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Burnishing Your Trade Credentials

Category: Resources

Trade association programs can add luster to your resume and improve your job performance

by Bill Armbruster, blog anchor

One of the mantras of the past few years has been that job hunters can improve their prospects by getting trained in new fields. In many cases, that means going back to school, full- or part-time, to get a degree.

But there are ways to increase your knowledge of international trade that are less costly, more convenient, and may even be more valuable in advancing your career. These are the programs, from conferences to formal training, offered by trade organizations.

The Long Island Import Export Association (LIIEA), for example, has seven seminars throughout the year that provide continuing education for industry professionals.

As I see it, the main benefits of these programs are that they enable you to stay abreast of industry developments and to learn more so you can do your job better.

They also present good opportunities to network and socialize with other professionals in your field – and to market yourself to prospective employers, even as you enhance your marketability.

Roxanna Zarnegar, chief operating officer for Christie’s in the Americas, says the first thing she checks on a resume is the back page so she can see the person’s formal education. “I look at continuing education as the second most important thing because the world is changing so fast, especially in the last three years,” she explains, citing the market downturn and weak economy. “So you have people with high levels of education trying to reinvent themselves.”

“A brief summary of conferences, educational programs, and continuing education courses is very helpful. It shows that a candidate has an interest in improving their subject matter expertise aside from what they learn internally,” agrees Bill Conroy, executive director of Tyler Search Consultants, which specializes in recruiting trade compliance specialists.

The trade compliance director for a major importer and exporter says he would wonder why an applicant coming to him is not a member of the International Compliance Professionals Association or doesn’t have a record of attending industry conferences.

Pat Moffett, vice president of Audiovox Electronics and LIIEA’s founder, is a big proponent of continuing education, but skeptical of degree programs in logistics, even at universities with prestigious supply-chain management departments. “You’d think they could offer a course in ocean transportation,” he complains.

Preparation courses for the customs broker licensing exam may be the best example of continuing education targeting a specific job category. For many, the Certified Customs Specialist and Certified Export Specialist designations, awarded by the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) at the successful conclusion of a six-month course, represent far more realistic chances for advancement.

Once earned, the designations must be maintained by earning 20 continuing education credits a year. Credits can be garnered by participating in NCBFAA events, or attending conferences or seminars offered by private organizations and consulting firms such as the World Academy, Sandler and Travis Trade Advisors, and Expeditors Tradewin. Seminars and conferences sponsored by local customs brokers associations, regional business groups such as the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade, and national organizations like the American Association of Exporters and Importers, can all count towards maintaining the CCS and CES certifications.

I have focused here on the value of education programs for employees seeking to bolster their credentials. There are benefits for employers as well – and my next column will explore those.

About Bill Armbruster

Bill Armbruster, the anchor for the Datamyne Blog has covered shipping and trade for 30 years as a reporter and editor with The Journal of Commerce and Shipping Digest. “I’ll be blogging on headline news and current issues in oceangoing commerce, trying to shed some light on the backstories and, wherever I can, supply some sound advice for shippers.” Write Bill care of [email protected].

Date posted: April 27, 2011

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