Microcredentials and Certifications for Independent Talent

February 2, 2023 Rachel Halversen

One of the most effective ways to make yourself stand out is by adorning your social and talent platform profiles with certifications and skills badges. If you’re looking to round out your resume and showcase your latest skills, upskilling with microcredentials—certifications that recognize the completion of a short-term course or training session—could be an interesting avenue to pursue this year.

Courses that feature microcredentials offer flexible, targeted ways to develop the knowledge, skills, and competencies you need for your personal and professional development. While the concept is relatively adolescent and still developing, it’s growing quickly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re designed for professionals to show that they’re up to date amidst an ever-changing and evolving landscape, especially in areas of high growth, such as IT, data analytics, project management, UI/UX, digital marketing, communications, and cybersecurity, to name a few.

Companies are finding microcredentials to be one key source of the skills they need most at this critical moment. That’s why Barrons identifies them as “an area of tangible promise for the nation’s workforce-development and economic problems.” And while the affordability varies based on what you’re looking for and what industry you’re in, they all bridge the gap between jobs and skills. These certifications can be sourced in several ways, through colleges and universities, platforms like LinkedIn, and other local or online institutions. There are even free tutorials out there via LinkedIn Learning and similar platforms that you can take for broader and expanded technical knowledge.

Let’s explore some professional development opportunities related to upskilling and microcredentials to help give you an edge up on the competition.  

An argument for upskilling and reskilling

Upskilling means teaching or learning additional skills generally whereas reskilling refers to learning new skills so you can do a new job, or to teach someone new skills so they can do a new job. Which of the two you’re looking to do depends on your interests and desires related to independent consulting.

You might choose to upskill if you discover an interest in a new area or niche that you want to dive deeper into, or perhaps you’re looking to learn more about an area you already have experience in. Reskilling might be more top of mind for those looking to pivot to a new industry or specialty. Either way, these courses can be well worth your while as they enable and emphasize your professional growth while giving you a new perspective to bring to your clients’ projects.

After the near-constant uncertainty we’ve faced since 2020, businesses are looking to future-proof themselves against disturbances, and they’re increasingly turning to the independent talent market for critical skills they may lack today. Upskilling enables professionals to become more effective workers and stay competitive in their industry by developing today’s most in-demand skills—bettering their position for opportunities down the road.

In fact, according to a 2023 Wiley survey, 69% of U.S. human resource professionals said their organization has a skills gap, up from 55% in a similar 2021 survey. And McKinsey found that the need to address skill gaps is more urgent than ever with 58% of leaders saying that closing skill gaps in their companies’ workforces has become a higher priority since the pandemic began. No wonder then that 69% respondents say that their organizations do more skill building now than they did before the COVID-19 crisis.

Doubling-down on the trends, Mercer reported in 2022 that “66% of executives say they face a labor shortage crisis.” As such, right-fit, highly skilled talent are clearly hard to come by in some industries, which is reason enough to pursue knowledge wherever it makes sense.

How to get started

If you’re truly starting from scratch, map out areas that interest you or areas that you know you could develop further. These could be technical certifications or something more theoretical, industry depending. For those in HR, it might look like a focused course on employee relations, DE&I, or KPIs. For marketing leaders, it could look like SEO skills trainings, digital marketing certifications, or a deep dive into specific platforms like Google or LinkedIn. Tech and digital talent might look to focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning, or education on the metaverse. All it takes is a quick search to send you down the rabbit hole of opportunity.

Traditional certifications are valuable if they’re viable

Don’t neglect traditional certifications if they make sense for your independent career path! Among BTG clients, some of the most commonly sought-after certifications—which you can note on your BTG talent profile—include:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Six Sigma – Black Belt
  • Six Sigma – Yellow Belt
  • Six Sigma – Green Belt
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM)
  • Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM)
  • Master Project Manager (MPM)
  • Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3)
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP)
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)
  • Project Management Essentials (PME)
  • Project Management Institute Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)
  • Project Management Institute Project Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)
  • Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
  • Chartered Accountant (CA)
  • International Project Management Association (IPMA)

Interested? Learn more about the highly skilled professionals in BTG’s talent community, or find out what makes them tick in our annual survey of talent, Talent Lens.

Now’s the perfect time to work on yourself

If a specialized certification isn’t on your roadmap, perhaps some broad self-improvement priorities are in order. How’s your relationship with productivity? Are you ticking items off your to-do list, or are there areas that you could work on? How about organization—how’s your calendar looking? Your desk? Get a head start on spring cleaning with our tips and tricks. Finally, do you feel like you have a hold on your focus and motivation? Remote work has its pros and cons, so be sure to find balance between your personal life and your projects.

Put your skills and experience to work on interesting, high-priority projects with BTG.

Upskilling and reskilling can just as easily be done on the job, on projects with top clients, and alongside insightful teams. If you’re planning a professional pivot, the independent workforce has infinite opportunities for learning and development. And, if you’re already a part of our network, be sure to update your profile with your latest skills and certifications so you can be paired with projects that are in your wheelhouse.

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