Certificates tend to be a common addition to resumes to help them stand out. A 2022 survey analyzed over 133,000 resumes and found that 27% contained credentials listed as certificates, making this a popular section in the average resume. But how influential are certifications in helping a candidate get hired? Additionally, in which scenarios should recruiters consider certifications when assessing candidates?

How important are certifications on a resume?

Depending on the positions candidates are vying for, certificates matter to varying degrees. In the field of healthcare, for instance, one study found that certificates make quite an impact on hiring professionals. Candidates who presented professional certificates saw a shorter hiring timeline than candidates that did not. This study also reveals that certificates seem to be particularly important when the position requires technical expertise. Technical jobs require candidates to meet a certain standard of expertise that can be obtained through online courses and certifications. 

Another notable example is the field of IT. The 2020 IT Skills and Salary Report found that IT professionals who gained new skills through certifications saw a salary increase of $12,000-$13,000. The 2021 version of the same report revealed that 64% of IT decision-makers believed that certified employees delivered over $10,000 in additional value annually compared to non-certified employees. It’s no wonder then that having a CompTIA A+ or Microsoft certificate can significantly boost a candidate's likelihood of being hired as an IT professional.

Certifications add industry-specific keywords to a resume, helping those candidates get shortlisted by companies that use computer-based screening tools to screen resumes. Why do keywords matter? An Applicant Tracking System detects keywords relevant to a job description and gives those resumes higher match scores. For certain jobs, certifications that have those skill-based keywords in the description can help a candidate get shortlisted.

The importance of certifications comes down to whether industry-specific expertise is required for the position, and whether the certificate demonstrates these relevant skills. However, certificates can become a crucial assessment tool in other scenarios too. 

How important are certifications on a resume

When should recruiters consider certifications?

Depending on the position you are hiring for, certificates can be a highly effective way to distinguish between candidates. There are several instances where it is essential for a candidate to have a certificate. Here are some scenarios in which recruiters might find certificates worth considering: 

1. When they demonstrate a candidate’s level of experience

Certificates listed on a resume can demonstrate a candidate’s years of experience and expertise in their industry. Some credentials — such as the Project Management Professional (PMP) or Business Analyst (CBA) —  require candidates to work a specific number of hours in their field before being eligible for the certificate. When over 8000 individuals with a PMP certificate were surveyed, 64% claimed that their certificate helped them get a new job, and 22% said it was required for their job. Some certificates, therefore, help candidates validate their experience in a field.

2. When candidates have limited experience

Candidates fresh out of college or looking to switch their career paths might have the knowledge to qualify for a job but not practical experience. In these scenarios, their certifications rise in importance and help boost their credibility. By completing and listing certifications, candidates can demonstrate their motivation to take on challenges and learn new skills to advance in their preferred careers.

For instance, sales professionals can choose from multiple certification options, such as Hubspot Inbound Sales and RISE up Sales Certifications, both of which are open to entry-level professionals. Both certifications require candidates to identify potential buyers and come up with strategies to attract them.

3. When candidates need to show industry-specific skills

For certain jobs that demand industry-related skills for candidates to qualify, certificates are a way of authenticating candidates’ expertise. Consider healthcare. Within the healthcare industry, there is a range of certificates candidates usually need to qualify for a position. Notable examples include certificates for being a dental assistant, licensed professional nurse, or paramedic. Without proving their experience, education, and skill level through certifications, an individual is likely to be screened out from a pool of eager applicants for jobs within these fields.

4. When they give candidates an edge in an enormous applicant pool

In the age of remote hiring, there is no shortage of candidates vying for opportunities. The number of searches for remote work went up by 360% in June 2021, amping up the pressure on recruiters to make the right hiring decision from a vast talent pool. If your in-house recruitment team is screening hundreds of applications for a single position, shortlisting candidates with certified qualifications, among other criteria, is likely a wise decision. After all, certificates are not just a testament to a candidate’s skill set in a certain field but also indicative of their desire to grow.

5. When they are relevant to the position

Certificates for proficiency in certain languages might seem like just an added bonus, but they can be a smart addition to a resume if they add to the probability of that candidate’s success in particular jobs. Consider the example of a candidate that is a certified expert in American Sign Language (ASL). For certain industries like healthcare or tourism, or for professions like special education teacher, knowing ASL is valuable. However, this certification might not be relevant for a business analyst job. Analyzing a candidate’s certificates in the context of the responsibilities listed in a job description can help recruiters determine whether those credentials bolster a candidate’s application.

6. When they demonstrate that a candidate is staying updated on industry developments

Another benefit certificates confer is demonstrating that a candidate has up-to-date skills in an ever-evolving field. In a scenario where a candidate’s formal schooling ended decades ago, it’s especially crucial for them to exhibit that they have stayed abreast of industry developments. Getting a certificate can demonstrate that a candidate has refreshed their knowledge base and is caught up on the most effective practices within the field.

This is particularly important in professions where previous industry practices have been critiqued and replaced by newer innovative ones. For instance, the retail industry has undergone revolutionary shifts as a result of COVID-19. Since consumers have increasingly begun making purchases online owing to the pandemic, digital marketing has evolved to account for the greater personalization needed to reach online buyers effectively. Professionals in the field of digital marketing have had to stay updated on these trends. 

Make smarter hiring decisions with FloCareer

Certifications are a great asset for recruiters in making the right hiring decision as they demonstrate a candidate's experience level, expertise, desire to learn, and willingness to stay up-to-date in their field. However, looking for relevant credentials amidst hundreds of resumes can be a time-consuming process for your in-house recruitment team. That’s where FloCareer’s technology-based solutions can help. 

Recruiters can employ FloCareer’s Interview as a Service platform to help them sort resumes and manage the flow of incoming applications. FloCareer also offers digital screening tools that effectively select the top prospects from a large talent pool. You can also opt for our IaaS — Interview as a Service — where FloCareer’s experts conduct the first few rounds of technical interviews and present your team with a shortlisted pool of the leading contenders. To learn more, sign up for a free demo today!