One of the major questions that faces HR pros considering certification: Should you take the PHR or SPHR exam? For some people, it’s fairly clear cut if you only qualify for the PHR, but if you have the experience to attempt the SPHR, which should you pursue?

Want a $20 discount on PHR/SPHR study materials? Get it here.

Here’s some guidance from HRCI on their “candidate profiles.”

PHR Candidate:

The Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification is designed for HR professionals whose primary responsibilities focus on HR program implementation, are tactical and operational in nature, and function primarily within the HR department. A PHR candidate is one who:

  • Focuses on program implementation.
  • Has tactical/logistical orientation.
  • Has accountability to another HR professional within the organization.
  • Has two to four years of exempt-level generalist HR work experience, but lacks the breadth and depth of a more senior-level generalist.
  • Has not had progressive HR work experience.
  • Holds a job that focuses on HR department responsibilities rather than on the whole organization.
  • Commands respect through gaining knowledge and using policies and guidelines to make decisions.

SPHR Candidate:

The Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification is designed for the HR professional who designs and plans rather than implements HR policies. An SPHR candidate is also one who:

  • Designs and plans rather than implements.
  • Focuses on the “big picture.”
  • Has ultimate accountability in the HR department.
  • Typically has six to eight years of progressive and increasingly complicated HR experience.
  • Has extensive HR generalist knowledge.
  • Uses judgment obtained with time and application of knowledge.
  • Has generalist role within organization.
  • Uses judgment obtained with time and application of knowledge..
  • Understands the business beyond the HR function and has influence within overall organization.
  • Commands credibility within organization, community and field by experience.

From the people I’ve talked to, it is hard to know if there’s a large difference in the difficulty level of the exams. It seems that SPHR focuses much more on strategy and the “big picture” when it comes to the actual question content.

Have you taken either (or both) exams? What did you think? Be sure to check out the PHR study guide and other materials while you’re here!

Recently I posted a humorous item about being listed as a “Top 25 Digital HR Influencer.” It was all in fun, but there was something more serious brought to my attention by my friend Charlie Judy on the Trench HR LinkedIn group for “in the trenches” HR pros. He wanted to know why there were so few “real” HR people on the list and how we could get more people involved.

If you remember my Put Up or Shut Up goals for 2011, one of those is to help more people get started blogging. Just putting that out there might seem scary for you. It’s really not. If you don’t have the time for social media or you just don’t have the patience to get your own blog up and running, I would love to help. I want your voice out there.

My friend Steve Browne recently (finally!) started his own blog after months of people begging him to start one. He got started doing guest posts like the one on my site and built an audience of people who loved to hear what he had to say. Then someone gave him a free blog setup for Christmas. :-)

If you have something to say, let’s talk. Even if you think this blog might not be the forum for you, I’ll gladly help you reach out to someone else if I can. The best blog posts are those that talk about personal stories of triumph and tragedy, and everyone in the HR/recruiting fields has seen their fair share of those two things.

And if that’s not enough to spur you on, there could even be some PHR/SPHR recertification credits in there for you. Recently, the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) announced that they would award recertification credits for blog posts that fit their requirements. Here’s what it takes:

  • Credit is awarded under the Research/Publishing category.
  • Blog posts must be 700 words or more on a subject related to the HR knowledge base.
  • Posts must contain facts/data and not be an editorial or opinion piece.
  • Blogs must be posted on a site that is open to the public, whether it is the writer\’s blog or as a guest blog post for another site, such as SHRM Connect.
  • Links to posts must be provided in the submission for recertification.

If you are interested in blogging for fun, for the emotional release, or just because you can get a few recertification credits, please let me know. I haven’t been around this profession as long as many of you, but I know something for certain.

Blogging makes you better at HR.

Exam Brain ExplosionI love helping people with their questions. Recently I received one about the SPHR that I wanted to share, because I thought some of the responses might help the larger audience out there.

Which countries is the SPHR valid for?

The SPHR designation is granted by a US-based organization (HRCI), but it’s recognized in many countries. I’ve had people from Bermuda, Egypt, and Brazil email me before telling me about how they were attempting to pass the SPHR exam. It’s going to be country-specific as to how much people value the certification, and the GPHR might be a better option if you’re doing global work, but hopefully you already know whether or not the people around you will appreciate (and compensate!) you for your certification. The HRCI website says that there are over 100,000 professionals certified in over 70 countries.

When does it expire?

The SPHR is good for three years. During that time, most people take classes, go to seminars, and use work-related experience to gather credits for recertification. You can also retake the exam to recertify, but most people prefer not to.

Is there any annual fee afterwards and if yes, how much is it?

The recertification fee is $100 every three years, but the big investment is the ongoing training. I’ve spent more than $100 on local seminars and events this year alone. However, there are great free events to help you get credits, too.

What are the benefits of SPHR compared to Master’s Degree in Management and development of HR?

The biggest benefit is that it’s cheaper and faster than a Master’s degree. Here’s a post I wrote on the SPHR vs the MBA.

How many people are certified under SPHR so far?

As of August 2010, there are just over 46,000 SPHR certified individuals across the globe.

When has this certification begun?

HRCI has been certifying people for 33 years now.

Do you need to finish PHR first to have the right to go to SPHR, or they are independent?

They are independent, so you can go straight for the one that fits your needs.

Of course, this is all my random knowledge, so feel free to check out the HRCI site to see if they have additional information. Oh, and don’t forget that HRCI is changing their requirements in 2011!

