The Over-Certification of the Modern Job Hunt.

Originally Posted: January 21, 2012

“Now I’ve seen everything.” comes to mind as I write this. Anybody who has followed my blog knows that I have been looking for work for the last little while. This is not the first time in my life that I’ve been in this spot. It’s one of the hazards of being in the non-profit world; layoffs are almost a sure thing. While I’m looking for work again, it seems there’s been another major change in the world of hiring.

Firstly, I understand first hand that we live in a city where English as a second language is common. Too many times lately I have thought myself qualified for jobs only to discover I am missing one very important qualification, and it’s found in the final line of many ads these days, Must Speak Cantonese, or Mandarin, or Punjabi, or Korean, etc.

Don’t get me wrong. I accept that’s reality and there’s nothing I can do about it short of taking lessons in the aforementioned languages. But there is something else happening in the job-hunting world that has me shaking my head and thinking I don’t believe this.

This morning I was looking at a job posting and thought I was qualified for it until I read the last line in the ad: Certified Resume Strategist preferred.


What in the blue-eyed world is a Certified Résumé Strategist? Furthermore, what post -secondary institution teaches it? I have encountered this type of thing many times in the last little while, and that concerns me in my quest for employment. It seems more and more potential employers require certification for just about everything. And I don’t believe I’m overstating this.

For example, I had no idea there was an organization out of the U.S. where one can go to be a certified fund-raiser. One of my duties in my last job was raising funds to keep the project going, and I did so successfully for many years, until the economic downturn. So even though I am experienced at this I have been noticing, increasingly, positions that include fund raising in the job description require this particular certification.

My job-hunting journey this time around I find myself in the unique position of having many years of experience on the front lines of the non-profit world. But guess what? I’m not qualified for many similar positions because I lack the proper certification to do the job. So, even though I may have the experience doing the job, I am not qualified for it because I don’t have a piece of paper from the world of Academia certifying me as such.

I’ve talked about this with several of the workers at the local Employment Resource Center I go to, who agree with me because they’ve noticed the same thing happening in the last little while. Experience is no longer enough to get the work you want, you must now have some kind of certification for things that were considered part-and-parcel of the job in the past.

There is good news in this, next month I start a part time instruction job at the Vancouver Native Education Center, and they hired me based on, wait for it, my experience. What a concept! I didn’t need to be a Certified Hand Wringer in order to qualify. Don’t smirk; I’m sure this is coming…especially if you want to enter the world of politics. But that’s for another blog.

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