Special offer 

Jumpstart your hiring with a $75 credit to sponsor your first job.*

Sponsored Jobs are 2.6x times faster to first hire than non-sponsored jobs.**
  • Attract the talent you’re looking for
  • Get more visibility in search results
  • Appear to more candidates longer

What Are Credentials? An Employer’s Guide to Job Credentials

Employers today face changes as job markets evolve and career credentials become more complex—and critical—to navigating the process of recruiting and hiring. Covering a wide spectrum from traditional college degrees to niche industry certifications, job credentials can indicate the qualifications, skills and core competencies that employees have within your organization. 

Digital badges and online authentications within your workspace usually depend on the position that employees hold. In this guide, we explore what credentials are, the different types and their significance, and how your company can effectively evaluate and leverage them to move your business forward.

Post a Job

What are credentials?

Job credentials validate candidate and employee expertise with formal recognition like diplomas and degrees, professional training like certification programs and nontraditional methods like work experience. Let’s break these three types of job credentials down further so you know what to expect when it comes to hiring and managing your workforce.

Traditional education

Educational institutions like high schools, colleges and universities provide traditional job credentials. These diplomas and degrees acknowledge completion of structured study programs, helping to ensure that job candidates and employees have the critical thinking skills and expansive knowledge to succeed in their individual fields. Many companies have educational requirements for job seekers and employees, but others have relaxed those demands in the face of degree inflation, a tight labor market and the realization that most workers do need to have an advanced education.

Professional training

Professional training can offer numerous benefits for job seekers. These types of job credentials show that candidates or employees have specific skills and competencies. While traditional education has a broad scope in terms of knowledge, professional training focuses more on applying skills in a practical way to get the job done.

Some examples of credentials that arise from professional training include:

  • Certificates. These job credentials show that job seekers have specific skill sets and knowledge bases gleaned through specialized courses. 
  • Licenses. Certain professionals require a license to perform the job, ensuring the candidate or employee has met the exacting standards for specific fields. 
  • Badges. Also called micro-credentials, these digital job credentials validate skill acquisition, such as coding prowess, achieved through specific learning programs. 

Nontraditional methods

Nontraditional job credentials prove more important than ever in an evolving, skills-first job market where knowing how to do a job in practice matters more than the theory. The methods for confirming these credentials can range from perusing portfolios and project work to homing in on relevant work experience. Because many jobs don’t require strict educational requirements, it can benefit employers to seek out a more holistic hiring strategy that includes candidates with the skills and experience necessary to meet the company’s needs.

Job credentials’ importance when hiring

Employers need special skills for most jobs, so credentials let companies know whether candidates can properly fill open positions. Essential to the hiring process, job credentials let employers quickly verify candidate qualifications, which can streamline the recruitment and hiring process. Likewise, ensuring the candidates have a firm foundation in the transferable skills you need reduces the time and resources spent training new workers.

Core competencies

Keep in mind, however, that job credentials have importance beyond just checking qualifications—they can help you understand candidates’ core competencies. 

For example, someone you’re looking at for your IT department might have a broad degree in computer science but also have the latest cybersecurity certifications to provide added confidence in their abilities. This nuanced understanding of what the job seeker has to offer, in addition to the bare basics, helps bring your company’s staff into alignment with its overarching objectives.

Diverse experiences

Hiring employees with a broader range of job credentials also helps you curate a more diverse workforce. When you use different credential types in your employment process, you can gain access to larger pools of talent, which potentially fosters creativity and innovation due to companies better recognizing and accommodating their core markets. Likewise, having people from diverse backgrounds and with varied experiences on your team lets you look at things from multiple points of view, which may enhance problem-solving abilities and give your company a competitive edge in tight markets.

Effectively evaluating job credentials

Identifying quality candidates relies on your hiring staff knowing how to effectively evaluate job credentials. More than just checking qualifications against job requirements or utilizing the services of a credentialing specialist, evaluating job credentials requires a comprehensive plan that may even incorporate advanced technologies.

Develop a clear-cut framework

When checking job credentials, first decide on role-specific standards that potential employees should meet. You can do this by listing the skills, qualifications and experience level essential for someone in that position. Next, train your hiring staff to follow the framework you create and ensure they know how to evaluate various examples of credentials they may encounter, including educational levels, certifications and nontraditional experience. Making your evaluation criteria uniform enables you and your staff to assess each candidate fairly for an effective, consistent way to measure their job credentials.

Use technology to verify job credentials

Digital tools and databases simplify the process of job credential verification by letting your hiring staff search out candidates who applied and check their resumes against their qualifications. Great for speeding up the vetting process in a highly accurate fashion, some candidates even place their job credentials on the blockchain.

Developing your workforce by leveraging job credentials

Adding credentialing to internal training programs may help you improve development initiatives within your workforce. Excellent for fostering a company culture that leans heavily into continuous improvement, credentialing programs heighten employee capabilities and bring their career path goals into better alignment with the objectives of your company. A focus in this area also helps resolve skill gaps within your organization, provides promotion pathways for individual employees and may even aid in reducing employee turnover rates.

By encouraging your employees to work toward much-needed job credentials, you boost their motivation and support their career advancement. This provides them with advanced skills and knowledge and lets them feel like they’ve achieved something helpful to everyone involved.

What this means for you is a more competent workforce that’s adaptable enough to roll with the changes and innovate when required to keep things moving forward. This, in turn, keeps your company competitive within its industry and helps you respond more effectively to cutting-edge trends and integrate new technology into your business plan.

Considerations and challenges with job credentials

When you know what the job credentials are, you may think using them to validate candidates is simple. But there are some considerations and challenges to keep in mind. Credential inflation may put generalized skills at the forefront of hiring when what your company really needs is top-tier skills. In most cases, it doesn’t matter if candidates learned those skills through the educational process or on the job; it just matters that they can do the job. This means that you may need to look for someone who can practically apply knowledge or experience to the open position rather than someone who ticks off the exact qualifications but has no job performance track record.

In the same way that credential inflation sometimes devalues job credentials, it can also lead to a workforce who all possess the same basic skills without niche-specific training. This homogenous approach to hiring may reduce innovation and decrease diversity in ideas. None of this means, however, that job credentials aren’t important. Instead, it points to the need to carefully evaluate every facet of a potential hire’s suitability for the job, including other practical and soft skills they have, what other types of experience they bring to the table and how well they communicate and get along with others.

FAQs about job credentials

What other types of credentials are referred to by employers?

Another type of credentialing involves physical movement within your facility and access to information systems within it. These digital job credentials may include badges that let employees scan into your office, shop, factory or warehouse and enter secure areas based on their jobs and passwords. Remote workers use their credentials to connect to company networks, complete their tasks and communicate with other workers. When your HR department onboards new employees, part of that process is providing them with the digital authentication they need to log in to company platforms and perform their jobs.

How do employers keep up with rapid changes in credentialing?

Continuously monitoring trends within your industry while touching base frequently with professional organizations that provide job credentials can help you stay on top of your hiring game. You can also partner with reputable online platforms and academic programs to ensure you know the latest developments and even gain access to a ready pool of candidates.

Post a Job

Ready to get started?

Post a Job

*Indeed provides this information as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your recruiting or legal advisor, we are not responsible for the content of your job descriptions, and none of the information provided herein guarantees performance.

Editorial Guidelines