A Leading Perspective

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What do we have to lose?

I think I’ve read a blog or a status update per day for the last two weeks regarding SHRM’s “new” competency based certification for HR Professionals.

I thought I’d join the conversation with this quick post.

First and foremost, let me say that I am proud of my SPHR and GPHR certification for a variety of reasons, and I have been a strong advocate for certification for over ten years. As a matter of fact, I am one of many who led the way in Alaska in not only promoting professional certification but ensuring all HR Pros in my immediate area had a good medium for preparing for the exams. And I’ll continue to do so, regardless of these changes.


Should HR Professionals care that SHRM is changing the game?

I don’t think that’s the right question…I think the question should be:


Do HR professionals “lose” anything by this change?

I don’t think they do.


Current certified professionals won’t “lose” their “claim” to a professional certification. They can “exchange” HRCI’s credentials for SHRM’s credentials provided they have existing credentials and take SHRM’s tutorial in 2015.   If they choose not to take the tutorial, they’ll keep their old certifications and can choose to maintain them using the same HRCI process they have for years.

Ok, they’ll lose the time…they aren’t getting that hour or so spent online back but will they gain something from watching the tutorial?  Of course they will!

Ok, and perhaps they’ll lose a little card stock when they toss their old business cards but let’s be honest, don’t we all love new business cards?  Everyone should take the opportunity to add their Social Media information to their new business cards, by the way!


Current HR Professionals won’t lose credibility if they have to give up their current alphabet characters.  I am saddened by the fact that some HR Professionals rely upon alphabet characters to prove their “credibility” in the first place. HR Professionals should be earning people’s trust and gaining credibility by their actions, their insight and their counsel…alphabet characters have nothing to do with it.

Some fear the credentials themselves will lose credibility because SHRM is now the “holder” of those credentials; the thought process is that without a third party like HRCI managing the certification, the credentials themselves are called into question.

This argument is a result of a classic HR paradigm regarding conflict of interest but it isn’t altogether valid. SHRM is not the first professional organization to manage their own credentials, nor will it be the last. The world doesn’t discredit other certifications that are handled in this manner so I don’t think HR Professionals should immediately assume that the world will discredit SHRM’s certifications.


Current certified professionals won’t lose the “value” of current certifications. Some fear that this change has “de-valued” the current certification…that SHRM has somehow backtracked and the last few decades of promotion for certification have been a big ruse.

WHAT?  That’s crazy talk!

SHRM isn’t de-valuing the current certifications – but it can’t use the same “names” as they are registered trademarks of HRCI.  Unless HRCI wants to give them up to SHRM, which we can presume it does not, SHRM has no choice but to create its own.


HR Professionals won’t lose out on training opportunities because of this change.  Nothing about this change affects if a person can attend training. HR professionals are welcome to attend any training they have the means to attend.  If the event is not a pre-approved training, the HR Professional has been and will continue to be able to submit the training objectives to the “certifying” institution to seek approval for credit after the fact.   If the organization or trainer wants to pre-approve the training in a marketing effort to boost attendance, they will do so through SHRM in the same manner they did so through HRCI.


Perhaps the real question that needs to be answered immediately is this one:

Does the conflict between SHRM and HRCI affect HR Professionals’ ability to add value to their organization?  

The answer is HECK NO, so let’s all get back to it.





CertificationChangeCommunicationsGood FaithHRCIHuman ResourcesLeadershipRecognitionSHRM

Heather Kinzie • May 27, 2014

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  1. Patty Billingsley May 27, 2014 - 6:13 pm Reply

    I don’t disagree with your analysis, however I do disagree with the manner in which SHRM rolled out their announcement. I think many of us are also disappointed that after the profession has spent many years establishing credibility through the validity and value of the credentials with our employers, we now have to explain a “new” certification. For what reason none of us know. Some might think SHRM may be missing out on significant revenue and that may be their motive. But again we don’t know, there has been no explanation. I for one will not jump to change my certification. I worked hard for it and I’m proud of it. And by the way, since when does a PHR signify an entry level professional? I know many very seasoned, competent PHR holders who worked very hard to earn and maintain their certification and now under the new SHRM certification they will be identified as entry. And by the way, what is it called? Again, we don’t know.

    • Heather Kinzie May 28, 2014 - 3:23 pm Reply

      Patty, thanks for taking the time to join the conversation. Indeed, so much is still left to learn about this.

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