Earn Recertification Credits for Your Work Projects

On-the-job activities may qualify in the ‘Advance Your Organization’ category

By Rena Gorlin April 12, 2018
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Ellen Brownson, SHRM-SCP

"Maintaining my SHRM credential has been easy because I'm a nerd for HR information," said Ellen Brownson, SHRM-SCP, who obtained her certification in 2015 and has already recertified. "I'm constantly taking webinars and going to local conferences and programs. Plus, I was able to get credit for several work projects, so I had more PDCs [professional development credits] than I needed. Now I'm good through 2021." 

The work projects for which Brownson earned PDCs were performed for the Tucson unified school district, Arizona's second largest, where she was the senior HR program coordinator overseeing HR data and information management. She recently took early retirement but plans to remain a SHRM credential-holder in good standing. 

SHRM certificants who follow Brownson's example may be able to earn up to 20 PDCs per recertification cycle for their qualifying work projects, which fall under the "Advance Your Organization" category. According to the SHRM Recertification Requirements Handbook, acceptable activities are those that "contribute to the continued success of your organization and to your growth as an HR professional" and "meet or support organizational goals and provide opportunities to advance your capabilities in … HR competencies."

Stretching Your Knowledge and Learning

"Much of what we do as HR professionals are 'normal' daily HR tasks," Brownson said. "However, if you think about some of the work you did during the year, you might be able to identify a couple of special projects that were new experiences for you, requiring you to stretch your knowledge and learning. Those are the projects that show how you have applied the SHRM competencies to your work, the kind that can be turned in for recertification credit." 

Brownson described two of the projects she worked on for her employer that successfully qualified for PDCs. 

In one project, Brownson configured and built 47 salary schedules for the school district's new HR information system (HRIS). "I placed approximately 8,200 staff members in the schedule and verified their salaries—hourly plus longevity—while following union agreements," Brownson said. "Then I moved eligible employees up one step to reflect a 1 percent raise approved by our governing board, all by our July 1 'go live' day. Through July and August, I ran and uploaded each salary schedule to coincide with certain pay periods." This work had previously been handled by the payroll department, Brownson said. 

Another project concerned the state-mandated School District Employee Report, delivered to the Arizona Department of Education every year to secure funding. "This annual report is what gets each district federal and state monies," Brownson said, "so compiling the information for it properly is critical." The work that Brownson led involved collecting data on all district employees (8,200 total staff, including 3,200 teachers responsible for 49,000 students), configuring and coding the data for the HR processing team, and conducting ongoing verification and cleanup as necessary. 

Aligning with HR Competencies 

"Everything I do is totally covered by the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge," Brownson said. "With 21 years of experience doing HR work with an HR title, and another 10 years doing HR work as a manager, I can see that I've applied all of the competencies almost every day." 

"I use Business Acumen to delve into what the organization needs," Brownson continued. "I've found that the two most useful competencies are Communication and Relationship Management. It's amazing how much information there is in business—and how much there needs to be—especially when dealing with cross-functional teams. Every group is a little different." 

A competent HR professional is able to communicate with them and manage those relationships accordingly. "You need to send messages, persuade, and make and take recommendations about how to do something, to get things done," Brownson said. 

An Abundance of Recertification Opportunities 

Accruing PDCs is not so difficult in light of how many avenues are available by which to earn credits, Brownson said. She encouraged her fellow SHRM credential-holders to network, read, pursue educational opportunities, attend conferences and submit work projects. "Structure your write-ups with a how-to focus," she said. Follow the recertification handbook's guidelines for qualifying activities and supporting documentation. 

"It feels good to stay up-to-date—and it's doable," Brownson said. 

Rena Gorlin, J.D., is an independent writer and editor in Washington, D.C.

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