Fixing recruitment through digital credentials

Image CC BY Doug Belshaw

At a recent Digitalme event entitled Digital Credentials for Employment: Bridging the Gap, we noticed three distinct themes emerging amongst speakers and participants. Digital credentials, powered by Open Badges, seem to be particularly useful for:

  • Quantifying potential
  • Alternative assessment
  • Fixing recruitment

This third post in the series focuses on the ways in which digital credentials can help with fixing recruitment.

In our earlier blog post ‘Quantifying potential’ we discussed how young people entering the workplace depend on employers recognising their ‘potential’ to develop within their company in order to access new opportunities. The mechanics of how this potential is realised is often through the recruitment processes companies adopt.

Through exploring the transition from education to employment it becomes apparent that recruitment processes can often overlook candidates that fall outside of the traditional view, ‘what makes a good student -makes a good employee’. So if a student has a high academic achievement record coupled with an extensive list of extracurricular activities, a recruiter may perceive this as an indication they are the best candidate for the job. However this does not take into consideration the wider skill set possessed by young people or their applied skills potential.

To address this issue Kerry North from O2, at our recent ‘Digital Credentials for employment’ event shared O2’s approach to using Open badges to support recruitment practices that were open, inclusive and rich. Through enabling young people to demonstrate their key skills, attributes and competencies through Open Badges, they can be assessed equitably alongside young people who have progressed through more traditional academic routes.

Although this approach supports the advancement of a social mobility agenda, by providing young people from socio-economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds the tools to showcase their skills, it is not the only reason this is great practice. Roger Philby from The Chemistry Group highlighted at the same event, how constrained we can be when we are assessing ‘talent’. Through adopting a more open approach to talent that exists outside the confines of academic achievement, and embracing innovative ways to quantify potential through technologies such as Open badges, businesses can more effectively (in the words of O2) ‘match talent with opportunity’.

Although our prime consideration is young people considering recruitment practices for those already within employment, is an interesting area. The way organisations recruit people is problematic, to say the least:

The recruiting process is broken from start to finish. The way companies write job ads is ridiculous, ineffective and insulting. The way they screen resumes through mechanical means by searching for keywords is downright idiotic. The way we interview people in a stiff, scripted way that sucks all the juice out of a conversation is embarrassing.” (Liz Ryan, Forbes)

There is an argument to suggest in some ways young people have an advantage in that, in the absence of work experience, employers may be more likely to look at their wider skill set (given the right tools and processes to enable this). Once someone has a work history there maybe less inclination to look outside of previous experience or latent potential.

However we are more than our LinkedIn profiles: a list in reverse-chronological order of our academic qualifications and job history. CVs and covering letters do a disservice to the complexity and wide experience all of us carry around with us. Interviews can often be entirely unrelated to the activities involved in the job being advertised — and tend to disadvantage talented applicants to happen to be introverts.

CC BY-ND Bryan Mathers

The great thing is that we can remake recruitment in a more positive way using digital credentials. They augment and supercharge hiring practices, rather than negatively ‘disrupting’ them. Unlike paper-based CVs, which are a bunch of claims which may or may not be true, digital credentials provide a bunch of evidence.

Digital credentials based on Open Badges technology are a better way to recruit people for three reasons:

  1. Evidence-based — digital credentials can link out to proof that an individual has the knowledge, skills, or behaviours that they claim to possess.
  2. Stackable — digital credentials based on Open Badges technology rely on a standard. So in the same way that you can access websites using any web browser, so digital credentials all exist on the same level playing field.
  3. Web-native — digital credentials live where we spend a lot of our time: on the web. Instead of having to hunt around for dusty, dog-eared certificates, we can show ourselves off in our best light, digitally.

The best way to find out the benefits of digital credentials is to earn and issue your own. If you’re a recruiter or involved in HR, why not allow applicants to showcase their digital credentials?

You can start to explore creating and issuing your own Open Badges through the Open Badge Academy.

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