Future of Work HR Remix

SHRM and HRCI Get Divorced and It’s Ugly

SHRM and HRCI once buddies in the HR certification world are getting divorced.  Something tells me we won’t see HRCI leadership out to dinner with SHRM leadership calmly discussing who gets the china. With conference invitations revoked and he said/she said rampant, I have to conclude that this divorce is nasty and ugly.


You know who gets hurt when adults start acting like this? The kids. Or in this case the HR pros that hold the HRCI certifications of PHR/SPHR/GPHR.


Up until the announcement SHRM was proclaiming the PHR/SPHR/GPHR certifications as the end-all-be all and now after years of selling us certification SHRM is changing the certification model. Parting ways with HRCI. Going with a competency based model. A competency model is probably a good way to go but why change now? Why announce in this fashion? Why such ugliness between HRCI and SHRM?


Is it a money grab? A necessary change? I’m not sure but before we start burning SHRM in effigy I think we need some perspective.


I suspect that most people at most companies don’t know or care about an HR certification. I care that the Doctor operating on me has a license, I care that my accountant is a CPA but only HR people care that other HR people have a certification. When I’m explaining the maze of insurance and leave of absence paperwork to an employee suffering from cancer, that employee doesn’t care about my SPHR. She cares that I know what I’m talking about and I can move things along quickly because she has more important things to deal with.


An HR certification demonstrates that you have the knowledge and you care about your profession enough to stay up-to-date. It is something I consider when hiring a new HR team member but it isn’t the only factor. Beyond the certification I want to know how you apply your knowledge at work, I care about how your previous experience has prepared you for this role. I care about how you treat the employee with a terminal illness…do you rush through the paperwork because you have more important activities to do? Or are you patient? Compassionate? Understand and know how to navigate the situation because you’ve been there before? If the new SHRM certification can show me that I’m all in. But I doubt any certification can measure compassion and composure.


One of the worst outcomes of this divorce has been the hit to SHRM’s credibility. It’s taken a hit with members and volunteers and fed the fire of those who disliked SHRM already. Last week SHRM held a conference call with bloggers and press that attempted to repair the train wreck they started the week before. I’m not sure it went well when Hank Jackson (CEO of SHRM) stated that the PHR/SPHR/GPHR tested route knowledge. After all, those of us who took the SPHR were told that it was strategic and that it tested senior level mastery. As someone who just took the SPHR, I can tell you it is not a test I would have passed 5 years ago. A combination of knowledge, experience and study helped me pass the test.  I think Robin Schooling’s post summed it appropriately:



I will continue to support SHRM because the HR profession is filled with a great group of people and we need a national, professional organization to move HR forward. But I am disappointed by the roll out and communication demonstrated recently. If the relationship between SHRM and HRCI was sure to end I wish it happened with less Angela Bassett and more Gwenyth & Chris.

Related posts


Melissa Fairman

Avoiding the Dementor’s Kiss

Melissa Fairman

A Job Search Is Like Dating, Have You Shared Too Much?

Melissa Fairman

Never Miss A Story

Sign up to get an email when a new post is published.



Don't worry I'm not a SPAM fan.