the value of hr certification part 1

Ep 161 – The Value of HR Certification: #HRCI or #SHRM?

Summary:I’m on a mission to find out more about the value of HR certification. At Workology, we’re a proud approved provider of both SHRM and

Ep 161 – The Value of HR Certification: #HRCI or #SHRM?

Summary:I’m on a mission to find out more about the value of HR certification. At Workology, we’re a proud approved provider of both SHRM and
the value of hr certification part 1

Table of Contents

Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools, and case studies for the business leader, HR, and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

Ep 161 – The Value of HR Certification: #HRCI or #SHRM?


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:26.46] Welcome to the Workology Podcast sponsored by Clear Company. I’m on a mission to find out more about HR certification. At Workology, we’re a proud, approved provider of both SHRM and HRCI. I’m also excited because we are now offering SHRM preparation certification courses starting in 2019. As I’ve been preparing to offer SHRM certification prep courses online in partnership with SHRM, I have been doing a lot of thinking about myself and my own career in HR and how certification in human resources played an important part in my own professional career. HR certification was critical for me in helping me gain the knowledge and foundation I needed in HR when I fell into HR as an HR Manager at Target all those years ago. I needed this help because I was inexperienced and I didn’t have those important experiences that we all know about when working in HR. They just happen. Or maybe there’s just some area of expertise you need to brush up on, which is where certification really plays an important role. I thought it was important for Workology, not just to offer recertification courses and credits through our LEARN platform, but also offer SHRM certification prep courses. Today we’re talking about all things HR certification. We’re going to hear from some HR professionals who are certified in both SHRM and HRCI and how their certification has helped their career, what they wish they knew, and any suggestions or tips they have for someone who is considering or currently studying to take their HR certification exam. Today we are talking about the value of HR certification. We’re going to hear from HR professionals who are certified with both SHRM and HRCI and hear about how certification has helped their career, what they wish they knew, and any suggestions or tips they might have for someone who’s getting ready to take their HR certification exams. Today, I’m joined by Lisa Latendresee. She is a Business Lead at Entrust Global Group. Lisa, welcome to the Workology Podcast.

Lisa Latendresee: [00:02:43.32] Thank you. Happy to be here.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:44.91] Let’s talk a little bit about your career, because Business Lead doesn’t sound like a path to HR, but kind of walk us through how you ended up here and your path in human resources.

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Lisa Latendresee: [00:02:56.49] Okay. I started out as a benefit specialist. A little over 20 years ago and did that for about four years, had an opportunity to move into a generalist role, and while I was in that role, that’s where I first discovered the PHR certification. And it was incredibly valuable to me because I was able to really learn a wide variety of different disciplines within the HR discipline through those studies. And then passing that test, it really gave me a sense of accomplishment and I guess it legitimized my knowledge and I was able to apply that on-site in my role. I spent eight years with that organization and then took a year off to stabilize my family when we moved to Dallas, Texas, and then moved into a director role in hospitality. And I don’t think that I would have been able to have reentered the workforce as quickly as I was able to do so without being certified. And so while I was with that hospitality company, I decided to pursue my SPHR, which was incredibly daunting but really valuable. And I’m glad that I did. And from there I moved into a global director role that, that is with my current company. And most recently, about 45 days ago, I moved into a business lead role for an HR software company. So having that knowledge base, you know, not only from day to day, you know, in the trenches, roll your sleeves up, get the work done, having that knowledge, but also having the book knowledge, if you will, while studying, studying for both the PHR and the SPHR tests has been invaluable in my career.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:04:48.06] You have had, as you mentioned, a variety of experiences, particularly, I think, in, in a global context as well. Can you talk a little bit about your background in those areas? I find them personally interesting.

Lisa Latendresee: [00:05:02.97] Yeah. Yeah. While I was with Grey Health Care Group, we were a global company. We did pharmaceutical advertising to physicians, not direct to patient. And our CEO, Lynn O’Connor Vos, was really visionary in terms of how she saw the business moving and the trends that she saw. And so she really expanded the organization internationally and brought on a company in Japan and brought on a company in Germany. So I was able to really expand my own experience and expertise internationally. And then moving into Grey, I’m sorry, moving into Entrust Global Group, clearly we’re a global company. We have employees in India, the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Denmark, New Zealand, India. And so that’s been a great experience because we’ve really focused over the past three and a half years to integrate the entire organization as a global organization.

Break: [00:06:04.44] Let’s take a reset here. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell, and you’re listening to the Workology Podcast sponsored by Clear Company. Today we’re talking about all things HR certification. What’s it like? Why should you get it? How long did it take? What did you learn? And is there value in human resource certification? I’m talking with a lot of different HR pros. Let’s get back to it.

