The SHRM and HRCI Battle Is Not Critical to Good HR


May 27, 2014

I love HR
If you’re in the HR industry, unless you’ve been hiding in a cave the last couple weeks, I’m sure you’ve read countless posts about the fallout between SHRM and HRCI regarding HR certification.  While SHRM has always promoted HRCI as the place to go for HR certification (PHR, SPHR and GPHR), it has suddenly done an about-face and now announces that they will provide their own certification.

This whole debacle has left thousands of HRCI certified HR professionals in a bind- not knowing whether they should continue to keep up their HRCI credits or switch to what SHRM offers.  In either case, the part of the discussion, or lack of, that gets me is that there are hundreds of thousands of successful HR professionals who actively choose NOT to be certified. For those like me who have made this decision, it’s interesting to read posts by SPHR’s thumbing their noses at us, saying they wouldn’t hire us.  They say that without “demonstrating a body of knowledge” we are not able to progress and also that people like me are choosing not to stay up to date.

I have a news flash for those that think like this…

I personally know many people who stay up to date without HRCI certification.  After all, some of us are the very people that SHRM and other conferences call in to teach you so that you can get your credits.

Now, I do greatly respect anyone who has become certified.  My personal reasons for not getting it are just as valid as the reasons some people get it.  It has never hurt me from doing a good job, it has never stopped me from being promoted, it has never kept me from getting a job at a higher level at a new company, it has never prevented me from being the head of HR.  It has never stopped me from being chosen to speak at SHRM annual nor many other state SHRM conferences.  In fact, it has never kept me from being completely current in my chosen profession.

For me, the point is not to judge people who want to be HRCI certified.  It shows their dedication to being the best in HR they can be.  We also should not judge the people who are very excited about the idea of a new way to train, measure and certify HR through SHRM’s certification program.  They too have very high aspirations of being the best HR professionals.  Oh, and of course, not judge those who are doing it on our own, our own way.  We too are doing all we can to learn and stay ahead of the curve so that we can drive the profession forward.  All three types of HR pro are really going after the same result.  We want to be able to provide the best knowledge and advice to our leaders and employees.

Spend the time and energy on ensuring you are comfortable with your course of action instead of worrying about whether someone communicated something the “right” way or not.  We’ll all be better HR pros for it.

No Comments

  • I like your take on the HRCI vs. SHRM debacle. In my opinion, it was a poorly executed PR campaign – from the view of a SHRM member. If the purpose was to make a sudden and unexpected break from HRCI, then mission accomplished. If the purpose was lost due to poor execution, not good on SHRM’s part.

    • @ Kyle- Thanks for the comment. You’re absolutely right. It’s amazing how many people with the certification from HRCI are still just hearing about the change. I’ll be interested to se show this plays out. Do you have your certification? If so, what’s your plan of action?

  • You have found a nice way to say “I told you so.” I also chose not to be certified because it was always just a memorization test – if you prepped to take their type of test you passed. SHRM made money off the certification, having to keep up the credits AND the prep materials and classes. It was marketing people!

    it in no way validated my 25 years of experience or knowledge, nor did it enhance my BA or Masters degrees. Not having it also didn’t limit my speaking and teaching requests, nor prevent my career path upwards in the HR profession.

    I do not know if the new SHRM method is better or will actually certify a body of knoweldge more than the HRCI test. But I don’t need to worry, I won’t be getting this new certification either.

    • @ Deanna- Thanks for your insight. I knew there were other HR pros like me. That said, I must admit that what SHRM is doing has at least piqued my curiosity. On the surface, I’d buy into the testing for competencies more than I would the current model. Since you’re not certified, have you ever encouraged your team members to get certified? I don’t think I strongly encouraged anyone to do it, however, I did pay for people to get their certification if it was in their personal goals. I’d love to say in touch on your thoughts as this unfolds. Thanks again.

  • Trish – Yes I always supproted those who wanted to be certified and put in my budget for staff who wanted to pursue taht. II agree with you – at leasst a competency based moldel sounds more meaningful. We shall see.

  • Anyone who thinks the certification process is a memory test is kidding themselves. Without the actual knowledge you could not pass, however, if you decided not to get certified it is fine, just don’t down play the hard work, knowledge and skils that go into passing the certification. It does not make you shine in the best light to pass this off as memory because you don’t have it or don’t want it.

    • @ Kate- I do appreciate you reading and commenting but I’m a bit confused by your comment. This post was about using our time to appreciate those who have HRCI certification, those who are interested in the new certification and those who choose to teach themselves. In no part was HRCI called a memory test, so I’m not sure how this makes me not “shine in the best light”. At any rate, thanks for the comment and as my post said, I respect those who have certification and wish you the best.

Comments are closed.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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