The HR Certification Flap? It’s About Making Yourself Better, Not Letters

I have some HR friends who are telling me that SHRM’s recent decision to develop their own certification is a non-issue to real trench HR pros around the world.

What do you think? Is it a non-issue?

I think it is, but we won’t see the real effects of the change for a year or more down the road.

Three options for my HR certification

I recertified with HRCI this past year, so basically I’ve got three years before this becomes a real issue for me. At that point, I have a decision to make. Here are my three options:

  1. Recertify with HRCI. It’s easy, I know it. I get to keep my SPHR letters that I’ve become so comfortable with and that most people in the industry view as something that means I know at least something about HR.
  2. Certify with SHRM’s new certification. Get comfortable with a new set of letters – SHRM-SCP which seems overly long, but I think people in industry will recognize the SHRM letters and say, yeah he probably also knows something about HR.
  3. Just skip it all together. I’ve reached that 20 years of experience career mark. Do I really need some letters to tell people I know my stuff? Probably not. Look, any job I’m going to have moving forward in my HR career probably could care less if I have letters behind my name.

But, aren’t there other choices?

You might say, “Wait, Tim! There are other choices!” Like, I could certify with both HRCI and SHRM!

No, I don’t consider that a choice. Why would I do that? Let’s face it — neither organization really has put the best foot forward in this whole mess, and I don’t need a business card that says:

Tim Sackett, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

That’s just ridiculous; no one wants to see that, or have to explain that!

I’m wondering if SHRM believes we should just go with “Tim Sackett, SCP,” at which point someone will ask “What’s SCP?” and I’ll go “It’s Senior Certified Professional,” to which they’ll go, “of what?” Then I’ll go, “of Human Resources,” to which they’ll go, “what does the S and the M stand for then?” You see where this is going?

All this being said, I do have to agree with my HR friends. In the large scheme of things this will be a non-issue.

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In the end, it’s all about development

SHRM has launched their new certification program. Most people will go down that path. A few will hold out and keep their HRCI certification. I don’t know if it will be enough to save that company, I’m doubting it.

Like I said above, this is a non-issue for me for the next three years.

My reality is that I’ll keep developing myself like I have for the last 20 years. I’ll go to SHRM events. I’ll go to user events. I’ll attend webinars on topics that interest me.

Regardless of the letters, I believe in development. That’s why, in the long run, this becomes a non-issue to trench HR folks.

You either believe in making yourself better, or you don’t really care much about that. That’s what really separates professionals, not letters.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


2 Comments on “The HR Certification Flap? It’s About Making Yourself Better, Not Letters

  1. Tim, as usual, I agree with you. What I *do* think, though, is that having the certification encoursages — or forces, depending on your motivation level — the on-going development and education that you cited. We all get so busy that it’s easy to think we don’t have time to go to a conference, a class, etc. When we have a recertification date looming, we make sure we go and get educated. And THAT’s the benefit of the certification — not the letters.

  2. This has to be one of the most bone-headed business moves I’ve seen in a long time (Doug Daft – “New Coke” make room for Hank). There is no way on earth this bungled mess “serves the professional.” SHRM and HRCI spent 20 years plus building the brand equity of SPHR and PHR and now they choose to sow confusion in the marketplace. Thanks loads. This now sets up a classic Highlander duel (there can be only one) and SHRM does everything it can to diminish SPHR and PHR in order to promote their in-house brand. Tim Sackett is dead-on correct; either business cards read one way or the other. Both won’t work. I can’t believe the relationship between SHRM and HRCI was allowed to deteriorate to this degree. Heads should roll.

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