Congratulations on your passing the CCNA Exams. I am sure it took a lot of commitment for you to have studied and successfully sat for the exams. Now that you have the CCNA Certification, what do you do with it? What is the next step, that will be the focus of this blog post? The CCNA is not an easy exam to write and certainly is a big boost on your resume if you are just starting out in Information Technology. It is also very useful if you are already working in IT and want to upgrade your skills.
After passing the CCNA People generally take one of these two options. Get more certifications or focus on getting a job. This blog will emphasize the latter because it tends to offer more advantages.
1. Getting More Certifications?
Rushing to get another IT certification soon after you just got the CCNA is rarely the best option for you. First, it shows you didn’t really have a goal in mind when you started out to get the certificate, more like setting out on a journey with little thought on the destination.
Secondly, it is a pointer that you are not ready to enter the industry, you still dread the industry – which should not be the case if you spent the last couple of months preparing for a job in IT. It should be reasonable to assume that the goal of your getting the certification is to get you employed or get better pay in the industry. It shows how little value you place on the certificate if you are not willing to do something with it. If it wasn’t valuable, why pay to have it in the first instance?
Thirdly, you run the risk of actually becoming a “certification junky“ when you chose to do nothing with it. A cert. junky is someone who has an obsession with getting a lot of certifications and really not being able to put them into use. It is like going down the rabbit hole because the list of Certifications is endless. Over time, it becomes a liability rather than an asset. certification junkies don’t score well with hiring managers in the IT world.
As remarked by a hiring manager;
“Employers are looking for skills- not more certs.”
Certification doesn’t equal a job, it is a hands-on experience that gets you the job. What shows that you have the skills are your experiences on the job and past achievements. You need to get started and gain some real hands-on experience, then you can pursue further certs. Put into practice what you learned from pursuing your CCNA.
Let’s pulse for a moment and analyze facts that point to how much your CCNA certification is worth. You should take some pride in this- you worked for it and you deserve it.
The CCNA is an Industry Standard for a Networking career.
The most popular certification for a Networking career is the CCNA, (the other being the CompTIA Network + which is a vendor-neutral network certification). The other Network Certifications by Cisco (CCNP, CCIE) simply build on the foundations laid by CCNA. The CCNA gives you one of the best beginner’s insights into Networking. It is the favorite entry certification for a networking job demanded by Hiring managers.
A survey by Robert Half shows that the CCNA is among the top 15 IT certifications by Hiring Managers. Cisco is by far the largest vendor for networking infrastructure. About 41 percent of the enterprise network infrastructure market.
The CCNA is an Associate level certification, it is suitable for both entry-level and mid-level jobs. According to Payscale.com research, the average salary for a CCNA certification is 84k/year.
You can have a rewarding career with the CCNA Certification.
2. Get A Job With The CCNA -Put Your Skill Into Good Use
The best reward for your hard work in passing the CCNA is actually to start earning with the knowledge you have acquired from the certification. This also helps you reinforce your learning and improve your skills through practice. You will need to reach out to hiring managers and tell them about your skills. You know enough to start a career in IT (if you did your CCNA the right way). Here are some practical things you could do right away.
1. Prepare your Resume
Make it simple but very professional. Not sure how to do that? You could use the Build-My-Resume feature on ResumeGenius. Once you have this, start sending them out to reach your prospective employer. The goal of a Resume is to get you an opportunity to meet with HR. Put enough effort into meeting it nicely. There are also some useful options on Linkedin to help you with this.
2. Linkedin Network
Make meaningful connections on Linkedin and reach out directly to the hiring manager. This can be very significant to your success in the job search. Send personalized messages to employers. Try to ask questions and gain better insights about specific jobs before sending out your Resume to HR. Look for employees of said companies and make connections with them. Build a professional network on Linkedin. You can’t afford to ignore LinkedIn, 95 percent of Hiring managers use it to scout for skills (according to Forbes).
3. Network with People
People often forget that you will be interacting with people as well on the job, not just with technology. You should work on your interpersonal skills right from the onset. You will need to improve your social skills. Start with people you know and then reach out to people, especially those in the IT industry, Be proactive and look for IT professionals who can offer valuable insights to you get a job. If you live in a major city, making a physical visit to companies may be a good idea. Ask to meet with Hiring managers, you might score a point with them. Look for opportunities- they don’t come looking for you.
4. Look for Entry-Level to Mid-level Jobs
The CCNA is a suitable qualification for both Entry-Level to mid-level jobs. Depending on where you live and the jobs available. Make your search wide- to include both entry and mid-levels. Trust me, your CCNA is good enough if you can show some level of practical knowledge or willingness/ability to learn on the job. It depends on how you “sell yourself”. Be confident and professional. And if the big jobs don’t come in early enough, don’t worry. Go for what’s available. The important thing is to get started.
HelpDesk is a common entry point for many IT professionals. You should not be afraid to start small if that is what is available. They are good entry points also as you can rank up easily. Your goal is to start working as soon as possible.
5. Seek Internships -Paid or Unpaid
Sometimes, getting your first full employment could prove challenging. You could seek internship positions with firms. Make sure they are places where you can learn (and if possible earn). Internships are relatively less lucrative financially but can serve as a good avenue for you to get full employment. They help you get some industry experience. Having that experience added to your Resume will give you a boost. Reach out directly to companies for internship positions, they might consider the opportunity even though they weren’t actively looking for one. Many paid internships aren’t posted online. You will have to do an in-person to firms.
5. Do Volunteer Service
You could offer to render your skills for a noble course. It will help you become better with your skills, take on some challenges, and become responsible for some tasks, be accountable. You can learn a lot from such. Visit your local communities and small businesses. Volunteer to NGOs. Help out with tasks that are related to the set of skills you acquired in your CCNA. Take the time to learn new skills e.g. help launch, improve, or maintain their online presence. You will be amazed at how much you can do.
If you are not sure where to volunteer, you could check out Volunteermatch.org for some virtual volunteering. You will find a lot of options to choose from. There are several others online- Google is your friend in searches.(Tech Volunteer Opportunities in 2023)
Like the other options listed earlier, Volunteer can be a source of a good recommendation for paid services. People hire who they know, volunteering could be your gateway to bigger opportunities, plus you are making the world a better place.
6. Request for Bigger Roles if you are already Employed
If you are already employed in IT, you could discuss the possibility of taking on bigger IT-related roles with your company. It is sometimes it is helpful to discuss it with them even before you start the CCNA. Let your employer know about your new CCNA certificate. It could get you a significant raise in your salary and benefits. Be very professional about it. It is important to highlight what additional value you could add to the firm.
And if your current employer is not willing to offer something in addition to what you already have or not offering you the opportunity to grow your skills. You could consider looking elsewhere. Meanwhile, do not quit your job until you get a better offer. Make sure you approach this with so many considerations. Consult a professional service if needed.
After passing the CCNA exam, you can kickstart a successful IT career with it. The CCNA is good enough to start a career. Explore the wide range of options that are available to you, and actively look for opportunities to put your knowledge to practical use. Craft a good resume, use LinkedIn, and network with other professionals. Entry-level jobs are good enough to build skills, Look for volunteering opportunities or internship programs. Make the best value out of the CCNA by putting it to practical use.
Alternatively, a less recommended approach after passing the CCNA is to seek more certifications. Go for this option only if you have a definite goal you want to achieve and the CCNA is just one of the requirements you need to have. Avoid as much as possible having so many certifications with actual practical experience in the industry, it is less attractive to prospective employers. You can always get further certification while on a job and getting practical experience.
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