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‘I understand their certification journey’
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Getting to know members of the SHRM certification staff helps applicants, certificants, recertification providers, students and others understand the work involved behind the scenes. SHRM is proud to show how our staffers practice what we preach. This month's interview features Eddice L. Douglas, M.A., of Tampa, Fla., a SHRM specialist in recertification, who holds the SHRM-CP credential and is currently studying for the SHRM-SCP exam.
SHRM: What are your day-to-day responsibilities as a recertification specialist at SHRM?
Douglas: As a recertification specialist, I am responsible for guiding certificants through every aspect of the process of maintaining their hard-earned credential. I also review and approve recertification applications. Additionally, I am the liaison for the SHRM-CP Student Eligibility Program. I assist SHRM-aligned colleges and universities and their prospective eligible students with the SHRM certification application process.
The call line is answered by SHRM's member care representatives, who escalate appropriate inquiries to our group of certification and recertification specialists. We assist with everything: applications, exam scheduling, available recertification options, approved providers and acceptable professional development credits (PDCs). Inquiries vary widely, for example: "I've been selected for audit. What kind of documentation do I need?" and "What category does my recertification activity fall under?" and "How do I do this or that with the Certification Portal?"
We respond to questions on the phone, in e-mails, and in person at conferences or meetings.
SHRM: When did you get your SHRM-CP, and how did you prepare for the exam?
Douglas: I applied for the SHRM-CP when the first exam became available in May 2015 and spent a total of four to five months preparing for the exam. I used the SHRM Learning System, which included a three-day in-person seminar and an online self-study component. For areas in which I required additional study, I used a variety of HR textbooks. My background was primarily in training and development, so for a quick refresher on compensation and benefits, I reached out to HR professionals who specialized in total rewards. I earned my SHRM-CP on May 15, 2015.
SHRM: What motivated you to pursue the next level of certification, the SHRM-SCP, as you're doing now? How are your studies going?
Douglas: I felt that the SHRM-SCP was the next natural step in my HR career. To prepare for this exam as a mother of two teens—with a schedule that's pretty full with soccer, music and other school events—I selected a seven-week virtual preparation course that allows me to attend class from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., before my typical workday normally begins. The schedule is grueling, but I'm surprised at how much information I am able to recall and retain.
SHRM: How has your SHRM credential allowed you to better assist applicants and certificants?
Douglas: The best part of holding the SHRM credential—what I'm most proud of—is that I become real to applicants and certificants. I understand their certification journey. After all, SHRM staff members obtain their SHRM credentials through the exact same process that everyone else does, every step of the way. (I am no stranger to the application audit!)
When speaking with callers or with people face to face, I don't bring up my SHRM credential unless they directly ask if I'm certified. On e-mail, my SHRM-CP is part of my official signature line. When people do find out that I'm certified—that I earned and am maintaining a SHRM-CP and seeking the SHRM-SCP—it does become helpful. They can relate, which makes it easier to establish rapport and build trust. They can see that I know what to do, having done it myself, which adds credibility to my value as someone who can help them.
SHRM: How long have you been involved in HR? With SHRM?
Douglas: I have been in the HR field for well over 20 years. My first experience was in the U.S. Air Force as a medical personnel specialist, and later I served as an education and training instructor. By the time I retired I had held job titles like HR project manager and manager of the resource management office.
After leaving the military, I wasn't sure how I would translate my experience when entering the civilian workforce. I can relate to the calls we get at SHRM from veterans asking about the transition. (For more information, see Universal Goals: Teaching Certification Preparation to Military Members.) I decided that I should complete my master's degree in human resources and development.
In 2010, I started with SHRM as a staff associate in SHRM's own HR department—which is actually pretty small. HR professionals often imagine SHRM as one giant HR department, but that's not the case. Later, I was SHRM's coordinator for HR standards development, then specialist for academic initiatives, and as of February 2017 I became a recertification specialist.
The highlight of my HR experience came when I was asked to be a part of SHRM's item-writing and standard-setting workshops for the SHRM Assurance of Learning Assessment.
SHRM: How has SHRM certification made an impact on you?
Douglas: The work I do as an HR professional has always involved communicating, consulting and managing relationships. But it wasn't until I prepared for and obtained my SHRM-CP credential that I fully understood how the SHRM-defined competencies of Communication, Consultation and Relationship Management apply to that work, and how to use those competencies to grow and develop. It's a new mindset, to always be aware of the competencies and knowledge that I studied.
"SHRM certificant" is one of the hats I wear constantly to benefit our team and other colleagues here at SHRM—not as a trainer or manager but as an informal mentor or problem-solver. I see strengths and weaknesses more clearly and come up with ideas to improve our work, which I can take to my managers and directors. I'm a lot like that in my everyday life—my personality really is suited to the HR field.
Earning SHRM certification has boosted my confidence. It means that my future in HR is promising. My SHRM-CP—and eventually, I hope, my SHRM-SCP—shows that I can apply what I learned in school. It's a kind of proof or documentation that I know the HR field, and that I'm marketable, competent in what I do and have room to grow. And recertifying my SHRM credential shows a commitment to lifelong learning and development.
SHRM: What are your SHRM recertification plans?
Douglas: Most of my PDCs have been earned through attending webcasts, which have covered quite a few memorable topics. My favorite PDCs were earned through reading SHRM-approved books and taking the quizzes, for 3 PDCs each. The seven-week virtual seminar I'm taking to study for the SHRM-SCP exam will count for up to 20.5 credits toward recertification.
Rena Gorlin, J.D., is an independent writer and editor in Washington, D.C.
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