Let’s Face It, The New LinkedIn Recruiter Certification is Probably Worthless

At LinkedIn’s (LI’s) annual Talent Connect Conference in Las Vegas last week, they announced the addition of a certification program for recruiters.

I love the idea!

Much like SHRM has their PHR and SPHR certifications, no real recruiting certification has taken hold. A number of organizations have tried, the most successful probably beingAmerican Staffing Association’s Certified Staffing Professional and AIRS Internet Recruiter certification (the CPC through NAPS for my Agency friends), but all seem woefully incomplete and none have really ever gained traction as “THE” certification to have if you’re a true recruiting professional.

That’s why LinkedIn’s announcement intrigued me. LI has the brand recognition and money to really own this space if they decide to.

Why the LI Recruiter Certification is probably worthless..

Unfortunately, I think the new LinkedIn Recruiter Certification is going to cause confusion in the corporate and agency recruiting ranks.

Here’s why it’s probably worthless:

  1. LI’s Recruiter Certification has very little to do with actual recruiting and everything to do with how well you know how to use LI’s Recruiter product.
  2. If you get “certified” from LI you get to add a “badge” saying you’re a “Certified LI Recruiter,” which is cool enough, but I think that title is easily used to give a false impression of what it really means. “Oh, you’re a ‘certified recruiter’ that is really impressive!” Instead, the reality is “Oh, you’re a ‘certified LI recruiter,” which means you know how to use one recruiting tool really well.
  3. LI is charging people to get “certified” on a product they are paying for. Does this seem odd to anyone? Anyone? Let me see if I get this right: I pay around $8K per seat annually, and you make me pay another $199 every two years to show you I know how to use the system I’m paying for? Yes … OK, I thought so. Can you now punch me in the face?
  4. Most of the content you get tested on to gain certification, from LI’s own certification program book, seems to be process oriented. Do you know how to post a job? Do you know how to search? Do you know how to effectively use InMail? Is this the kind of “certified” knowledge we need for the recruiting profession? Can you do the process of recruiting?

… but here’s why it will probably be really popular

Well, here’s why this is going to be wildly successful:

  • LI gives you a certification badge. Recruiters are extremely hungry for validation. We see our HR brothers and sisters with PHR and SPHR, dammit, we want something at the end our name too!
  • LI knows that Talent Acquisition leaders will easily pay a “little” extra to ensure their people are using and understand their big spend (LI Recruiter).
  • People like being a part of a tribe. LI has a special invite-only group for LI Certified Recruiters. Want to make something popular? Make it exclusive!
  • Many HR leaders don’t “get” recruiting, so they will believe this is hugely important in teaching their recruiting team how to really recruit. It’s not, but no one really looks into the details for $199.

It does really open up a broader conversation about why no one has really been able to create a recruiter certification program that is widely respected and used. It might be that recruiting, like sales, is hard to train and even harder to come up with concrete components around what makes a recruiter really good at recruiting. There are so many opinions on that subject and ways to do the job effectively.

Will you be a better recruiter because of this?

Does being a “Certified LinkedIn Recruiter” make you a better recruiter? No.

But will it make people think you are? Yes.

Is it a scam? Well, it definitely seems a little “scam-ish.” I won’t say it’s a complete scam because they are very up front at what they are delivering for your money. Does LI really need the extra $199 per recruiter? Sure! Every company needs incremental revenue, and LI is no different.

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They aren’t a non-profit. God bless them for coming up with a great idea on getting another $199 per recruiter out of your organization.

Paying your vendor — for a second time

Here’s my question: Would you pay $199 to become ADP certified? What about Oracle?HalogenSuccessFactors?

That’s what this is. It’s your HR vendor partner charging you to become a certified expert on their system.

This isn’t transferable. You can’t leave your company, who uses LI, and go to a new company who uses Monster and say, “Well, I’m a ‘Certified Recruiter.’ ”

You’re not. You’re just certified on one system. And by the way, your two years is up, so please send another check.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


13 Comments on “Let’s Face It, The New LinkedIn Recruiter Certification is Probably Worthless

  1. Great article Tim! I think you make alot of good points….particularly from the recruiter perspective. But, let’s take a look at getting this certification from a “Sourcing” perspective. If you’re a sourcer, who is fortunate enough to have your company pay for a Linkedin Recruiter seat, you could very well benefit from having a badge that says you know how to use Linkedin Recruiter versus something that claims you know how to recruit. I say this because many sourcers are expected to be the experts on these kinds of tools. A recruiter may jump on Linkedin here and there for some quick sourcing during the recruiting process, but if you’re a recruiter who relies on a sourcer, you’d probably want your sourcer to be the one to really worry about leveraging Linkedin. I think this is a great opportunity for sourcers to grab a certification that says they know the ins and outs of Linkedin Recruiter. I agree Linkedin Recruiter’s cerfication won’t answer the concerns about confusing what that particular certification really means, but for recruiters who know Linkedin and know sourcing, they may be glad their sourcing partner is familiar with the Recruiter version……
    And, and some good news on the price: I believe the certification exam is free until after December 31, 2013

    1. Jeri –

      It begs the question of why isn’t LinkedIn offering this for free permanently if they really want sourcers, or anyone else, to really learn how to use the product they are selling? I agree it is critical for our staffs to truly understand the tools they have and how to get the most value out of those tools. I just wish LI would provide this as part of payment for the original product. But I know how we all love getting those badges! Regardless of what they mean…

      Thanks for the comments –


  2. Love it. Sadly, you can replace “Linkedin” with a lot of other platforms and the article still stands as accurate and logical.

  3. I’m an Executive Recruiter and this article made me really really not want to put any time/effort/money into even looking into getting this certification.

    Don’t get me wrong though- the article itself was great. Very informative, and I agree with a lot of the points. Thank you for saving me the time of actually paying LinkedIn to certify me on basic processes like how to post a job and send an InMail.

    It seems pretty silly after reading all of this!

  4. Took the exam this week. While it certainly does test your knowledge of specific LI processes. It definitely goes way beyond what I would have expected on boolean search logic, and overall recruitment strategy etc. I was actually surprised with the depth of questioning outside of LI!

  5. I actually tried to get a certificate for myself and my business partner in the first quarter of 2014. I wanted to see if it made any difference to our clients. But we could get the webinar signup to work properly and there were other parts of the online program that didn’t work either. Without doing more than the walk-throughs, my business partner passed the practice test with flying colors.

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