If you are an HR pro in the states you’ve heard some chatter about the certification. You’ve heard good things, bad things, true things and plenty of false things. You’ve seen die-hard SHRM supporters and die-hard HRCI supporters. You’ve probably read heart-felt blog posts from HR professionals that are volunteer leaders and you’ve seen twitter feeds from pissed off members. You’ve heard people say certifications don’t mean anything and you’ve heard plenty of people say they passed it without any effort. Yeah, you’ve pretty much heard it all and even though I’m sooooooooo OVER all the certification talk, I’m going to tell you my certification story.
I fell into HR by accident. I’ve told the story a thousand times about how my husband had to basically drag me kicking and screaming into a temp service when we moved to Decatur, AL during my job search. I remember being terrified that they were going to send me to work on some assembly line somewhere (I would never last in any kind of hands on work), but I filled out my application anyway. I sat nervously across from the office manager while she read every detail of my application and asked me pointed questions about working with people, even crazy people, and what my goals were. I was in college still and working towards a degree in Sociology and Justice Studies (minor in psychology), for no good reason. I needed a job. They offered me a position to work in the office and the next day I was in an office wondering what the heck my new job meant. I learned one thing at a time and navigated through opportunities until I found myself running the branch in Huntsville. Running my branch for the company gave me the opportunity to interact with my HR customers on a daily basis beyond a third-party recruiting role and more as an HR business partner. Having daily opportunities to sit on site with customers and tackle their HR issues together changed our recruiting model and procedures. We pushed the envelope, became painfully transparent, and delivered amazing results. This gave me the insight I needed into the world of HR to fall in love with it.
When my time was up in staffing it was time to get a “real HR” job. No more temp/staffing world, I had a resume to build. At one point while I was working in staffing I realized I was going to do nothing with the degree I was working towards and I quit school. I promised I’d go back when I could and that I would get a degree in something I was interested in utilizing. (I know that made you cringe). We’ve all heard someone say that and you guessed it, I didn’t go back. I did, however, sit for my PHR exam. I didn’t have the time or funds to get my degree and I had every reason to sit for the PHR. A large portion of our local HR population are certified and HR jobs were transitioning from preferring a PHR certification to requiring it. It was my last chance to sit for the PHR without having my degree so it was then or never. I paid for it out-of-pocket, I took it, and in January 2011 I became certified. I am PHR certified and proud. My certification means something to me. My certification was the first step in backing up my on the job HR experience. My PHR means I take my profession serious. My PHR is part of my HR.
My certification secret is I don’t have a degree. We give Hank (can I call you Hank?) and others involved with SHRM slack for not being certified, but what does it mean to our profession that I’m an HR practitioner without a degree? I don’t tell people that I don’t have a degree, I avoid it at all costs because it’s embarrassing and sometimes I feel like it’s a disservice to the profession (in fact, I don’t even know how I’m going to show my face at #SHRM14 today now that I’ve published this). I am working in the wonderful world of corporate HR and am fortunate enough to get to utilize tuition reimbursement. I am officially back in school, working to finish my degree, but had I not been certified I wouldn’t have even come close to being considered for my current position. My certification doesn’t replace the need for a degree, but it allows me the opportunity to showcase that I am knowledgeable. It lets me showcase that I am continuously learning about my profession. Most importantly it allows me to be a Professional in Human Resources.
I try super hard to stay away from long blog posts and I’m fully aware that this one is lengthy, forgive me! Check back tomorrow for what the new SHRM certification means for my certification story and my plan of action.