Don’t Be Deceived, Your Project Management Certificates Are No Longer Enough


Let me ask you…

Have you ever tried to estimate the number of project management graduates that our universities, polytechnics and colleges produce on a yearly basis?

Have you also tried to estimate the number of people who receive various certifications in project management on a yearly basis?

And finally, have you tried to estimate the number of unemployed or job seeking persons with project management knowledge and certificates?

If you can get a rough estimate of these 3 things, you would surely agree with me that your project management certificates are no longer enough.

Since I graduated in 2014 with a BTech in Project Management Technology, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been advised or persuaded to pursue one project management certification or the other. There’s this common belief that the more project management certificates you have, the better your chances of landing your dream job in project management. I beg to disagree!

You see, I’m not against people pursuing certificates – be it a degree, diploma or certification, I’ve some myself but there’s a certificate they don’t consider often. Since I started offering career advice to the young and aspiring project managers in Nigeria, I have come in contact with a lot of them who are seriously searching for jobs or thinking of how to start their careers in the world of project management. What surprises me often is that some of them think the major reason they haven’t landed a dream job or started their dream careers in project management is because they don’t have one or two particular paper certificates in project management, irrespective of the ones they already had. They hardly think or talk of the other critical certificate…

Now, let me tell you this…

The world is changing and in today’s world, there are two critical certificates that need – your paper certificates (be it degrees, diplomas or certifications) and your self-certificate. Your paper certificates can help you land a dream job or help you kick-start your career but it’s your self-certificate that would take you far.

Many job candidates do the mistake of arming themselves with only their paper certificates knowing quite well the tough war in the labour market. Your self-certificate can be gotten through your personal or self-education. It’s a proof of your personal skills – skills that you personally learned and developed through practice.

Today, I offer career advice and mentoring to some of the young and aspiring project managers in Africa and around the world not because I’ve a paper certificate in career advice and mentoring but because I have a self-certificate in it – I invested a lot in myself and built the skills and experience over the years – and here are ways to get your own self-certificate:

Carefully Choose the Skills You Want to Hone

There are various skills that are in hot demand in the labour market. However, it’s necessary that you select a skill that would boost your chances of landing your dream job. For example, getting a bachelor’s degree or certification in accounting is a paper certificate. Practically learning how to use one or two cloud-based accounting tools or software is a self-certificate, and it would surely boost your chances of getting hired in an accounting job as a lot of accounting firms are now shifting to cloud-based accounting tools.

TIP: Since I discovered the value of project management and the fact that it’s a profession that can be practised in most industries and sectors, I have always been interested in digital project management – managing a digital project from concept to completion, and I have been building my digital skills ever since then. Today, I’m building a digital platform that would connect employers and recruiters with project management talents in Nigeria.

Find Your X Factor and Blend It with Your Paper Certificates

Everyone has a unique personality and everyone is definitely good at something. We call it your X factor. Some of you have natural leadership qualities, some are naturally good with numbers, some are born marketers, some are naturally talented in a particular sport or game, etc. As a student, graduate or job candidate, you need to try and discover your X factor, and when you do, try and bring it to life. I have met people who never studied marketing as a course but are very good at marketing. Find something within you that you can blend with your degree and personality type and be sure to seek out for people who can help you develop that talent in you.

TIP: I discovered within me that I have this natural gift of inspiring, motivating or impacting people with any little knowledge that I have. And being someone who is passionate and have a paper certificate in project management, I decided to blend the two and bring it to life. Today, I offer career advice and mentoring to some of the young and aspiring project managers in Africa and around the world.

Get Involved in Activities and Projects

Be sure to participate in some activities or take the initiative to lead teams or projects as much as possible. Group project or task is an opportunity for you to increase your assertiveness and organizational skills. It’s also a good way to develop your project management skills.

TIP: The CareerinPM platform you are seeing today is not my solo effort. It’s a combined effort of which I’m the project lead. The platform is like my self-certificate – a proof that I have some digital project management skills.

If You Are a Student, Do Some Internships and Externships before Graduating

Internship and externship either help a student learn a new skill or gain experience on an already existing skill. Every project management student in the university or college should aim at doing some externships and internships before graduating. Companies are also starting to recognise the value of internships and externships because of the fresh perspectives, vitality, and dynamism that these young interns or externs can bring – all at a lower cost than full-time hires. And if you are confused, externships are similar to internships, except that they are shorter in duration, have flexible work hours, and are project-based rather than milestone-based.

What Are Externships, Really?

“Externships”, a term first coined by Glints, are similar to internships. Looi Qin En, co-founder of Glints, shared that externships was a result of listening to talent (students) within their community.

“Many of our talents were polytechnic and university students who wanted to gain work experience during the holidays,” he said, “but employers didn’t want to accept them as interns because internships were to last for at least two months. We saw this as a clear gap and decided to introduce the concept of externships, which are three to six week job shadowing attachments.”

CareerinPM would be sharing internship and externship opportunities for management students and job candidates who are seeking for project management-related jobs or project management-oriented roles in Nigeria. We believe that internships and externships would help our students to graduate with the two most critical certificates – their paper certificates and their self-certificates.

Externships have a strategic role to play in human capital development because it’s an innovative way to resolve short-term manpower issues. It offers students and job candidates the opportunity to try their hands at a new job, industry or sector before graduating or before deciding whether to take the full plunge, respectively. We are asking companies and startups that have 4 to 6 weeks externship offers for project management-oriented roles to advertise them for free on our platform.

Finally, do not take your self-certificate for granted. The paper certificates are what organisations or institutions would offer you while the self-certificate is what you would offer yourself based on your personal education. Think again about the volume of people that graduate yearly with various certificates and ask yourself, “How many of them graduate with self-certificates?” Your self-certificate is what you would use to beat them to that job and get ahead in your career. And remember, everything you do now in your career will play a critical role in how you approach the future.

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