Why I Failed the LinkedIn Recruiter Certification Exam

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Nov 12, 2013
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

By now you have most likely heard the news about LinkedIn’s new Recruiter Certification program. For only $200 and a 90-minute exam, sourcers and recruiters can obtain their LinkedIn Recruiter Certification and advertise to potential candidates that they have an unquestionable mastery of… LinkedIn Recruiter.

To kick off their new certification program, LinkedIn generously offered free registrations to the first 500 people who signed up. The price was right and I eagerly added my name to the list, but with one stipulation: I would not study any of the materials provided by LinkedIn and would have to pass solely upon my current sourcing, recruiting, and LinkedIn Recruiter knowledge.

Needless to say, I failed. And rather spectacularly, I might add. Hopefully my failure will illustrate what this new certification is all about and if it is worth your time and money to pursue.

So, did I fail because I am a terrible sourcer and unable to effectively recruit a candidate to save my life? Had I forgotten the basics of passive candidate generation and engagement? Have I misunderstood the difference between AND, OR, and NOT over the years? Do I just not grasp the concepts of semantic and contextual searches? Hardly.

So what went wrong?

Despite the warnings and grumblings heard around the web, my mistake was thinking LinkedIn’s Recruiter Certification would revolve around sourcing or recruiting. I was doubtful that certification for what is arguably the most utilized sourcing and recruiting tool on the planet would pay little-to-no attention to actual core sourcing or recruiting skills. Let me be clear: It does not, at least not in any meaningful way that is likely to add value to your core sourcing or recruiting skill set.

This concern has been echoed before on SourceCon, but it bears repeating: The LinkedIn Recruiter Certification should not be considered a skills-based sourcing or recruiting certification. Instead, I would describe it as a LinkedIn Recruiter Best Practices Certification (Note to LinkedIn: If you’re reading this, please feel free to appropriate the name).

Who should take it?

This is a question I have a difficult time answering. Getting certified, LinkedIn says, “boost[s] your professional reputation among your peers and demonstrat[es] that [you’re] invested in your career.” Yet I cannot see how. To me, a professional certification should strengthen your existing skills while challenging you with new ones and actual certification is awarded to those whose skills have been demonstrated as top-tier. In the Sourcing / Recruiting world I can imagine these core skills falling into the realm of candidate generation techniques, messaging, candidate engagement, and perhaps closing skills. LinkedIn Recruiter Certification will not demonstrate to anyone your ability to find, engage, and close candidates at a superior level.

Instead, the LinkedIn Recruiter Certification celebrates wizards of LinkedIn efficiency: sourcers and recruiters who live, breathe, and die LinkedIn. If you are an expert with the nuances of InMails, know how to share LinkedIn information quickly with your team, or literally use LinkedIn Recruiter for every facet of your sourcing or recruiting organization, you may want to get certified. Even then, certification will simply tell the world that you are a LinkedIn Recruiter power user – something I doubt the candidates whom you are contacting through LinkedIn will even care about.

If you are looking for new sourcing knowledge or want to bolster your actual recruiter skills you should definitely look elsewhere. If you have $200, hours of free time with which to prepare, and want to tell the world you know how to use LinkedIn Recruiter, you may have, at long last, met your perfect certification.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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