Do HR Pros Need Initials After Their Name?

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, maybe nothing, if your point of view is different than mine. In my point of view, though, these people need more initials or letters after their names.

This is the current Executive Board of the Society of Human Resources Professionals (SHRM).  Left to right, they are

  • Hank Jackson, CPA
  • Janet Parker, SPHR
  • G. Ravindran
  • Henry Hart, JD
  • J. Robert Carr
There’s a few letters after some names, but only Janet Parker possesses an HR related certification. Does that seem somehow wrong to you?

It does to me.

Now I will be the first to admit that having PHR, SPHR, GPHR, CEBS, or a similar HR related certification does not guarantee that you have the skills to run a massive organization like SHRM. I have the letters JD and SPHR after my name, and I certainly couldn’t do it. But certification would have guaranteed that these people had the guts and determination to study their ass off and take a special test to show that they possessed at least a basic knowledge of general HR principals. I don’t think that is too much to ask of the leaders of an organization that represents “over 250,000 members in over 140 countries.”

This week I got a call from a man who needed someone to speak at a workshop on an emergency basis when his scheduled speaker landed in the hospital. He wanted someone to speak about “HR and something internet related”, so a couple of people gave him my name. He had no idea if I was a good public speaker, but he had looked me up on Linkedin and knew that I had the letters SPHR after my name, which gave me – and him – all the credibility he needed. I wouldn’t have landed that gig otherwise, even if I was the most knowledgeable and talented public speaker in metro Detroit.

I think we deserve as much from SHRM leadership, don’t you? Or are professional certifications a waste of time and money? Do they tell us anything at all? Let me know in the comments because I value your opinion!

(By the way, if you thought what was wrong with that picture was that it contained only one female in a profession easily dominated by females, I’m with you. But that’s another post. 😉 In the meantime, the song “Initials”.)