I have, inevitably, updated my cv recently. I am able to talk about some pretty complex and exceptional experiences – as well as choosing to leave a few out which are best covered in conversation. However, what struck me is that it is a really long time since I added to my list of qualifications. I completed my CIPD qualification in 2002 and upgraded to MCIPD soon after. I followed it up with a Certificate in Training Practice in 2005 which was, back then, a corporate requirement for those delivering training. If I’m honest I’m not sure the course added much value to my ability to design and deliver learning and development.
There is however a clear link between formal qualifications and credibility. When a recruiter, or an organisation looks at you, it is a quick win to be able to evidence learning (in most cases, as opposed to experience) through qualifications. It is a simple and objective approach to shortlisting and I get that.
So, am I in danger of missing out on opportunities because my strength lies more in my experience, and should I be considering formalising that development through qualifications?
It’s tempting. Since learning I would be leaving my stable job, I have looked at a number of options. I have coached managers for years, I’ve delivered management development training to managers to enable them to coach others. But I am not a qualified coach. I have led workstreams on a number of key projects, varying from a nod to PRINCE 2 to use of full blown methodology. But I am not a PRINCE 2 practitioner. Until recently I had not thought of myself as an OD person, but when you look at the content of OD roles and OD qualifications I clearly am, but without ever having used that badge.
Does this actually matter? This is a genuine question and one I’m not sure I know the answer to. Qualifications are in the eye of the beholder – in this case the recruiter or organisation who may be looking to fill a role quickly or may be searching for something specific on Linked In profiles before making an approach.
Of course the value of formal training goes well beyond the need to establish credibility. I can, and do, keep up to date through reading, research, short courses and the like. But I know how much I get from interacting with others and so the prospect of completing qualifications through online learning would absolutely not be for me. My resounding memories from completing my CIPD are not the theories on workplace dynamics, or the details of employment law, but the value gained from sharing others experiences, recognising there was a whole wide world outside my local authority experience, and that the application of HR goes so much further than owning and policing policies. I built up relationships on that course which have lasted through all these years and will continue to last for years to come.
So where do I go from here? For now I think the answer is not to leap into anything, to find my feet as a consultant/ interim first and take it from there, making sure I am focussing on my genuine interests and passions, as opposed to simply getting a badge to open doors. The qualifications that really interest me require a significant commitment, of both time and money, and I need to be sure that they will give me what I need from a personal development point of view and add to my value as a consultant, with an eye on future-proofing my proposition in a changing world.