Recruitment specialist in HR, Sales and Operations

Is CIPD qualification essential when it comes to landing the number 1 jobs in HR?

March 15, 2022  /


An interesting debate, and one that is not straight forward to answer with a simple yes or no.

I constantly observe trends from managing processes and I enjoy collecting data from filling requisitions.

Over this last ¼, we have delivered to 4 ‘top jobs’ in HR. By top jobs, I am talking about roles that lead functions – the most senior people in the departments.

If I look at these 4 roles (all of which were high profile, popular and hotly contested), in 3 of these 4 appointments, the successful candidates  were not CIPD qualified.

Quite surprising, isn’t it? Clearly, boards in these instances had confidence that the successful candidates here could lead their HR functions and meet the people challenges for their businesses, without the qualification.

So, is the qualification not important?

Digging a little further, if you go back a few steps in the hiring and selection processes, CIPD qualification was important. It was mentioned as a desirable or essential on all of the JD’s. Aside from the successful candidates, all of the others who made it to interview and further advanced stages, were CIPD qualified.

But what about the 3 who got through and landed the roles then, what did they have to get into the processes? In theses instances they all had experience, sector relevance and achievements that were impressive and it got them into the processes despite the lack of qualification – interesting!

Digging a little further….

In all of these appointments, all 3 individuals did have high level qualifications that are equivalent. One had an internationally studied Masters in HR, another was a qualified lawyer for example.

So, whilst the CIPD status does not seem to be a determining factor, a high level of academic qualification does seem to be important.

So where does this leave the ambitious and aspiring HR professional – should CIPD study and qualification be considered, if you want to make it to the number 1 roles?

I think the picture is mixed when it comes to answering this question. Clearly, performance in processes is a factor (blog to come about that), but overall I would argue that yes it is important …..

You see, what is noticeable day to day, is that not having the CIPD qualification is a barrier at earlier stages of HR career development. Of course there are exceptions, but as you are climbing the ladder, it is a pre requisite for many roles. Why then would you make it harder for yourself and not pursue CIPD qualification?

Also, for the 3 successful candidates that I mention here, they have all reached stages where the functional and operational aspects of HR are no longer really in their day to day. Their seniority means they are concerned with leadership, strategy, wider business direction and governance, so it is no longer essential and used. They have focused their development on these areas (another blog to follow on that). However, they did all refer to situations where the lack of the qualification had probably closed some doors for them in their earlier careers. So whilst it isn’t as important now,  arguably, these 3 individuals may have all secured number 1 roles faster if they had it.

Overall, it does lead one to wonder, what it was about these individuals that set them apart then? What experiences and qualifications did they have to stand out from he crowd? How did they manage the processes so well and ultimately secure the role? What are their personality traits that made the difference?

When I sit back and look at the trends and data, there are trends, patterns and characteristics. As a result I have some good learning points here for the ambitious HR professional – more to follow on that!

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