I began my CPLP journey three years ago, when I was looking for professional development opportunities. I felt stagnant in my job and wanted to find a way to stretch myself and develop new skills. To do this, I joined my local ATD chapter board and became the vice president of technology and social media. I learned a great deal about the CPLP certification, which led me to research the certification process to see how it was valued in the marketplace.
I realized that as more and more employers learn about the value of the CPLP certification, they’re recognizing how candidates with the CPLP credential will benefit their organizations. While scoping out the job market, I saw “CPLP preferred” stated on job postings for big-name companies that I might be interested in working for in the future.
Additionally, I read the list of CPLP-preferred companies on the CPLP webpage to get an idea of how widely the CPLP certification is known in the field. When I saw the caliber of the employers who wanted candidates with the CPLP credential, I decided I wanted to obtain the certification for my own professional development.
My next step was to find current CPLP credential holders in my chapter. I asked them all types of questions, such as, “Would you do it again?” and “Have you found the credential helpful in your job?” It was tremendously beneficial for me to hear about their experiences. I talked with some people who were not successful as well, which was an early warning sign that this goal was going to be a challenge. However, that’s what I wanted: a professional development challenge.
As an ATD member, I’d seen notices about CPLP training and read the essays from successful candidates. I’d put the CPLP on my “Eventually to Do” list. Then the government contract I worked on came up for rebid, which resulted in positions and salaries being cut to make my organization more competitive. I began looking at available opportunities outside the Department of Defense, but several of the jobs I was interested in required candidates to have CPLP certification.
To be clear, I am a senior instructional systems designer with almost 20 years of experience, and I’ve won numerous awards that prove my knowledge of the field. Nevertheless, I did not have the required certification to apply for these jobs, so I couldn’t compete. Luckily for me, I still had a job (unlike several of my colleagues), so I decided to pursue the CPLP certification in earnest. It really is a career-defining credential, and I wanted my next career move to be up, not down.
With my decision made, I purchased the study materials, along with flashcards and a test CD, and created a schedule—I even kept to the schedule for quite a while! However, the more I read, the more hours of my life that were eaten away, and the more tests I took, the more discouraged I became.
It was hard to come home after a full day of work, deal with household and family matters, and then sequester myself to review the content. It seemed impossible to fit the reams of material required for the CPLP Knowledge Exam into my head. Frankly, I was both bored and frightened. I began to question myself and my expertise. I read the chapters, took notes, and completed the practice tests, but the knowledge didn’t seem to stick.
I finally sat down and had a stern talk with myself. What was wrong? And then it came to me: I’m a trainer! I interact with people, exchange ideas, discuss topics, explain concepts, and ask questions. What I needed was a community of people who were studying for their CPLP certifications. I needed to interact with human beings. So I set out to find a community of CPLP Knowledge Exam candidates. That is when I found Yvonne and her virtual study group. Joining this group changed everything.
As Georgie mentioned, I started a virtual study group through my chapter board. I thought that by leading the virtual study group, I would put myself in the position to achieve my CPLP certification goal. The first two virtual study groups fizzled out over time. I began to realize that while many people are interested in getting the CPLP certification, not all who start will finish.
There were a number of reasons people dropped out, such as job changes, relocation, and family or health issues. Perhaps the biggest reason people dropped out was the sheer amount of effort required to complete the CPLP journey. It’s not easy, to say the least. You have got to be fully committed to pursue this certification. If you are not totally committed, then you may want to wait before you put any money on the table, so to speak.
Not to be discouraged, I continued to lead virtual study groups for the Colorado and Wyoming area, although chapter membership was not a requirement. Finally, several people joined the group who were wholly committed to the certification goal and to one another. This is an important point. To participate in a study group, you and your peers need to be committed to one another’s success.
As the leader of the study group, I kept the team moving forward with weekly meetings—generally during lunchtime each Friday. We met over the phone and via a screen-sharing tool. We all worked to determine the best way to study together and successfully complete the Knowledge Exam.
To find out how we did it, look for the second article in this three-part series.
Learn more about the CPLP certification.