Building Your Career With the Right Tests, Certificates, and Licenses

In today’s competitive workplace, it’s not enough to believe you can succeed in a role or even to have experience with transferrable skills. 

Employers want credentials, and in your quest to be the successful applicant for a job that aligns with your career goals, certificates and licenses put you one step ahead of your competition. As Sanquinetta Marie Dover, Dover Solutions founder, notes, “You achieve your goals and ambitions by investing in education that improves your abilities and enhances your potential.”

If you’re the hiring manager, you look for evidence of training and education when screening prospective team members. However, sometimes job history and time spent in school don’t give the complete picture, which is why you need one of HR’s most valuable onboarding tools: employee assessment testing.

In this article, the third in our employee development series, we examine the credentials employees can earn to progress towards their goals, and the tools HR professionals can use to assess them. 


Certifications make you a more attractive employment candidate for many positions. They are proof that you have advanced knowledge of vital business processes.


Whether you’ve asked one of the 18 billion questions fielded by intelligent assistant Cortana or your device is one of the 1.3 billion running Windows 10, you’ve no doubt heard of Microsoft and understand the ubiquitous status of its products. The market dominance enjoyed by this tech giant translates to time well spent for those who achieve Microsoft certification. This is a credential you can use almost anywhere.

Pearson Certiport supports career development with three Microsoft certification programs. Microsoft Certified Fundamentals provides students with a range of certificate options relating to cloud computing, AI, and data science. The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) program readies students to step into any Microsoft Office use scenario and perform with fluency and expertise. Employers who require high Microsoft competency from their team might want to hire an employee who has completed the Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) program for in-house staff skills development and support.


Communication enables work teams to function and companies to engage with clients. It is vital in business, across all industries. Communication Skills for Business (CSB) is a sought-after credential that tells employers you have gained skills in oral, written, and nonverbal communication.

The ability to communicate enables you not only to relay information, but it also positions you to excel in areas such as problem solving, conflict resolution, idea generation, and leadership. Savvy and effective communicators have a voice in the workplace and garner respect from their team members.

Information Technology

Information technology (IT) is the core of modern-day business tools, and it is center stage for countless acts of innovation. Whether your interest lies in databases, programming languages, cloud computing, or any other pillars of enterprise, choosing from the long list of IT certifications available will position you to succeed in most industries. Some basic IT certifications to pursue are COMPTIA A+, Google IT Support, Cisco Certified Network Associate, and Microsoft Fundamentals.

Certificates are helpful to your career but often optional. States require licenses before employers can hire you for certain professions. These licensed jobs include:

  • Licensed practical nurse
  • Licensed dietician
  • Therapist
  • Counselor
  • Cosmetologist
  • Electrician
  • Teacher
  • Land Surveyor

Training for these careers is not enough. You may need a state license before you can legally perform your job.


Whether it’s for licensure or employee assessment, testing is a valuable quality control measure. A common testing strategy used by employers is to measure the following characteristics: knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAO).

Employers can conduct KSAO testing for hiring, assessing employee training needs, or evaluating eligibility for a change in role. For example, a customer service employee wishing to make the switch to accounting might have adequate spreadsheet skills but lack the required level of balance sheet knowledge. KSAO testing identifies this knowledge gap and pinpoints the new training required.


Knowledge is job-specific, such as accounting principles learned as part of a certification program. Professionals acquire knowledge in a classroom or from training or experience. A high school teacher can have remarkable skills in pedagogy but still lack the knowledge that qualifies them to teach certain subjects.


This category covers learned tasks, or hard skills, such as spreadsheet mastery and typing. A doctor has medical knowledge, but their ability to suture a laceration is a hard skill. Other such skills include coding, proofreading, and SEO writing.


Ability covers characteristics such as lifting strength, stair climbing stamina, and anything similar that can vary between people and prevent someone from doing certain work, such as a firefighter trainee unable to pass fitness tests. It’s fine motor ability that enables a doctor to master the skill of suturing a wound.


This category refers to job-specific variables and soft skills such as emotional intelligence, attitude, and temperament. For instance, an outside sales rep needs the confidence and charisma to connect with a continuous stream of new leads while managing the needs of existing clients. A person with this level of extroversion might not do well at a solo job conducting research or any occupation that requires extensive time in front of a screen.

Also included in this category are medical assessments to ensure that a candidate can perform the work for which they’re being considered. Employers often implement medical screening to protect the safety of the candidate, as well as to maintain a safe workplace for all.

Credentials build credibility, and assessment tools lay the foundation for consistent standards in staff skills. If you’re an employee training for a better future for yourself, the next step is to invest in relevant certification. If you’re an HR professional responsible for onboarding new talent, employee assessment testing is the second pair of eyes on candidates that helps you choose well.

The next article in our series on employee development will explore career development at the management level. For more information, contact Dover Training Institute.