Lessons learned from my journey to certification

A guest post by Adina Chirita, CMP

I don’t remember the exact date when I first heard about the Communication Management Professional (CMP) certification, but I recall being impressed by the rigorous standards used to develop the new certification program. And I still am.

Besides following the Global Standard of practice of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), the CMP program is ISO (17024) compliant; also, unlike the IABC accreditation, the program is governed by an autonomous body, the Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC), and is not conditioned by maintaining your IABC membership. This is not to say that the IABC membership is not valuable; on the contrary, I strongly believe it can be the cornerstone of your career in communications. However, there are some countries and cities in the world where IABC doesn’t have a chapter. The alignment of the CMP designation with the ISO (17024) standards ensures that your communication expertise is recognized even in those places. In other words, wherever life might take you, as a CMP, you will always have a globally recognized credential.

In addition, the requirements associated with maintaining your CMP certification are meant to demonstrate your commitment to lifelong learning and to your profession.

Personally, I decided to pursue the certification in order to prove to my peers and co-workers that I’m more than a creative communication “technician” and that, even though I’m not a native English speaker, I have the mindset, knowledge and work ethics to advance and eventually become a strategic adviser.

My journey to certification began back in March 2017, when I started the application process. One month later, I was pleased to learn that I met the criteria to sit for the CMP exam.

Since that date, I knew I had two years to prepare and take the test. I’m not ashamed to admit that I failed before passing the exam on April 13, 2019. That made me realize how close I was to reaching my goal and identify the areas that needed improvement. It also helped me see how to better prepare for the exam.

Having said that, if you’re contemplating the idea of getting certified, here are some suggestions for you.

  1. I would recommend that you read the latest edition of the IABC Handbook for Organizational Communication. Even if it’s almost 100 pages shorter than the 2006 edition, I found it to be a better learning resource.
  2. If you’re not familiar with a certain area within the communication practice (such as, for example, communication research), pay extra attention to those chapters addressing that particular topic. In addition, you can take IABC Academy courses and read specialized articles in publications such as IABC’s Communication World.
  3. Read the Candidate Handbook and refer to the Job Task Analysis for CMP.
  4. Before attempting to sit for the exam, make sure that you take the practice test provided by the GCCC and compare your responses to the correct answers; that will give you a better idea how to approach each question.
  5. And last, but not least, print and post the IABC Code of Ethics somewhere in your office and every time you need to make a work-related judgment call, look at it and ask yourself if your final decision respects all those eleven principles. That will help you think like a true CMP.

As I see it, getting the CMP certification is not only proof that you have the skills to strategically position and present your organization in the best possible light, but also shows that you have the courage and the moral stature to act as its conscience.