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Regulatory compliance consultant Frank A. Cania is proud of earning his SHRM-SCP credential, as well as his objectivity in assessing its value. “It's a problem when people take sides or extreme positions,” he says. His experiences with SHRM certification—learning about it, sitting for and passing the exam, and then teaching preparation courses to others—demonstrated to him that SHRM's designations are “relevant, valuable, and represent the HR profession well.”
Cania has the qualifications, experience and additional credentials to make an informed assessment: He is president and managing partner of DRIVEN HR, a Rochester, N.Y.-area HR and employment-related consulting firm, which he founded a decade ago after a previous career in accounting. He is also a SHRM Advocacy Team captain; federal advocacy director for the New York SHRM State Council; past treasurer and president of SHRM's Genesee Valley Chapter; a subject matter expert and presenter for Skillsoft, the international e-learning company; a creator and teacher of workshops and training courses (20 to 30 a year); an adjunct college instructor; a recipient of a master's degree in employment law; holder of an SPHR since 2006; and a SHRM-SCP certificant since 2015.
Not long after SHRM certification came to Cania's attention, he got to meet its developers, including Alexander Alonso, Ph.D., who had led the team that researched, wrote, and validated the SHRM Competency Model, the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge (BoCK), and the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams. (Alonso is now the Society’s senior vice president of knowledge development.) Cania learned “what was really involved” in developing SHRM certification.
Cania obtained his SHRM credential through the online tutorial pathway (an option that was available throughout 2015 to holders of certain qualifying credentials) and then realized that, as a teacher of cert prep courses, he ought to take the exam as well. “I wanted to be able to describe the experience to my students,” he explains. “If
I didn't pass, I shouldn't be teaching it!” Cania passed. Soon he brought the BoCK and other SHRM certification materials to members of his staff; two took the pathway and another will take the exam.
Last winter, Cania experienced the “very rigorous, exhausting” exam development process firsthand, as a
participant in SHRM’s item-writing workshop. “You learn a lot when you're snowbound with the best and brightest from around the world,” he said with a smile. In creating and reviewing scenarios and questions for future SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams, Cania was reminded of “the difficulty in getting Type-A personalities to agree on anything.” (Due to his participation in the workshop, Cania will not lead any SHRM cert prep courses for three years, to avoid any conflicts of interest or the appearance of bias.)
A Well-Rounded View of Practical HR Knowledge
The comprehensive quality of SHRM certification impresses Cania. “You get a well-rounded view. HR professionals should have at least a working knowledge of everything. And we should know what we
don't know.” Cania advises candidates preparing for the SHRM exam to “imagine sitting at your desk at work.” After they pass the exam and become SHRM-certified, he said, “what you learned stays ‘top of mind.’ Then, the recertification process forces you to stay up to date.”
Cania deems the SHRM credential “of relevance to the everyday actions” of HR professionals, finding it less focused on HR theory.
SHRM certification also has “a global flavor,” Cania said. “This seems to frighten some people who can’t see themselves as global actors, and it's intimidating.” He assures such candidates that “whether they realize it or not, all of us have global interactions in everything we do today.” Becoming proficient in the SHRM-defined competency of
Global & Cultural Effectiveness is therefore another valuable aspect of SHRM certification. This has paid off in his consulting practice. “I'm better prepared to deal with all clients, including international clients. Before getting my SHRM credential, I may have shied away from some of those conversations.”
Cania mentions another group intimidated by the SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams: “People who haven't taken a test in 15 years!”
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Rena Gorlin, J.D., is an independent writer and editor in Washington, D.C.
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