Three years ago, I went through one of the most harrowing professional experiences that you can have in HR !! I sat for my SPHR certification. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this trial, let me explain . . .
To get your certification in HR (either your PHR, SPHR or GPHR) from the HR Certification Institute (HRCI), you need to pass an exam which takes up to 4 hours to complete. It is monstrous !! When I went to take my exam, I entered a testing facility where you had to empty your pockets and put any personal items in a small locker before entering a room full of computer monitors.
The certification test is multiple choice, and you’re thinking, “Multiple choice? That’s cake. I loved those types of tests in school. If all else fails, guess ‘B’ ” Remember? Not the same by a long shot. They have study classes that last 8 to 10 weeks just to get you prepared to take this test !! I remember taking the practice exams between 40 to 50 times just to learn material. (And those were old tests whose questions didn’t appear on the one I took !!)
The test allows you to skip questions, go back to them, line out answers you think are wrong, and then choose what you think is “right.” Most of the questions have at least two of the four choices that could be right. When you see “All of the Above” as an option, you start to get the shakes !! How could ALL of the answers be right?
I finished the test with about 45 minutes to spare. I reviewed my answers and made sure I was ready to “submit.” Then in classic SHRM/HRCI style, when I hit submit a survey popped up asking me what I thought of the process and the exam. I was ticked !! All I wanted to see was pass or fail. I rapidly hit “5” for everything was awesome, now please give me my results. Then when I submitted the survey, the screen went blank. BLANK !! I thought I was going to pass out !!
Then . . . it said I passed. I received my SPHR !! I wanted to scream, but I thought the test proctor would taze me. So, I hurried out of the room and burst into tears. The proctor looked up and said, “You must be one of those HR folks. Congratulations.” Through my sobs, I thanked her, gathered my belongings from the locker and went home.
This week I recertified which means that I had enough professional development to retain my certification for three more years. So, what does this story have to do with anything?
One of the keys that CEO’s, who were interviewed by SHRM, said was needed from HR in their organizations was that HR was knowledgeable in what the field does. This was more than the administrative necessities of the job. It meant that Senior Management expects us to be experts in what HR is, does and contributes.
When we yearn to be “part of the business,” the first thing we need to do is be experts in all things HR. Being well versed in what HR does, and then gaining professional development to keep current and relevant is critical !!
It’s time for YOU to take that step that I honestly avoided for too many years of my career. Getting your certification shows you have credibility and allows you to be in a position to take that step into a senior role when it arrives.
Harrowing or not – it has been the best thing I’ve done professionally and I encourage you to do the same !!