Out Now: HR Certification Podcast Episode 12: Answering Your SHRM & HRCI Exam Questions
the value of hr certification, part 2

Ep 162 – The Value of HR Certification: Pay and Career Trajectory

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Ep 162 – The Value of HR Certification: Pay and Career Trajectory

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the value of hr certification, part 2

Table of Contents

Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com, 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 162 – The Value of HR Certification: Pay and Career Trajectory


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:00:25.89] Welcome to the Workology Podcast sponsored by Clear Company. I’m on a mission to find out more about the value of HR certification. At Workology, we’re an approved provider of both SHRM and HRCI. I’m also excited because we are now offering SHRM certification prep courses online starting in 2019. HR certification, I believe, is an important part of the HR industry. A pay scale study published in 2018 found that HR certification helps establish a great HR foundation for your career. Nearly 60% of Chief Human Resource Officers from the survey have an HR certification, while more than half of Vice Presidents of Human Resources also have HR credentials. The survey also found that HR certifications have an impact positively on your compensation levels. Let’s talk to two more HR professionals, shall we? Who are certified and hear from them the value of HR certification and how it hit has positively impacted their career. I’m talking about both SHRM and HRCI certifications here. The goal is to provide someone who is thinking about taking their HR certification exam, whatever it is, insights from seasoned HR professionals. Welcome to the Workology Podcast. Our next guest to talk about HR certification and her journey into human resources is Phidelia Johnson. She’s the Director and Strategic Human Resource Business Partner at Pac J Investment Services. Hi there.

Phidelia Johnson: [00:02:06.36] Hi, hi, Jessica. How are you?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:08.91] I’m great. Let’s, let’s talk about how you ended up in human resources and your path to where you are now.

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Phidelia Johnson: [00:02:16.53] Wow. Where do I start? What I had to say is that I do love working in the HR field, and it has never been an easy field to be in. But I stumbled upon it. I actually when I came into HR, I had applied for a supervisor role. I wanted to work as a supervisor in a retail store. Used to be Bradley’s because I believe that supervisors do get more money. So I was chasing after the money. I was young and i wanted to work in the field that I would get to make more money. So when I went in to apply for a department supervisor role, the HR Manager in that facility said, you know what? I do have a professional pain and I think you’ll be perfect for it. And that position is HR Assistant Manager. And I’m like, I don’t have any experience in HR. After having spoken to you for 20 minutes, I think you’re going to do great. And I’m like, okay, how much is the salary now? And also, she quoted me a weight, and I said, how much does a supervisor page?

Phidelia Johnson: [00:03:21.84] There was a difference, about $2,000 between the two. So I said, Well, let me go home and think about it and I’ll get back to you. So I went home and I important to her. She called me back and she said, Are you interested in the role? And I said, Well, you know, if you think I can do it, I will give it a shot. So I went in and I started working retail industries very hard, but I was offered a tax and I work and I worked with them for about four years and I got exhausted and I wanted to try something new because I still had that desire to be a manager. So I veer off to into operation management and I went into hospitality industry and I worked in a lot of departments. I happened to have opportunities to be department head for different departments in the hospitality industry, and then I end up back again in HR. So in a nutshell, I started off with HR, I walked off and I came back in later again.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:04:21.99] Well, that’s story. And we’ve heard from some different folks here. As I’ve been having these conversations, a lot of people started, including myself in human resources, in retail.

Phidelia Johnson: [00:04:35.72] I believe that if you work in retail, you get to work in any HR department, you know, because retail is very hard and, you know, the turnover is also very, very, very difficult to keep the post on it. And so if you work in retail, you can work in any HR department anywhere in the world.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:04:53.18] I agree. Well, let’s talk a little bit about HR certification. So what HR certs do you hold and why do you keep them?

Phidelia Johnson: [00:05:01.34] I am currently SPHR and SHRM SCP certified. My primary objective in obtaining two of these HR certifications was to prove to myself in the HR industry that, you know, I’m good at what I do and also to learn that the latest best practices from the best minds and they felt like yoursel, Jessica. So that’s why I went in, because I believe that when you are working in a company and you have so much focus on the day-to-day employee relations and everything else that come under the umbrella of HR. We tend to forget what is going on. You know, there are HRs and it is always a revolving door in terms of industry and more things are happening every day. So it was really, it was really exciting for me to be able to quote myself that I’m keeping abreast with the latest trend in our industry and also to pick on great minds like yourself, you know, by, by buying your books and by going on your website, attending webinars, reading articles. And so I wanted to do it for myself more so, and also to see what is out there that I don’t know of.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:14.05] How do you think that having HR certification has helped your career?