Break: [00:06:31.38] This podcast is sponsored by Clear Company. Clear Company is the world’s fastest-growing talent management platform, allowing companies to easily hire, retain, and engage more A players. Visit to sign up for a free demo.

Jon Thurmond, SHRM-SCP, and Mark Fogel, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, GPHR


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:46.44] The conversation continues about the value of HR certification. I’m also joined by Jon Thurmond. You might know Jon. You should know Jon. He’s the co-host of the HR Social Hour podcast and also the regional human resource manager for Team Fishell. Jon, welcome to the Workology Podcast.

Jon Thurmond: [00:07:09.24] Jessica, it’s great to be with you today.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:11.46] Now, we’ve been on a podcast before. You have your own, and I had the fun experience of being a guest, and I also was the first person to ever record the podcast while outside of Starbucks. So.

Jon Thurmond: [00:07:23.79] That’s right.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:24.78] There’s some sort of award for that, I think. I’m going to make myself a badge and place it on the website. But talk to us a little bit about your career in HR and how you ended up in Human Resources.

Jon Thurmond: [00:07:39.56] I have a feeling I’m like a lot of people that you talk to Jessica and that I’m one of those folks that HR found me. I was a, I went to school to be a music teacher, high school band director. That’s what that was my dream. I wanted to be Mr. Holland and save the world. And I started out as a choir teacher and band director. And guess what? It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. And I left my teaching job without another job in hand. I ended up going to a temp agency to interview and I told them all about what I did there at the school and they said, Oh, you’d be really good at this. And I said, What is this? And I fell into the world of third-party temporary recruiting and then moved into corporate recruiting and leadership and labor relations. And all these years later, here I am. But yeah, it was an interesting route, to say the least, to get here. But I’m glad I am and I’m glad I’m talking to you about it.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:08:33.71] That’s old timers that have been around for a little while. There wasn’t necessarily a formal HR program at the university, so a lot of people just kind of fell into HR, as you described.

Jon Thurmond: [00:08:45.14] Well, and again, as an education major, when I left teaching, I was like, what am I going to do? And I was really interested in training and development. And I thought, you know, I have all this background with training. And everywhere I went they’d say, You have to have an HR degree. Well, I’m not going back to school again. I just finished a master’s degree. This is crazy. And again, kind of a roundabout way to get in. And I’ll never forget the agency folks tell me they’re like, Oh, we’ll teach you human resources. And boy, did they ever.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:09:12.08] Staffing is a whole nother animal.

Jon Thurmond: [00:09:14.45] Indeed it is. I wouldn’t trade that time for the world, though.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:09:18.50] It’s a crazy time to be in staffing if anyone’s listening. We, we feel you staffing agencies and those HR folks who are being charged with doing a lot of hiring right now, it’s, it’s a tough, tough, competitive market. Well, let’s talk a little bit about certification. Now, we were talking before we went online here, I was grandfathered in to the SHRM certification with an SCP. Prior, prior to that, I had an SPHR. You are someone who has a SHRM certification and you went through the, the entire exam and study process. Talk to us about that.

Jon Thurmond: [00:09:59.03] I did. You know, Jessica, being an educator by trade and always valued education, supported especially those people that worked for me when I was in leadership. I had employees that went back to school to get Masters in HR or MBAs. Several went to get certifications at the time they were PHR and SPHR. I never did it for myself and shame on me. When I got laid off about five years ago, I was without any type of certification. I had a lot of experience. What I was finding is that a lot of companies were looking for certifications, so at the time that was 2013. So I guess about 2015, when SHRM announced they had developed their own certification program. I started looking at that pretty hard and the draw for me there was again coming from a non-business non-HR education background, you know, I’ve had training but I didn’t go to school for this. I really liked the situational, the questions and at least how I understood the testing to be framed for someone that I felt like me coming from practitioner experience but not really having a lot of education in it thought it might be a better fit.

Jon Thurmond: [00:11:13.64] And so when the time came to decide which test to take, I ended up taking the SHRM Senior certified professional test, and it was in that first round of folks that did and I passed. I was very excited about that. But again, I felt like for me at the time, it made the most sense and from a background experience, it really played well. And I really liked the fact too, that it looked at shades of gray because I think you and I both know that’s what we work in every day. There’s not a black-and-white answer to almost anything we do. And I really like the fact that, that SHRM recognizes that there are, there are perfect answers or almost perfect answers, and then there are answers that are 75% of the way there, in 50% of the way there. And really based on how you, how your experience works and how you may apply things that they’re going to give you some credit based on what that, what your knowledge base is.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:12:05.01] So as someone who has recently taken and passed the SHRM SCP exam, I feel like you are highly qualified to give our listeners who might be thinking about taking that exam some tips or suggestions on what you wished you would have done or what you would recommend that they do so that they can increase their chances of passing the exam.

