'Recertify by Doing' Is My Approach

Use the recertification process to grow as a professional, not just maintain a credential

By Uma B. Hoffmann, SHRM-SCP March 26, 2019
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​Uma B. Hoffmann, SHRM-SCP

​This is the story of how I learned to leverage work projects and other volunteer activities to earn credits toward recertification of my HR credential.

My HR career began after my discharge from the U.S. Navy. I earned my master's degree in HR, which was a huge milestone in my life. I did not yet have any civilian work experience and wanted to ensure that my technical knowledge was validated and that I was current in the industry, so I decided to attain an HR certification.

I vividly remember how hard I studied for that test in 2002. I did not pass the first time and was so frustrated that I studied even harder the next time, reading the materials and doing the online course work. When I finally passed, I was so excited to attain this important HR credential. I knew I wanted to keep it active and not lose what I had worked so hard to earn.

The Rhythm of Learning

To ensure that I was gathering the necessary amount of recertification credits, I took so many online courses and attended so many seminars and conferences that I struggled to get to events and maintain the rhythm of learning. As more recertification cycles went by, earning credits seemed to require more and more hours that I did not have to spare. It was also costly, not only in terms of the price of the events, but also in the time I was spending away from work.

I started to realize that it was not ideal or effective for me to attend so many offsite events, which meant having to catch up on work at night. My productivity fell as a result. Additionally, the courses and conferences were having less impact on me, as the topics were sometimes repetitive and I lost interest in attending them.

I had to find a better way to earn recertification credits. Courses and conferences felt like just checking a box. This did not fit with my professional values. I had to ask myself: What was so important about certification if all I was doing was maintaining it, rather than using it to leverage my professional growth?

Seeking Meaningful Challenges

I remembered hearing from colleagues that taking the test was the hardest part of certification and maintaining it was the easy part. That was a little disturbing to me, as taking the test was only the initial part of the process. So what was the point? This realization shifted my thinking. Taking the test was the easy part, I decided. Maintaining the certification in a meaningful way was the challenge.

I did some additional research and found that there were many other ways to earn recertification credits that I had not taken advantage of. It finally dawned on me that I could leverage the learning opportunities available where I worked. Now I was getting somewhere!

Since I was at such an early stage in my career and had so much to learn about global HR, I had a perfect opportunity to support my HR certification by doing my daily job and developing my annual goals. This approach helped me understand that recertifying was not about checking a box, but about learning and growing through experiences—through doing.

To keep challenging myself, I looked for ways to earn credits that took me out of my comfort zone. Since I had mostly been taking courses, this was already a change. But to change how I felt about the recertification process—and about the credential I had worked so hard to earn—I needed to do something different.

Exercising My Mind Muscles

When SHRM introduced its certification program in 2015, I attained my SHRM-CP; then I studied to take the SHRM-SCP exam and passed. Since then, I have been determined to apply my "recertify by doing" methodology to maintain my credential.

I have been fortunate to work for companies that have provided me with opportunities to learn on the job and gain new experiences. By leveraging some of these work projects, including developing global change plans, product transfer protections, divestitures, acquisitions, HRIS upgrades and more, I have been able to earn recertification credits.

The SHRM Recertification Requirements Handbook contains information on how to document and earn professional development credits (PDCs) for supervisor-endorsed work projects that meet or support organizational goals and demonstrate or advance capabilities in one or more HR competencies.

To stay current in the field and differentiate my skills, I exercise my mind muscles by challenging my own thinking on projects and by trying different ideas and approaches. I can also innovate more through this process when developing goals. I constantly give myself stretch assignments that tie into personal and professional goals.

The SHRM Difference

There is one main differentiator between SHRM and other HR certifications. It is through SHRM that I am part of the HR community. SHRM has given me more opportunities to volunteer, participate in special interest groups, attend relevant conferences, and write articles and papers—all of which may qualify for PDCs. This makes the recertification process more engaging and fulfilling. I can learn together with my peers, engage in activities that go beyond just my own development and actually contribute to my field.

Once I changed my thinking about recertification, I was able to do more than leverage the learning opportunities from my job. I joined the SHRM Item Writing Team to develop questions for the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP tests. I participated in SHRM Advocacy Days. I was a presenter at the North Dakota State SHRM conference. I worked on several other development projects.

My PDCs started flowing in!

At last year's 2018 SHRM Employment Law & Legislative Conference, I saw Patricia Byrd, SHRM's director of certification relations. I knew Pat from the SHRM item writing workshops I'd gone to for the past two years, and we started talking. I felt compelled to share my story with her because the change in my approach to recertification has had such an impact on my learning process.

Pat encouraged me to write this article. I might even be able to earn PDCs from its publication! The recertification process has so many methods for earning credits while learning and growing.

Uma B. Hoffmann, SHRM-SCP, is HR manager for MCI-Motor Coach Industries in Pembina, N.D.


Need professional development credit (PDCs) direction to help you MAINTAIN your SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP? Visit the Qualifying Activities section on shrmcertification.org.

Ready to COMPLETE your SHRM recertification? Visit your
certification portal and finish today.
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