Four Reasons HR Execs Love IT Certifications

It may come as a surprise, given how closely unemployment numbers have been analyzed and bemoaned over the last half-dozen years, but finding the right candidate to fill job openings remains a challenge for a great majority of human resource (HR) executives. In fact, two-thirds (68 percent) of HR execs surveyed in CompTIA’s HR Perceptions of IT Training and Certification study found the task very challenging over the past year. Large employers (those with 500 or more employees) are especially impacted by factors such as finding candidates with the right level of experience. Nonetheless, the adverse effects caused by hiring delays are typically unwelcomed by companies of any size.

When hiring for IT, there are readily identifiable resume listings – certifications – that can help HR execs make a selection quickly. Those hiring for IT positions love certifications for a range of reasons. Here are four.

IT Certifications Help Fill Open Positions

To help with recruiting, screening or identifying candidates, most HR managers often use a range of tools, such as skills and personality assessments, applicant tracking systems, diversity agencies and social networks. Furthermore, the majority of HR professionals report frequently using information technology (IT) certification as a requirement for certain jobs (72 percent); professional development / training tool (72 percent); measure of a candidate’s willingness to work hard and meet a goal (67 percent); or way to confirm subject matter knowledge and expertise (60 percent).

Certified IT Pros Make Great Employees

HR professionals indicate that IT certifications tend to provide a baseline set of knowledge for certain IT positions, enable IT employees to learn faster once starting a job, help ensure credibility of IT employees and help IT employees perform better than non-IT certified staff. The notion that IT certified employees perform better is further reflected in the IDC white paper “IT Support and Security Performance: The Impact of CompTIA Certification on Organizational Performance.”

IT Certifications are Growing in Importance

The importance of IT certification continues to grow. Nearly all HR professionals think that IT certification importance will increase over the next two years (94 percent), of which four in 10 expect it to grow significantly (43 percent). These results have risen considerably since three years ago. Furthermore, 93 percent now indicate IT certification is valuable, with nearly two-thirds (66 percent) saying it’s very valuable. These figures have increased over the past few years. Compared to three years ago, a larger portion of HR managers now recognize that certification serves as a valuable tool for validating skills, supporting hiring processes and for professional development.

Training Alone Isn’t Enough

Considering professional development, nearly all employers (98 percent) recommend at least one type of training for IT employees to advance their IT skills. While one-half of HR managers report that off-site instructor-led training (ILT) is encouraged, a mix of other methods are recommended by at least one-third such as on-site ILT, conferences, IT certification and tuition reimbursement. Suggested training methods tend to vary based on company size. For example, large organizations are much more likely to recommend IT certification (63 percent) than their smaller counterparts or even over other training methods.

Following training, most HR managers agree that it is important to test to confirm knowledge gains. Eighty-eight percent believe it’s very important or somewhat important to conduct some type of test after training. Nearly all HR directors (98 percent) cite one or more benefits to testing versus training alone. Examples include:

  • Better validation of knowledge learned/skills.
  • Increased value/credibility of the training.
  • Improved/better knowledge gained.
  • Demonstration of abilities/skills.
  • Longer knowledge retention.

Many would agree that supporting professional development is essential to further growth and success; from both the employer and employee points of view. Organizations have limited resources though, and U.S. firms are fairly split on the level of support they provide employees to enhance their skills. While nearly one-half of employers have a formal professional development program with a set amount of budget for it (47 percent), another 46 percent indicate it’s handled on a more informal basis, but they cover some expenses.

Learning and testing go hand-in-hand and each increases the success for the other. An analysis of CompTIA certification candidates shows that exam pass rates are indeed significantly higher among those who trained compared to those who did not. For employers and professionals alike, learning and testing are worthwhile investments for ongoing professional development.

*This article first appeared on CompTIA.org on May 29, 2015.

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