A good friend of mine and I argue about this all the time. And we always get to a certain point in the conversation where we have to declare a truce. We just cannot agree. The whole thing boils down to this question: “Does having a degree or certification like CFRE or any other accreditation make a positive difference in the productivity or results of an individual?”

In other words, should this be a requirement for hiring?

I wrote about this back in 2014 in a blog about CFRE accreditation. Read it and see what you think. We received a bunch of blowback from that blog because many readers thought we were hacking on the CFRE concept or process. We weren’t. We love the CFRE process and concept. The question, which many people missed, was: “Should that one point carry a lot of weight in your decision to hire someone?” Our answer was “no.” No, it shouldn’t.

Nor should a degree or any other accreditation.

Jeff and I are often asked: “Don’t you think the mid, major, or planned giving officer we hire should at least have a college degree and CFRE accreditation, etc.?”

We always reply with a no. No, it doesn’t matter.

Over the almost 50 years of my career, I have interviewed hundreds of people (close to a thousand, I would guess) for all types of jobs in the commercial and non-profit space. These jobs have been for every category of work: administrative, executive, sales, marketing, technical, creative, manufacturing, communications, PR – you name it.

And I have never found an instance where the degree or the accreditation of any type made a core difference in the performance and production of the individual we hired. Never.

And by “no core difference,” I mean:

  1. A person’s credentials didn’t add more value than the experience that person had in a job.
  2. It did not make a difference in the personal drive or skill the person had to reach the objectives of the job.
  3. It didn’t help the person to have the right attitude about their work, their colleagues, and the organization.
  4. It didn’t impact whether the person would persevere through the difficult situations they faced.

So, at this point you might be saying: “Ok, Richard. So, you’re down on education and accreditation of any kind, right? You don’t value any of it and you’re saying it makes no difference in the performance of an employee. Isn’t that what you’re saying?”

No, I’m not saying that.

I do value education and accreditation in all kinds of disciplines. I personally have benefited from education and accreditation in a number of areas of my life. But what I have also realized is that knowing how to DO something well and knowing how to BE the person I want to be – that comes primarily through experience. It’s true that educational inputs of any kind can help a person do and be better. But, in my experience, it’s the hands-on, real-world experience that is the best indicator about a person’s ability to perform.

While some might say “show me your credentials,” I will say “show me what you have DONE and show me WHO you ARE.” That’s the difference. It’s one thing to know a lot of stuff. It’s another thing to DO things well and BE the right person for the job.

And, yes, the knowing contributes to do the doing. But the doing is where you prove that you can perform. And the being shows us all who you are. As an employer, you want to know that the person can DO the job and BE the right kind of employee. A degree or certificate will not deliver that.

Remember all of this when you’re hiring your next team member. Also remember it when you evaluate your current employees. Help them DO and BE better.