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How Digital Credentials are transforming recruitment

There is one crucial HR function that has been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic – recruitment. 

According to conservative estimates by Australia’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), around 25% of people misrepresent their CV skills, qualifications, certifications, and experience. 

Recently reported trends in the hiring space suggest that the pressure is on, and the need for trusted and reliable credential checks are at an all-time high for two reasons:

Firstly, we are slowly progressing to a skills-based employment model, which requires candidates to show evidence of relevant education or knowledge in a particular area. 

Secondly, despite the rumoured talent shortage, the number of candidates applying for individual roles is increasing, putting pressure on individual HR teams who may find themselves spread thin. 

HR teams are calling out for a robust and trustworthy verification process that can save them time and offer security that a new placement will go the distance.

This is where digital credentials come into play.

What are digital credentials?

Supplied by companies such as the Australian digital credentialing agency, Learning Vault, digital badges represent a virtual acknowledgment of an earned qualification or certification, demonstrated skill, or professional achievement.

Each credential contains secure metadata about the recipient, including their accomplishments and activities, the authority or organisation that issued the credential, the date issued and expiry date if applicable, and a description of the credential.

Credentials can range from qualifications, such as a bachelor’s degree, and certifications, such as Chartered Accountant or Registered Nurse, to vaccination status, skills such as First Aid, authorisations, police checks, and Working With Children Checks. 

These credentials are then stored in a digital passport or portfolio that can be shared confidentially with businesses, employers or organisations that need to know or publicly via social media, email, or text message.

Leading digital credential systems are secure, verifiable, flexible, and shareable, with encrypted data stored on secure local servers so that credentials cannot be copied or tampered with in any way.

Using digital credentials when hiring

During the hiring process, an applicant can submit their résumé, including their digital credentials, which HR teams can then review, verify and integrate into the candidate’s application.

Should the employer wish to investigate further, they can see details of what the candidate had to do to receive that credential, for example, a list of competency standards and from which organisation it was authorised. 

HR teams then have the power to quickly pass on candidates who do not meet the criteria for certain roles or even use the digital credentials process to compare competency between competing candidates.

This facilitates a more straightforward process that matches people with appropriate skills and knowledge to the right roles. 

Seamless candidate matching

Imagine a world where your next role requires a varied or unique range of skills, such as an accountancy qualification, proficiency in Microsoft Excel, Xero accounting software, strong interpersonal skills, and management experience.

It could take time to verify these qualifications from a traditional CV, especially if the candidate does not list them clearly, or deems them too obvious to include at all.

Now, with a candidate who has submitted a resume using digital credentials, these attributes can come listed and verified upon submission so that the application will read as 100% verified in, for example: 

  • Certified Member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand: certified practitioner, meeting annual CPD requirements issued by CAANZ
  • Advanced Proficiency in Microsoft Excel: micro-credential issued by Microsoft 365
  • Mastery of Xero, Level 4: certified practitioner issued by Xero
  • Emotional Intelligence Self/Others/ Business: micro-credential program issued by a leading Australian training provider
  • 5 Years Manager Award: issued by a previous employer, a reputable consulting firm, highlighting what the candidate had to do each year for the five years to receive this achievement.

Without even reviewing the candidate’s résumé, you can see that this candidate has the necessary skills and knowledge, independently verified, to be considered for shortlisting. 

Other uses for digital credentials 

Digital credentials can also be used for cases where the candidate is not qualified yet but may be close to achievement.

For example, undergraduates who apply for internships may have completed relevant courses within a program without finishing the entire qualification.

In this instance, HR teams will be able to see how far along the candidate is; which areas they are proficient in, and which components are remaining. 

HR teams can also use digital credentials outside of hiring tasks, such as for keeping abreast of training and courses that are completed throughout their employment.

For example, a business may wish to put certain levels of management, such as low-level supervisors, through a 2-day intensive course. All supervisors that participated in this program receive a digital badge for completing this two-day program from your organisation. 

The credential would include what the candidate learnt, how long the program went for, who facilitated the program, and what assessment components happened throughout the program, including any metrics that were required to be met or achieved to complete the program successfully. 

Organisational benefits

There are two obvious benefits to this practice; for example, your organisation is positioned as an employer of choice due to this visible investment in people and personal development – something which many candidates are favouring over other employment benefits in 2022. 

Secondly, digital credentials provide a snapshot of an employee’s status at a particular time. So they can also be used to indicate where renewal or continuing professional development (CPD) activities need to be maintained.

For example, many state workplace codes of practice state there must be at least one qualified first aider on shift and all times, and that requires renewal of the CPR component every 12 months and the full course to be renewed every three years. 

If HR has these digital credentials on file, the organisation can meet compliance standards by re-enrolling employees in the appropriate course in a timely manner.

Businesses can also use digital credentials as an internal rewards system, whereby a record of achievements and training taken part in can be assessed on an annual basis and translated into awards of recognition for employers.

By highlighting internal wins, businesses encourage and reward an ongoing commitment to development, which benefits the organisation’s growth and the people within it. 

Trust in digital is growing

Digital credentials are emerging as a robust and trustworthy system for education organisations, industry associations, professional groups and corporates of all sizes to independently award and verify qualifications, certifications, training and experience. 

These badges have a range of uses both within a business and outside of it. Internally, HR can not only use digital credentials to understand staff capability and to check that employees are ‘fit for work’ with the right checks, but can also use digital credentials to strengthen safety measures.

For example, vaccination status, a current Working With Children Check, valid driver’s licence – and monitor for expiring credentials that need renewal. 

Digital credentials have endless uses. As more organisations adopt credentialing strategies and unpack the pain points in their organisations, the more valuable, portable, and critical they will become. 

Read more: Hiring in a pandemic: potential versus experience

Read more: Let’s Talk: Degree or experience? Deciding what to look for when hiring newcomers

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Nicholas Robert

Nicholas Robert

Nicholas Robert is the co-founder and CEO at Australian digital credentialing agency Learning Vault. Nicholas has extensive experience within the edutech and management consultancy sectors, including a deep knowledge of compliance, technology, and customisation.

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