Tag Archives: PHR

PHR vs SPHR-Which is right for you?

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 study courses we offer while you’re here!

HRCP-Guaranteed to Pass or your Money Back

With a background of working for numerous small companies, I am a strong supporter of those people and organizations that take a step of risk and try to fill a need in the marketplace, no matter who the competition may be. That’s how I found HRCP a few years ago, and I’ve been a big fan of theirs ever since.

For the HR pro searching for a cost effective way to pass the exam for less than half the price of the SHRM product, this is what you’ve been looking for. (Be sure to use the discount code to get a $20 discount on the HRCP study tools! Plus, read on for information on the money back guarantee!

UPSTART18P is for the Complete HRCP Program: Print Edition
UPSTART18E is for the Complete HRCP Program: Print AND Online Edition!)

I sometimes talk about the PHR and SPHR exams, because I think it’s a powerful way for people to show commitment to the HR profession. With a pass rate hovering around 50%, it’s not an exam to take lightly. With the numbers of people who are unemployed or are on the verge of it, it just doesn’t make sense for many of them to take the risk involved with attempting the exam. The great folks over at HRCP are doing something revolutionary in the HR certification space to help minimize that risk and instill confidence in PHR/SPHR test takers everywhere.

Not only does HRCP offer a great study product, they have recently started offering a money back guarantee with their learning system. If you purchase their study tools, take the practice exams they offer, and still don’t pass the exam, they will give you your money back. Wow!

This is a good time to note that the HRCP tools would be a great fit for the self study course that has helped dozens of HR pros pass the exam.

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Rock the PHR Relaunch

launchHello, everyone! I have some exciting news to share. Rock the PHR study guide will be relaunching on January 4th, and this time it will be bigger, better, and the bonuses will most definitely rock. I’ve been working feverishly on this thing, and I can’t wait to see how it goes. The original guide has been around since August 2009, and it has helped dozens of people in their PHR and SPHR studies. Despite a really crappy sales page and a relatively soft launch the first go ’round, it has performed admirably. Now that I’ve worked out some of the kinks, it’s time to really cut loose. Some of the cool stuff this time around…

Email Newsletter

I’ve set up an email newsletter. Anyone is free to sign up. It has tips and advice for preparing for, studying for, and taking the exam. The best part about getting on the list is being able to get the early bird discount. The link to the discount won’t be public, so if you’re even remotely interested, get the newsletter. And pass it along to a friend if you think they may want to take the exam next year.

Bonuses

[Deep and booming biblical voice] In the beginning, there were bonuses. And they were good. There are three sweet bonus items included in the Rock the PHR package. I’ll elaborate on them later, but they include a practice exam, special study tips, and a private forum. The value is just dripping off of these things.

Affiliates

In an effort to bring more joy to the world [seasonal humor!], I’ve created an affiliate program for the guide. If you are interested, you just sign up, send the link to anyone (or post it on your website if you have one), and if they make a purchase, then you get a sweet bonus. If that sounds cool, just check this page for more information. Please email me if you have questions or want more info.

List (again)

Again… The link to join the email list is here. If you think you might take the exam in 2010 or 2011, why not sign up ahead of time? You can save all of the emails and have your own stockpile of great study tips before your exam even gets close. Plus you might learn something to help you with your daily job. Huh, imagine that. :-)

More info as the launch gets closer, and be sure to get on the email list if you want to get the special early bird pricing. Let’s kick off 2010’s professional development with a bang, shall we?

PHR-SPHR Deadline and Free Practice Exam

Update 11/14: Eric has won the free PHR practice exam for giving the best comment. Good luck to everyone who commented!

Just a quick reminder to everyone out there contemplating the PHR or SPHR exam—the test window is closing on November 13th. If you miss the deadline, you will have to wait until mid-2010 to take the exam. I can tell the final registration date is closing in, because I\’ve received more than a dozen emails from people looking for support, encouragement, direction, or resources.

Everyone knows that the best PHR study guide was developed right here, but everyone might not know about the free bonus exam that goes along with it (thanks to April for helping!).

I\’ve decided to give away a free copy of the 50 question PHR practice exam.

I want to hear from people who have taken or who plan to take the exam. Why in the world did you study your tail off just to have the opportunity to add a few letters after your name? Was it for a promotion? Did you want a new job? I\’d like to know the motivations behind your attempt at the PHR or SPHR exam. There\’s a free 50 question practice exam in it for the best answer I get by November 13th! And remember, the deadline from HRCI is November 13th, so sign up if you plan to take the test.

Get the HRCP discount

If you’d like to get a $20 discount on the HRCP program, click here to get the discount code.

HRCI Changes Requirements-Part Deux

This post originated as a comment left by Matthew Stollak (or akaBruno if you know him from Twitter) on a post about the HR Certification Institute changing its PHR/SPHR/GPHR eligibility requirements. I asked him if I could reuse his comment as a post, and he had no problem, so you get to see his comments front and center. Enjoy!.

I have been a SHRM student chapter advisor for over 10 years and have taken and passed both the PHR and SPHR exams. I know a lot of other passionate and dedicated student chapter advisors who were not pleased with the recent changes in eligibility. These changes sparked vigorous discussion on the SHRM Chapter Advisor listserv, and prompted HRCI to host an impromptu conference call with advisors to address the new eligibility requirements. While I believe the changes are set in stone, I do know Nancy Woolever, Director of Academic Initiatives at SHRM (whom Ben has interviewed about SHRM’s HR education program), and Chuck Salvetti, SHRM Student Programs Manager, are looking into alternatives for students to help students distinguish themselves as they apply for HR positions.

