Not All Credentials Created Equal: Using Your CFE to Change Jobs or Move Up in Your Organization


Donn LeVie Jr.
Former Fortune 500 Hiring Manager, Author and Consultant

Not all credentials are created equal, but they are vital to professionals seeking to change careers or advance within their own. The extent of credential value and use varies from one industry to the next, so it’s important to understand how a professional credential can best serve your career aspirations.

Professional credentials attest to the knowledge, experience and expertise of their holder; however, the relative value of a professional credential is highest when used to change jobs or move up in the existing organization. Many, if not most, credentials have little to no value outside of the field for which the credential serves. The proper credentials, such as the CFE, can make it easier to climb the corporate ladder with your current employer or help push open doors a little wider to those professions that may lie on the periphery of your functional expertise.

While a proper mix of professional designations and recognized credentials can enhance your career potential, too many of them signals to hiring managers that perhaps you are a “credential chaser” who prefers the image over the substance and purpose of credentials. Too much of a good thing can be detrimental to your job or career strategy. Here are my recommendations:

  1. Purge all outdated, irrelevant certifications and designations from your résumé and signature block.
  2. Select only those valid and current professional designations that best support your expertise for the position(s) to which you are applying.
  3. List only those certifications or designations you possess, not the ones you are working on.
  4. For public sector employees who may have many certifications or designations obtained through government training and/or testing, keep them in a separate document to be used as part of your strategy for releasing documentation throughout the entire hiring process (what I call the “Continuous Promotion Approach” in Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0).

Find more career advice, articles, job listings and more in the ACFE’s Career Center online.