As an extension to Insight No 4, I’m addressing the question of validating professional achievements. It is an increasingly essential requirement for professionals intending to achieve their objectives and aiming at a real satisfaction at work.
First, it is important to distinguish the difference between trainings that grant a degree, a diploma, a master or that give access to a general knowledge on a topic, and trainings and certifications or assessments that validate a specific skill. The first group is part of your basic education. The second group applies to expertise fully mastered in the field or through the years. It can include, for example, the practice of a solid methodology, the use of software (work tools), language skills, the use and implementation of a standard, a programming language, a competence in management or leadership, etc.
If your basic education is definitely an asset, what will give you access to an interview and/or your recruitment, or the review of your application dossier for internal mobility are undeniably your qualifications and your experience. In this context, the validation of your competences is aimed at demonstrating your mastery and the accomplishment of a specific know-how. In this regard, such assessment results are elements to add to your dossier, either in your resume or your digital profile (ex. LinkedIn, Viadeo, etc.).
To identify the trainings to follow or the tests to take is not so easy. They need to be in adequacy with your professional objectives and those of your position in the company. As we’ve already seen, you need to add a good analysis of the market and the evolution of your profession, as well as a clear vision of your positioning in the future. In addition, even if we are ready to do what it takes for the skills we want, we are not always ready for those we actually need. This bias is closely linked to the difficulty to take the necessary step back on your own profile by yourself.
The actual market offers plenty of possibilities for validating your skills, particularly online solutions that modified the habits of institutions and classical training centres. 2012 has been promulgated the MOOC’s year (Massive Open Online Courses): free courses which are universally accessible by various institutions starting with prestigious ones like MIT, Harvard, or closer ones such as EPFL. E-learning and self-apprenticeship is increasingly popular with sites like lynda or treehouse. It is often the companies themselves that develop online certifications for their own needs and those of their clients (Cisco, IBM, Microsoft). I’ll also name Expertrating, Guru, Gild and Smarterer, which are specialized in recruitment.
Faced by this large choice, questions arise about content quality and if the employer, as well as talents, can really trust the results achieved. Do those tests really validate the particular skill, on which standards, with respect to which level or need?
Since 2007, I have regularly analyzed the wide offer of skills assessments online, which first grew in popularity among consultants, IT professions, project managers, business analysts, also in the domain of office automation tools and of course, for language tests. Today, tests exist for all fields of activities.
The conclusions of my investigations are mixed. Platforms are generally either specialized by business domain or aimed directly at recruitment. They are sometimes free, low cost or even expensive. The tests can be taken online or monitored (for example employers administer the test in their offices). Some assessments leave a defined period of time for answers or a maximum time period. Some platforms allow you to repeatedly pass your test, others ask for a delay from one week to several years. You need to be very careful when you choose a platform or a regular institution for your test. Candidates are often surprised to have score variations, for example for language tests, according to the organization with which they passed the test. It is essential to inform yourself and analyse if the chosen solution fits your needs and offers recognized standards of results.
The comments circulating on the web concerning those solutions sometimes question their quality. Some platforms use crowdsourcing to create and acquire their questions, others only use experts to formulate their content and use the adaptive method. Therefore, every test becomes unique and adapts itself to the answers and the level of the test taker. This technique leaves no room for cheating and mainly guarantees a liability and credibility to the tests and their results.
Since 2009, JobProfile has chosen IKM (International Knowledge Measurement), an adaptive assessment solution with one of the most complex algorithms on the market (tests based on a content of more than 300 questions per test, up to 25 possible combinations of answers per question). IKM owns a library of more than 800 tests in all areas of activities, prepared by a network of worldwide experts and constantly updated.
JobProfile uses this solution in the context of its career development programs. IKM allow candidates to obtain realistic results and a world benchmark on their level for the competence assessed. IKM results are precious assets for candidates to help them to consolidate their positioning on the market according to the challenges they have set for themselves.
This kind of solution is also useful for companies. Assessments allow them to recruit in full knowledge and to compare talents. They are useful for screening candidates, shortlisting them and also monitoring the evolution of competences in a department or a team. This platform allows one to:
- personalize tests,
- create customized tests from one or more competences,
- create multilingual tests for specific needs of clients,
- analyse the gaps between candidates,
- identify by sub-categories the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate,
- measure the average level of a team or a department.
IKM is one of the tools with which JobProfile can anticipate the needs of its clients and offer the guarantee of excellence for the candidates recruited.
To base one’s choice on personal feeling to recruit is no longer viable in the actual and futur job market, nor can one rely on « what he knows and which reassures » like a specific reference or a well-known company mentioned on a resume. Furthermore, in the era of self-marketing and auto-evaluation on social and professional networks, access, for companies and recruiters, to clear competence validations helps to prevent oneself from overestimation, misleading information and proceed to successful selection.
Jobs are evolving, as are needs and expectations. Today, recruiting and managing the potential of competences in a company requires leaning on efficient tools of evaluation, comparison and anticipation.
This article would be much too long in its entirety, I invite you to read the second part in Insights No 6 continuing the discussion on the benefit of qualifications validation for candidates and companies.