Stage one: CIPR Chartered Practitioner qualification

I’m taking the CIPR Chartered Practitioner qualification and have just completed the initial stage.

I’ve been critical about the qualification in the past but after a recent debate with colleagues on the CIPR Council I’m putting myself through the process in a bid to experience the process and earn the right to comment.

I’m also blogging about the process and my progress.

The Chartered qualification is in three parts. There is an initial questionnaire that I’ve just completed; a formal paper on a topic related to the industry; and then a board interview.

An admission to kick-off: I assumed at the outset of this process that it would be straightforward. I wasn’t cocky you understand but I did expect to complete the first stage in an evening. It took at least a day, nearer two by the time I’d reworked sections.

The six-step online form lures you into a false sense of security. There’s some basic information to answer, education, career history and then questions about publics relation theory and practice as it relates to your personal viewpoint and career.

You can save the draft form online and retrieve it at any point with an email address and password. I didn’t like this system. I found it difficult to review and edit my work. I also have an inherent distrust of an online form for something so critical so I noted down all the questions and worked offline. It’s not a big deal.

The education and experience sections are the basic career information and experience that you complete for a LinkedIn profile. In fact I’m going to use my text to update my Linkedin profile. You’re asked to complete up to 100 words for each role.

The remainder of the application probes your personal leadership, strategic knowledge, attitude to learning, achievements and communication. There are 18 questions in all, each of which requires a 50 to 150 word response. Inevitably the responses err towards the upper limit. This is the bulk of the form and requires well thought-out evidence-based responses.

There’s a section that asks for any further examples from your career that will support your application or illustrate your suitability to achieve Chartered Practitioner status. Finally you are asked for two professional referees.

The completed application is approximately 3,000 words. I cut and pasted the content from my offline document into the online form. The hard copy print out that the system throws out runs to 12 pages of well-spaced A4 paper.

The cost of processing the Stage 1 application is £60. After you’ve completed the online form you’re bounced to a Paypal page to make a payment. Within 24 hours I received an email from the CIPR’s education officer Malcolm White saying that my application had been accepted and passed to the chief assessor for review.

I’ll hear whether I’m through to the Stage 2 paper within 10 days. I’ll keep you’d posted.

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.

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