Jon Thurmond: [00:12:30.48] I think the big thing, Jessica, is to really know kind of with your background what it is that you want to be doing. As I look at it, that senior level is really a much more strategic view of things. And so coming from that and having that type of background, it felt like it applied to me. So be really comfortable and know what, not only what your background is, but how do you want to apply the certification, find a group or the materials. I was really fortunate that my local SHRM chapter had the had the SHRM testing materials available. No one else was taking the exam, so guess who got to have them for two weeks or almost three weeks and study them without anybody asking for them? It was a, it worked out really well for me. That may not work for other people. So, you know, if you work well in a group, find a study group, find those practitioners or other practitioners that are similarly situated and get hooked up with them because it’s, it’s important that you, you need to make sure you study. I can tell you that having the materials and again, I just had the books, I read the books through. I took the online exams and the practice exams a couple of times. Felt very comfortable going in. I can tell you, though, that if I hadn’t done any type of study at all, who knows what I would have done. So make sure that you get the material, get some type of materials that are applicable. Get with folks. If that’s your thing, find a study group, a cohort that can help you there and, and plug away.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:14:01.86] Awesome. Awesome. Jon, talk to us about your podcast where people can find it if they’re looking and they should be looking for HR podcast other than mine to be checking out.

Jon Thurmond: [00:14:13.95] I appreciate that, Jessica. So the HR Social or half-hour podcast is at My co-host Wendy Dailey and I really talk about three things. And what we focus on with our show is the power of connection, giving back to your community, both HR and at the at the bigger level, and then in the power of your network and making sure that you are constantly looking for opportunities to meet new people that can help build not only your knowledge base, so similar to like studying for exams, you’re going to meet new people potentially that can help you out. But, but finding good people to be around. We liken it to meeting somebody for a cup of coffee. And so, you know, Jessica, we have you to thank in big part because we started as a Twitter chat and it was initially being not at Sherman 2017, we didn’t go to New Orleans. We started a chat that evening. It, it did, it did numbers we couldn’t believe. And suddenly all of a sudden, the HR Social Hour was born out of that. Several months later, we started a podcast, and now almost a year in, we’re in 66 countries and many, many thousands of downloads later that we would have never imagined. But, but again, we are always looking for folks to join in. The chat is the fourth Sunday of each month at 7:00 pm Eastern. And again, the podcast is

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:15:30.99] There are so many great ways to connect with HR people. Certification is an important part of your career, but also those relationships in that network that you have. So I appreciate all the work that you guys are doing in those areas.

Jon Thurmond: [00:15:41.64] Well, I appreciate your work as well. And again, if it wasn’t for not at SHRM and having those having Wendy and I developed our relationship through another chat and through a lot of social HR things, but again, if it wasn’t for you, I think we wouldn’t be here. So thank you.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:15:58.74] I’m joined by Mark Fogel. Mark is the Chief People Officer for Human Capital 3.0. They are a boutique HR consultancy. Mark is also a very prolific writer and we are really lucky to have him as a regular contributor here on Workology. Let’s talk a little bit about your career in HR and how you ended up in this crazy HR world we’re living in.

Mark Fogel: [00:16:21.93] Wow. So I’m not an original HR guy. I started in retail out of grad school. I worked for Macy’s and worked for a couple of major retailers, including Limited Brands and Macy’s during my early career. And I sat wade into HR at the Limited, and I owe them a lot for where I am today. And I spent the last 20 years running HR functions at some major organizations in manufacturing, financial services and accounting and the education world. So it’s been a lot of fun, lot of hard work and glad to be on the podcast with you today.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:17:10.20] Let’s talk about certification because you have some opinions about this. Let’s tell me about what HR certifications you have and then why you keep them.

Mark Fogel: [00:17:20.19] So I have three traditional certifications that most of those listening to the podcast would be familiar with. I have my HRCI SPHR certification, which I received in 2002, and I also have my SHRM SCP, which during its inception in 2015, I acquired. And the third certification I have, which is lesser known, is HRCI’s GPHR, which is the global professional in HR certification, which I received in 2006. And that’s really the interesting story for me in certifications, because I was working for a global manufacturer with literally no experience running HR outside the United States. And the certification prep and learning became very critical to my, being able to do my job.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:18:28.20] How do you think outside of your global experience with the GPHR has the other HR certifications helped you in your career?

