Do HR Certification Programs Like HRCI and SHRM Still Matter?

Access on-demand SHRM and HRCI certified courses online with LEARN by Workology. LEARN makes HR recertification easy. Click here.

I have been a certified HR professional for 14 years. It feels weird to type that because those 14 years have flown by. In my career, I’ve been involved in EEOC charges, employment lawsuits, and served as a witness on numerous occasions. I’ve fought unemployment claims and successfully used Twitter to recruit and hire candidates. I’ve dealt with health insurance re-enrollment and layoffs and OSHA inspections. I’ve processed payroll, trained staff on interviewing best practices, investigated peers, worked with attorneys and evaluated employee performance documentation. And I’ve written and spoken about HR topics, dilemmas, and subjects in mass. Even all these years later, I don’t think I have touched every HR-related subject. This fact is what makes the HR profession important to business. It’s complicated. It keeps changing every single day. No two businesses, employees, and workplace situations are ever exactly the same.

Why HR Can’t Be Automated with Artificial Intelligence

As an HR professional, our responsibility is vast as are our experiences. No day is ever the same. That is what some of us say makes it fun to work in HR. In fact, a 2017 McKinnsey report found only 22% of a human resources professional’s daily tasks can be automated and replaced by artificial intelligence. This level of likely automation is comparable to that of a lawyer. I find the comparison appropriate as we are not just mitigating risk but helping to grow organizations focused on the human side of the business. Our lives in human resources are not black and white. The role of an HR and recruiting professional is complex. Our daily interactions are filled with a nearly 80% wild card unpredictability which is the reason that a certification like SHRM or HRCI provides practitioners to a large amount of information, background and data since working with employees and supporting a business is never groundhog day.

Having an HR certification was a differentiator in my early HR career and in those moments that I needed clarity or a base on which to build a strategy, program or plan, I  found the foundation of my HR certification important. It’s something I have drawn from and built on in a variety of circumstances. An HR certification whether it’s SHRM or HRCI is critical to the furthering of the HR profession not only because it arms new HR leaders with knowledge and resources quickly to help them tackle the kind of trial by fire and professional chaos we choose to work at, for and part of each and every day.

HR Certifications Provide a Foundation

Having an HR certification provides a structural foundation for our entire careers. That foundation isn’t always apparent as we learn, evolve and grow but it’s there in the background giving us the educational and resource base we needed to flourish in our career and the confidence in defending and supporting our business decisions against business leaders and the crazy ideas, schemes and justifications they make daily.

Because it is our career and our certification, it’s not necessarily the responsibility of our employer to cover the expense of maintaining our HR certification credentials. I would certainly hope that my employer would value my credential and expertise. As an independent consultant, I have to make the personal decision to invest in my own future as I am both the business and the employee.

Both my PHR and SPHR tests were not easy. I prepared for months reading, learning, testing and absorbing. And while I applaud an employer who chooses to cover the costs of maintaining my HR educational credentials, I don’t fault them because I took on that responsibility and the expense to keep my certification designation for myself. There are other ways to finding creative solutions or alternatives in order to lower the costs associated with recertification.

Do I think recertifying for multiple HR credentials is inconvenient? Do I think that maintaining my designations for both SHRM and HRCI is expensive? Yes, it is not ideal, however, I am thankful our industry respects the profession enough to offer an HR certification program that has strict standards. Because if it were easy, everyone would have one and by default, this makes the HR credential process and designation less sought after and valuable. I don’t want our certification or the profession to get watered down which is another reason I choose to recertify. Those letters are a part of my professional history. And it’s that history that I have spent hundreds or even thousands of hours defending, educating and discussing with business leaders at great length. We still have so far to go in demonstrating the business leaders the true value and importance in having a strategic HR business partner.

What About ATAP?

To add more complexities to HR certification landscape, ATAP is the newly created association for talent acquisition professionals. This association has a number of recruiting focused HR professionals looking to this association to provide guidance on the value of certification for talent acquisition and recruiters. While I look forward to seeing the evolution of ATAP, the association is new having been founded in 2016 and has made several statements that it has no interest in offering a recruiting specific certification program. They are, however, interested in creating a body of knowledge, metrics standardization and providing resources for the recruiting practitioner. All these are important to recruiting as well as human resources. ATAP has only just recently announced a board of directors and an executive director. They have a long development and growth road ahead of them.

HRCI and SHRM Recertification Starts with You

If you are not finding value in your recertification or the programs or classes offered, look harder, wider and outside of traditional places, organizations and institutions to grow that foundation and expand your education reach. Educate yourself on both HRCI and SHRM recertification requirements and seek our courses, communities, and classes that test you and make you grow. The value of certification and recertification doesn’t just lie in the responsibility of the certification programs but also with us as HR professionals. In order to move the industry forward, we need to look beyond SHRM chapter meetings, conferences, and industry events. Consider taking a project management course or attend a data scientist meetup in your city where you can request HR recertification credits. Recertification credit opportunities are the responsibility of the professional and if you are unhappy with programs, topics or discussions offered, you are probably not alone. And it is within you to change the game.

Access on-demand SHRM and HRCI certified courses online with LEARN by Workology. LEARN makes HR recertification easy. Click here.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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Comments

  1. This article offers a great perspective on having the PHR/SPHR & SHRM-CP/SHRM/CP certifications. I love this quote: “Recertification credit opportunities are the responsibility of the professional and if you are unhappy with programs, topics or discussions offered, you are probably not alone. And it is within you to change the game.” Well said and on point!

  2. Great article, Jessica. I absolutely agree that “Having an HR certification provides a structural foundation for our entire careers. Those letters are a part of my professional history. And it’s that history that I have spent hundreds or even thousands of hours defending, educating and discussing with business leaders at great length. We still have so far to go in demonstrating the business leaders the true value and importance in having a strategic HR business partner.”

    I’ve linked an article that supplements that statement about the value of an HR certification and adding those letters onto the end of your signature line.

    https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/value-hr-certification-holly-fechtig-phr-shrm-cp-chrs

  3. So relevant and absolutely on point! Our careers are our own and our responsibility. Likewise, our certifications are what sets us above the rest. I am proud to have attained both my PHR and SHRM-CP and now I look for ways to help others see the value and do the same. Great article Jessica!

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