This is a fairly hot-button topic for me, especially considering my field of expertise. The author of this article is right, HR people used to just be the people who handled payroll or on-boarding, but now HR is becoming a field that has a position with the executives. How can you be sure that you’re hiring someone who really knows what they’re doing? There is the possibility as he points out that you can ask for some sort of certification like what SHRM has, but depending on how test design and the training/experience of the test-taker line up, you can’t be really sure that you’re getting what you pay for.
As a part of this article, the author brings up the topic of attorneys and lawyers being licensed. An interesting twist of laws exists that makes it technically illegal for someone trained in I-O Psychology use the words “psychology,” “psychologist,” or “psychometrics” when describing and advertising their services unless they’re licensed. However, the licensing procedure is heavily skewed to those people who have Clinical psychology training, and makes it nearly impossible for someone with an I-O degree to get a “license.”
As it stands, most I-O psychologists simply are very creative with the language they use to talk about what they do, and the laws that exist appear to be very difficult to enforce. Additionally, these laws were initially put in place to protect clients from disreputable people claiming to be psychological therapists. However, the power differential that exists in that relationship is flipped when one considers how an I-O psychologist functions. There’s really little in common between a client seeking psychological intervention and a business seeking to improve its selection of new employees. One has a great deal of power to sue a disreputable psychologist and the other is on the other end of the power spectrum.
So, how do you gauge for HR proficiency? Another article shows that many businesses are beginning to rely less on specific degrees and more on assessing for the abilities needed. Other companies are using custom-built cognitive ability tests to determine if executives are suited for positions. While a license for HR and I-O psychology professionals might be useful, there are a lot of questions and issues that would need to be addressed before it would be possible to successfully implement that process.