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Would certification help me secure freelance work?

Dear Molly: Can you see using PCanywhere and MOUS in a home-based business? I am looking for freelancing opportunities and thought I could use MOUS and Quickbooks Pro Certification to help small businesses. Thanks.

Molly says: If you’re thinking about offering your services to help them get their overflow paper work and accounting done — the way typing services used to do before computers and word processing programs entered the scene — you might not need a certification at all.

If you’re confident of your computer abilities, then all you would need the certification for is to prove that you can do what you say you can. That will become evident after you complete the first job. In my experience, if people need independent-contractor help, they’re usually willing to give you a small assignment to test you out. If they like your work, they’ll give you more — regardless of the certifications or the amount of experience you have.

With accounting, though, you’ll have to prove that you understand accounting — not how to use the software. Who wants an accountant or bookkeeper who understands the software, but doesnÕt know the difference between a debit and credit? You may need to take a few courses in business accounting to get rolling in this area.

My suggestion is to try to enlist one or two clients, even if they are sympathetic relatives, to give you a portfolio of work to show (letters you’ve done, spreadsheets you’ve created) and a list of references. Then go from there, adding clients and building up the business.

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. To ask a career-related question, reach her at [email protected]

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