Show them your badge: The expanding impact of digital badges

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This feature first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.

Is your organization using digital badges yet? If not, then what are you waiting for?Progressing through your IT career means gaining new skills. You typically have the opportunity to pursue training and learn about new products and technologies. You may even go as far as obtaining an industry-recognized certification. But how will you communicate this accomplishment to your employer?

Perhaps your manager paid for the training and certification, so you inform him or her that you’ve completed the process. Certification might be a requirement for your job, so you present a paper certificate as proof. You could simply make a casual remark after taking the exam to notify your manager that you’ve earned a new certification.

You might choose to be a little more aggressive, perhaps highlighting your accomplishment on an annual performance evaluation, or adding it to your e-mail signature and business cards.

These are all valid ways to communicate your achievement, but they might not be the most effective means of expressing the time and energy it took to learn new skills, study for and pass an exam, and perform challenging new tasks as part of your everyday role. Especially when taking into consideration people who have never been certified.

Digital convenience

It is important for you to be able to communicate the effort that goes into your certification achievements, along with the role that you play within your organization. And there has never been a better time to use technology to bring that about.

With an increasingly mobile workforce, more and more people are switching to social and digital forms of communication each day — almost everything seems to be just a click away. Why shouldn’t it be just as simple as sending a text, for example, for those who hold industry-recognized certifications to be properly acknowledged?

Individuals who must meet shifting market demands are adapting to digital transformation and will help speed innovation while simplifying operations. These trendsetters provide an energetic advantage to the workforce and entice others to accept new changes, helping to foster a creative, leading edge workforce atmosphere.

There’s already a solution for certified professionals who want their credentials to be easily seen and shared, as well as instantly verifiable: digital badges.

Verifying credentials

Digital badges are now an essential tool for employers and candidates alike. As skilled professionals become more scarce, and companies struggle to find the qualified talent they need, salaries are on the rise. Given the increasingly competitive IT job market, verifying the qualifications of potential employees has become a priority for employers.

Vetting potential employees, in fact, ought to be a mandatory step in any recruitment process to ensure that applicants’ claimed qualifications are valid. Skipping this step is a recipe for potentially wasting resources on the wrong hire. Unfortunately, verifying claimed certifications and other skills is often not as simple as it could (or should) be.

For many, the first problem is determining how qualifications can be checked. Many firms will ask a candidate to e-mail a scanned copy of their certificates, but such scans can be easily falsified. Asking the candidate to present their certificates in person is better, but still doesn’t guarantee validity. Proper verification typically requires time and resources.

Another problematic question is that of whose responsibility it is to verify certifications. Sometimes the verification step gets lost in a maze of the parties involved in any hiring, including, potentially, hiring manager, recruiters, HR administrators, onboarding personnel, or even an external recruitment agency.

Third, qualification checks are usually one of the last steps in the recruitment cycle and, as a time-consuming administrative task, are often pushed to the bottom of the to-do list, and sometimes even forgotten altogether.

There’s no surefire way of eliminating these concerns, but they can be largely simplified by using digital badges.

What is a digital badge?

A digital badge is a shareable electronic file that replaces the need for a paper certificate. Badges are secure, web-enabled credentials that contain granular, verified information employers can use to evaluate an individual’s potential.

In simple terms, a digital badge is an image that you can share across social media. You can attach it to your e-mail signature, or use it on any other digital media. The badge is linked to unique metadata that verifies that you hold the represented certification, provides information on certification requirements you completed, and lists the certified skills you can be expected to have mastered.

For the candidate, a digital badge is a quick and easy means of advertising certified skills. For the hiring manager, a digital badge is a valid, secure, and convenient way to verify certification, skills, and knowledge. When Oracle surveyed certified professionals following a badging pilot program, 73 percent of respondents found badging to be more useful than any prior solution.

Anyone can verify an Oracle certification by clicking on an Oracle digital badge. The badge showcases the candidate’s hard work and validates his or her expertise.

For employers, the use of certification digital badges is a massive boost to background checks, enabling HR teams to instantly and securely authenticate a prospective employee’s skills and competencies. This minimizes the potential risk of hiring unqualified personnel, and reduces the HR administrative and ownership burden. The result is faster, more confident, and, above all, more valid hiring decisions.

Get the benefits

Is your organization using digital badges yet? If not, then what are you waiting for?As much as digital badges can ease burdens on employers, however, they offer much more to individuals. For example, consider the following three important benefits of using digital badges.

A digital badge can highlight your accomplishments across social media, including on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also use it as part of your e-mail signature and display it on any résumés that you post online or submit electronically. The badge is a symbol of your hard work, professionalism, and commitment.

Beyond just showcasing what you’ve learned, however, digital badges can be an asset to your next job search, making it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to find your résumé and evaluate your skills. A digital badge is like a tracking beacon that gets your résumé to the top of the slush pile.

Finally, by using digital badges, you are doing your part to protect the value of certifications in the marketplace. It’s much harder to fake a digital badge than to simply claim a certification on a résumé, or create a bogus paper certificate. As digital badges become more widely adopted and used, it will become much harder for cheaters to “game” the system.

By switching to digital badges, Oracle is leading the charge to a better future for certification. If badging is not available from your certification provider, then encourage them to switch over. Using digital badges for certification is better for all of us.

Note: Oracle provides digital badging for all current certifications, for more information click here.

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Brandye Barrington and Diana Gray

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Diana Gray is Senior Principal Curriculum Product Manager at Oracle. Brandye Barrington is Senior Certification Program Manager at Oracle.

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