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Imagine graduating from school with a degree in marketing only to find out that a significant portion of what you know is already outdated or inapplicable due to changes in the market. This is a reality of the working world today due to an increasingly fast-paced business environment, where disruption is the norm rather than the exception.

However, there is good news: certifications offer a mechanism for formalizing knowledge and competencies around a specific topic area without requiring the time and financial investment of a degree. For example, Hubspot has supported the broader marketing profession by offering certifications to help marketers remain relevant and valuable.

That same pace of change applies to recruiting – what worked for recruiting 15 years ago (or to be honest, even five years ago) doesn’t translate well to what works today, especially for enterprise firms. Competition for talent is fiercer than ever, and the tools and technologies that have emerged in the wake of new expectations and strategies are countless.

With all this change, it begs an important question: why has it taken so long for certifications around emerging disciplines, like recruitment marketing, to bubble up in talent acquisition?

Why Certification in Talent Acquisition?

Luckily, we’re seeing change in the nick of time: SmashFly pioneered a certification for recruitment marketing that has garnered a significant amount of industry attention in the past year. But to answer the above question bluntly, in today’s fast-paced work environment, education is not fast enough to keep up with the industry.

Of all of the disciplines within the human capital spectrum, talent acquisition is the fastest moving. My research spans across learning, talent management, core HR, and talent acquisition, but the most challenging to keep up with is talent acquisition. Even when I worked as a practitioner, recruiting was always the most innovative outlet for energy compared to other disciplines in human capital management. This pace demands special attention on the depth and breadth of the profession. Yet there’s no degree that helps recruiters learn and excel at talent acquisition. In fact, today’s recruiting is virtually all learning on the job through experience, mentoring, case studies, and, a lot of the time, trial and error.

That’s one reason certification should be an important component for everyone in the recruiting field: putting a stake in the ground and showing mastery of certain knowledge and competencies is a powerful way to help the industry mature. But in a comprehensive analysis of other standard certifications that touch on HR as a profession, neither of the two main options do justice to modern talent acquisition. In fact, they don’t even mention concepts like employer branding, recruitment marketing, or recruiting technology.

In spite of this lack of coverage (or perhaps because of it), SmashFly has developed a recruitment marketing certification that fills a critical gap in the market. This signifies the opportunity to meet a key need of the marketplace, but it also points to the maturity of the profession as well. It’s no longer the Wild West in terms of tactics and strategies; there are now more rigorous, time-tested approaches to recruitment marketing that should be passed along to those looking for an edge in the war for talent.


Will Certification Become a Requirement for Tomorrow’s Talent Professionals?

When employers are hiring recruiters, they have to ask a lot of questions and dig into experience to understand how much those recruiters actually know. Talent acquisition, like many professions, has a wide range of skills and abilities, and each of those has its own requisite levels of mastery. Currently, it’s difficult to gauge those levels of mastery in any objective way, especially with emerging disciplines like recruitment marketing introducing a new set of skills that are, in my perspective, critical to modern talent acquisition.

As a profession that spends a lot of time filtering candidates to find high-quality ones, we know better than anyone that just putting “recruiter” on your resume isn’t enough to demonstrate that you can do the job. A certification helps clarify the knowledge, skills and expertise candidates have as a foundation, plus can offer a potential specialty as well. For example:

  • If an enterprise is looking for an executive to manage the talent acquisition function, showing a competence in some specialized areas can make the candidate stand out from the crowd.
  • If a firm is hoping to hire a specialist with deep knowledge of recruitment marketing, the certification offers a path to help differentiate the candidate at a glance.

Practitioners in the recruiting field can use certifications to help differentiate themselves from the crowded applicant pool. When I’ve opened recruiter requisitions in the past, it amazed me how many applications I would get from people with no experience sourcing candidates, building nurture campaigns, or tracking hiring metrics.

For a long time, one of the biggest factors in recruiting performance was being able to dial the phone and sell a candidate. Now candidates are much more informed and like to do their research before making a choice in employer. That changing set of expectations means recruiters need a new set of skills to be competitive. For example, in a quick job search, I find more than 500 openings that include recruitment marketing as a key part of the job. This number is only going to increase over time as more employers look for ways to differentiate talent acquisition performance, such as through advanced recruitment marketing and automation.

An Outsider’s Take on SmashFly’s Certification

Taking a look at the recruitment marketing certifications available, I’d like to make a few observations about SmashFly’s approach.

  • If someone wants a job as a recruiter at a firm using technology, but they haven’t used recruitment marketing technology before, that means they are at a disadvantage. Being able to observe the technology at work in the certification process is a major advantage.
  • That said, it’s not about the technology in the certification SmashFly has developed. It’s about the requisite skills that apply regardless of the tools being used. Building a campaign, targeting candidates, and finding ways to appeal to segments of the prospect market are evergreen concepts that will follow someone throughout their career.
  • While I am a fan of webinars and other tools for self-driven learning, there’s something powerful about having a curriculum to force you to go deep in a specific area. You can’t learn the core components of recruitment marketing in a one hour webinar, but you can learn enough key concepts in a certification to make yourself more valuable and knowledgeable.

One of my favorite quotes, “a rising tide lifts all boats,” illustrates my feeling about this certification. Suffice to say I’m excited about the approach SmashFly has taken and about what is on the horizon.

As more individuals flow through the certification program, the recruiting profession will only get better as more intelligent people keep looking for ways to improve the hiring process. More companies will have well-informed recruiting teams working to hire the best people for the job. And more candidates will enjoy a well-crafted candidate experience.

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