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October 1, 2018

What would our certification mean if everyone had it?

Filed under: Certification & Communication Skills — admin @ 11:31 am

Our certification used to mean something five or ten years ago. Certified members used to value knowledge, study and get more business as a result of having our certification. In the last several years, the industry has changed, and Carmen pointed out that I was not in touch with the new collective attitude of the industry. There is less of a concern about education, knowledge, and more emphasis on micromanaging and low-balling. With the poor quality of notaries out there in 2018, it seems that the hiring parties have no other choice.

The average 123notary certified member had a reasonable knowledge of loan docs back in 2012. But, when I retested people in 2016, the knowledge level went down from around 65% to about 45%. I do not have exact records, and the percentages mean nothing unless you know who was tested and what position they were in, what the questions were, if it was timed, by email, phone, etc. To me, this is a significant drop in competency.

It is because of this drop in knowledge that I requizzed everyone. But, during my first round, I only asked eight questions, and was very liberal in grading. I did not want to decertify 99% of those who had the icon. I felt bad that so many were not passing. But, the not passing was because most Notaries did not know their job. They do their job wrong all day long but nobody caught them, except in a few cases that I heard about. So, I quizzed people again and again with free study guides hoping that people would study more and hoping I would get readings on how they did at notary, documents, and scenarios questions.

The results were that some people studied, but most ignored my emails or did a half-assed job answering the questions. Despite all the chances I gave people, most people did not take the certification seriously and lost it.

Many people got mad at me for all this testing. Some claimed it was demeaning and that they were a professional and knew their job and didn’t need to be tested. Others thought it was a nuisance. However, so many people did so badly, that without testing someone, I can only assume that they are failing in basic knowledge. I apologize for bothering everyone, but I did not have a very forward thinking plan for recertifying people in the past. Now, I am much more masterful about the step by step processes that are necessary. I know my audience better.

The reason I am doing all this testing is because:
(a) I want to screen out those who refuse to study or cooperate, or don’t know their stuff
(b) I want to not screen out too many people otherwise nobody will have our certification.

If I did it the old fashioned way, back in 2017, I would have had a comprehensive timed oral test by phone. I would have sent out two emails, the follow-up would be a week after the first. You would be required to not only answer the email but answer three questions based on material embedded in our course to force you to read our course (few will read it unless forced.) If I went out 1000 emails of this nature, I would probably get 150 qualified responses from those that read the materials. Then, I would test those 150 people on a timed phone test with the hardest questions first. That way I could end the test early if they had not studied. I would probably pass only about 20 people, and we would have 20 certified notaries. The others could study and retest.

Such a harsh way of doing business would have been too much of a shock for me back in 2017. However, it would have gotten the job done in three weeks flat instead of doing the job in wishy-washy stages like I did.

I wanted my certification to mean something to those hiring notaries. If idiots had my icon, then the certification would not mean anything. But, if I took it away from too many people, then nobody would have it and it would once again not mean anything. So, my strategy has been to try to get people to study so I could increase the quantity of deserving people who would have this icon. My strategy was very time consuming and caused too much grief to far too many people.

If I did it all over again, I would make it a lot harder to get the certification in the first place, because taking peoples’ certification away causes a lot of grief to all parties involved. I am older now. I am 49 now. I started certification when I was a starry eyed 32 year old with very little experience in the real world. Young people don’t think about the long term.

Many people who had our certification gamed the system and memorized the answers, had other people take the test for them, or simply forgot their knowledge because they stopped reading, took drugs, or got old and senile. I did not think of any of that when I was 32, but that is the first thing I think about now — mental decay.

Reading, thinking, walking, and grape juice is the best way to preserve your brain.

In the mean time, we are down to less than 200 people who have our certification and the users are starting to appreciate it because the quality went up.

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