Topic: Off The Wall
Publication: International Journal of Selection and Assessment (SEP 2010)
Article: The impact of passing the Professional in Human Resources Exam on early career success for undergraduate entering the human resources field
Authors: S.W. Lester, J. Mencl, C. Maranto, K.A. Bourne and T. Keaveny
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
In an economy where jobs are hard to come by, voluntary professional certification can be a great way to separate oneself from the competition. For professionals in our field (HR), the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification is one way to go. A recent study by Lester et al. (2010) explored the value of obtaining a PHR certification for recent students who have just entered the workforce.
Lester et al. conducted their study on recent HR graduates from 3 different universities in the U.S. They found that college graduates who passed the PHR certification exam were more than twice as likely to get a job in the HR field than those who did not take the certification exam or did not pass the exam. However, passing the PHR certification exam did not predict starting salary or the number of promotions received by these employees. Lester et al. speculate that that salary and promotions are more heavily tied to employees’ work experience, which was fairly low across the board because employees in their study were new to the workforce.
Lester et al. argue that even though recent college graduates don’t officially become PHR certified until they have 2 years of experience in the HR field, passing the certification exam communicates to employers that they possess an advanced level of HR knowledge.
This may explain why those who passed the PHR certification were more likely to obtain employment in the HR field.
Currently (and in this study), recent college graduates can take the PHR exam following graduation but must obtain 2 years of professional level HR experience within 5 years to actually obtain PHR certification. In May of 2011 this will change and recent graduates will no longer be able to take the PHR certification exam until they have two years of professional level HR experience.
In light of the upcoming changes to the PHR certification process, these findings suggest that recent graduates may face increasing difficulty entering the HR field. This will be doubly problematic for recent graduates because their lack of professional level HR experience will hinder them from taking the PHR exam which, according to this study, would increase their chances of finding employment in the HR field.
Lester et al. suggest that serious thought be given to the development of an “alternative HR job knowledge test” that would allow students and recent graduates to signal to potential employers that they possess a sufficient mastery of the field. This of course could take many years or possibly never happen, so for those of you who are are considering taking the PHR certification exam, don’t wait!
Lester, S.W., Mencl, J., Maranto, C., Bourne, K.A., & Keaveny, T. (2010). The impact of passing the Professional in Human Resources Exam on early career success for undergraduate entering the human resources field. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 18(3), 282-290.