Mark Fogel: [00:18:38.25] Well, on a personal note, I think it’s very, very important to have, have a certification, whether it be a PHR or an SPHR, the PC, the SPC, or some of the others, if you’re a benefits executive or a company executive world at work or for a certifications ETD or for certifications. I think it’s important because folks need to know that you’re credible in your knowledge. And when I entered the HR field coming out of operations, I did not know a lot about HR. I was recruiting and I understood my industry, and it was important for me to go back and take coursework and make sure that I knew all the technical aspects of the job that I was responsible for. And that goes back, as I said, 2002 for my SPHR, so I’ve been sitting for close to sixteen years, I’ve going on 17 years now with certification. So I’m an old man when it comes to that. However, every organization that I’ve worked in since getting my first certification, I’ve made it an important discussion for my staff. If they are thinking about advancing their career to be certified. And I’ve gone as far as in two of my organizations sitting down before traditional work hours and doing prep classes on my own for my staff that were preparing to take the test because I value the certifications that much, giving my own time and energy to the cause of being certified by staff appreciates it. And I think that for employees, no matter what your organization is, having HR executives that have that certification, whether it be a PHR, an SPHR, is a signal that these folks are credible. So, I mean, that’s my opinion on it. I’m a very, very big proponent of certifications to the HR community. And I also think that it’s important for the greater business community, much like would you want to go to an accountant who’s not a CPA? Would you want to go to a financial advisor that doesn’t have a CFA certification? So on and so forth. It lends credibility to the profession and to the interactions that individuals have with professionals in that profession.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:21:30.84] As somebody who’s also been a facilitator of training, as well as somebody who’s taken these, some of these exams yourself, what advice or suggestion tip do you have for somebody who’s maybe getting ready to take that exam? What do they should they be doing to help increase the likelihood that they would pass or be best prepared?

Mark Fogel: [00:21:55.59] So that’s a great question, Jessica. What I’ve done formal and informal training for the exams, one thing that I stress is that you practice, practice, practice questions. Doing, it used to be in the old days there were no secondary materials available in the marketplace for the HRCI certification. Now, today, in the past few years there are secondary study guides and materials out there in the marketplace that offer practice exams. And to me, I feel that the best way to prepare for the exam is, one, is to have a very rigid schedule of reviewing the material. I don’t think you just read it once and take, take a review class. I believe that you have to read the material three, four or even five times. And that before I took each of the three exams that I eventually passed, I spent approximately three weeks before every night two, two and a half hours reading one or two sections and doing practice questions over and over and over again. And I can be very frank that when I took the global exam several years ago, that was back in 2006. The first two weeks that I took practice exams, I would have failed the actual test that I eventually passed, but I stayed with it. Taking those practice exams allows an individual to see where they have some shortcomings and they need to focus. And then you go back and you rework it. You look at the material, you study it and you just work at it until you get to a point where you know the material well enough to pass the questions. And so my advice to everyone is don’t take this lightly. Be very rigid. Have a schedule. I believe in taking a review program. Do not rely just on the review program. You need to carve out time. Tell your family this is important to me. I’m going to library or wherever you can to get away three or four times a week and put the hours in and it will pay off in the long run.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:24:38.11] Thank you, Mark. Where can people go to connect with you if they have questions about certification or want to know more about your business?

Mark Fogel: [00:24:45.91] Well, I am on LinkedIn. Marcus Fogle, you can send me a LinkedIn and request. I am on Twitter, @HC3. You can also follow me on the Workology site. I write for the blog about once a month and there’s some contact information there. And I would love to hear from anyone who would like to talk about this more or discuss anything in the HR realm.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:25:15.52] Thank you.

Closing: [00:25:16.39] At Workology, we’re making HR learning and recertification simple with Learn, our on-demand learning platform providing 24/7 access to pre approved HRCI and SHRM courses. Visit to find out more. And use the discount code “PODCAST” to save 20% off your membership. Now back to Jessica.

Closing: [00:25:42.37] I’d love to hear your thoughts on how HR certification has helped your career. I’d also invite you to learn more about our SHRM certification prep programs and recertification learning programs on Workology by taking a look at our product page. Thank you for joining the Workology Podcast sponsored by Clear Company. This podcast is for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell. Until next time, visit to listen to all our previous podcast episodes.

Closing: [00:26:17.02] Production services for the Workology Podcast with Jessica Miller-Merrell provided by

Connect with Lisa, Jon and Mark



Study Tips to Prepare for the HRCI and SHRM HR Certification Exams 

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