On HR Certifications, Encourage Choice!


A LOT has been said about the new SHRM Certifications and the existing HRCI Certifications the last few months. I’ve been hesitant to add my opinion to the mix because I thought that there wasn’t much I could add to the conversation that hadn’t already been covered.

As time has passed, I’ve found myself in the minority in terms of my point of view on these changes. Being in this position doesn’t necessarily make me right or wrong. Let’s face it, this is an incredibly complex issue! Any conversation about this that doesn’t acknowledge that right off the bat is hurting more than it is helping.

My position is about as nuanced as it gets. I’m FOR the new SHRM Certifications and I’m FOR keeping my existing HRCI Certification. I think HR Certifications are in important part of our profession, but not the ONLY way we have of improving our effectiveness on the job.

We Have a Choice:

I’m excited about the opportunity that we (HR) are presented with. I don’t see a downside in the coexistence of a SHRM Certification and the current HRCI Certifications. I think the expansion of professional certification opportunities is a great thing for HR professionals everywhere.

New certifications don’t take away from the credibility or value of existing ones. New opportunities for professional development don’t undermine anyone’s career or career prospects. That is of course, unless we choose to let them.

And that’s what it’s all about. Choice.

Choose to Encourage:

What I hear a lot (and what I don’t quite understand) is a tendency towards wanting one certification to win out over the other. As advocates for our profession, I don’t think we should ever bemoan the existence of an opportunity for those within “the HR family” to advance themselves, even if we don’t agree with its existence per se.

If we choose not to pursue the new certifications personally that’s one thing. Each of us has our own career goals in mind and this affects our decisions and opinions on this matter. What concerns me is the kind of activism that not only oposes one certification over another, but actively seeks to diminish an option in a way that discourages people from pursuing a certification.

What I wish I heard more of from HR thought leaders and trend setters is encouragement to keep an open mind, to get the facts on both the SHRM and HRCI Certifications, and to make a decision based on what’s best for each individual’s career in spite of all the ongoing personal and political noise.

Am I an HR thought leader or trend setter? Nope! Do I think you should take a long hard look at both certification models and make a decision that’s best for you and your career? Absolutely!

We may not always agree on how and where we are going as a profession, but we always have a choice. The most risky part of all of this, in my opinion, isn’t the existence of more certifications but how we choose to react to it. For the sake of our profession, I hope that we always choose to expand access to opportunities for professional development even when the outcome is unclear, uncertain, or as yet “unproven”.

After all, isn’t that’s how we grow as people? Isn’t that how we will grow as a profession?


Note: I originally published a rough version of this on a LinkedIn discussion. It got cleaned up a bit for the purposes of this blog (formatting, corrections, expansion of some ideas etc.) but you can see the original post and related discussion here.


Image Credit: Viktor E. Frankl. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved August 25, 2014, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/v/viktorefr121087.html


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s