How digital credential technology is shaking up the HR industry

Have you ever discovered that a job candidate lied about a qualification on their CV? According to estimates by Australia’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), 25% of people misrepresent their skills, qualifications, certifications or expertise on their CV.

Employers are looking for a quick way to verify an applicant’s credentials and avoid the long-term costs of bad hiring. After all, the cost of a wrong hire is not only damaging to individual teams, but to company culture, employee wellbeing, and overall job satisfaction.

Why are digital badges a need in the HR process?

Employers are moving to a skills-based employment model, which means candidates need to have evidence of relevant skills. It’s no longer enough to merely have the right degree from the right university – candidates need to provide evidence of a well-rounded, holistic skill set.

This, coupled with the fact that the number of candidates applying for each role is increasing, and we’ve got HR teams stretched to breaking point. There’s simply not enough capacity to do a thorough check on each candidate, leading to mistakes and wrong hires.

Tech in the verification space is beginning to step in where manual CVs and references have failed. Digital credentials, among other things, are becoming a vital step in the HR process.

Digital credentials, often represented as digital badges, are a virtual acknowledgement of an earned qualification and/or certification, demonstrated skill or professional achievement.

Each credential contains secure metadata about the recipient, including their achievements and activities, as well as the authority or organisation that issued the credential, the date issued and expiry date if applicable, and a description of the credential.

What are digital credentials?

In this case, credentials can range from qualifications, such as a bachelor’s degree, and certifications, such as Chartered Accountant or Registered Nurse, to vaccination status, skills such as First Aid, authorisations, police checks, and Working With Children Checks.

Credentials are stored in a digital portfolio that can then be shared with businesses, firms that need to know, or publicly via social media, email, or text message. A good digital credential system should be secure, verifiable, flexible and shareable, with encrypted data stored on secure local servers so that credentials cannot be copied or tampered with in any way.

An applicant submits their CV, which includes any digital credentials, and human resources can review and verify in real-time what a candidate claims they can do.

If the hirer wants to investigate further, they can see details of what the candidate had to do to receive that credential, for example, a list of competency standards, and the authority that issued the credential, like a registered training firm, registration body or professional body.

HR can quickly dismiss candidates who do not meet the minimum criteria and also compare credentials more easily for desired skills, knowledge or experience. This facilitates an easier process to put the right people with the right skills and knowledge in the right roles.

What does the future hold for digital credentials?

Over time this process will become automated and the verification protocol will be part of the standard submission process when reviewing a candidate against the job application needs, allowing you to create automatic shortlists based on the skills in the job listing.

Eventually, blockchain technology will be built into digital credentials, giving human resource teams the ability to verify quickly and easily, adding an extra layer of transparency and trust.

Blockchain means digital credentials are private, cannot be tampered with, and remain in the ledger permanently. In fact, this isn’t some far off dream: the University of Melbourne has been using blockchain to issue its digital credentials since 2017.

Verification for hiring is not the only use case for digital credentials. HR can also keep abreast of training completed during the employment period. Imagine that you have just placed your firm’s supervisory team through a two-day intensive course on ‘leading through crisis’.

All supervisors that participated receive a digital badge for completing this two-day program from your firm. The credential would include what the candidate learnt, how long the program went for, what assessment components happened throughout the program, including if there were any metrics that were required to be met in order to complete the program.

It’s incredible to consider the number of applications this kind of technology could have on HR teams, and businesses more broadly. Digital credentials have endless use cases, and as more organisations adopt credentialing strategies, the more useful they will become.


Nicholas Robert is the co-founder and CEO at Learning Vault.