Traditional credentials compete with new forms of talent assessment

An article in Harvard Business Review reflects on the usability and ultimate value of degrees as credentials. The debate has been raging on for ages. Some would argue that credentials such as degrees shouldn’t be the benchmark by which candidates are assessed by. Degrees don’t reflect real-life aptitudes and they cannot prove one’s hands-on implementation of what’s been only theoretically mastered, it is being argued.

For decades, candidates have been assessed based on their credentials; pieces of paper that assert knowledge, specialization, and aptitudes acquired. It was a straightforward, widely acceptable form of talent evaluation.

However, this value assigned to static credentials such as degrees, may be in decline. What once used to be a window into a person’s range of abilities and knowledge is now regarded as only a part of the story. The value of college degrees’ is not completely demolished but the perceptions of some seem to be changing.

The growth MOOCs and other forms of online education highlight that traditional universities are not the only place an individual can acquire knowledge and skills through. What’s more, apart from knowledge being more widely available, people are now moving to other ways to demonstrate their skills and knowledge, given how MOOCs are making the workplace even more competitive.

Several decades ago, universities were reserved for limited social groups, now anyone with a decent Internet connection can access high quality educational content. Inevitably, the race and competitive nature to seek employment has evolved as well.

Today, aptitudes, skills and expertise can be measured and tracked in real-time using online resources such as LinkedIn, Degreed, and Accredible. Candidates are called occasionally because a hiring manager or recruiter notices an online resume or profile of some sort. They may be required to answer technical or personality related questions prior to a face-to-face interview being arranged.

These innovative talent assessment practices reflect a wider change in how competence is measured. Degrees can tell only part of the truth.

Your credentials are no longer taken at face value. They’re put to the test by ed-tech companies such as Knack and Kalibrr. You need to prove your talents through e-portfolios work samples and ex-employer evaluations. You’re expected to affirm your expert status by contributing to your online community and gradually gain status and respectability as a field authority. These credentials are gaining ground in the expense of traditional credentials.

Degrees won’t disappear any time soon, but they will inevitably be adjusted to fit modern-day talent demand. Do you think degrees are overrated, or are they a foolproof, timeless credential?