March 17, 2022

Gamification Badges Are Not Digital Credentials: A Q&A With Jarin Schmidt of Credly

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Gamification tools award badges to employees for completing internal training, but earning digital credentials may be much more useful in the long run. We spoke with Jarin Schmidt, Chief Experience Officer at Credly, about the benefits for employees and businesses.

What Is a Digital Credential?

TechnologyAdvice: Let’s start with a baseline question so we’re talking about the same thing: what is a digital credential?

Jarin Schmidt: A credential is a third-party claim about what someone knows and can do. For example, an employer or training organization, an association or an academic institution will confer a credential upon an individual as proof of the individual’s abilities and competencies. Through digital credentials, skills and knowledge are verified via a trusted, common language platform like Credly.

This enables individuals to have greater control over their career trajectory by having verified, trusted proof of learning outcomes. Individuals can determine how they want to leverage their earned digital credentials throughout their career paths.

Read more on CIO Insight: IT Certifications vs Degree — What Should You Do?

TA: From what I gather, gamification badges are company or even departmentally meaningful, whereas credentials are industry-wide or nearly universal. Other than building an individual’s resume, how might companies use digital credentials?

JS: That’s a great way of putting it. To drill down even further, gamification is about applying game principles in non-game settings to drive behaviors. Digital credentials are used to unlock opportunities by adding transparency to learning and experiences. Digital credentials have an advantage over gamification badges because they bring actionable value into the workplace. Other ways that companies may use digital credentials include:

  • Internal career paths: HR professionals can use digital credentials to establish employees who are advancing in their roles quickly. This enables teams to develop succession plans and have visibility into qualified internal hires for upcoming open positions.
  • Third-party verification: Digital credentials are not self-reported and prove an individual has mastered, experienced, or attained the requirements of the specific badge.
  • Informed outside hiring decisions: Organizations can rely on digital credentials to provide accurate, up-to-date previews of the skills required within their workforce. By understanding and mapping out their current workforce skills and needs, organizations can focus on filling skills gaps in their workforce.
  • Employee development: Digital credentials provide a path for employees to develop specific expertise while in their current roles.

Read more: Best Recruiting Software & Tools

TA: I can see clear benefits for both individuals who are earning credentials, hiring managers who need to verify distinct skill sets, and companies who build credentials for their products. Are there other use cases or benefits that I’m overlooking?

JS: Digital credentials can also be used within educational institutions to confirm expertise in an area that traditionally wouldn’t warrant credit or perhaps a full diploma. Colleges and universities can use credentials within coursework, or as supplemental programs, to provide students applicable and verified skills before they enter the workforce.

On the other hand, educational institutions can also garner valuable data and insight from digital credentials — such as understanding program success, determining the changing needs of skills and requirements for their students, and monitoring student engagement.

Additionally, digital credentials can also be a significant driver of brand awareness for companies. Individuals want to share their achievements, and digital credentials provide an opportunity to share success through many means, such as listing them on resumes, including them in email signatures, highlighting them on social media, and much more.

Incorporating digital credentials into company-branded social media strategies can drive earner-led brand awareness and increase engagement with the individuals who earn a company-specific badge.

The Purpose of Gamification Tools

TA: Do you think that gamification still has a place in the workforce?

JS: Gamification can still be an useful tool for companies internally, because gamification is about creating feedback loops and driving employee behaviors. These factors can have a positive impact on short-term employee success. Where gamification falls short is in the employee growth journey, and fostering value outside the organization it is implemented in.

Digital credentials communicate verified capabilities and signal more widely what an individual can do on the job. Digital credentials also light the way toward additional learning, reskilling, and upskilling opportunities that can enhance talent retention and management — adding value to both employees and the company.

TA: Many companies have invested in learning management systems and custom training tools. Do digital credential systems like Credly replace these systems, or how might those work together?

JS: Credly and its customers partner to provide comprehensive training opportunities with one consistent language of verification. Credly has integrations with many learning management systems, like Canvas and Moodle, to ease the credentialing process — making it seamless for customers to automatically issue digital badges within their learning management systems.

A combination LMS and digital credential system allows customers to create, manage, and monitor all aspects of credentialing, certificate, or badge programs.

Read more: Best Employee Engagement Tools & Platforms

TA: I can imagine digital credentials working in place of, or in addition to, technical interviews for developers and skills tests during interviews. How does Credly affect the hiring process for highly technical or skilled positions?

JS: Digital credentials accelerate the hiring process for highly technical and/or skilled positions. With the right systems in place, candidates with credentials are positioned at the top of the list. This eliminates tedious resume reviews for recruiters, who are just trying to discern the most qualified candidate for the role.

Digital credentials empower recruiters and hiring managers with the best candidates for a role versus who just looks good on paper.

About Jarin Schmidt

headshot of Jarin Schmidt

Jarin helps shape the future of documenting and promoting skills by leading the product, engineering, and design teams at Credly. With a background in design, strategy, and product development, Jarin is passionate about helping people tell their unique professional stories through emerging technology so they can discover the most rewarding opportunities.