Professional development based on a global standard

A guest post by Sarah Andrews, CMP

When I began my career, I had the good fortune of joining a team that believed in professional development. A senior member of our communication staff quickly introduced me to the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), and I first learned that certifications for professional communicators even existed.

Flash forward a decade later. The Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC) launched a new set of communication certification exams, and our local IABC chapter brought the exam to my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Since initially learning about professional certifications for communicators, I always knew I wanted to pursue certification at some point. I have a personality that enjoys setting and achieving goals; whether that’s receiving my master’s degree or running a half-marathon or taking on a house remodel—I enjoy challenging myself. Achieving professional certification seemed like the logical next step.

In addition, I work in the healthcare industry where the value of third-party validation for our hospital and disease programs carries significant weight, and many of our clinical employees hold several certifications showcasing their expertise. Likewise, I knew that third-party validation of my communication skills could only serve to further my career, solidify my expertise amongst my colleagues and provide me with confidence in tackling projects and making recommendations on communication strategies. It was one more checkmark stating, ‘yes she knows her field.’

The GCCC certification exams stood out to me specifically since they were based on a global standard, and they cover communication broadly, compared to a more focused public relations or media relations approach.

All that was left was deciding to move forward.

While the exam was challenging, I felt that my expertise in the communication field adequately prepared me for it (I did study though!). Many of the questions dealt with similar situations to ones I’d handled in my career or had been part of a team that tackled. I would step back from the question and think through how I or my team would handle this situation to help guide me to the appropriate answer.

My best advice for preparing to sit for the exam is the same advice I’d give to any communication professional: be curious, always be willing to jump into new opportunities and never stop learning. Your exposure to as many communication scenarios possible will undoubtedly make you a better communicator, which will also make you a better certification test taker. So, ask to sit in on or help with a project that you’re interested in. Bring up insightful questions. Make sure you understand ‘the why’ behind decisions. Challenge yourself to always keep growing, and when you’re ready to prove your knowledge through the certification process, you’ll be more than prepared.