Phidelia Johnson: [00:06:20.12] While this, in a way, this was a great adventure for me, one thing I can tell you is that I have found that more than that, my few months of studies has equipped me to be invaluable for my organization and also to be invaluable for my friends in the HR industry that are up and coming when they reach out to me and they asked me advice. When I started a journey, my certification journey, I didn’t think that what I acquired through my self-study. Actually did a self-study and I was able to do a self-study because there’s so much materials out there on the marketplace that make me able to do that. And because I was able to do that, I am able to do my job a little bit better. I’m able to come to the table and present different ideas that I never had to before because I wasn’t, I didn’t have that much exposure.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:07:11.51] What advice do you have for somebody who is maybe thinking about taking the, an exam, whether it’s SHRM or HRCI or something else? What do they need to do to be able to get the most out of it and then make sure they pass that exam?

Phidelia Johnson: [00:07:25.70] My main advice for anyone that is working in the HR industry that is not certified, I recommend that they go out and get certified because they will be surprised on how much they are going to learn that you don’t know. You know the perfect example, there are people that have worked in organizations that have never done mergers and acquisitions. So by taking the certification, you get exposure into mergers and acquisitions that people that have never done payroll even though the work in HR. Or have never had to deal with compensation. All the, all of these areas in HR that some of us are not privy to or don’t have enough exposure to, once you go on the journey to take your certification, you open yourself up because you don’t know what is going to come up on the certification. So I employ people. It’s a very difficult situation to sit for because we don’t know everything in the HR industry, no matter how many years of experience you have, there are things out there that you don’t know. So I highly recommend people to go out there and buy books, read, read, read and make use of all the materials that are in the Internet, especially the HR quizzes, the HR, you know, seminars and, and all the other HR internet organizations that are out there. And they are always, you know, promoting other HR concepts and services out there to get themselves engaging so that you can have a great exposure. And also to save for examination, because that makes them, you know, stand out in the organization. People come to them because they feel like they are an expert in what they do.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:08:57.53] Where can people go to connect with you and talk and maybe ask some questions about your journey to HR and certification?

Phidelia Johnson: [00:09:05.33] I am on Twitter, I am LinkedIn, and I also have my side hustle, my consulting business at PhideliaJohnson.com. So when they go on there, one of the things that I did with my website is that I have my telephone number, I have my email address, I make sure every page has that information. So I am very easy to locate. If you go on there, you can easily locate me on any of the social media platforms.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:09:31.94] Awesome. We’ll link to, to some of those sites for you on the transcript of the podcast, but I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us about your journey. You have a very interesting background and I love hearing stories like yours.

Phidelia Johnson: [00:09:45.47] Thank you so much, Jessica.

Break: [00:09:47.06] Let’s take a reset. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell and you are listening to the Workology Podcast sponsored by Clear Company. We’re talking about the value of HR certification. Last week I hosted a webinar on how to best prepare for your SHRM certification exam. We had a lot of questions and I found there is a lot of uncertainty around how much we should be preparing for HR certification exams. I’m talking about reading the learning system, books, quizzes, flashcards, talking with a friend or a peer. I want to talk about this for a minute. Consistency is so important. In order to retain knowledge and ultimately pass your HR exam. This technique, consistent studying and learning over time, is called spacing. The spacing effect helps you retain information, and a study by Dartmouth College on the spacing effect had two groups. One was told a speech six times in a single day versus another group who was told that same speech three times over the course of three days. The study found that students who receive the information repetitively but over longer periods of time remembered that speech more thoroughly and even a month later could recall the speech versus what I call the learning dump group. Dump in that knowledge in a cram session is much easier. It takes less effort. We just simply spend an entire weekend in our SHRM learning system going over questions or we’re sitting in a review class. However, it is not an effective method for long term learning. And since the SHRM exams have these situational judgment based and scored questions, you cannot just use what I call memorization and regurgitation methods. I did this. It got me all through college. I recommend that you do the following. Number one, follow a regular study schedule, 3 to 5 hours a week. Two, mix it up. Podcast, flashcards, quizzes, all important to reinforce that learning and that spacing over time. And three, finding accountability partners. Someone to study, discuss, apply, and use that knowledge that you’ve just spent all this time reading and learning about. You can catch more of these tips as well as other study best practices. I have a bunch. By viewing the replay of the presentation, you can go to Workology or you can also access that presentation at Workolo.gy/SHRMCrtExam that’s Workology, Workolo.gy/SHRMCertExam.

