Common Misconceptions About Skilled Credentials

As you embark on your journey to integrate skilled credentials and more holistic hiring and retention practices, you may find misconceptions are holding you or your colleagues back from integrating them into your hiring strategy.


Jobs for the Future (JFF) and the SHRM Foundation convened four “Learning Labs,” or interactive workshops, with HR professionals, hiring managers and business leaders to solicit deeper feedback on their experiences with and perceptions of skilled credentials. Here are some of the learnings about common misconceptions:


THEY ARE “ALTERNATIVES” TO SOMETHING, such as a two- or four-year degree or specific amount of work experience. In reality, they demonstrate a proven mastery of skills that can replace or augment existing credentials. The name “skilled credentials” could be considered a misnomer, and a different, more accurate naming may serve to clarify their true nature.


THEY HAVE LESS VALUE THAN TRADITIONAL CREDENTIALS AND DEGREES. This issue often arises when developing minimum and preferred qualifications for job descriptions, essentially locking out many candidates. In fact, these credentials provide evolving knowledge that may be more aligned with the current and future skills employers are looking for and demonstrate that candidates can perform in the job. HR professionals and hiring managers should more closely scrutinize the true skills a job requires when considering minimum/preferred qualifications in a job description.


THERE ARE TOO MANY CREDENTIALS, AND EVALUATING THEM IS COMPLICATED AND TIME- CONSUMING, so they are too cumbersome to consider in hiring and promotion decisions. However, tools and methods to assess the value of credentials are available. Many credentials also have become recognized, trusted brands and are industry-accepted indicators of skills.


THEY ARE NOT NECESSARY TO HIRE TOP TALENT. This perception is shortsighted in the era of the Great Resignation. It’s a sellers’ (talent) market now, and candidates want employers to recognize and value skilled credentials. What seems extraneous to some may in fact be the solution to accessing untapped talent and creating a more diverse, inclusive workforce.


THEY ARE A FAD OF THE CURRENT LABOR MARKET. Skilled credentials are here to stay in a new economy that values skills and industry alignment. Declining U.S. birth rates, rising costs of higher education and rapidly evolving technologies mean skilled credentials will continue to expand as a way to close the skills gap.




Learn more about SHRM Foundation’s Skilled Credentials at Work initiative and the value skilled credentials can bring to your workplace and building a diverse workforce here. Gain insights, the business case and starting points for implementing a skills-based hiring strategy in your workplace.

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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