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Do Recruiters Care about Online Certificates and Trainings?

What I learned in corporate HR about online learning and training


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Atanas Shorgov

3 years ago | 4 min read

With the enormous amount of online courses and learning platforms, you can earn a certificate or a qualification in almost any professional area.

One of the main selling points of these courses is that the accreditation and gained knowledge will get you a promotion, a raise, or even a new job. Is that really the case though?

Of course, if you’re a doctor or a pilot, you will need to have the required education and license, nobody will let you do surgery with a 4-week online diploma.

I’ll talk about the normal 9–5 office jobs.

From my experience working in a corporate HR, I’d say these online certificates don’t really matter — but in some specific areas and positions — they could be required or very much preferred over no additional qualifications.

Read the job requirements

If you’re applying for a new job, pay attention to the posted requirements. If a certificate or a qualification is really needed for the job, they will certainly mention it.

For a Marketing role, I was applying in the past, they were searching for someone who has completed the Google Ad courses. It was a small startup, but they wanted to make sure that each of their marketers is certified as that was part of their promotional strategy when working with clients and partners. The recruiter was clear that you had to complete the courses, but you could do it even after joining the company.

Fortunately, I already had done these courses, and this was also one of the reasons that made the recruiting process quicker and helped me to eventually got the job offer.

This is just one individual experience and in many other job interviews, I was never asked about completing an online course or a qualification.

Recruiters will write about any special qualifications or will ask about it during the interview stage, and if they don’t, it probably doesn’t matter too much.

Having great work experience, the ability to sell yourself, the right contacts and networks are far more important than having a few online certificates on your resume.

Not all certificates are equal

If your main focus is to get a specific job or be promoted to a new position, then focus on earning the right certificate.

For many specializations, there are well-known accredited courses and programs that are sought by the big companies and once earning them, you will become a golden egg for recruiters.

Research and find which one you need for your dream job.

For example, in the UK, The Chartered Institute of Marketing is a prestigious and popular place to get additional qualifications if you’re a marketing professional. The CIM qualifications are known to be challenging, but having them on your CV could set you aside from other candidates applying for the same marketing position.

If I search for Accounting qualifications in the U.S, I find CPA, CFA, CMA. They seem extremely hard to get, but if you’re willing to invest the time and effort, the reward afterward is almost guaranteed.

Generally speaking, the harder and the longer to get a qualification, the worthier is.

Another way to find whether a qualification is worth the time, you can ask your manager or co-workers. In our company, you can take specific qualifications in Finance and Underwriting. After completing them which takes approximately 2 years, you almost always get promoted.

Use your company’s training and educational programs

Most corporations have a department for people's development. They will usually offer employees different classroom training, seminars, workshops, online qualifications, and so on. If you’re not aware of such, check with HR as you might be missing on some good courses that you can attend during a working day.

The advantage of those courses is not simply skipping a day of work, but you can actually find a benefit in them and learn some new concepts or get some cool ideas from the trainer or your colleagues.

In our company, we have the option to learn a language twice per week for almost no money. At least in Europe, knowing an additional language could have a tremendous benefit for you by providing many opportunities on the market.

Depending on the organizational learning culture, some companies are more supportive of learning than others. I can definitely see a need to have such training programs even in a sense to keep the employees satisfied by providing them opportunities to develop.

Personally I still like to take online courses just for the knowledge

Even if these online certificates and qualifications are not going to make recruiters start throwing job offers at you, there are a lot of good courses that are worth taking that can help you develop additional skills or introduce you to new concepts and ideas.

For a while, I wanted to learn more about computer science. My educational background has little to do with programming and computer science, but I found a lot of wonderful learning sources out there.

CS50’s Introduction to Computer Science from Harvard University is a great place to start with an excellent instructor. I know this course won’t make someone a full stack java developer, but it could very well spark the interest of someone to go deeper, learn more, and even consider changing their career because they found a new passion for computer science.

On Coursera and edX, you can access the content of the courses for free without having a certification at the end.

If you’re money cautious, just complete these courses without purchasing a certification as in most cases it doesn’t matter if you have it or not.

Some learning platforms are also subscription-based like LinkedIn Learning or Future Learn and you can’t access the content without paying. However, you can check with your company or university, if they have a corporate or institute license that will give you a free membership.

I have a company’s access to LinkedIn Learning and although there is nothing super extraordinary, you can find some good courses from experienced trainers.

Final Words

I can see a certain value in online courses, but if your goal is to increase your chance to be recruited, then, go after the very specific qualifications in your career field.

They are usually much harder to get and take a lot of time, but in the end, they are the ones that recruiters pay attention to.

Research and find the right qualifications for you and use your company’s resources if the educational programs are costly.

Finally, learning doesn’t need to be associated with certificates and diplomas. Acquiring knowledge and developing yourself as a person is enough of a reason to learn.

In the long term, investing in knowledge and personal development is worth more than any online certificate.

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