Pursuing additional certification to become an HR professional

The following is part one of a two-part series on continuing studies and career success.

In the field of human resources, gaining a designation from the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) is a great way to set yourself up for success in the industry. An important part of securing the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP), Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) or Certified Human Resources Executive (CHRE) is being properly prepared to take the Comprehensive Knowledge Exam (CKE).

Belinda Schuler-Chin
Belinda Schuler-Chin

Belinda Schuler-Chin, a recent graduate of the Post-Degree Certificate in Human Resources Management offered by the School of Continuing Studies at York University, spoke about how the certificate and post-diploma studies prepared her for her designation and for graduate studies.

Schuler-Chin, who already had more than four years in the human resources industry, took the CKE1 exam in June 2016 with the goal of attaining her CHRP designation. She had been drawn to the human resources (HR) field for some time.

“Just being around people, I realized HR is much more than administrative, it’s interacting with people, being in a position where you motivate people. It’s amazing how you can impact people,” she said, adding that a designation from the HRPA is vital for success in the job market.

“If you are serious about a career in HR, you have to do your check to so to speak, and everyone I’ve talked to and everything I’ve read pointed to the need for well-educated and well-rounded HR professionals,” said Schuler-Chin. “Employers look for someone who has the designation, someone who knows beyond the day to day, who is a big picture thinker. More and more the industry is asking for that.”

To prepare for the CKE1, Schuler-Chin stresses that studying beyond the textbook is key to success. “Don’t just think only reading the textbook back to front or buying old tests is enough to be successful,” she said.

“The testing will not be the same as it was previous years, so just reading about the concept is not good enough, truly learning the meaning is important. For example what is recruiting? It’s not good enough to spew out the definition from the textbook; you need to understand in a scenario in an organization, what is it really about? Because in the exam now when asking ‘what is recruiting?’ they won’t be looking for the direct definition from the textbook. They give you scenarios and you have to explain your understanding of the concept.”

She credits her experience at York’s School of Continuing Studies for preparing her for her journey towards the CHRP designation, and for advancing her career in the HR industry. She is now pursing a graduate degree at York University.

“It did a phenomenal job preparing me for everything, for the CKE exam, for the Master’s in Human Resources Management that I am doing now, because you really get a true feeling for what HR is. The CKE and Masters expands upon that knowledge.”

Schuler-Chin is interested in all aspects of HR and is open to exploring the different avenues career wise, but her ultimate career goal in the human resources field is to work in change management.

“For me change management is huge, it’s something that I have a big interest in. Change management is a challenge both on a personal and organizational level, and I am the type of person who embraces challenges,” she said. “I think doing that can only make you better – if you stretch and challenge yourself you can become the best HR professional that you can possibly be.”

The human resources program at the School of Continuing Studies simulates a global working environment as there is a mix of international and domestic students who take the certificate. “This is a perfect training ground for the international workforce. You get to understand and work with different cultures, how people are motivated and how they operate,” said Schuler-Chin.

She adds that she learned a great deal from the international students in the course, and they still keep in touch, and talk about their careers. “Working in change management you have to understand the differences in cultures.”

Overall she said that she is very satisfied with the Post-Degree Certificate in Human Resources Management and recommends it to anyone looking to get ahead in the HR field.

“You’re never going to forget the experience.”