SHRM Certification as Validation of Knowledge and Experience

By Veronica Estrella, SHRM-SCP September 13, 2018
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​SHRM certification validates one's competency as an effective HR professional. Having a SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP means you have what it takes to contribute to the success of your organization and the HR profession as a whole. As such, I believe that it is a calling for all HR professionals to take charge and make a difference. This is the story of how I am working to do that.

Becoming a Believer in Certification

My story begins with a recent self-imposed career break after more than 25 years as an accomplished HR professional. During my hiatus, I took some time to reflect on how I might make a larger contribution to the profession.

HR is a big part of who I am. As an HR professional I have been able to touch many lives and organizations, hone my life's perspectives and invest in my family's future. The profession has been a means for me to achieve my purpose of making a difference in this world.

I decided to get involved in initiatives to advance the HR profession and, more specifically, to help develop globally competent Filipino HR professionals. I began to work on various projects with fellow HR leaders in the Philippines and to work more closely with SHRM. I have been a SHRM member for many years, despite the fact that the organization is still not widely recognized in the Philippines. I joined SHRM because I always related to its mission of advancing HR.

My work with SHRM led me to think about becoming certified in HR—much to my surprise. You see, professional certification was never something I had believed in for any profession, least of all for HR. I thought a credential was just a piece of paper; I felt that practical experience was more meaningful. I did have respect for professional competencies, which I was familiar with from my years teaching HR management as an adjunct professor. So I was intrigued by the competencies at the heart of SHRM certification.

Comparing HR Competency Models

I decided to look more closely at HR certification to determine if earning a credential was a step worth taking and, if so, which HR credential to obtain. I proceeded to study several different HR certification programs. My basis for comparison was what was measured versus what HR professionals actually use in practice. Could my whole, rich HR experience be expressed by and integrated into one HR credential?

My survey of the field of available HR certifications showed that SHRM's credential embodied my ideal.

I found that many HR certifications focus primarily on assessing one's knowledge of HR policy and practice. While that's important, of course, SHRM certification goes a step further, incorporating into the process robust behavioral competencies, which assess one's ability to successfully apply that knowledge in the workplace. SHRM certification thus focuses on the what as well as the how.

The SHRM Competency Model is integral to the SHRM certification process. It also reinforces the previous lessons I've been taught as an HR professional. I relate to it as a validation of what I already know and have experienced. The SHRM-defined competencies confirm those I already possess.

What's more, I realized that I could leverage my SHRM-SCP credential (the level I chose to pursue) to elevate my career to a different level—not necessarily by taking on higher-level HR leadership roles but by taking my understanding of HR to a higher level. Being SHRM certified could enhance my efforts to elevate the HR profession and make a difference.

Preparing for the SHRM Exam

Having made the decision to seek the SHRM-SCP, I needed to prepare for the exam. At first I thought that my years of experience in HR would be enough. Then I realized that I would need help after all—in learning how to take a test again! The last time I had done so was when I took my licensure exams in nursing many years earlier.

My increasing familiarity with SHRM led me to the SHRM Learning System for SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP, which I purchased to prepare for the exam on my own. Given my unpredictable schedule, it was an efficient way to study (and to practice test-taking). Given my need to be conservative in spending while still on a career break, it was a wise investment.

In July 2017, I passed the exam and earned my SHRM-SCP!

The SHRM Learning System helped me take the SHRM certification exam, but candidates should be aware that while it is rich in content, it's not a crash course in HR. To pass the exam, you must be able to demonstrate how well you understand and will use that content in real-life situations. I also advise candidates to ask questions and have a dialogue with others before taking the exam—I found that exercise valuable, as well.

Adapting to the Evolution of HR

Now that I am SHRM certified, I have again taken some time to reflect on my career as an HR professional.

As a generalist, I have had the good fortune to see every facet of HR in a wide range of environments. I have led HR teams in the Philippines and around the world in business partnering, shared services operations, consulting and more, interacting with leaders of multinational organizations in different industries. I have witnessed HR's ongoing evolution from transactional personnel management to strategic business management and navigated through these changes—adapting accordingly and reflecting on where we might be headed.

My SHRM credential is testimony that I can continue to adapt as HR continues to evolve. That's exciting!

Being SHRM certified is an acknowledgement that I'm capable of being adaptive in my profession. It also means that I can positively influence others to improve their own adaptive capabilities. 

A SHRM credential-holder's obligation to recertify is just one example of how important adaptive skills are in HR. Recertification helps HR professionals stay relevant as they learn about and adapt to changes in the current business environment. 

Advocating for an Adaptive Future 

My career break is over, and I'm back to consulting. I'm also continuing my advocacy efforts to advance the Filipino HR profession. I'm passionate about building a framework for people to improve their competencies and become globally effective HR professionals. Having seen the evolution of HR from within, this work is important to me. 

Advocacy is a calling—a way to make a difference. If you have what it takes, do it! Every HR professional should help propagate competency in HR. 

My ultimate goal is to develop a future-ready profession, even while we don't know exactly what the future will look like. For instance, we didn't anticipate the prevalence of HR shared services aided by technology and artificial intelligence 20 years ago. HR must be able to adapt to whatever comes next. 

Working in a country far from SHRM headquarters hasn't hindered my efforts. The principles underlying SHRM certification are universal. While there are differences in HR between the U.S. and Philippines, mainly in terms of the laws governing labor and employment relations, I have found that HR competencies are fundamentally the same everywhere. 

I predict that SHRM certification will eventually reach a level of true universality. It's a journey, not a destination. As I continue to discover new paths on my journey through the HR profession, I feel competent to proceed with confidence. 

Veronica Estrella, SHRM-SCP, is an independent human capital consultant in Calabarzon, Philippines.

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