With the rise of online learning, there’s no shortage of classes you can take that offer you a certification in a particular trade, skill or software program. But outside of positions that require certifications — pilots, emergency medical technicians and often insurance agents, for example — do any of these make a real difference in a job application? We reached out to recruiters and HR professionals to get the answer.
The consensus: Certifications certainly can make a difference, but not all certifications are created equal. Below are some of the ones that recruiters say actually move the needle in their decision to hire a candidate — if one of them is relevant to your field, consider looking into it!
1. Human Resources Certifications (PHR, SPHR, SHRM)
While not a requirement, many recruiters agree that job seekers in the HR field can benefit greatly from professional certifications.
“If I’m hunting for an HR professional, I’ll want to be sure they have certification from SHRM,” says Laura Handrick, HR Analyst at Fit Small Business.
“I am going to be more interested in seeing certifications (or formal degrees) related directly to their career progression (e.g., PHR, SPHR for Human Resources),” adds Dawn D. Boyer, CEO of D. Boyer Consulting.
2. Project Management Certifications (PMP)
“Anyone can claim to have the leadership and organizational skills of a Project Manager, but a certification in this field really adds value to a candidate’s resume,” says Ashley Riedesel, Technical Recruiter at OakTree Staffing & Training.
“Employers love to see this since employees with the PMP certification tend to have a more sophisticated approach to taking projects from inception through to completion across different methodologies,” adds Bryant Vargas, Director of Recruiting, Information Technology at Atlas Search.
Bonus: While this certification is especially helpful for those in the Project Management field, the knowledge you gain can also be broadly applied to other fields at the manager and leadership level.
3. Sales Certifications (Challenger Sales, Spin Selling, Sandler Training)
“Selling skills are often gained from experience, but candidates can stand out by including formal training or certification from a well-known sales philosophy on their resumes. A few examples: MEDDIC, Challenger Sales, Spin Selling, Sandler Training, etc.,” says Jordan Wan, Founder & CEO of CloserIQ. “This shows the candidate has the discipline to back up their raw skills with learnings from sales experts to improve their selling ability.”
4. Help Desk/Desktop Analyst Certifications (A+, Network+)
A caveat here: recruiters say these certifications aren’t quite as impressive for more senior roles, but if you’re in an entry-level position, they can help your resume stand out.
“An A+ cert looks great for a lower-level position like help desk or desktop. It’s a really good starting point and will definitely help you find your footing in the IT industry,” says Chase Wagner, Technical Recruiter at OakTree Staffing & Training.
Recruiters may also like to see Network+ certifications, says Senior Technical Recruiter Kamron Cox, also of OakTree Staffing & Training. “These are easier to get but do look good for those types of roles,” Cox shares.