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Thursday, January 10, 2013


Over the end of the year I met a person who is creating a Social Media Certification Program.

“Do you use social media?”

“No, I develop certification programs. I ask people who hire social media professionals what they are looking for, and then create lessons and examinations. That way, managers who are new to social media can hire competent professionals.”

Why would a manager who doesn’t know social media want to hire someone to create social media?

Appears to me certifications work best if you can somehow separate users from buyers, separate effort from results.

Reminds me of that old, politically incorrect description of socialist enterprise, “They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work.”

Think about your personal experience for a minute. Have “certifications” created better results for you? I’d like to know your thoughts.

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David Oppenheimer said...

I am not a fan of certifications in general. I think they have some value in highly specific technical arenas (MSCP, MSCE, CCNE) but for more generalized areas I think they mislead at best but more often do harm. Too often a certification process is used to ensure a lowest common denominator of knowledge versus actual skill. We all know terrible lawyers who’ve passed the Bar, CPA’s who messed up tax returns, Quack doctors who are none-the-less fully licensed to practice medicine, PhD’s who can’t think their way out of a paper bag.

Certifications are too often used to feel god about hiring someone when they themselves are not well versed in a field. They replace a search for actual competence. Certifications are usually based on facts and book knowledge. Can the test taker recite the proper chapter and verse when asked? They do not get to actual understanding or appropriate application of skills. They do not get to wisdom and experience.

Of greater impact is their negative effect on creativity. If we are teaching to the test, and living by a rote process we stifle creativity and flexibility to meet the specific needs of the problem before us.

Just my two cents, from someone with a PMP.

Thoughthebrowser said...

Well said, David!
Thank you!

Unknown said...

Certificates are useful when acknowledging the recipient's accomplishment. Valuable for organizations to memorialize the contribution.

Certifications are to signify competency - and to convey to the recipient some designation letters after their name - like SPHR from the Society for Human Resource Management.

Which is more valuable to a buyer - a cert or researching an individual's legend?

Thought-provoking post - thanks!