@HRCertInstitute vs. @SHRM – The Battle For HR Certification Supremacy Continues


Okay, here’s my full disclaimer: I was not a fan of the decision by SHRM to divest itself of its partnership with HRCI over the certifications for HR professionals. Frankly, I think they placed a lot of professionals in a precarious position in determining whether or not to undertake the financial commitment required to maintain two certifications. But hey, in the spirit of full disclosure…I was one of those HR pro’s that had a PHR and went ahead and got my SHRM-CP. Since SHRM was offering its certs to currently certified pro’s for free last year, I said to myself; “Why not?”

For those of you who were unaware, I’m back in the job market (if you’re looking for an ER/LR nerd…I’m your guy!) and I recently applied to an Employee Relations position with Navy Federal. As I was going through the application process on their site, I came to a section where I could select from a list of certifications. There were several certifications listed which included IT, financial, legal certifications and others. Also listed were the PHR and SPHR Certifications from HRCI. Missing from the list were the SHRM certifications.

Even though it has been a year since SHRM began to offer their certifications to HR pro’s, I still can’t pass up a good opportunity to bring up to SHRM what a shitty idea their venture was…at least in my opinion, and of course via limited venues including this blog and Twitter:

Surprisingly, Navy Federal’s social media team was responsive and got back to me advising that they confirmed the SPHR certification listed on their application site was in fact the missing SHRM certification that i had referred to in my earlier tweet:

Not wanting to seem like a pretentious ass to a potential employer by advising the SPHR cert was actually a HRCI accreditation…I just liked their tweet and kept it moving. Fortunately Rebecca Hastings (@RebeccaSPHR), HR Content Manager for HRCI, had my back and pointed out the error to the Navy Federal team:

Does any of this matter…yes and no. Will it matter to SHRM…probably not. HR Certification’s are a multi-million dollar a year business, and I’m sure that SHRM has a business model in place to get their share of the pie. However, for all us regular Joe’s out there, it should matter. The decision of whether to go for both certifications, or pick either/or should be dependent on the value that the certifications are going to add in helping us achieve our professional goals.

When we are looking to take on the commitment to gain a recognizable and trusted industry certification that is widely recognized by employer’s, and the financial implications of such an endeavor (i.e. the cost of the exam, and the cost of the continuing education needed to maintain a certification, etc.), there should be a quantifiable return on our investment. I had an interview today, where the hiring manager actually mentioned that she had taken into consideration that I was PHR certified to include the connotations my certification brought to the table. As a potential applicant, those types of statements make me feel confident that my choice to get my HRCI certification was in fact a good choice.

Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way knocking a SHRM certification. I’m sure that they will bring value to it’s holders, but I also would like to be a realist, and contrary to SHRM’s claims that “earning your SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP credential makes you a recognized expert and leader in the HR field.” It’s actually going to take SHRM time to build that type of reputation for their certs and develop the recognition that HRCI certifications currently have.

If you’re currently not certified and looking to choose between a SHRM or HRCI cert, I would definitely go with HRCI for the time being. Perhaps later on down the road, it may make more sense to have two certifications…or maybe even going with a SHRM cert vice a HRCI cert.

P.S. SHRM: I’m still waiting for my invitation to the blogger’s lounge for this years annual conference 🙂

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