By the way, if you’re looking for a PHR study guide, feel free to check this one out. :-)

Today we’re rocking a guest post by Nancy Slotnick. I saw recently that she was successful in passing the GPHR exam, and I knew that she’d be a great resource to pull in for a guest post. Plus, she doesn’t have her own blog, so any chance I can get her to do some writing is a win for everyone. :-)

If you like this post feel free to subscribe or check into the GPHR study guide. It’s GPHR specific, and the testing tips are definitely helpful for the GPHR certification exam. I also have dozens of free resources listed on the PHR/SPHR/GPHR page!

Why did you decide to get your GPHR certification?

I have thought about sitting for the GPHR since taking the SPHR approximately a year before retiring from the Army.  At that time, I was already considering several different options for employment in Human Resources following retirement from the Army, including the possibility of joining the consulting business that my husband had started several years before.  I had spent my 25 year military career in Human Resources and had already decided that I wanted to stay in the profession.

My decisions to pursue my MBA with a focus in Strategic Human Resources as well as to prepare and sit for the SPHR were intended to fill perceived gaps between military HR and civilian HR practice.  At the time, I decided not to sit for the GPHR for two primary reasons.  I did not anticipate doing international work and I did not believe that I had the necessary experience.  At the time, I completely (and incorrectly) discounted the international nature of much of my military service as being applicable to the GPHR. Continue reading

Okay, HRCI (Human Resources Certification Institute), it’s time for a social media makeover! I alluded to this post when I was talking about everything else going on in my world recently. I am doing my best not to be mean-spirited or rude, because that doesn’t help anyone do anything better. Everything I say today should be taken with a smile. :-) (<–Like that!)

HRCI on Twitter

Near the end of last year, I realized that HRCI was on Twitter. Being a lover of HR certification, I was thrilled to see them there. I had a few back-and-forth chats with Alexis, and we shared a few tips and ideas back and forth. Fun was had by all. Although they were using their URL in every. single. tweet. I was still inclined to give ’em a break.

Flash forward to the past few weeks. They’ve been doing work on their website. How did I know that? Well, they’ve tweeted over a dozen times in a three day period about what you can do on their website. Okay, so they’re sharing. That’s something, I suppose. Continue reading

Whew! With all the serious stuff lately, I haven’t had time to catch up with what’s going on in my little world (like you all are just dying to know). :-) A few things…

Adoption

Melanie and I are sitting on our butts with the adoption. We have finished all of our tasks, but now we’re looking/waiting for a baby. Why am I telling you? We just need one person. Yeah, it’s a little strange for most of you. To y’all, I’m just a guy writing about HR. Well, luckily there’s a place you can go to learn all about the hope for adoption that I share with my wife. Some of my great friends at HRev took the time to ask about how it was going, and I appreciate the sincerity and concern!

HR Carnival

Back when I did my first HR blog carnival, I prepared everyone with a post about how they need to share the stuff with people outside our little bubble. I think it’s pretty darn funny that Lance and Laurie finished off HRev with the same advice. Anyway, I am running the carnival again here this week, and the theme will be the event that I helped to create, so I’m really excited about bringing all that HRev goodness back to the home front. If you would like to contribute but don’t have a blog, I take email submissions!

Oh, the Irony

"Irony"

I just realized something. I wrote a post a while back about how I was so productive and I planned to teach you all a few ideas on how to do the same. Then I never even finished writing the series. Is that hilarious or what?

New eBook Project

I’ve been looking for my next eBook topic. I haven’t written one since Rock the PHR. Nothing has really sounded that appealing to me. But one day last week I had lunch with my web design partner and he mentioned a recent post as a great point of expansion. All that for a teaser, huh? :-)

Google Reader trends screenshot

Getting Out of HR

Check out my Google Reader screenshot above. That’s how I read the blogs and keep up with everything that goes on in the blogging world. I’m cutting HR blogs and adding other subscriptions to my Google Reader (click here to learn how to use Google Reader). I love you guys. Really. But there are two constraints. First, I can’t keep up with everyone. After resigning myself to that fact, I moved on to the second reason. My life is more than just human resources, and I have been trimming my HR blogs and adding more on topics like marriage, relationships, communication, web design, graphic design, search engine optimization, marketing, and sales. Way off topic for the day job, but infinitely helpful in so many ways.

The Breakup

I alerted the people on the free Rock the PHR newsletter this week, but some of the rest of you may be interested. Ning, who has traditionally offered free social network building tools, is canceling their free service. That means I get to scramble for another option or just pay the fee. And due to their customer service flub I mentioned, I think there are better alternatives. Breaking up is hard to do… I’ve used them for almost half  a year to run a network that is a bonus benefit to those who purchase the RTPHR eBook, and now I’m on the hunt again for another option.

Blog Stuff

I had a great chat on blogging tools and tips last week with Charlie Judy of HR Fishbowl. When I had my super-secret Rock Your Blog group running a few months back, I wrote a few articles with ideas on Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Feedburner, and search engine optimization. That’s Greek to most of you, but it’s like heroin for us bloggers. ;-) Anyway, I’m putting them together into a guide and have made some videos showing how to do general stuff with WordPress. If anyone’s interested in learning how to get a blog off the ground, just let me know and I’ll hook you up. Or if you’re wondering if blogging is even a remote possibility for you, I can talk you through that, too. I’m always up for some email.

HRCI-You’re Doing it Wrong

I have to let it go. HRCI (the Human Resources Certification Institute) is stepping into social media and they are going about it all wrong. But instead of being purely negative and jumping down their collective throats, I want to offer some suggestions and positive points. I should have a post up on this by Friday. Stay tuned.

And that’s about all I have going at this exact second… What about you? Doing anything interesting? Don’t forget to stop back by on Wednesday for a great collection of HRevolution posts as I host the HR blog carnival!