Are You Certified? A Look at Recruitment Certification Programs

February 6, 2014 at 10:00 PM by Jordan Taylor

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On October 4th, 2013 Talent Blog formally announced LinkedIn’s first certification program: LinkedIn Certified Professional—Recruiter.

While the certification program has benefits—and shortcomings—it furnishes a perfect segue to talking about the possibility (or impossibility) of a formalized and universal certification for recruiters.

Why hasn’t anyone come along and created “THE certification” for the profession to act as a “rite of passage” regardless of specialization or industry? Is this even necessary? What about all the other certifications already in existence? Are they good enough?

Tim Sackett, in Let’s Face It, The New LinkedIn Recruiter Certification is Probably Worthless, points out some major roadblocks to creating a widely recognized certification program:

“It [LI’s program] 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.”

There is potential for “broader conversations,” but so far they haven’t materialized. What is the right method of initiating dialogues and debates around creating an education-based platform (core curriculum) for the profession? Where do you start the process of separating opinion form fact, and curating the most essential methodologies and strategies to instruct for high-performing sourcers and recruiters?

The biggest problem is human resource leaders and generalist aren’t even clear themselves on the definition and responsibilities of specialties within the recruiting profession.

Ben Gotkin, in Who the Heck Are We? The Dilemma of the Corporate Recruiter, explains the history of changes to labels and concepts behind the corporate recruiting function:

“One simple reason is that the corporate recruiting function itself has never been well defined. It started out as “personnel,” moved on to “human resources” or “staffing,” then “recruiting,” and nowadays “talent acquisition” or “talent management.” How many other professions are redefined every 10-20 years or so like this or have so much confusion around who does what and what they are called? Not many.”

This lack of continuity and consilience is surprising because of one simple truth: things are going to continue to evolve well beyond the newest trend of social recruiting. The next step just might be wave after wave of software disruption. If people don’t accept the challenge of figuring this all out, opportunities to create unimaginably talented workforces—that keep pace with both technological advancement and global market changes—will happen at a lumbering pace if at all.

Don’t get me wrong, the recruiting industry isn’t broke…it’s just far away from its highest potentials. Gotkin drives home the source of the problem—but do you agree?

“The issue here is that there is no consistent, profession-wide training and development model nor an academic discipline that prepares anyone for what we do…There are no common standards for a recruiter’s success or development to be measured by.”

Take this comparison to the Occupy movement with a grain of salt, but self-organization and change in the recruiting profession isn’t going to happen without strenuous dialogues, monumental shifts in perspective, and coherent (highly respected) leadership.

It comes down to answering some tough questions. We invite all people actively involved in recruiting process to share their ideas and opinions.

Here’s a list of some popular certification programs. If you’ve taken any of these—please share your experience.


Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR)
Advanced Certified Internet Recruiter (ACIR)
Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR)
Certified Social Sourcing Recruiter (CSSR)
Certified Social Media Recruiter (CSMR)
Professional Recruiter Certification (PRC)


Certified Personnel Consultant (CPC)

Social Talent

Orange Belt in Internet Recruitment
Blue Belt in Internet Recruitment
Brown Belt in Internet Recruitment
Black Belt in Internet Recruitment

The People Sourcing Certification

Certified People Sourcing Professional 1 (CPSP -1)
Certified People Sourcing Professional 2 (CPSP-2)

The Sourcing Institute

TSI Member Level
TSI Specialist Level
TSI Professional Level
TSI Leadership Level
TSI Leadership Only Level

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