Getting the SHRM-SCP Certification

shrmcertification_logoLast week, on Monday, January 5, 2015 I logged into the SHRM Certification website to take the Online Tutorial Pathway that would earn me the SHRM-SCP certification.   The first thing I had to do was create an account to the SHRM Certification Portal.  This is different than the SHRM membership so new login credentials must be established for the certification site.

As I created my account and registered, I noticed the website was very slow – probably due to the heavy traffic on the first day the Online Tutorial Pathway was available.  Shortly after registering, I received an email notifying me that my profile had been successfully set up.

It took a few hours before I received the next email granting me access to the Certification Online Tutorial explaining the tutorial process with+ the following:

Accessing the Tutorial:  The tutorial can be accessed online via the URL below. Please note that you will have 10 days to complete the tutorial, with the ability to save your progress. The tutorial requires a current version of Adobe Flash to run. If you are having issues launching the tutorial we recommend accessing the course in Chrome.

What is the tutorial?:  The SHRM Certification Online Tutorial Pathway is an educational program, and not a text/exam. Activities found in the tutorial will not be assessed or assigned a score.

Duration:  The tutorial will take approximately one hour to complete.

Completing the Tutorial:  Upon completion of the tutorial, you will receive a confirmation email with information regarding next steps.

Existing Credentials:  You do not have to give up any existing HR Generalist credentials by participating in the SHRM Certification Online Tutorial Pathway.

The next morning, before going to work, I clicked on the provided link and proceeded with the Tutorial which took approx one hour to complete.

It was exactly as SHRM said above, an educational process explaining the reasons SHRM is launching their own certification and an overview of the eight behavioral competencies of the SHRM Competency Model and the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge.

SHRM-CertificationAfter the explanation, they had me take a survey answering questions about my knowledge and experience in each of the eight behavioral competencies.  From this they generated my Competency Self Portrait.

The Self Portrait measures your career experience – Early, Mid, Senior, and Exec – in each of the eight behavioral competencies.  A completely filled in sphere means you selected three out of three of the activity statements for that level of experience, a half filled sphere means you selected two out of three, an empty sphere means you selected one out of three, and no sphere means you didn’t select any of the three statements.

As can be seen on my Self Portrait, my weakest category is in Global & Cultural Effectiveness.  This is not a surprise since I don’t have any global or international HR experience.

My strongest categories are in Business Acumen, Consultation and Communication.  Again, this is not a surprise since I have a great deal of experience in these three categories.

I really like the Self Portrait as it shows me the areas where I need to continue to develop.

The next stage of the Online Tutorial was taking a sample exam by answering several questions similar to what is on the actual exam.  SHRM wants to give those of us taking the Online Tutorial Pathway a taste of what their exam is like.  The questions are from “real life” situations describing a scenario with three questions for each scenario looking for the appropriate HR solution.  There are four multiple choice answers to choose from for each question with a best answer, a second best answer, and two answers that are wrong. It’s interesting that they have a second best answer but, of course, the best answer is the correct answer for the purpose of the test.  I’m assuming the regular exam is set up in this fashion.

After taking the sample exam, I finished up the Tutorial and was notified by email that I completed it and would be notified within 72 hours that my certification was granted.  It took about four hours to receive the email notifying me that SHRM had granted me my SHRM-SCP.

Initially, I was pleased but it didn’t seem as important to me as when I earned my SPHR and, more recently, my SPHR-CA.  I had to study my brains out for those and the feeling accomplishment of passing those exams was significant.  However, I did appreciate that SHRM recognizes the HRCI certifications and is offering their certifications to those who have them.

Now that a week has gone by and I’ve had some time to let it sink in, I have really come to appreciate my SHRM-SCP certification and am impressed with how SHRM developed the SHRM Competency Model and the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge.  I am also impressed with their Online Tutorial Pathway.  Except for the slow website which was to be expected on the first day, everything went very smooth and was very professional.

I think SHRM has done an outstanding job with their roll-out of their certifications and I’m proud to now hold the SHRM-SCP certification.

Why I Sat for the SPHR-CA Certification Exam

HRCI_Purple-Red-LogoDuring the month of November and December, I was studying very hard for the SPHR-CA certification and was unable to devote the time I wanted here at HHHR.  In fact, I was surprised when I looked back and saw that I only posted a couple blog posts and released only one podcast!  Instead, I devoted the majority of my free time in the early mornings and after work to studying for the certification exam.

So, why in the world would I, an HR pro living and working in Colorado and Wyoming, decide to take the California SPHR certification?  My company has no employees in California and I don’t see any chance that we ever will. Why “waste” my time??

I have two reasons why I sat for the SPHR-CA certification.

First, I am a strong proponent of certifications, whether it is through HRCI or SHRM.  To quote HRCI, certifications “demonstrate relevance, competence, experience, credibility and dedication to human resources to your employers, clients, staff members and professional peers”.

I want to earn all the certifications I am eligible for.  I’m elegible for the SPHR-CA, so I decided to take it.  I would take the GPHR (Global Professional in Human Resources) if I could but I have no international experience, making me not eligible, unfortunately.  I will also take the necessary steps in January to earn my SHRM-SCP.

