I was one of the very first SPHR's in the State of Texas back in 1993 and at that time the certification was practically unknown. Also at that time one only had to recertify twice to be "lifetime" certified. After doing this and recertifying 5 times I lost interest, not in continuing to increase my knowledge of the craft but, in paying hundreds of dollars every few years to be able to say I was an SPHR.
I agree that one should do it for what it is worth to themsleves but I have seen many SPHR's and PHR's who can pass a test but who can't cut the mustard where it comes to doing the job.
@Eric - I'd like to think there is a connection between knowledge and execution as well. I've seen some instances where that isn't the case (as I'm sure you have too.) Thanks for the comment.
@ET - I have seen more postings asking for the S/PHR also. I think it's great for certification! Thanks for adding to the conversation.
I don't think employers really understand what the PHR/SPHR is, but I have see it as a requirement in more and more job postings. I think it's become a thing that differentiates you in a crowded field of experienced candidates.
I'd think that most employers, if given two candidates, both with 5 years of great and equal experience, and great and equal education, with great personalities that would be a good fit for the organization, would choose the candidate with the certification over the candidate without it. Beyond that, within an organization, I don't think employers care too much about it.
Certification demonstrates that the individual understands the balanced body of knowledge that comprises the practice of Human Resources.
The comment is correct, it does not mean that an individual can effectively apply and balance the conflicting demands of the practice. However, informed employers know that they have a better chance of hiring an HR professional that can deliver the goods, if they have demonstrated the fundamental understanding (and personal initiative and investment) by certification.