Verifying credentials, experience can make certification challenging
The Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation is the professional standard for HR knowledge and expertise for most of Canada.
For people immigrating to Canada, it’s also an opportunity to be recognized at the same calibre as those whose education and experience is from within Canada.
It was an opportunity seized by Petra Tregillus. A Czech citizen and Canadian resident, she holds a master’s degree in international relations and HR management from the University of Economics in Prague. Tregillus discovered the CHRP designation when researching immigration.
“I wanted to pursue (the CHRP) just to be recognized the same as other HR professionals in Canada, with no difference as to whether I have my experience and education from outside of Canada,” says Tregillus, an HR and training co-ordinator at Canadian Tire. “It was to get on the same level and the same page.”
When reviewing the requirements, Tregillus found she easily met most of the criteria, which is the same for internationally educated professionals (IEPs) as it is for those educated within Canada:
1. Become a member of a provincial association.
2. Pass the National Knowledge Exam.
3. Meet the degree requirement.
4. Pass the experience assessment.
“It is critical for many reasons that the granting bodies for the CHRP recognize international experiences and education and are consistent with Canada’s overall approach to welcoming internationally trained professionals,” says Christian Codrington, director of regulatory affairs and member value at the Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) in Vancouver.
“Our labour force needs it and Canadian businesses benefit from that diversity.”
While the designation does not discriminate, IEPs may stumble when it comes to verifying international credentials or earning one year of work experience.
Those working towards the CHRP must hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. People educated in Canada are able to request a transcript from their university for a $10 to $15 fee.
If the degree was completed outside of Canada, a basic report must be obtained from the International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) or World Education Services. The cost is about $125.
For Catherine Ashford, a certification candidate originally from Surrey, U.K., the verification of her credentials wasn’t a challenge.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any hindrance at all,” says Ashford, manager of employee engagement at Deloitte.
“I had to request my transcript be sent to ICES and then request the report be sent to HRMA.”
The final step in earning the designation requires the certification candidate to demonstrate three years of professional experience in human resources. At least one year of experience must be from an organization in Canada.
For Tregillus, this was the only certification criterion she did not initially meet.
“It definitely is challenging to get your foot in the door and find that first opportunity,” she says. “Maybe it still plays a certain role that you’re coming from a different country, especially when it’s a non-English-speaking country — English is not my first language.”
But with some networking and time spent familiarizing herself with the profession in Canada, it wasn’t too long before Tregillus found that first opportunity — at Canadian Tire, hired full-time after a temporary position.
The experience was similar for Ashford.
“I knew I needed to get used to the Canadian business environment because, even though everyone speaks English, it’s still different,” she says. “I took a temp job for a few weeks and then they hired me. That’s how it all began.”
It was several years after landing that first job — and completing an HR management certificate — that Ashford decided to earn the designation.
“I felt that it was really important to have on my resumé,” she says. “Considering my degree is unrelated to HR, and my additional HR education, I felt that (the CHRP) tied it all up. It gives me credibility.”
Codrington agrees: “The knowledge component of the designation — the National Knowledge Exam — can serve to assuage employers that internationally trained HR professionals also know the nuances of Canadian practices; while the enabling competencies help to demonstrate that the professional with the CHRP possesses the soft skills necessary for success.”
Employers are looking for the designation, says Tregillus.
“Generally, it’s expected throughout Canada,” she says. “When you look at the postings for HR jobs, every single one mentions the CHRP designation as an asset or preferred. It opens more opportunities if you have the designation.”
“It takes a lot of time and energy,” she says. “But... it’s worth it.”
Erin Breden is a communications specialist at the B.C.-based Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) in Vancouver. Visit www.hrma.ca for more information.