Break: [00:12:42.04] 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 ClearCompany.com  to sign up for a free demo.

Anthony Paradiso, MS, SHRM-CP


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:12:56.89] Let’s dive into our next interview. The HR certification conversation continues, and I am talking now with Anthony Paradiso. He is a Human Resource Business Partner at Industrial UI Services. He has a distinguished HR career which I am excited to share with you more about. Hi Anthony.

Anthony Paradiso: [00:13:16.69] Hello, how are you?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:13:17.98] I’m wonderful. Let’s talk about your career in HR. How did you get here?

Anthony Paradiso: [00:13:22.69] Sure. So I actually started, actually building my company for almost 11 years. That’s when I started my HR career. I actually was a mortgage consultant way, way, way, way back. And I did not, it just wasn’t for me. So I left the position and I went on Craigslist. Yes, Craigslist, which is I guess funding is still around. I went on Craigslist. I have the job that I have now. I went into, I applied for the position. I was more of an account management or executive position at the time, but I was not looking really for HR. I just kind of fell into me. And now, 11 years later, I am a business partner with the company and I, and I handle a lot of the employee relations matters. We also are a company that specializes in unemployment insurance cost control, so we handle a lot of that. And as far as, as far, as far as volunteer leadership positions, I do a lot of diversity and inclusion items with our programs with SHRM.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:14:28.51] Awesome. Well, and I want to point out that you because you’re selling yourself a little short here you have a Master’s degree in HR and business is what I’m saying here, too. And then you also have your SHRM CP. So walk us through that. When did you get that? What was it like? How has your SHRM cert worked for you?

Anthony Paradiso: [00:14:47.35] So I actually got it recently. I’ve been wanting to get it for a while, but just, you know, this life, you know, life happens. So I got my certification about, it’s actually right after the SHRM National Conference. So just a little after that this year. And I took the, I took the class at a local university for, for the SHRM certification and which, which I really, really recommend for people. It does keep you, keeps you paced, it keeps you on target. There’s so much material to, to study. So I definitely highly recommend taking a class not necessarily at university, but you can take them through your SHRM local chapter, has them often, sometimes are even less expensive that way. So of course as an issue you could always look through it that way. You could also study on your own. SHRM has their own, their own individual learning how you use the learning system on your own, on your own time and your own pace. So that’s how I, that’s how I, that’s how I prepare. I took the class about probably I think I took it last December, so a year ago. So I took the class and decided to wait a little bit even after that to take the test so I can study a little more in my own time and make sure I get, you know, make sure I get everything and just had any questions I can reach out to my, my colleagues and all that stuff.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:16:16.24] So what was the, the test like for you? I mean, obviously it turned out in your favor, but what insights can you share maybe with folks who are, who are getting ready to take their exam about what it was like and how you think they should prepare beyond maybe like a course or the learning system? Is there any other suggestions that you have?

Anthony Paradiso: [00:16:38.69] I think for me, because I’m one of those people, I’m not, I’m not a good test taker. I am, you know, when I, when I got my, I went to my, my bachelor’s degree, I was in a, you know, in a program where it was mostly essays that kind of, I was a philosophy, politics and law major. So, you know, a lot of it was just a lot of essays. It really wasn’t multiple-choice. So I really recommend people to take as many practice tests as possible. Definitely study sort of the material as much as you can. But I really would emphasize to really crack down and take as many practice tests because it kind of, it kind of gets you thinking how SHRM thinks and how you should answer things. And, you know, you take you could take a, a pre, a pre-test which kind of just you know, you kind of just take before studying. You can kind of see what areas you, you need, you need work on because at the end of the pre-test it did out to you some different, it gives you, it breaks down to you what areas your, what your weaknesses and your strengths. So you should really focus more on your weaknesses really the most. But obviously, you know, look at your strengths too, but really focus in on the weaknesses and again, practice tests.

Anthony Paradiso: [00:17:52.94] Also, recommendation really is do I just study, study, study, really pick a time period that is good for you. You know, if there’s this two windows, there’s two testing windows, so make sure you pick the one that’s, that’s best for you, the one that you’re not going to have as much time going on because there is one, or if you pick like the first testing period, which is I think December through February, you may want to schedule the test maybe January, February, just because December could be a little crazy with all the holidays. I also recommend you could take a class, whichever way you do it, either through a local SHRM chapter or through university. I recommend taking the test very soon after the class because the, you know how our memories operate. We every week that goes by, you lose about 25% of what you remembered from the class. So really, I recommend it. I didn’t do it, but most people do. I maybe, I did the, maybe I did it the wrong way. I mean, I did, I did pass, luckily. So I do, I do recommend that.

