Is LinkedIn’s Recruiter Certification A Scam?

At LinkedIn’s (LI) annual Talent Connect Conference last week they announced the addition of a certification program for recruiters.  I love the idea!  Much like SHRM has their PHR, SPHR and GPHR certifications, no real recruiting certification has taken hold.  A number of organizations have tried, the most successful probably being American Staffing Association’s Certified Staffing Professional and AIRS Internet Recruiter certification (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 decided to.

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 is 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 of the reality ‘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. Okay, 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 on 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?

Here’s why it’s going to be wildly successful:

1. 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!

2. 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).

3. 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!

4. Many HR Leaders don’t get ‘recruiting’ so they will believe this is hugely important and 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.

Does being a Certified LinkedIn Recruiter make you a better recruiter? No. 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, LI is not different, they’re 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.

Here’s my question: Would you pay $199 to become ADP certified? What about Oracle? Halogen?  SuccessFactors?  That’s what this is.  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. By the way, your two years is up, please send another check.





8 thoughts on “Is LinkedIn’s Recruiter Certification A Scam?

  1. I talked to a recuiter at offering a certification program, free afterwards an opportunity to work 1099 with 50/50 split, using their platform. More support at $79.00/Mo, anyone think this is a scam? Biz-Op for money? Wondering

  2. Very well written, I was too in this dilemma how to project this certification but you made your point very clear. Certification on one system won’t do good on others.

  3. Tim – I think you are right on here. I took the exam about 2+ years ago when it was in beta-ish. And I got the same feel. Well, yeah, of COURSE I know how to use the system. We’re shelling out $100k for it. But I didn’t see any real value beyond “oh well, OK whew, I DO know how to use the system.

    While anyone who knows me knows I love Linkedin with an unbridled passion, I think this is a money grab. Go after people with money and a need for validation, and you have a revenue stream.

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