewhat behind what you already know. I remember recently mentoring a graduate who became visibly frustrated by how basic the material was and wasn’t enjoying it at all. In my experience you will more than likely have to do a little repetition but it’s a small price to pay for the bigger picture. My advice is to be patient and embrace the learning (even if you’ve already sat that class) and tick the box to move on to the more complex stuff.

Especially Specialist

Be careful not to bottleneck your career. How certain are you so early on that the chosen sector and discipline is the one you want for the rest of your life? You need to be mindful that at some point you might want to branch out or specialise at a later date.

I have a number of colleagues that are qualified to within an inch of their lives in only one specialisation which is great in some respects because everyone loves an expert BUT you can quickly become niche then limit your scope of opportunity and potential. You have your whole career to become specialist. As a junior professional I would argue that it’s much wiser to create a platform of generally certified skills beforehand.

All the Gear – No Idea

Don’t over qualify in a short space of time. I know people like to get as many certificates under their belt as possible but if you’ve only been working in the job for a few years and your qualified out of this world then recruiting managers will realistically question the integrity of your hands on experience. I’ve spoken to so many managers in the past about this and they all agree. They would be more inclined to take on the candidate with the basic prerequisites that had 5 years hands on experience than those with multiple qualifications in only a few years. My advice is to complete the main course and then try your hand at delivering something. This is something I have learned first-hand – no textbook is going to replace reality so be patient and put a shift in.


Overall, the idea of continuous professional development means that you'll technically never stop attending courses or joining up to / maintaining professional memberships etc. There are so many qualifications and memberships you can obtain and they all vaguely relate to different continents, disciplines and institutions it does become difficult to know which one to do. You are definitely not alone though and from experience so far I would advise that you simply take a step back and look at your career plan. As cheesy as it sounds, where do you see yourself in 5-10 years and will that certificate provide any value?

Ultimately if you have a vague understanding of the additional courses and qualifications you need then you’re on the right track but I believe that over time this gets more confusing but the whole point to this short post is to advice my fellow junior professionals out there is that you’re not alone and it really is confusing so take your time to decide.

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