Anthony Paradiso: [00:19:00.11] And also I recommend really, don’t be hard on yourself. I know plenty of people that, that did not pass the first time. Don’t, you know, I know it could be very it can be daunting. It could be, it can be stinks, it’s, to not pass it sometimes. But don’t get too hard on yourself. Don’t think that you’re not a good HR professional if you don’t pass the first time. And I’m not saying that you’re not going to pass, but I’m just saying to you, don’t get, don’t get so caught up on it. If you don’t pass the first time, you can take it again. There’s no, there’s no, there’s no, they don’t give you any. You have to take one, per, one test per testing window. So again, just don’t get hard on yourself too if anything happens. But again, hopefully, that hopefully it doesn’t happen. You’ll hopefully pass the first time. But again, like I said, don’t get on yourself. Don’t get hard on yourself. Because I will admit I actually was unsuccessful one time before and I was very hard on myself. And I just recommend not to do that because it doesn’t, don’t, won’t do you any good to do that. Just, just see how you did and work on your weaknesses.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:20:07.92] Well, let’s talk about why you chose an HR certification. How has it since you took the exam and passed you think helped your career?

Anthony Paradiso: [00:20:17.19] I think so, yeah. I think people do. They do look at you differently. I believe they do look at you as, as a, as more of a strategic partner when you have your certification. I have noticed since I have mine, I’ve been noticing, I’ve been to more, I’ve been doing more podcasts. You know, before my certification I was heavily involved with SHRM as a blogger and all that good stuff. But I do find more, more things have come in line since the passing of my test, and really it was really mostly for myself. Honestly, my job didn’t, didn’t, didn’t, didn’t require it. It was just mostly I knew that I wanted to do it for myself. And it made me when I, when I passed, it made me feel really good about myself and the profession I’m in. And maybe that would validate that I’m, that I’m, I’m good. And, and, and I’m a good strategic partner, HR business partner in the HR field.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:21:12.81] Awesome. Well, where can people go maybe to connect with you? Is there a best place for them to connect with you to talk more?

Anthony Paradiso: [00:21:20.55] Sure. I have, my Twitter is my best way or one of my ways. It’s @allthingzap. So it’s @allthingzap. That’s on Twitter. You could also actually go, I just recently, just started Instagram just two days ago, so you could always do that too. It’s the same as my Twitter account and I am also on LinkedIn. Again, it’s Anthony Paradiso, and I’m actually in the process of getting my website up to myself, but I don’t have it yet so I can give it out. But once I have it, I’ll put it on my, on my social network.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:21:53.04] Awesome. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us about HR certification. Congrats on passing that, your SHRM CP That’s exciting and thanks for sharing some tips for our listeners.

Phidelia Johnson: [00:22:05.31] Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Thank you.

Closing: [00:22:07.59] Are you stuck maintaining your HRCI and SHRM certifications? Learn by Workology is an on-demand learning system making recertification simple. Visit Workology.com/learn or text Workology to 55678 to learn more. Text 55678 to Workology. Now back to the podcast.

Closing: [00:22:32.70] HR certification was critical to my human resources career success, and I’m not the only one. That same HR certification study found that over the course of ten years, getting certified for HR professionals became increasingly valuable to HR pros from a pay perspective and for career acceleration in 2008, the per cent boost in pay associated with having any certification was 17%. The per cent pay boost has climbed up and up and up, reaching close to 40% in 2016 before slightly dropping in the last two years. In 2018, the per cent boost in pay associated with having an HR certification is 31.6%. I could do with 5% more, but 31.6%, outstanding. Just some food for thought. If you’re thinking about getting your HR certification, of course, I would love for you to come on over and check out our new SHRM certification prep offering on Workology. It’s under the products and HR certification section. 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. And until next time you can visit Workology.com to listen to all our previous podcast episodes.

Closing: [00:23:58.29] Production services for the Work oLogy podcast with Jessica Miller-Merrell provided by TotalPicture.com.

Connect with Phidelia and Anthony


HR Certifications: How They Impact Pay and Career Trajectory ~ The Payscale report mentioned in the podcast

HR Certification Basics 

How to Become SHRM-SCP and SHRM-CP Certified

Workology’s SHRM Certification Prep Online Course Program 

HR Certification Prep Resources

HR Recertification Resources

How to Subscribe to the Workology Podcast

You can also click here to find out how to be a guest on the Workology Podcast.

*A special thank you to my production team at Total Picture Radio.

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