How do you demonstrate your expertise to potential employers or showcase your competencies whether you’re a professional or a student? Do you use digital badges? Have you earned one lately? If not, you may want to start because they can help move your career forward.
The traditional way for those in the workforce to highlight their skills for potential employers is by showing them academic degrees, certifications, continuing professional education (CPE) certificates, or other paper documents. But digital badges are much more than paper certificates to hang on an office wall or mention in your résumé.
Digital badges are tokens that show your achievements. They look like icons or logos on a Web page, on social media such as LinkedIn, and elsewhere online. Professional groups, universities, and other credentialing organizations award them to signify accomplishments. They can validate that you completed a project, mastered a skill, took certain courses, or acquired specific professional experience.
By clicking on your digital badge, which has encoded metadata in the icon, a potential employer can get more information about it. For example, he or she can learn who issued the digital credential, when it was issued, what it certifies, and other important details.
Accounting students can use digital badges to showcase their academic achievements, build a professional network, and promote themselves as leaders.
The digital badges movement is still very new, and financial professionals are just beginning to use them. Endorsements have been the main way to show achievements.
LinkedIn has a feature called skill endorsements that’s a forerunner to digital badges. You’ll often see endorsement symbols in the skills section of someone’s LinkedIn profile, and you or others can add an endorsement for any skill there. Anyone on LinkedIn can endorse a connection for proficiency in a variety of skills, such as auditing, forensic accounting, financial analysis, or finance. Endorsements from your contacts help validate the strengths you list in your profile. According to LinkedIn, accumulating a high number of endorsements for a skill adds credibility to your profile because it shows that your professional network recognizes you have that skill.
Endorsing others is a great way to recognize your colleagues for the skills you’ve seen them demonstrate and to maintain strong connections with the people in your network. After you endorse former colleagues, it may be easier to reach out to them in the future. Your endorsements also enhance the strength of their profiles, increasing the chance they will be discovered for opportunities related to their endorsed skills. As you can see, skill endorsements are a simple and effective way to build your professional brand and engage your professional network of LinkedIn contacts.
When using endorsements, remember:
* Who endorses you matters! If all your endorsements for skills are made by junior-level management contacts or people outside your profession, that won’t lend credibility to your profile.
* Seek endorsements by senior-level, highly experienced managers who know you and your work well.
* Hide endorsements you think are inappropriate.
* Seek endorsements for your most marketable and important skills.
* Do you want to move from one career area to another, say, from backroom accounting to a more strategic role? Then ask for endorsements for skills that are critical in your desired new role.
THE NEXT STEP
Digital badges are a step up from LinkedIn skill endorsements. Anyone can give you a skill endorsement, but a recognized credentialing organization issues a digital badge. That gives it much more credibility and prestige. And you can post a digital badge on LinkedIn using a procedure discussed in LinkedIn’s Help section.
Digital badges are still evolving, but the most popular standard seems to be the Mozilla Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) specification. Once a credentialing organization issues you a badge, you can store the badge in a “backpack,” a portfolio-style server account that stores this badge and any others you earn from different credentialing organizations. Mozilla has its own backpack storage system, but so do other OBI-compliant providers. Mozilla Backpack users can choose to keep their awards private or display some or all of them on selected websites, social media tools, platforms, or networks.
Here are some tips on using digital badges:
* Employers in accounting and finance often complain about a skills gap. Find out what skills their job candidates lack most, and earn digital badges in these areas. It will help prove your worth to a potential employer.
* Earn digital badges that show skills important for accounting and finance best practices, such as advanced study in forensic accounting, auditing, internal controls, or compliance.
* Digital badges let you control your learning credentials, combining badges from both job and nonwork experience. They help you show a potential employer that you are well rounded and let you showcase additional abilities that are valuable at work—such as your persistence in training for and running a marathon or other difficult race.
EARNING IMA DIGITAL BADGES
IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) is forging ahead in the movement to offer digital badges that help you realize career success. Previously, members received medallions for their accomplishments in the IMA Leadership Recognition Program, part of the IMA Leadership Academy (IMALA). Now they will receive digital badges. The five ascending levels of achievement (Pewter, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum) are based on amount of service, courses completed, and other criteria. For more details, see http://bit.ly/1EjJIT4.
Although IMA awards the individual digital badges, IMA partner ProExam Vault manages the online storage, display, and sharing of the badges (see www.proexamvault.com/issuers/ima). It also sends members an e-mail to claim any badge they’ve earned and explains how to set up and share the badge online. As with other digital badges, you can share them on social media and by e-mail.
In addition, the new IMA Accounting Honor Society (IAHS) offers a digital badge that students can share on social media and by e-mail. Current IAHS members should have received e-mails about how to set up their digital badge, and IAHS will periodically notify new members about the procedures. For more information about joining, visit www.iahs.org.
Jump aboard the digital badge bandwagon and give your career a boost!