6 Unique and Challenging Ways to Recertify

The PDCs will add up as you stretch yourself professionally

By Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP November 7, 2018

​Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP

​Achieving SHRM certification is a great professional accomplishment. With this significant achievement comes the obligation to remain certified. And the three-year deadline for recertifying comes faster than we all think. 

Many of us recertify by gathering professional development credits (PDCs) through the "normal," common channels of continuing education, participating in local HR programs and attending conferences (local, statewide, the SHRM Annual Conference, and other national and SHRM conferences scheduled throughout the year). These are all great options for recertification and they provide tremendous amounts of relevant and timely information. But to truly challenge and stretch ourselves professionally, I recommend these six unique opportunities for recertification credits: 

1. Teach a SHRM certification exam prep class or lead a study group. The instructor for a course or study group will learn just as much as or more than the students. Yes, it takes work, but when you know that your students are successful, the work is worth it. It's also worth it for the recertification credits you can get for teaching. I recently wrote an article about the successes of the SHRM certification exam prep class I have taught over the past three years. The original plan was for me to team-teach with an experienced SHRM instructor, but right before the class was scheduled to start, the other instructor accepted a different job and relocated. I honestly had no idea how I would begin. But I turned to the SHRM Learning System portal, utilizing all of its resources and spending significant time before each class to prepare. The result was success for both teacher and students. 

2. Develop a course, seminar or workshop. Sharing your knowledge with students by developing or teaching a course is a tremendous opportunity, and the job will challenge you as a professional. Fully engage in the process and you will enjoy it. The number of PDCs you get will vary based on the length of the course, your teaching load, and other factors. Save your syllabus or materials in case you are audited. You never know what course development can lead to. I started my academic career developing curricula for Corning Community College, which led to positions at Elmira College as an adjunct professor and SHRM certification exam course instructor, which led to my current full-time role there as an assistant professor of business administration. 

3. Give a speech as a guest or volunteer. Speaking engagements can help us stretch professionally. If you do not like speaking in public, overcome your fear by remembering that practice makes improved, not perfect. Preparation is the key to successful public speaking. Know the material and show confidence in your presentation style. These opportunities can qualify for numerous recertification credits, depending on the material developed and covered, the length of the speech, and the nature of the engagement. Prior to becoming a professor and instructor, I was a guest speaker multiple times for college courses, nonprofit conferences and chambers of commerce, and I continue to speak at networking events, local high school career programs, job fairs and other venues. 

4. Write and publish an article. If you enjoy writing and have a passion for certain HR topics, share your work with the world. Even if you don't like writing, you can improve your skills through the writing and publishing process. It's another great option for challenging yourself while earning PDCs; the amount of credits will vary based on the publication, the length of the article, and other qualifications. My goal is to write one article a week for my consulting clients and network to provide them with relevant HR information. I am always looking for opportunities to publish in peer-reviewed journals, law journals, the Cornell HR Review, and publications issued by SHRM, the Labor and Employment Relations Association and other organizations. I'll be submitting this article for recertification credits! 

5. Conduct a training session or work on other projects for your organization. In our roles as HR professionals, we might be asked to train managers or supervisors on HR topics or to work on projects related to the strategic direction of the organization. Why not submit these activities for PDCs? They add value and are relevant to the recertification process. In a previous role, I led a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification project designed to reduce the number of callout grievances in the workplace. A work project like that can and should be submitted for recertification credits. 

6. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Look for opportunities to volunteer at the local, state or national levels of SHRM. Volunteer outside of SHRM and of the HR profession, too—all our communities need talented professionals to take on leadership positions. Regardless of where I live or work, I always find time to volunteer. I started volunteering with my local SHRM chapter in 2009. I left for graduate school in 2010 and held a volunteer leadership role with the university's student HR chapter. I returned to my home state in 2014 and rejoined my local chapter, where I am now the president. My future goal is to move into a statewide volunteer position. 

Refer to the SHRM Recertification Requirements Handbook for details on how to submit and receive PDCs for these activities. Create your own unique opportunities. 

Here are two final pieces of advice about recertification credits:

  • Update your PDCs as soon as possible through the online portal or smartphone app.
  • Keep all relevant material for submission well organized and readily available. (If you are audited, as I was last year, the last thing you want to do is search through three years of material!) 

Recertification is a necessity for any certified professional. It is required every three years because it develops the in-demand skills that are needed in the workplace, which must be kept up to date. The goal of recertification is professional growth and the evolution of our knowledge, skills and abilities. The six challenging and unique recertification opportunities presented above will assist in that growth and evolution. There are dozens more that can add to your value as a professional. Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and seize those opportunities. 

Matthew W. Burr, SHRM-SCP, owner of Burr Consulting, LLC, in Elmira, N.Y., is an HR consultant, an assistant professor at Elmira College, and an on-call mediator and fact-finder for the New York State Public Employment Relations Board. Burr serves as president of the Human Resources Association of the Twin Tiers, a SHRM chapter in upstate New York. He holds master's degrees in business administration and in HR & industrial relations, and a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.


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