The Letters


What do your letters mean to you? Did you get them to get a job? Did you get them to enhance your resume? Or were they achieved for personal satisfaction? Of course, I am talking about your certifications – primarily the PHR, SPHR and GPHR, but any of the other HR certifications are fair game.

On Thursday night, I taught our first PHR/SPHR study group this year. What a huge turnout – about 25 people showed up. The material was from module 1, Strategic Management. What an engaging group we had! I found it interesting that the class was split with about half shooting for the PHR and half for the SPHR. Throughout the class, to break up the monotony of means, modes and medians and income statements, we chatted about the value of certification in the workplace.

“I believe that my letters have helped me,” I told them. There are arguments for and against certification but I believe they hold value for me, professionally and personally. The tests that need to be passed to get these certifications are, in a word, brutal. Four hours of wracking your brain trying to differentiate the miniscule difference between option A and C can literally cause your brain to ooze out your year (well, not literally. Figuratively). Anyone who goes through the self-imposed torture is tops in my book, I told them. And then there is what you learn. For those of us who don’t deal with unions or total rewards, for example, the PHR and SPHR tests force us to learn about them. Who knows – the test could fuel a whole new interest in another area of HR!

My certifications mean a lot to me. I spent time learning the material, connecting it to my day to day work life and then taking a cruel test to prove my knowledge. I proudly show my letters. They remind me about my commitment to my profession, especially after a very tough day. So, what do the letters mean to you?

Don’t forget to CELEBRATE!


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