11 Burning Questions I Have About SHRM’s New Certification Program

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Can someone in-the-know please answer my questions?

  1. What’s the real difference between HRCI’s certification program and SHRM’s certification program?
  2. Per the Internet and life, a competency is a set of defined behaviors that provide a structured guide enabling the identification, evaluation and development of the behaviors in individual employees. Has the new SHRM certification program been validated as an instrument that accurately measures competencies? Who validated it? How does the SHRM test differ from HRCI’s exam?
  3. The HR Certification Institute program was accredited and (allegedly) carried the same weight as a CPA (Don’t tell that to CPAs). Does the new Society for Human Resource Management program carry that weight?
  4. Has anyone tested how valuable and meaningful SHRM’s program is to the marketplace? Is there any data showing how SHRM’s program measures against an MBA? Or how the program is measured by Chief HR Officers and CEOs?
  5. Will the SHRM Board and leadership team be required to participate in the SHRM certification program?
  6. Can you be a CHRO or CEO without these new credentials?
  7. Is this program appropriate for any talent acquisition professionals or recruiters who work in human resources? Or is this program just focused on business partners and generalists?
  8. What was the HRCI funding scheme? How did state and local chapters benefit from the certification program? How does SHRM measure against HRCI in this regard? Should anyone profit from HR professionals who take the test?
  9. There’s currently a mechanism in place to gain your SHRM certification quickly if you’re already certified from HRCI. Doesn’t the quick certification process prove the similarities between the two programs more than it demonstrates the differences?
  10. If I’m in human resources, can someone give me one good reason how the SHRM certification program enhances my career prospects — and is worth my time?
  11. How do Hank Jackson, Bob Carr or anyone in SHRM’s public relations or marketing department still have a job after the failed SHRM-HRCI integration and the poor launch of this program? Who on the SHRM Board has been held accountable for this mess? Does the Board see this for the shabby exercise that it is? How will SHRM do better by its members in the future? Why am I talking to myself in this bullet point? Why don’t I just shout into the wind a little more?

Those are my questions. Do you have questions? Did I miss yours? Do you have any answers? Let me know!

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This was originally published on the Laurie Ruettimann blog.


Laurie Ruettimann (LFR) is a former Human Resources leader turned influential speaker, writer and strategist. She owns a human resources consultancy that offers a wide array of HR services to human resources leaders and executives. Check out her LinkedIn profile here. You may know Ruettimann as the creator of The Cynical Girl and Punk Rock HR (retired), which Forbes named as a top 100 website for women. You may have also read her book, I AM HR: 5 Strategic Ways to Break Stereotypes and Reclaim HR. (RepCap Press, 2014.) 


3 Comments on “11 Burning Questions I Have About SHRM’s New Certification Program

  1. Sorry, no answers here. But I do have one other question. And it was posed by someone (possibly you?) in the recent past. If all a currently certified professional has to do to obtain the new SHRM certification is to click through an online “tutorial”, how does that demonstrate competency? And if the answer is that a currently certified professional is considered competent and therefore is given a pass on the test, doesn’t that put the lie to SHRM’s contention that the HRCI certifications are not competency based? I’m so confused! 🙂

  2. No answer, but an additional question. I just don’t understand how HRCI Certified HR Professionals can add a set of letters to their names that they were just given rather than earned. You EARNED your HRCI credentials and should wear your SPHR, PHR, GPHR, -CA, HRMP or HRBP proudly. It would seem to me that you would only call yourself SHRM Certified if you had actually taken the test — which doesn’t exist yet to the general HR population. I’m just saying . . . HRCI is the certification you earned.

  3. Great questions! There has been significant discussion on many of these points on the HRCI Voices LinkedIn Group. A few quick answers…. the HRCI certifications are (vs. “were”) accredited; SHRM says that they are seeking accreditation but this can take years. Based on an analysis I did on the content (i.e., bodies of knowledge) between the two exams, the only discernible difference is that the SHRM BoCK has a “Technology & Data” section, which is not really addressed in the HRCI BoK; otherwise, all of the sections in the HRCI certifications have simply been moved around and reorganized into a new model. Regarding a comparison to the CPA and other professional exams, I think it’s important to remember that there is a difference between professions that require “licensing” in order to practice (such as for CPAs, attorneys, RNs, etc.) and those that do not, which includes HR. That said, it is (in my humble opinion) absurd that there are now two directly competing HR certifications. SHRM chapters do not specifically “profit” from the certifications, of course, but offering HRCI-approved programs is certainly a huge draw from a membership and attendance perspective. I agree that it seems to present a significant conflict of interest for SHRM to be a non-profit advocate for our profession and then clearly intend to profit from their new certifications. Answer to #9? Absolutely!! Answer to #10? In my opinion, employers will ultimately “accept” either organization’s certification as demonstrating competency. Answer to #11? Not likely, as SHRM is headed by a CPA–not a certified HR professional–and is absolutely convinced that they are doing a service to our profession by offering these new certifications. I totally disagree and believe that this is a huge dis-service to our profession.

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