The Power of Digital Credentials in Career Development: A Comparison with Traditional Certifications

    Compared to traditional certifications, digital credentials offer enhanced career impact for learners, owing to their shareability, verifiability, and skill-specific representation.
    calendar-plus-01 April 20, 2023
    user-circle Credly Team
    hourglass-01 4 min read
    digital credentials enhancing career opportunities for learners

    In today's fast-evolving job market, employers and employees acknowledge the importance of credentials in demonstrating skills, knowledge and expertise. Traditionally, certification can be verified through the provision of paper and PDF formats or by presenting static digital badges. However, with advancing technology, digital credentials are gaining prominence and value.

    In this blog post, we'll dive into the differences between traditional certifications and digital credentials, highlighting the lasting career impact digital credentials offer to certification learners. We'll also talk about why it's crucial for product certification providers to invest in digital credentials.

    What Are the Key Differences Between Traditional and Digital Credentials?

    To start with, we need to understand the key features of digital credentials and how traditional certifications are compared:

    • Digital credentials offer easy online verification, while paper and PDF documents or static digital badges often require manual verification.
    • Digital credentials contain rich data, including metadata that outlines the skills acquired and the criteria required to earn them. In contrast, traditional certifications only include basic information, such as the course title and completion date.
    • Badge earners can easily share their verified digital credentials on their social media, online profile or website.
    • Digital credentials allow for continuous updates and renewal, accurately representing current skills. In comparison, paper or PDF certifications as well as non-interactive digital badges, require manual updates.
    • Digital credentials are more cost-effective and environmentally friendly, while traditional credentials involve resource-intensive processes.

    Digital Credentials Support Long Term Career Growth

    As technology rapidly evolves, many leading organizations have recognized the challenges of using traditional certifications. For example, Esri, a customer-focused organization that manages a long-standing certification program, initially turned to PDF certificates to enhance its program digitally. However, Esri soon found that the static format lacked critical features such as verification and shareability with professional networks, limiting their earners' benefits. Consequently, Esri turned to Acclaim for issuing digital badges, which offer value as actionable, skill-verified and shareable tools.

    In fact, digital badges have been reported to provide significant benefits to learners. According to a survey of Esri earners, 82% found digital badges to be a valuable tool for sharing their certification easily. Moreover, 44% reported that digital badges allowed others to find them more quickly based on their skills.

    Here’s how digital credentials can support organizations like Esri in promoting their learners' long-term career development.

    1. Shareability and Visibility

    Digital credentials are easily shareable on social media, professional networks, and personal websites, increasing their visibility and impact. Traditional credentials, while still valuable, lack the same level of online exposure, making it harder for learners to showcase their achievements.

    1. Metadata

    Digital credentials also offer a significant advantage with their metadata. Unlike traditional certifications, which provide basic information about the recipient and the issuing institution, digital credentials can include a wealth of metadata, such as the specific skills and criteria required to earn the credential. This information can be used to match skills with job requirements, assist in career advancement, and promote professional growth.

    1. Showcasing Current Competencies

    Traditional certifications, or static digital badges, represent a fixed point in time and may not accurately reflect an individual's current skillset. Digital credentials can be continuously updated, allowing learners to showcase their most relevant skills and accomplishments. This adaptability ensures that potential employers can access the most up-to-date information about a candidate's expertise.

    1. Personalized Learning Paths

    Digital credentialing platforms often include built-in analytics and recommendation features, helping individuals identify skill gaps and personalized learning paths to enhance their professional development. Traditional credentials don't offer this level of customization, limiting an individual's ability to strategically plan their career growth.

    Leveraging the Skills Gap for Business Growth

    While traditional credentials maintain their value and usefulness across various industries, digital credentials can complement traditional certifications by offering unique advantages. [This is why we also offer printed certificates alongside our digital credentials]. As the job market continues to evolve, individuals and organizations need to recognize the long-term career value and benefits of digital credentials, leveraging platforms like Acclaim to stay competitive.

    Discover more about digital credentials and how you can seize the opportunity created by the global skills gap to grow your business in our whitepaper ‘Product Certification Provider Guide: How Digital Credentials Drive Business Growth and Address Skills Demands’

    Download the Whitepaper








    Discover more about digital credentials and how you can seize the opportunity created by the global skills gap to grow your business in our whitepaper ‘Product Certification Provider Guide: How Digital Credentials Drive Business Growth and Address Skills Demands’

    Download the Whitepaper





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