Second, the CA certification gives me one more HR specific credential that I can leverage in the job market.  I believe each person is responsible for their careers.  You never know when you will be suddenly out of a job or a job opportunity of a lifetime presents itself.  You are responsible to be ready for these events.

In fact, what initially got me thinking about the California certification was two amazing HR executive opportunities that were presented to me through recruiters in 2013 and 2014.   Interestingly, both opportunities were based in Denver but had the majority of their employees working in California.  I explored both opportunities but, in the end, lacked the necessary California HR knowledge.

I love my current job, but as I’ve said before, I will always seriously consider and explore any great executive HR job opportunity.

So, with my decision made to take the exam, I purchased the study guide from SHRM this past summer and started studying.  I really hunkered down in November and December and sat for the test on the morning of December 15.  The test was just as difficult (maybe even more so since I have no CA HR experience) than the SPHR test.  It consisted of 125 questions and has a time limit of two hours and fifteen minutes.

The exam consists of four areas:

Compensation/Wage & Hour –  comprising 22% of the exam
Employment and Employee Relations – comprising 46% of the exam
Benefits and Leaves of Absence – comprising 20% of the exam
Health, Safety, and Workers Comp – comprising 12% of the exam

I memorized the definitions in the back of the SHRM study guide and I took and retook the quizzes at the back of each study section.  At the first of December, I put the book away and focused just on taking practice tests.  I took the practice test offered by HRCI and I found a great resource at HRCalifornia.  HRCalifornia has a great practice test and a fantastic and informative website.  I took advantage of their 15 day free trial and spent a great deal of time there learning things that were not covered by the  SHRM study guide.

Those of you who have taken an HRCI test, know that feeling of relief when the screen pops up telling you you passed at the end of the 2 1/2 hours!  What a great feeling!  As with the SPHR exam,  the California exam was so difficult, I thought I was surely flunking it as I was going along.  But its important to trust yourself and your preparation and be confident throughout.

So now I proudly hold the SPHR-CA certification.  There are only approximately 500 people in the US who do.  I don’t know if I will ever need it but but now I have it in case I do.  It gives me one more credential and expands my career opportunities should I ever need to look for another job or should a great executive HR job come my way again.

I highly recommend that you take the California certification for those who hold a PHR or an SPHR.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

I have not been able to do any posting or podcasting for the past couple of weeks.  I was actually cramming for the SPHR-CA certification test I scheduled for December 15.

Yes, I passed!  And that feels fantastic.

But the last couple weeks of highly concentrated study before and after work left me exhausted and not willing to spend the time needed to work on HHHR.

In addition, my wife and I are now preparing to go on vacation and spend the Holiday week with my kids, all of whom now live east of the Mississippi.

I plan on posting and podcasting about my decision to take the SPHR-CA.  I live and work in Colorado and Wyoming but I have some good reasons and opinions about the California certification that I want to share.

So, I’m hoping now that I have accomplished another grueling certification, I will have more time to spend on HHHR the first of 2015!

Until then, I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday!

I will see you again in January.

Change Champions and the HR Certification Battle

HR leaders, as Change Champions, must practice what we preach and embrace the significant change that is happening before us in the HR certification space.  As HR leaders, we are expected to be the Change Champions in our organizations.

In fact, the top HR thought leaders, Dave Ulrich and Wayne Brockbank spend a significant amount of time discussing the importance of change and HR as Change Champions in their two most recent books, HR From the Outside-In, Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources and Global HR Competencies, Mastering Competitive Value from the Outside In.

HR as a Change Champion is one of the six competencies they discuss.  Their context is that of HR being a Change Champion in their organization but it can just as easily be applied to the HR certification space.

In their book, HR From the Outside In, Six Competencies for the Future of Human Resources, they discuss how organizations go through dramatic change.  To emphasize their point, they cite the startling statistic that only 70 organizations from the 1955 Fortune 500 list are still in existence independently today.  In other words, 430 big and powerful organizations no longer independently exist.

In the book, they emphasize HR’s role in the change process and state the following:

HR professionals should help their companies face, accept, and be open to the pressures of change rather than hide from them.

 

They also state this:

If an organization cannot change as fast as the pace of change in its environment, the organization will fall behind, decline, and disappear.  Change in an organization should at least match the pace of change in the environment.

HR professionals conceptualize and design organizational agility, flexibility, and responsiveness to external changes.

Our profession is rapidly changing and evolving.  If our certifications don’t keep up with this change, they will become obsolete.   I commend SHRM for recognizing this and introducing a significant change to the HR certification space in response.  They are shaking up the status quo and taking a huge leap forward.

Prior to SHRM’s announced entry into the HR certification space, I never saw HRCI doing anything significant in response to the changes happening in our profession.  I expect they will now.

As I stated here in a previous blog post, our profession will end up better when one certification ends up winning the battle.  The competition will ultimately be good for the profession.

Again, I am not taking sides.  I am very proud of my SPHR and will also go through the steps to earn my SHRM-SCP as soon as it’s available in 2015.  I simply want the best for the HR profession and if this battle that takes us to the next level makes us uncomfortable, so be it.