If I Were Running A Company…#SHRM14

Written by Tracy

Although I have been an official blogger before, I won’t attend this year’s SHRM conference as I’m in the Recruit4Cause war room mapping out our aggressive campaign coming up soon. Also, I might not be coming next year in Las Vegas because I could be covering the 2015 World Police & Fire Games, which are held in my hometown in Fairfax, VA. I will likely return to the SHRM Conference when it comes back to D.C. in 2016.


There are many HR topics that could be talked about in the conference:

  • The Affordable Care Act
  • The race and gender pay gap
  • Zappos’ “no job posting” strategy
  • Executive compensation
  • Emerging technologies (of course)

Instead, the main headliner is SHRM’s new certification program. They have announce the new names of their titles and it’s very creative:

  • SHRM-CP (Certified Professional)
  • SHRM-SCP (Senior Certified Professional)

I personally prefer HRC, SHRC, GHRC (if you can give me one or two answers why I want to call it HRC in the comments section, I have a special prize for you, seriously.).

Anyway, I talked to Ed, my boss and founder of Recruit4Cause, and someone prominent from a local SHRM chapter and both said they had funny feelings when they talk to SHRM and HRCI a year before the announcement that SHRM was creating it’s own certification. One person mention that a personnel change (sorry) in the membership department has altered how SHRM reaches out to current and potential members. This one person said the past regime were engaging and listening to their members and the current regime cares about membership and numbers and view HR professionals as a statistic.

People will say SHRM’s move is a money grab and I would say…of course it is. Anything we try to do is a money grab. We try to maximize the potential profits. There’s nothing wrong with that. What SHRM dropped the ball was they didn’t communicate to their members about the changes. SHRM and HRCI are in the same building, could they ask their members (HR professionals to be exact) negotiate a compromise between the two? Instead of a better HRCI, people have to select which certification to go for. It’s like you have to choose the ABA or NBA; NFL or USFL; KHL or NHL; IndyCar or CART; Ecks or Sever (I still love that joke).

The certification issue leads to, in my opinion, SHRM’s biggest problem and what I have been saying for almost 10 years, is they focus on the profession, but not how to advance the profession in their respective industry. Maybe I was spoiled in my first SHRM Conference in 2005 in San Diego where there was an industry roundtable and I was one of the rare few who attended the sessions. I’m not sure if I was an idiot, a rebel, or people didn’t want to talk about their company, but I did know one thing: this was a missed opportunity. I saw tweets from recruitDC on the tech talent panel discussing tech people want to network and they do not go to job boards. Would that be valuable for someone in HR in the tech industry to know?

I heard of a few complaints in recent years that the conference is targeting the big companies and I will say that’s a fair complaint. SHRM has tried steps to help the manufacturing industry, but I want more industries involved from nonprofits (which by they way is changing formats after getting a bit greedy in pricing the past couple years. To clarify, SHRM does not run the Nonprofit HR Conference. Nonprofit HR does.), government contracting, STEM, tech, and other industries. If you get more industries involved, more people will come to the conference and they will go to sessions and events they want to attend.

In the past 30 years, people have a good understanding of what HR does. Some like it, some don’t and it varies because how different businesses view HR. Some are confused about how HR works because people in HR had a variety of backgrounds (English, business, law, sales, etc.). I think recently, people outside of HR, knows what we do most of the time. The issue is is HR ready to know, understand, and immerse to the industry they’re in and willing to share? That could of been a moment SHRM can step in to fill that role. Instead, SHRM made it about themselves instead of advancing the profession.

SHRM is still a good place to network, party, and learn, and attendees need to take full advantage of it, but I view SHRM as a very poor man’s FIFA: people love the profession; they don’t like the politics and bureaucracy behind it.


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