Why it took 8 years to get certified?

It doesn’t matter what profession you find yourself in, there is some coveted three to four letter acronym you strive to have behind your name. For us Human Resource professionals, our letters are S/P. H. R. These letters stand for so much more then Senior Professional in Human Resources. It means:

  • You know your HR stuff!

  • You are amongst the few HR professionals willing to prove you have master level knowledge and practical experience.

  • You committed to learning all functional area of human resource management even those that may not be in your wheelhouse like comp and ben or unions.  

Regardless of tenure and functional expertise, the thought of obtaining your certification may have crossed your mind a time or two. I thought about it several times. I thought about it for 8 long years. 

It wasn’t until I took the leap to teach a prep course to other HR professionals that I begin to ponder some of the reasons it took me so long to become a certified professional myself.

  1. Priorities- To be frank, I NEVER made it a priority. It was just this little wish that was bouncing around in my head. It was my “nice to have” not my “I’m going to attain it”. My degrees were important to me! They were important to me because I was the first in my immediate family to attain one. It was important to me because I exited the Army five months pregnant with no other plan but to get my degree and become an HR Manager.  I never had a compelling “why” behind attaining an HR Certification. What could it really do for me that my degree could not?  


  1. It was a thought not a plan – The idea of taking the S/PHR exam crossed my mind year over year. It was something I coveted but only as a wish. In the last 8 years, “get certified” hit my resolution list at least 4 times and the other 4 times it just remained in the back my mind. My biggest problem was that I had no plan. I had all the intention in the world- but not one plan. One year, I got extremely close. I joined a lunch study group with colleagues. The session was led by a highly respected S/PHR instructor (who just so happened to work for our organization). I attended the session for TWO weeks; and, then other priorities got in my way. Priorities such as, helping my daughter get through kindergarten, dealing with the death of my grandmothers, settling into marriage and then becoming a mom for the second time…yes basically life happened and my career couldn’t always be number one.   For eight years, I just kept thinking, “It would be nice to have my certification”.



  1. Fear of failure – Of all my reasons, fear of failure reigns supreme. The downright truth of the matter is that I was afraid to fail. Of all the superpowers I have, test taking is not one of them. I avoid standardized test like the plague. Why? Well, it started with college entry exams, other professional exams and even employment assessments. Of all my failures, I’ve failed most at taking standardized exams. I’d get extremely nervous and I would second guess myself. For 8 years, I rationalized NOT taking the exam. My rationale came from every corner:

  • Do I really need this? I’m pretty successful without it!

  • I see many people with the letters behind their name but no evidence that they can apply the knowledge, at least I can apply it.

  • I have three degrees. If that can’t be enough, I don’t know what is.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering, what made me do it?

Below I’m sharing three major factors that motivated me to go after the one goal that evaded me for so many years.



For the first time in 8 years, I really had the time and space to dedicated time to study. I’ve finally got my home and work responsibilities down to a semi-science. I was in a great place with work. I had been in my role for a few years and I knew exactly what was expected of me. My home life was settled and I knew I now had the time to simply focus on me and my goals.


This journey started and ended with accountability partners and a dedicated study plan. My best friend, who happened to also be an HR professional, committed to the journey together. We committed to weekly study sessions and even applied our current work to the various functional areas. In addition to my accountability partner, I devised a change management plan for my family and friends. Yes, that’s right! I ensured I communicated my vision and goals with everyone that was in my space.  I knew people needed to understand my “no” to invitations AND I needed my children to respect my “study time”.  


With any decision to maintain a competitive advantage, my external environment was speaking loud and clear! I often look out in the market to stay abreast of what organizations are looking for in their HR talent (helps me make decisions on where I spend my professional dollars as well). In conducting research, I noticed just at least 90 percent of job postings said, “S/PHR required or highly preferred”.  The writing was on the wall. In order to remain competitive, I needed to prove my mastery of human resource management.


My challenge to you:  

  • Find your why….you need a compelling reason to take this journey. Because you will never feel like studying when the time comes!

  • Find your community…don’t go at this alone. Find another professional or professional willing to take the journey. If you plan to attend a prep course, finding likeminded people is that much easier.

  • Execute a change management plan…your environment will change for a specified amount of time. Plan, prepare, and promote time and space so that you are a first time pass!

If you need help or assistance with preparing for your certification, we would love to help you. We, Cari and I, have both been where you are. If you need help or guidance please email us at info@HRdefined.com or send me an instant message on LinkedIn.