Posts Tagged ‘GPHR’

Passing Your HR Certification Exam

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

HR professionals who earn an industry certification distinguish themselves from their peers. More organizations are recognizing the benefits of hiring HR professionals who meet rigorous industry and education requirements. Employers understand that certified HR employees or job candidates are dedicated to the HR industry and have mastered the skills and tasks required to manage an HR department successfully.

The most notable HR certifying organization is the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). There are three main credentials HRCI offers: Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR). To receive a certification, HR professionals are required to obtain a specific amount of work experience, which is based on their education level, and pass the HRCI exam.

Passing the exam is no easy feat. Only 57 percent of PHR test takers and 52 percent of SPHR test takers passed the exam in HRCI’s most recent test period. Many organizations provide study aids to certification hopefuls. Some HR professionals regard the materials from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) as the official study guide for the HRCI exam. Workforce explains that many professionals make this assumption because of the confusing affiliation SHRM has with HRCI, but HRCI’s executive director released a written statement that indicates the two HR organizations are separate and SHRM is not involved in any aspect of the HRCI exam.

Unlike SHRM, CAI offers multiple instructor-led study courses for PHR and SPHR Certification preparation. David Siler, SPHR, GPHR, Managing Partner of Distinctive HR, Inc., leads the study courses that boast superior results. His PHR and SPHR students have an extremely impressive pass rate of more than 90 percent. CAI offers flexibility in preparing for the exam with its web-based courses and its evening classes. The webinar format allows HR professionals outside of North Carolina to participate in the study courses as well.

In addition to exceptional classroom instruction and interaction, participants will receive many tools to prepare for the exam, including:

  • Study manual
  • Complete library of audio CDs
  • On-line access to videos on tough topics
  • On-line access to hundreds of practice exams
  • On-line access to learning and testing games
  • Flash cards
  • Tips on how to take standardized tests
  • Comprehensive final practice exam

Elizabeth Fuss, an HR consultant at the Cascade Employers Association, currently is enrolled in CAI’s PHR/SPHR Web-Based Certification Study Course. She is participating remotely in Oregon. Elizabeth has been blogging about her study course experience for the past six weeks on her company’s blog. During her first week in the program, Elizabeth offered insights on the course and David Siler to her readers:

Never have I been so engaged in a webinar. His approach was logical. The plan for the class: master the knowledge needed for the test and master test taking skills. He has been certified for 30 or so years and has always recertified by re-taking the tests. So when he says that he knows what he is talking about, I believe him. His style is laid-back, but focused. He held me captive talking about test taking – that is no easy task.

Visit CAI’s Certification page if you are looking for a proven system for preparing for the HRCI exam. Decide which course is right for you, and contact a member of CAI’s Learning and Development Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: albertogp123

What is More Valuable, HR Certification or a Master’s Degree?

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

A record number of candidates sat for the Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) certification exams from the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) in 2010.

Despite that fact, only 13 percent of eligible HR professionals are certified. However, recent estimates show that between 40 and 60 percent of open mid-level or higher HR positions either “require” or “prefer” certification. In plain language, 13 percent of the workforce commands roughly half of the open HR labor market.

In this tough employment landscape, candidates need every advantage. Professional certification is a no-brainer. There is a raging chat room argument as to what is more valuable, a master’s degree in HR or HRCI certification. There are pros and cons to both sides. The fact that this argument won’t go away tells most experts they are equally valuable to one’s career. However, a master’s degree costs about $35,000 and takes two years of effort, while HR certification costs about $1,500 with a prep class, and takes 10 weeks.

Many people mistakenly assume the new eligibility requirements from HRCI will make it tougher for candidates to qualify for admission to the certification exams. For some, this is true. For others, it is easier to qualify.

While the PHR and GPHR exams require four years of professional HR experience and the SPHR requires seven, all three give credit for education. Subtract two years from the eligibility requirement if the candidate has a bachelor’s degree and subtract another one if he or she holds a master’s. This means that some PHR candidates only need one year of professional experience before they qualify to sit for the exam.

It is not a question as to “whether” you need certification; the question is “when.”  CAI offers a Web-based, evening PHR/SPHR Certification Study Course.  For additional information visit

Photo Source: Corey Ann

Good Strategic HR Discussions? Or Just Dead Ends?

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Back in 2005, Fast Company magazine published the now famous (or infamous depending on your perspective) article entitled “Why We Hate HR.”  The basic premise was that HR professionals are good at transactional “administrivia” like pay, benefits and retirement (all functions that are being outsourced) but lack the skills (or interest) necessary to play a more strategic role in managing talent.   Since then, thousands of articles, presentations, webinars, conferences and the like have advised HR professionals on what they need to do to “get a seat at the [executive] table.”  Most advice, while good, follows a few key themes and in my opinion either distracts our attention or confuses us.

