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Columbia Business Monthly

Employers take notice: Digital badges are beneficial to your workplace

Feb 04, 2019 11:08AM ● By Kathleen Maris
By Tamara L. Burk, Ph.D.

Virtual badges are an opportunity for those who entering the workforce, and those already within the workforce, to highlight critical performance competencies, a benefit for both the job seeker and a potential employer.

Once earned, virtual badges offer a structured and verifiable opportunity for students, job seekers, and workers to showcase their development of a particular competency, such as problem solving, self-development, or collaboration, just to name a few. 

Once earned, badges are then held in an online portal and can be used to showcase a student’s competencies on ePortfolios, social media, and resumes. Having digital badge portals provides a centralized spot for badges to be earned and shared with prospective employers. 

Recent research has started to explore these evolving badge opportunities. In one study, it was reported that 62 percent of human resource managers within various industries were interested in badge programs and wanted to learn more. Only 5 percent of the human resource managers surveyed were not interested in digital badges. 

Understanding and keeping abreast of new opportunities to learn more about job candidates before making a job offer is critical to human resource managers and hiring managers. Badge opportunities make this information available and easy to find.

In addition to numerous companies, many colleges and universities are embracing badge programs for their students—Georgetown University, the University of Maryland, and, locally, Columbia College. 

Academia recognizes the importance of offering opportunities to students that allow them to stand out in an ever-changing market. Virtual badges not only offer new learning communities, but also offer an opportunity for students to learn and understand critical competencies on a deeper level.

It has been reported that companies such as IBM, Ernst & Young, Google, and Salesforce are a few of the organizations that are currently utilizing and recognizing digital badges. Olivia Young, digital director of marketing for Defender Services, is currently in the process of earning some digital badges. 

“Digital badging is a very easy and convenient way for working professionals to continue their learning journey,” she said. “While digital badging does not replace the completion of earning full merit such as a degree or license for an occupation, it does allow employers to feel confident that their employees are remaining current with new methods or procedures.” 

With regard to students, Young adds, “Digital badging is helpful for students to explore leadership skills and interests outside their major area of focus while allowing employers to gain a better understanding of their competencies and experiences.”

By utilizing a visual symbol of achievement, digital badging offers an additional layer to resumes and ePortfolios that includes more in-depth explanations and verifiable information. An employer can click on a virtual badge and immediately gain an understanding of what specific skill was achieved and how that credential was earned. 

The digital world continues to evolve, and as we all strive to keep up with the changes, we look for easy and effective opportunities to include these advancements. For employers and hiring managers, it’s time to look for these virtual badges. Click on them, explore them, and gain a better understanding of your job candidates. 

For students and job seekers, look for opportunities to utilize these badges to highlight your competencies. Explore, earn, and include these badges on your virtual resumes.  Let’s focus on making these opportunities work for all of us.

Tamara L. Burk holds a doctorate and education specialist degree from the College of William and Mary and two professional development certificates from Harvard University and the Terry College of Business. She is a professor of communication and leadership, the John Reeves Endowed Chair of Leadership, and the director of Leadership Studies, the P.L.A.C.E. (Philanthropy, Leadership, and Community Engagement) Program, and the Center for Leadership and Social Change.