‘100% in 100 Days’ Certification Initiative Succeeds

By Rena Gorlin May 2, 2016
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The fastest-growing SHRM chapter in Texas—the Dallas/Fort Worth-based Mid-Cities Human Resource Association (MCHRA)—saw all of its members with legacy credentials become SHRM-certified in 2015, successfully meeting the goal of its ambitious "100% in 100 Days" initiative.

The challenge, started in March 2015, was: "Within the next 100 days … to transform 100% of our PHR, SPHR and GPHR members into SHRM Certified Professionals and Senior Certified Professionals." John P. Hagan, MCHRA immediate past president, proposed the initiative and led the effort.

Hagan attributed the chapter's continued membership growth through 2016—by 10 percent in some months—in part to its ongoing promotion of SHRM certification, which raised awareness among local HR professionals and encouraged new members to sit for the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams.

The seed of the "100% in 100 Days" initiative was sown at the 2014 SHRM Volunteer Leaders’ Summit, which Hagan attended as chapter president-elect. Already aware of the development of SHRM certification from talking to other leaders, he wanted to help as many MCHRA members as possible become SHRM-certified. To that end, he invited Sherry Johnson, SHRM regional field services director, to give a presentation to the chapter on "The HR Professional Competency Model: A Road Map for Success." Hagan also encouraged members holding legacy credentials from other organizations to take advantage of the pathway option to SHRM certification.

The SHRM certification pathway enabled holders of certain valid qualifying credentials to obtain their SHRM credentials by completing an online tutorial, rather than sitting for a formal examination. The pathway was open from Jan. 5-Dec. 31, 2015.

The MCHRA "100% in 100 Days" initiative was published in the chapter's newsletter, posted on its website, promoted in targeted e-mails and discussed over chapter lunches, and some communications were followed up with personal phone calls. Members responded favorably to this full-court press.

MCHRA leaders assured chapter members who held legacy credentials that obtaining SHRM certification would not "diminish their hard work" in obtaining their earlier certifications.

"We think it is incumbent upon chapters to dispel such concerns," Hagan said.

Taking SHRM Certification Seriously, Proving It Locally

Now that most of its roster has obtained SHRM certification, MCHRA’s current initiative is "to turn around and show the value of certification to others," noted chapter manager Dena Culpepper.

"We are taking the value of certification seriously and proving it locally," she said.

MCHRA leaders encourage members to add their SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP designations to their resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and to tell colleagues about the career benefits of SHRM certification.

MCHRA is one of many local chapters throughout Texas also taking Johnson's advice "to think of creative ways to show ... the value of SHRM membership." The regional goal is to motivate local members to join the national organization, and to motivate nonmember HR professionals in the area to become chapter and/or national SHRM members.

On a community level, MCHRA leaders watch job boards and follow up with local members coming back from job interviews to find out which area employers are asking about SHRM certification. They use the Volunteer Leaders’ Resource Center on the SHRM website "to dovetail marketing efforts on behalf of members as job candidates, and to help employers to see the value of SHRM certification." Culpepper and Hagan hope to see an increasing number of local businesses adopt SHRM certification as enthusiastically as their own chapter members have.

"We still have to make sure more employers know about" the value of SHRM certification, Culpepper said.

Certification Preparation Training Materials Are Rich in Practical Detail

MCHRA also sponsored a six-week SHRM Learning System certification preparation training course beginning in March 2015. Hagan, who had already been certified via the pathway, attended and found the course to be "very good," and not unlike those he takes to fulfill his continuing legal education requirements as an attorney.

"There's a ton of information, which you can always go back to. The materials are so rich in practical detail and competency-based education,” he said. The SHRM website is also an "incredibly robust" resource on HR as well as legal issues, he added.

The MCHRA members who sat for the SHRM certification exam did not fare as well as those who obtained their SHRM credentials via the pathway, unfortunately, and no one in the chapter's inaugural group of test-takers passed. "The perception was that it was going to be hard," according to Culpepper, "and it really was challenging—a sign of legitimacy." Most in the group have already signed up to retake the exam.

Hagan said the MCHRA chapter will continue to submit its programs for both SHRM and HRCI recertification credits until SHRM certification dominates the market, which he predicts "will be in the not-too-distant future.”

MCHRA (SHRM Affiliate Chapter #308) was founded in 1974 and is headquartered in Arlington, Texas. It serves HR professionals from Dallas/Fort Worth and surrounding cities. See its website for more information.

Rena Gorlin is a freelance writer in the Washington, D.C., area.

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