Theme 1: To get a seat at the table, you must talk the language of business. If you want to be taken seriously you must understand financial statements, gross margin, EBITDA, return on investment, depreciation, cash flow, retained earnings, etc.  These terms are important, and I agree that HR professionals need to improve their business acumen, but just because you can explain how to play the game doesn’t mean you will be able to play the game or even be put in the game for that matter.

Theme 2: To get a seat at the table, you must align HR Strategy with business strategy and overall think and talk more strategically. Ever sit through a presentation on HR strategy?  I’m an educated man, but frankly, I don’t understand half of what they’re talking about.  I hear a bunch of words like synergy, value added, key performance indicators, knowledge base, alignment, etc. and of course a bunch of fancy charts and diagrams.  In the Fast Company article Keith Hammonds describes an HR strategy presentation he sat through: “There is mention of ‘internal action learning’ and ‘being more planful [sic]in my approach.’ PowerPoint slides outline [the company’s] initiatives in performance management, organization design, and horizontal-solutions teams.  [The presenter] describes leveraging internal resources and involving external resources — and she leaves her audience dazed. That evening, even the human-resources pros confide they didn’t understand much of it, either.”  Strategy is very important, but we’ve overcomplicated it and we spend way too much time trying to describe what “IT” is and how we need more of “IT.”  People in the real world don’t have time for that.

Theme 3: To get a seat at the table, you must become certified and the more initials the better. PHR, SPHR, GPHR, CEBS, CCP, MBA, etc.  Isn’t it funny how some of the most successful people in the United States never graduated from college?   People like Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison and Richard Branson to name a few (I know a few of them later earned honorary degrees – but you get the point).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of higher education and have a few initials myself (MBA, SPHR), heck, we even have a highly successful HR certification prep course here at CAI, but that alone will not help you get, or keep, a seat at the table or to become more strategic.

Theme 4: To get a seat at the table, you must implement HR Metrics. To get a seat at the table, you must develop a robust HR scorecard and track those key performance indicators that result in HR success.  Turnover, absenteeism, time to hire, cost to hire, HR as a percentage of payroll, etc.  While I’m a big fan of numbers (thanks to my mom the accountant) and I firmly believe what gets measured gets done, developing really good and relevant HR metrics is hard and tracking them even harder.  I’m not saying you shouldn’t develop them, just don’t start here.

Theme 5: Forget it, you’re not getting a seat at the table so complain about it – blame the company. I hear a lot of HR professionals complain about their companies, their management teams, the CEO, etc.  “I would love to be more strategic but my company just doesn’t understand the value of HR” or, “We don’t have the money to spend on training, day cares, health care centers and the like.”  So basically, it’s the company’s fault you’re not more strategic. Fortunately, there are plenty of HR support groups out there to help you refine and develop your own sad story if you are so inclined.

Ok, so with all the books, articles, presentations, consultants, etc. out there telling HR professionals how to be more strategic, how to get a seat at the table, and how to be a key business partner, why is it that many still aren’t?  I’ll address that in my next post.

Photo Source: U.S. Department of Defense

Human Resources Certification is an Advantage

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

HR Certification Institute (HRCI) Executive Director Mary Power was recently interviewed regarding the importance that employers place upon HR-certified applicants. A study conducted by HRCI showed 96 percent of hiring employers indicated that certification was an advantage for HR applicants and 91 percent felt it was an advantage for employees seeking promotion in HR.

According to the study, certification provides benefits for both companies and individuals. From the company standpoint, improvements were reported in customer satisfaction, employee engagement, turnover and profits.

In addition, employers and certified HR professionals indicated that certification:

  • Increases employee knowledge
  • Ensures HR knowledge is up to date
  • Demonstrates employee commitment to HR
  • Is good for the reputation of the organization
  • Increases employees’ confidence in their ability to do the job
  • Shows the organization takes HR seriously
  • Gives employees greater trust and confidence in the HR department
  • Makes HR professionals think more strategically

Every few years, the HR Certification exams are evaluated and updated to be certain they remain relevant to the real world of HR and that eligibility requirements are in line with professional certification standards. The new eligibility requirements for 2011 are as follows:

PHR (Professional in Human Resources) Eligibility
1 year of demonstrated professional HR experience with a Master’s degree or higher;
2 years of demonstrated professional HR experience with a Bachelor’s degree; or
4 years of demonstrated professional HR experience with less than a Bachelor’s degree.

SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) Eligibility
4 years of demonstrated professional HR experience with a Master’s degree or higher;
5 years of demonstrated professional HR experience with a Bachelor’s degree; or
7 years of demonstrated professional HR experience with less than a Bachelor’s degree.

