One of the Best Career Decisions I've Ever Made

SHRM certification prepared me for new opportunities—and has paid off

By Kent Blumberg, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP March 18, 2021
One of the Best Career Decisions Ive Ever Made

​Kent Blumberg, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP

​I originally trained as a mechanical engineer and had a successful 28-year career in forest products manufacturing, earning a master's degree in management and rising to top leadership positions in North America, New Zealand and Thailand. After leaving the paper business, I became a full-time organizational development consultant and executive coach. I also started a doctorate in leadership development and HR education, which I received a couple of years after I joined my current employer.

At the time it was unclear how long my role with my employer would last. I wanted to position myself for whatever came next. To prepare for a transition into a third career as an educator and administrator, I decided to pursue SHRM certification in 2019, reasoning that it would help me in my job search.

I knew that earning my SHRM-SCP credential would deepen my expertise and add to my credibility as I sought my next role, and that it would build my self-confidence. While I'd been a consultant for nearly 20 years doing talent development, organizational development and strategic HR projects, I wanted to be able to show evidence of my skills beyond client testimonials. Becoming certified as a SHRM-SCP seemed—and still is—the best way for me to demonstrate that.

My preparation for the exam was more than just review. I purchased the full certification exam preparation experience with the SHRM Learning System® for SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP, including the books and online study and practice platform. I also purchased The SHRM Essential Guide to Employment Law by Charles H. Fleischer, partly to dig deeper into the topic—but mostly because I'm a geek for books like that.

I pored over the books and the resources on, attempted every practice question in the online platform, and ran through the flashcards. I was surprised and pleased with how much I learned, even after a couple of decades of successful practice in the field.

The day of the exam was cool and dry. The exam facility was quiet—you get noise-canceling headphones—and I just did my thing. Right after I finished, the system told me I had passed. What a great feeling!

The feeling was so good that I wasn't bothered a bit when I discovered that while I was testing, my car battery had died because I left the headlights on. My cellphone battery was dead, too, and I was 10 miles from home. Luckily, I had my transit card, so I walked a mile to the train.

In truth, I floated home, because I was so pleased with the results of my SHRM certification exam. I did not care one bit that I had to head back to the exam facility with our other car to jump-start the car I had originally driven there. It could have rained, hailed or snowed, and I still would have been smiling.

SHRM certification has brought me surprising opportunities. It helped me land a new and better role with the same employer. Staying with my organization, I've been able to engage in initiatives that I might not have had the confidence to tackle before. I'm deep into our efforts to advance inclusion and equity, for example.

Partly because of my SHRM certification, I've also been able to secure a volunteer gig for a nonprofit, developing and implementing an emerging-leader development program for minority veterans.

On the emotional side, my SHRM-SCP has helped cure my impostor syndrome when it comes to HR. Those seven letters remind me that I have valuable knowledge, skills and abilities. Some days that is mission-critical!

SHRM certification has brought me greater opportunities as a professor. I've been an adjunct faculty member in an online MBA program for many years, teaching introductory management and a course on leadership. When I informed the school's dean about my SHRM certification, he asked me to help develop a new course on HR for the program and act as a subject matter expert. I taught the pilot version and continue to teach it today.

Graduate-level faculty are required to engage in regular scholarship, and my pursuit of SHRM certification met that requirement for three years. That, in turn, expanded my teaching opportunities.

Pursuing and achieving the SHRM-SCP designation has returned far more than I hoped it would. I've had three distinct careers—pulp and paper manufacturing, organizational development consulting and coaching, and educator and administrator—and becoming certified is one of the best career decisions I've ever made.

Kent Blumberg, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, is market director of the University of Phoenix's Northern Virginia Service Center and a professionally certified business and leadership effectiveness coach. He is based in Arlington, Va.



Hire the best HR talent or advance your own career.

Video Meeting Etiquette

As people turn on their laptop cameras from their kitchen tables, just how relaxed are they allowed to be?

As people turn on their laptop cameras from their kitchen tables, just how relaxed are they allowed to be?



HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.