You Can Live Without SHRM, Trust Me…

Jessica Lee Jessica Lee, Leadership

I talk a lot of junk about SHRM – and there are plenty of reasons to make jokes (if you care to, revisit some of the reasons by going here, and here, and here). But this isn't about poking at the SHRM beast with my little dagger. Let's stop and have a quiet moment of reflection. What do you get from SHRM? And you can't answer "it's to be a member of a tribe" – the tribe has 250,000+ members. Really, what do you actually use SHRM for? And if you were to stop your membership, how would you do without? Would you miss your monthly HR Magazine?

I've been membershipless for about three years now. Your HR life won't end if you abandon SHRM – trust me. Here's where I'm currently getting my fill and how I'm doing without…

Community + Networking
  • To bounce ideas off of one another and exchange best practices, jump into social media to build your community and relationships. The best turnover tool and lesson I've ever received was from the HR Capitalist himself. If you're reading the FOT blog, that's a great starting point. 
  • Everyone loves a good conference for networking, for the escape, for the fresh charge of energy… no doubt your travel budget may be in jeopardy right now though. Attend free webinars or conferences being put on by your legal counsel or other talent management communities. I've attended both free and paid webinars by the Conference Board and Human Capital Institute. There are always other great offerings by vendors and smaller organizations. My FOT colleague, Kelly, wrote about a local group she joined in the DC area. Do a search on the web to see what else exists in your 'hood. Besides… how was your last conference experience? Personally, the big ones for me have always been so vendor-centric… and certainly that has a place, but for actual learning, I gain so little. 

News + Information

And these are just some of the places I turn to in lieu of SHRM. My firm is also testing out a membership with the HR Leadership Council through the Corporate Executive Board. I don't have an endorsement yet, but we're playing with the service and I'm seeing some value thus far for its white papers, case studies and endless samples/templates. And as for more specialized areas of HR? SHRM isn't the place. Drill down with folks like ERE, ASTD, and World at Work

There are some services that SHRM provides that will never be replaced – HRCI will always be there to certify you as a PHR, SPHR or GPHR… and I don't need or want a replacement. That has its place. And when you are first starting out in HR, I wouldn't quite recommend throwing out your little SHRM membership card. Learn the fundamentals there; master the basics. But, once you've stretched your wings and have gotten some of that down pat, once you've gotten your PHR and are ready to think critically about your role in the HR world beyond the fundamentals, consider stepping away. And once you've made that leap? I would issue this challenge to you – can you learn some great lessons from non-HR pros about how to do your job? 

(PS: Check out some thoughts on that tip from my FOT colleague, William - staying current in your profession, regardless of what you do.)