GPHR (Global Professional in Human Resources) Eligibility
2 years of demonstrated global professional HR experience with a Master’s degree or higher;
3 years of demonstrated professional HR experience (with 2 of the 3 being global HR experience) with a Bachelor’s degree; or
4 years of demonstrated professional HR experience (with 2 of the 4 being global HR experience) with less than a Bachelor’s degree.

CAI provides PHR, SPHR and GPHR certification study courses, both in person and web-based.  Please see for additional information.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

Three Reasons Why You Should Pursue the PHR, SPHR or GPHR This Fall – And How We Can Help

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

The Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) offers official designations for PHR (Professional in Human Resources), SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) and GPHR (Global Professional in Human Resources). To pursue these titles, the HRCI requires a person to have a minimum of two years of professional HR experience and to devote at least 51 percent of their daily activities to HR.

HRCI defines a typical PHR candidate as having two to four years of experience at the generalist level and most often implements rather than creates programs. A typical SPHR candidate will have four to eight years of progressive experience with more frequent program creation. The usual GPHR candidate has some experience developing and implementing global HR policies.

To help HR professionals prepare for the exams for each designation, CAI is offering PHR/SPHR and GPHR Certification Study Courses led by David Siler, SPHR, GPHR, MA, Managing Partner of Distinctive HR, Inc. The instructor-led study courses will take place at both our Raleigh and Greensboro training centers this fall.

Why would you or your organization want to devote many hours to study for this exam now? We can think of three main reasons:

  • The current eligibility standards for the exams will change after this fall/winter 2010 testing period and require more experience. That means, for example, that a prospective GPHR applicant will need to have two or three or four years of demonstrated global professional (exempt-level) HR experience combined with the respective educational requirements to qualify for the exam. And HR professionals who are eligible for the SPHR exam under the current eligibility requirements may only qualify for the PHR exam in 2011. These new rules could delay your organization’s efforts to be certified.
  • Study courses such as the one CAI offers greatly increase your odds of successfully earning the certification. For example, David’s students have extremely impressive pass rates of more than 90 percent for the PHR/SPHR, compared to national pass rate averages in the mid 50s. Also, each exam has different versions, even within every session people take it. Therefore, talking to someone who passed it previously will not provide you with the knowledge you think will succeed in passing the exam.

  • The certification provides professional recognition for your HR program that gives it a competitive edge. For prospective employees coming to your organization and clients working with you, the knowledge that your firm knows the most current principles and core practices of HR management can be the deciding factor for them in whether to select you for their business over others in your industry. That can improve your bottom line considerably in 2011.

Applications for PHR, SPHR and GPHR in the current winter semester are available from HRCI through Oct. 8, with a late application deadline of Nov. 12. To apply, visit

For more details on our PHR/SPHR and GPHR Certification Study Courses and how to register for them, visit our website,, or contact Dawn Mooney at or call (919) 713-2560.

Photo Source: Affiliated H.R. Co.

2011 Eligibility Changes for PHR, SPHR and GPHR Create Sense of Urgency

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

This is it! The eligibility rules will change in 2011 for the Human Resources Certification Institute exams for the Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR).

The December 2010 testing period will be the last chance for many HR professionals to sit for the PHR or SPHR exams, or they may have to wait years.  It will also be the last opportunity for most HR professionals to take the GPHR exam, ever.

If you’ve been delaying professional certification until a better time, this is what you’ve been waiting for.  The new rules, going into effect Feb. 1, 2011, will require PHR candidates to have four years of exempt-level HR experience. SPHR applicants must have seven years experience.

Candidates may subtract two years for a bachelor’s degree (any major) and another year for a master’s degree (any major). Thus, master’s degree holders need only one year of professional experience for the PHR and four for the SPHR. This is in contrast to the current requirement of applicants needing only two years of exempt-level HR experience with no allowance for bachelor’s or master’s degrees.

Starting in 2011, GPHR candidates must have four years of professional HR experience, with two of the four being international experience. They may subtract one year for a bachelor’s and another for a master’s. Candidates must still possess two years of experience during which they spent 51 percent or more of their time in global HR. They will no longer be able to obtain the GPHR first and then seek an international assignment.

So, if you have thought about pursuing GPHR certification, you may have no other choice than to give it a try this year. If not, you may never get another opportunity. Don’t worry – if you earn the GPHR credential before the qualifications change, you can’t lose it in the future unless you fail to re-certify, even if you don’t work in global HR.

Our April 2010 survey indicates that 60 percent of open HR positions in the United States “require” or “prefer” professional certification, while only 13 percent of eligible professionals are actually certified. The bottom line is there has never been a more critical time for HR professionals to attain their professional accreditation.

CAI’s highly successful PHR, SPHR, and GPHR programs are designed to give candidates the highest probability of gaining accreditation. With classes in Raleigh, Greensboro and online, CAI is here to help anyone wishing to go for the gold.

Photo Source: dcJohn

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