Why Certification May Help Keep or Get a Job
By Sharon Leonard
It wasn't too long ago when we were riding high on the crest of the technology wave. Let's face it—it was a job seeker's paradise—too many jobs and not enough workers. Today, workers are struggling to keep their jobs and job seekers are facing dismal prospects. The days of relatively carefree job-hopping are, at least for the short term, over.
The hiatus in the labor shortage does not mean that HR professionals should become complacent about their career development. To the contrary. No matter what short-term career tactic you take—buckling in for the long haul or finding more secure employment—consider enhancing your resume to strengthen your position. It may not be the time, personally or financially, to start that master's degree program, but becoming PHR or SPHR certified through the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) may be an economical and effective alternative. For HR professionals who want to increase their perceived value in their existing jobs and for those who seek new opportunities, obtaining the PHR or SPHR designation demonstrates to existing and prospective employers that you "know your stuff."
Recruiters should take note of the designations as well. The weak job market has not eased the skills shortage and the lack of a talented labor pool is still a serious long-term issue. Recruiters should routinely include “PHR or SPHR preferred” in advertisements for professional-level HR jobs. More than 53,000 HR professionals have obtained and maintained the PHR and SPHR designations, so recruiters need not worry that adding this preference may decrease the applicant pool. In fact, stating this preference may likely increase the pool of qualified candidates for the position and help separate the wheat from the chaff.
As anyone who has ever taken the exams will tell you, they are rigorous. The pass rate for the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) exam ranges between 63 and 68 percent. The pass rate for the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) exam ranges between 53 and 58 percent. Recruiters can be sure that the exams challenge examinees and that passing is quite an achievement.
Perhaps even more important, however, is the process. Most HR professionals who take on the challenge of the PHR and SPHR exams demonstrate more than knowledge. They display a true dedication to the human resource management profession. They show it when they agree to study in excess of 40 hours, when they arrive at the testing center to take the four-hour multiple-choice examination, and when they wait anxiously for their results. And for those who pass, dedication continues as they maintain their designation by re-certifying every three years through continuing education or by retaking the examination. Pass or fail, every HR professional who takes the step to study and take the PHR or SPHR exam adds to their HR knowledge and betters the human resource profession.
Sharon Leonard is the program manager for HRCI. Before joining HRCI, she was the manager of SHRM's workplace trends and forecasting program
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