Amybeth Hale – Research Goddess

Industry Certifications – What’s The Value?
October 5, 2008, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Education, Public Relations, Recruiting, Research

David Mullen posed a very interesting question recently on the PR industry’s APR designation and its worth to those who pursue and obtain it. He says,

“…I’m wondering if APR means as much as it’s made out to mean these days. For the record, I’m all for professional development, training and working to become the best practitioner you can. I think PRSA does a great job connecting professionals and offering ways for us all to get smarter about the business. I’m not sure, though, that APR is the highest mark of excellence in the PR practice that is necessary to prove you’re a kick-ass pro, as some have made it out to be. Doesn’t your body of great work tell that story, too?”

The last sentence there speaks volumes – shouldn’t your track record of performance speak for itself. I believe that those of us in the recruiting industry have some of the same issues. For the record, I do possess a CIR designation through AIRS. Am I proud to have obtained this? Sure I am. But quite honestly, the only reason I have it is because I was a runner-up in a contest put on by AIRS early last year and my prize was the opportunity to take the certification course and earn the CIR designation. Had that not been the case, I’d still be plain old Amybeth Hale, Research Goddess. The bottom line is that taking the course is expensive, and the companies I worked for previously either did not have the budget to allow me to take the course or did not see the value in me earning it. As well, once I did earn the CIR last spring, I received no raise and no promotion.

There are s-o-o-o-o-o-o-o many certifications that may be earned within the recruiting world. Just to give you an idea of a few of the certs, here are some of the ones that I know of:

With the ASA (American Staffing Association):

  • CSP – Certified Staffing Professional
  • TCS – Technical Services Certified
  • WRC – Workers’ Compensation Risk Certification
With NAPS (National Association of Personnel Services):
  • CPC – Certified Personnel Consultant
  • CTS – Certified Temporary-Staffing Specialist
  • PRC – Physician Recruiting Consultant
With SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management):
  • PHR – Professional in Human Resources
  • SPHR – Senior Professional in Human Resources
  • GPHR – Global Professional in Human Resources
With AIRS:
  • CIR – Certified Internet Recruiter
  • ACIR – Advanced Certified Internet Recruiter
  • CDR – Certified Diversity Recruiter

I do believe that there are some industry certifications which are worth earning, but not really for someone in my role. The reason I say this is because I’ve never heard of anyone getting a raise or a promotion in a research role by earning a certification. Please let me know if you have a different story. This may not be the case for recruiters – I think that when an MRI-affiliated recruiter earned a CSAM (Certified Senior Account Manager) designation, that in itself is a promotion. As well, almost all of these certifications require you to take continuing education courses in order to keep your certification (this is a good thing for maintaining the integrity of the certification). 

Let me break down the value of certifications in my own opinion of cost vs. value:

  • Cost: Most of our industry certifications cost anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars to take the course(s) and pass the exam. I don’t know about you, but if I had a couple thousand bucks laying around right now, I’d be putting it toward paying off my last remaining student loan. I think this is worthwhile only if your company sponsors your certification exam or if you’ve got a lot of expendable cash (I doubt many of us do at this point in time!) You can continue to learn within your industry by talking with industry experts and reading books, blogs, etc. for free.
  • Value: If you’ve approached your employer about a certification, have you determined whether you will earn a raise or a promotion upon completion? If the answer is no, I say don’t do it. Certifications look nice on a signature line, a business card, and a resume. But let’s be honest, most of us are un-impressed with the string of certifications listed by our colleagues. The only time I personally feel the need to see a comma followed by an acronym of some sort is when I’m visiting my physician or attorney.
I am not down on education by any means. Waggener Edstrom has a wonderful education policy and they are most supportive of each of us pursuing further education of our own choosing – in fact, we have a budget for it built in to our benefits. I think it’s important to stay abreast of your latest industry trends and keep your mind sharp. But I don’t necessarily think that pursuing a certification is the most efficient way of doing it. If you feel it must be done through being certified, just make sure that the value of your certification outweighs the cost of it. Otherwise, there are cheaper and more productive ways for you to be spending your time.

2 Comments so far
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Thanks for extending this conversation. It’ll be interesting to see what your readers think about the topic. As you know, there was a lively discussion on this topic over at my little corner of the online world.

Seems to me that certifications are mostly yet another way for industry associations to add a little incremental revenue and for industry professionals to get a little self gratification.

Comment by davidmullen

Hi Amybeth,

Thanks so much for the link! Our certification courses have two purposes. One is to train recruiting professionals in internet sourcing and recruiting techniques. Our trainers are experts and can handle any sourcing challenge out there, so to come into our classroom is to learn from the best. The certification is the second purpose, and not everyone who takes the course gets certified. But they can sit for the exam and give it a try.

As for ROI, my personal belief is that it is two fold. I always walked out of my AIRS courses (I was a customer for nearly 10 years prior to being an employee) and went back to the office with techniques to find more people and make hires faster and more cost effectively. So that was my first ROI – because quite frankly I was in corporate HR and anytime I saved on an agency fee my bosses loved me. My second ROI, well I doubled my salary in 2000 after taking the CIR. Doubled. That still blows me away. When I got the ACIR more than a year ago, I also got a monetary increase. When I had to job hunt just a little bit more than 10 months ago? Well I found many employers requesting candidates for sourcing jobs have the CIR, CDR or ACIR listed as preferred qualifications, and my own experience was that I felt it helped me get my foot in the door. And even today when I run searches on or, I can find employers who list CIR, CDR, or ACIR as preferred recruiter/sourcer qualifications. In fact I just saw an ad for a Talent Acquisition Manager where it was required to have the CIR or be able to attain it within a fixed time frame.

My own validation? Every employer that has had to replace me, has sent their recruiters or sourcers to AIRS for training, because they wanted them to be able to do what I can do.

Personally, I think certifications are part of professional development. And each individual has to weigh what is important to them and I do believe in some ways they add more value then attending generic seminars or conferences. I imagine HR professionals weigh the difference between achieving PHR/SPHR status and an MBA and some probably do both. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily if it keeps you growing and developing and intellectually challenged so you’re ready to lead the way to resolve the next generation of employment issues ahead. And I think the same of the CIR, CDR and ACIR. The courses are re-done each year and there are new ways of approaching finding people online included, so we try to keep our clientele challenged and thinking “outside the box”.

Definitely a good blog topic…


Comment by Kelly Dingee

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