How to Adapt Certification in 2021

Jennifer Traer Best Practices, Professional Development Leave a Comment

Are you a professional organization who has typically certified members in person? 2020 has certainly presented us with the daunting challenge of coming up with creative and secure ways to certify members. Likely your eligible candidates have been met with delays in completing their certification. They also have most likely had to adjust their study schedules and/or requirements due to the global pandemic. This has pushed organizations to bend and become more flexible in offering certification.  

How can you adapt in the process of certifying your members? 

Location 

For organizations who have typically held certification in one location, provincial restrictions and mandated quarantines have made this a juggling act. Organizing smaller regional certifications based on candidate location is a more secure way to lean into the ever-changing restrictions while keeping those involved safe and healthy. You can also consider taking certain elements of the certification process online. While this may involve increasing virtual resources and capabilities, it’s a great way to keep members on track to certification.   

We of course still need to be mindful of changing government restrictions up until the day of each event. It has never been more important to have a backup plan (or several). Stay flexible and ensure all involved parties are staying informed. Keep communication fluid. From candidates, volunteers, members, and staff, it is essential to guarantee that dialogue is continuously flowing so when, and if, adaptation must happen, there is no need to panic. 

Evaluation 

Virtual proctoring has become a new norm. Whether it is through a third-party vendor or, better yet, training and equipping your organization’s experts. This can re-engage current members who may have been static.  

Along with offering superior support during the evaluation process,  developing a detailed training program will be key to addressing the inevitable technology hiccups that are bound to surface. 

Recognition  

Let us not forget about the recognition of those involved in executing your certification. For volunteers and staff, when budgets are available, emailing a gift card or sending flowers is always a great way to show your appreciation. For successful candidates, digital certification badges that can be showcased through social media are a great way to promote your program.  

If budgets are tight, a heartfelt thank you in your newsletter, mailing a personal note and digital/PDF certificates are also solid options. 

How has your professional organization adapted its certification program(s) during COVID-19? How will you adjust your efforts in the future? You might just be paving the way to a new, innovative future for your members! We’d love to hear from you – get in touch!

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Jennifer Traer

Having ventured into the not for profit space over 14 years ago, Jennifer believes in the power of relationship building and nothing gives her more professional pleasure than seeing a project through from inception to execution. With a breadth of experience in stakeholder services, engagement, operation management as well as business development, Jennifer has the tools necessary to create tailored solutions to the most common or unique challenges facing associations in today’s ever evolving marketplace. Jennifer became a Certified Association Executive (CAE) nine years ago. For the past two years she has volunteered as a council member on the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) Trillium Network and Vice Chair of CSAE Trillium Network Young Professional and Membership Committee’s.

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