Assessing Professional Credentials

Why review professional credentials?

Well, because depending on the type of occupation, sometimes you have to. In Canada, there are essentially two types of occupations.

Regulated occupations

Are regulated by provincial and territorial (and sometimes federal) law and governed by a professional organization or regulatory body. Employees in these professions must be licensed, certified, and / or registered by the appropriate body to practice their profession in the province, therefore you must include this as a job requirement. There are two types of regulated occupations: regulated professionals (e.g., doctors, lawyers, and teachers) and skilled / apprenticed trades (e.g., electricians and plumbers).

Non-regulated occupations

Making up the majority of professions / trades in Canada, these are those positions that do not have legal requirements or restrictions on practice through licenses, certificates, or registration. No license, certification, or registration is required to practice.

  • Note – Some non-regulated occupations have voluntary professional associations / certifications (e.g., human resources). While no license, certification, or registration is required to practice, membership or certification through the association demonstrates commitment to the profession and adherence to a self regulated set of standards of practice.

There is another definition that you should know…

A Red Seal Trade is a trade for which there are agreed on standards for entry and portability of qualifications across Canada.

Red Seal Designated Trades in BC

Assessing professional credentials

The First Step

The first step in assessing international professional credentials is understanding if the role you are hiring for is regulated or non-regulated. Use the following tools to help you:

Once you know if the role you are posting for is regulated or not, assess professional credentials as follows:

Regulated occupations

  •  The professional organization or regulating body assesses whether an individual meets the criteria established by law. If so, the individual is granted their license, certification, or membership as applicable.
  • As licenses are held by an individual and not an organization, it is ultimately the responsibility of the professional to obtain and maintain their license.
  • It is the candidate’s responsibility to provide you with the information required to verify their license status.
  • It is your responsibility as an employer to understand when regulation applies so that it is appropriately considered and take due steps to ensure the credibility of the credentialing information submitted by the candidate, including contacting the certifying body to confirm membership.
  • Some regulated occupations have mutual recognition agreements across Canada and / or internationally. For these occupations, an applicant may list a license from another area that is valid in BC.
  • Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials: Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA)

Non-regulated occupations

  • As no licenses, certifications or registrations are required by law for a non-regulated professional to practice, often  assessment of professional qualification is based on education and demonstration of past experience and accomplishments.
  • In addition, for non-regulated occupations that have certifications or membership through professional associations:
    • Contact the professional association directly to request information on pre-requisites for the credential, competencies tested / indicated by the credential, assessment processes, maintenance of the credential, statistics related to uptake and retention, market value (much of this information is commonly found online)
    • Consider the information obtained in terms of credential credibility (e.g., are the assessment processes reliable and valid, is ongoing professional development required to maintain the credential, etc.), and appropriateness for the role
    • If the credential is appropriate, incorporate key competencies into the screening tool you are using to screen all resumes.
    • Tip – Remember that all resumes must be assessed against the same criteria.

Additional Tools

Overcoming Common Challenges

CHALLENGE: The position I’m hiring for is in a regulated profession, but the candidate has not indicated that they are currently certified / licensed in Canada, how do I approach the situation?

In the case of a regulated profession, the candidate cannot work in the province without a license. If the rest of the resume appears to indicate a strong candidate, contact the candidate and inquire about the status of licensure in Canada.

Suggested Language – Hello (Name). Thank you for submitting your resume in response to our job posting. We are interested in the experience and skills that you have outlined and would potentially like to consider you as a candidate for an interview. In Canada, (profession) is regulated, meaning that you must personally have a license to be able to work in BC. Are you able to provide us with proof of your licensure in the province.

Four Common Candidate Responses & How to Proceed

  1. Mutual Recognition – Some regulated professions have mutual recognition agreements. In such cases a candidate may note their current licensing and assume that you know that the mutual recognition agreement exists. If the candidate states that their license is mutually recognized, confirm with the local licensing body and proceed with the screening process.
  2. Candidate is Licensed – If the candidate is licensed in Canada but has not included it in the resume, perhaps assuming that only licensed candidates would apply, confirm with the local licensing body and proceed with the screening process. You may also choose to indicate to the candidate that they should include this information on any future resume.
  3. Candidate has a provisional licence: Many regulators offer a “provisional licence” to internationally trained candidates. The provisional licence signifies that the candidate meets academic requirements, has required level of overseas experience and needs to complete a mandatory period of work under a BC licensed member in order to achieve full licensure.
  4. Candidate is not Licensed – If the candidate is not licensed they are excluded from the hiring process at this time. Inform the candidate about the requirement and direct them to the licensing body so that the candidate can be in touch to upgrade their credentials for future job applications.

CHALLENGE:  If a candidate is qualified to be licensed but does not have the necessary funds, should the organization pay?

As licenses are held by an individual and not an organization, it is ultimately the responsibility of the professional to obtain and maintain their license.

If the candidate can demonstrate that they are qualified to be licensed, that financial constraints are the only barrier to licensure, and that they are otherwise qualified for the role, you may choose to move the candidate forward to the next stage in the screening process with the expectation that one of the following may occur should the candidate be selected:

  1. If hired the candidate will immediately apply for his / her license, and pay for it themselves. It will be important to formally recognise this as a condition of employment in the offer letter sent to the candidate.
  2. If hired the candidate will immediately apply for his / her license, and the cost of the license will be covered by the organization. This may be done with a minimum employment clause (e.g., if employment is terminated within one year for any reason the candidate agrees to return the costof the licensing fee to the organization). The nature of this agreement should be formalised in the offer letter sent to the candidate

The organization must factor in the fact that the licensing process may result in a delay in the candidate being able to perform the specific work for which they must hold a licence. This may or may not be viable for the role.

CHALLENGE:  A candidate is highly qualified in their own country, but because of licensing restrictions in Canada they are working toward their licensure. This candidate has an excellent reputation and I would like to have them on our team, should I screen him / her out?

A license is required for the position that you are hiring for so you cannot hire them to work in that role at the present time. You may choose to express your interest to the candidate and ask him / her to be in touch with you when their licensure is complete so that you can consider them for future roles.

If you would like to ensure a place for the candidate in your organization, you may choose to hire them for a role at a level that does not require licensure. This provides the flexibility and support them to continue to working toward the goal of becoming licenced.

CHALLENGE: I’m hiring for a non-regulated position that has a voluntary professional credential. We have a learning centered culture and I would like the candidate to have the designation. Should I screen out those people that don’t have the designation?

During the resume review process, your primary concern is ensuring that candidates meet the minimum professional requirements to move forward in the screening process. In the case of non- regulated professions, membership in the professional association or attainment of the voluntary credential are typically not requirements for the role. These are factors that come into play during the interview stage where questions regarding professional pursuits and success can provide you with information about the candidate’s specific areas of interest in your field, initiative drive, etc. which can help to inform the selection process.

CHALLENGE: I’m hiring for a non-regulated position and I don’t know if there is a voluntary professional association / credential that would be associated with the role?

Knowing if a voluntary professional association / credential exists can be helpful to understanding the contents of the resume so that you can formulate interview questions.

If you are in a mid to large size business, you may be able to ask employees involved in the department if they are aware of a professional association / credential for their profession.

An Internet search is your next logical step. Key search terms that will lead you to the information you are seeking are:

  • “Profession Credential Canada” (e.g., Marketing Designation Canada) – you can also try this search replacing Canada with BC and designation with certification
  • “Profession Professional Association Canada” (e.g., Marketing Professional Association Canada) – you can also try this search replacing Canada with BC