How Important is HR Certification?


There is a lively debate going on in the business world about the idea of certification in human resources. Namely, does it enable an increase in effectiveness or does it just represent a body of knowledge steeped in old, conventional ways of thinking.

At some companies, certification is mandatory, while other companies wrinkle their noses at it, saying they don’t want to go near any human resource person with an alphabet soup after his or her name.

Officials at the HR Certification Institute contend that certification has always been desired by employers, and that it is more and more becoming a requirement, leading to an increase in demand for it. One Institute official said she is hearing from recruiters that employers want the credential, which is more proof of how important it has become.

But others are not so enthusiastic about it.

One business school professor is unimpressed with certification, noting that it really won’t help anyone in the current job market. A person with a master’s degree in human resources will certainly be more sought after than someone with a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification, he said, especially by bigger companies. He added that experience also will hold greater weight than certification.

If you already have an advanced degree, certification in human resources is essentially useless, the professor added. What is more important, he said, is what a person can bring to the job, the ability to take on managers and challenge their viewpoint, to bring something new to the table.

Netflix is one company that is unimpressed with credentials in the human resources field. A recent job advertisement on the company’s website states that it’s not looking for an OD practitioner, a person with a certificate, or a person who specializes in policy guidelines. These are all signs that the person is steeped in the old ways of doing human resources, the type that is not done at Netflix, the job posting says. These are designations that the company really does not assign much value to.

So, the debate continues – between those who believe that the credential lends greater knowledge and expertise, and those who believe it locks a person into an old-fashioned way of thinking. But, as with any position, on-the-job performance will most likely be the deciding factor in this debate.

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