Acquiring professional accreditation requires a considerable investment of time and money on the part of both the candidate and the company employing them. Bearing in mind most people have some kind of undergraduate degree, do professional accreditations give candidates much that they could not acquire on the job? After all, an academic degree proves dedication and a trained ability to think and analyze.
John Greenhough, head of business development for the CIM, says, “There are knowledge differences between an academic and professional qualification. An accreditation supplies the understanding of the theory and the ability to apply the information, it is vocational – there is a lot of case study work. We are keen to see people subscribe to continuous professional development.”
In the field
Katie Cash, the communications manager for outsourcing and consultancy specialist Hogg Robinson, is studying for the CIM Diploma in Marketing. “Certain elements of the course are applicable to what I do in the office and some not, but it gives me a broader view and puts things into context. It is invaluable,” she says. “I suggested doing the course and the company is sponsoring me. Hogg Robinson is very good about training and it will further my career.”
Richard Ayres, UK marketing manager for communication and motivation company BI, says: “It is a good thing for companies to support professional accreditation because it addresses the needs of individuals and recognizes them – you deserve our support to help you succeed personally and professionally.”
However, it takes a lot of dedication from both parties. Ayres continues: “A company needs to commit support to the individual, provide tools to complete assignments and give the candidate time off to revise and attend the examination – and to take all that into consideration against their workload.”
BI has traditionally encouraged employees to put themselves forward for the IDM Diploma. “We felt the IDM had more relevant modules and moved into the digital arena sooner than the CIM.” However, the company was involved in developing the ISP’s (Institute of Sales Promotion) new Motivation Diploma aimed at marketers targeting the trade channel or employees. “We are now reconsidering our position because of that,” says Ayres. “The Motivation Diploma has filled a gap and is probably more relevant to BI, although we will still support the IDM.”
However, when recruiting, most employers’ first consideration is to find the right person for the job. Scot McKee, managing director of Birddog, says, “We do not require professional accreditation as a prerequisite. We want people to deliver against our brand standards, so personality traits always come first because that is what we are going to present to the outside world.
“Accreditations serve a useful purpose as a benchmark – for individuals as much as the agency – and tell people what they are capable of but they have limitations, like any qualification or accreditation,” he says. Birddog is an integrated marketing agency and McKee sees the CIM qualifications as more relevant.
Similarly, Richard Bush, managing director of Base One, looks for “attitude, personality, general marketing experience and finally, whether someone has a diploma” in potential employees. However, Bush has an IDM Diploma and admits to a bias towards what he knows. “The IDM diploma is excellent,” he says. “But like any theoretical exam, an accreditation means you know how to do it not that you are capable of doing it.”