Six Sigma: Getting an Edge in Today’s Job Market

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SuitRecent graduates entering the workforce and seasoned professionals have more in common than it might at first appear, and at the top of the list of similarities are that hard-earned college degrees they all hold in their chosen professions.

While the value of those degrees is more obvious than ever — an April Bloomberg report reflects that power in terms of real earnings, in the context of increasingly sophisticated tech expectations — it’s the wise professional who maintains a competitive edge with a resume that reflects continuing education.

One continuing education option for many working professionals, seasoned or not, is certification in Six Sigma methods. In some cases, Six Sigma certification is absolutely necessary because entire industries — health care readily comes to mind — have gravitated toward the Six Sigma framework, so much so that it now shapes their operations and organizations. For job seekers in these sectors, countless employment listings require Six Sigma certification — and they are all unavailable to you, regardless of your other credentials and experience, unless you have that certification.

The Numbers Tell the Real Six Sigma Story

Take project management positions as an example. One recent Project Management Institute report estimates the creation of 6.2 million new project management jobs this decade, and the folks at Software Advice took note. They analyzed 300 positions posted last year, all requiring project management expertise in health care, IT, and aerospace industries. Their findings reflect the high value of professional certifications like Six Sigma or Project Management Professional, which were required or preferred in 52 percent of the job postings — even more than the 49 percent of those same jobs requiring at least a bachelor’s degree.

PlaneTraining in models like Six Sigma doesn’t just “look good” on paper. The Six Sigma model, based on disciplined approaches to data-driven decisions, means that employers know that you have the kind of training that embodies the sought-after qualities they find ideal in potential job candidates. Among these characteristics are prized critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, which are at the heart of the Six Sigma design for assessments, based on the DMAIC matrix and related methods that Six Sigma offers.

Because it’s a process improvement model, the Six Sigma emphasis on quality — originating with the Motorola Corporation decades ago, and widely used at companies like GE — is applied today at many businesses that place the customer at the center of all operations and business units. What a Six Sigma certification tells employers is that a potential job candidate understands quality in both product and process, and that they also have that same expectation of quality for themselves. It’s a win, win, and win.

When an employer reviews those select resumes that have made it to the top, it becomes obvious and attractive when a candidate has made the choices that deserve the highest level of consideration. That begins with an emphasis on how the candidate’s skill sets and abilities will add value — certainly in terms of profitability and ROI, which is one of the reasons why a specific Lean Six Sigma course was designed.

Six Sigma Has Value for Employers, and for You

As businesses seek to optimize the value of their resources, many seek a lean approach that really works without sacrificing the commitment to customers and quality, and without damaging corporate culture. The bottom line for a recruiter who sees Six Sigma certification as part of a candidate’s overall portrait is that they’re getting more than a rote knowledge of quality systems: they’re getting a quality person, because that training and commitment has been internalized and expressed in all that person becomes.

ReaderRecruiters will have a reasonable expectation that the quality and process priorities that a potential candidate has learned in Six Sigma certification, at any level of implementation for which they’ve gained mastery, will remain true for that candidate’s approach to reports, reassessments, restaurants, retreats, and retweets.

But as valuable as the overarching soft skills developed in Six Sigma training may be, the certification and the Six Sigma philosophy remain committed to process and profitability. The statistical tools on which Six Sigma is based lead to real cost reductions and quality improvements. In health care, that may mean a change in time-to-discharge for patients, or an assessment of how joint replacements are done. In logistics, it may be how an aerospace firm deals with skyrocketing order volumes. For IT professionals, it may mean a sought-after decrease in project duration times.

For you, Six Sigma could mean the professional success you wish to achieve in the position you really want.

By Mike DiLeo