That being said, here are my thoughts:
1. I concur that “If some “upstart” can take the exam after college and pass without any exempt level HR experience, then that doesn\’t necessarily mean that they\’re as qualified as someone who has years of HR experience before deciding to take the exam.” However, as @adowling noted, there are already restrictions in place for student who pass the exam. Students who pass the exam are NOT allowed to claim they are certified. They MUST get 2 years of exempt-level experience in five years after passing the certification exam before being allowed to use the PHR designation.

2. One concern stated by HRCI was that students had a lower passing rate than HR professionals (57.2% to 71%). First, that should be expected. However, that is still a majority able to pass the exam. Further, if, as @Lori noted, “a certification exam touts its value on an experiential level,” and a majority of a group of individuals are able to pass it without the experience, shouldn\’t the focus be on changing the exam than the eligibility requirements? Why aren\’t HRCI and its question writers being held accountable for an exam that doesn\’t reflect that experiential level instead of punishing students who may demonstrate a strong understanding of the HR knowledge base?

3. Why is exempt experience held as the end-all, be-all of eligibility? One can take the exam without ever having taking an HR course. One can even take the exam without ever taking a single college course! A siginificant number of students walk into the exam with a wealth of HR “experience”: they have taken several HR and management courses, participated significantly in their student SHRM chapter, participated in HR internships or job shadowing or mentoring, conducted HR research, competed in the HR games, and attended SHRM professional chapter meetings and state, regional or national SHRM conferences. Many of these activities count toward recertification, but are not seen as important enough to qualify for certification.

4. In a similar vein, no effort was made by HRCI/SHRM to examine the “quality” of student passing rates on the PHR exam based on academic program. Do those students who come from a program that follows the SHRM curriculum perform significantly better on the exam? If true, wouldn\’t this have been a tremendous selling point for SHRM on the quality of their academic initiatives?

5. If experience is seen as critical, many academics have taken and passed the PHR and SPHR exams, and can claim being certified, without having worked a single moment in an exempt HR position. Should a similar constraint be placed on academics?

6. If the concern is that students who pass the exam are taking jobs away from more “qualified” HR professionals who have the experience, but have not passed the exam, one has to wonder about the true signal of certification and what it represents. If certification is so critical, why do so few HR jobs require it or use it in their advertising. A 2005 study by Aguinis, H., Michaelis, S. E., & Jones, N. M. in the International Journal of Selection and Assessment analyzed each of 1873 HR job announcements available over a 1-week period on http://monster.com, http://hotjobs.yahoo.com, http://careerbuilder.com, and http://shrm.org. Results showed that only nine (i.e., .48%) job announcements stated that there was a requirement and only 70 (i.e., 3.73%) job announcements stated that there was a preference for job applicants with any type of HR certification.

Matthew teaches the next generation of HR professionals and somehow finds time to write an interesting blog called True Faith HR. Check it out.

Goodbye, HRCI Recent Graduate Exemption

This test looks interesting

This test looks interesting

I took the PHR exam this past January. It was a tough experience, but I also enjoyed knowing that it would solidify my grasp of the basic theoretic principles of HR. I didn’t yet have the requisite two years of exempt level HR experience necessary to take the exam, but I was able to take it under the “Recent Graduate” exemption that HRCI provides. From HRCI:

Students and recent graduates enrolled in a bachelor\’s or graduate degree program may take the PHR and GPHR exams at an initial registration rate of US$120. Passing students and recent graduates must pay the balance of the exam fee once they have graduated and documented two years of exempt-level (professional) HR work experience. They have five years from the date of passing the exam to obtain the two years of exempt-level (professional) HR work experience.
Student/recent graduate candidates are not eligible to take the SPHR certification exam. Student/recent graduate  candidates must take the exam no earlier than 12 months before their graduation date and no later than 12 months after graduation from a bachelor\’s or graduate degree program.

Recently, I learned that HRCI is going to be dropping the Recent Graduate exemption. In fact, the certification requirements are changing in multiple ways by 2011. I still haven’t made up my mind yet about how I feel on the changes, but here is what HRCI says:

PHR Eligibility

SPHR Eligibility

GPHR Eligibility

• 1 year of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with a Master\’s degree or higher
• 2 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with a Bachelor\’s degree
• 4 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with less than a Bachelor\’s degree
• 4 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with a Master\’s degree or higher
• 5 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with a Bachelor\’s degree
• 7 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience with less than a Bachelor\’s degree
• 2 years of demonstrated global exempt-level HR experience with a Master\’s degree or higher
• 3 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience (with 2 of the 3 being global HR experience) with a Bachelor\’s degree
• 4 years of demonstrated exempt-level HR experience (with 2 of the 4 being global HR experience) with less than a Bachelor\’s degree

Pros

There are several reasons for these changes. The biggest one that I can think of is that they want the exams to be more meaningful. If some “upstart” :-) can take the exam after college and pass without any exempt level HR experience, then that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re as qualified as someone who has years of HR experience before deciding to take  the exam. And if I was one of those experienced pros who decided to get certified, it would probably bother me to know that there’s someone in the next booth with none of my experience taking the same certification exam.

Cons

On the flip side, what about that student/recent grad? If they pay the fee, put in the hours of study time, and complete the exam, then why can’t they be rewarded for those efforts? If they choose (as I did) to try to put themselves into a better position in a promotion or hiring situation, why should they be kept from that opportunity?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the pros and cons of the decision to change the requirements.

Anyway, if you happen to be one of those people with less than two years of experience, then you should seriously consider taking the PHR exam while you still have the opportunity. In fact, if you are in that group and you’d like to shoot me an email, I’ll give you a discount on the Rock the PHR guide to help you get started.