Brutal, but brilliant: getting Chartered

By Adam Driver

What a day. A few weeks ago, I took part in one of the online CIPR Chartered assessment days. It was one of the toughest professional days in my career, and also the most rewarding.

#GetChartered – why did I bother?

I have immense pride in my career and how I hold myself. The way I act, the decisions I make, how I do things. It’s about confidence in my ability (imposter syndrome, anyone?) and being evaluated and pitted against peers and fellow professionals.

For me, becoming a Chartered practitioner is a prestigious accolade. It is about being at the top of my profession, proving my abilities and – as w*nky as it sounds – being the best of the best. 

Secondly, my late father was a Chartered engineer, and I always admired how proud he was of achieving that – something that took a lot of hard work and dedication.

Coming clean

In honesty, this is the second time I have gone for it.

The feedback from my unsuccessful attempt this June was that I was ‘borderline’, and I thankfully got a second chance to come back. That said, June was a huge sucker punch to my confidence. Took a while to get over, yet I feel anything like this should be tough to achieve.

However, I also wasn’t ready in June. I was in the throes of launching my new business and had two big pitches that stole my attention. For one, I was working until 1am finishing it off, on the morning of the assessment day. So, yeah…. Don’t do that. 

I read the case studies and prepped the questions – but not enough – and didn’t know the CIPR Code of Conduct in enough detail/didn’t refer back to it as much as I should have. 

What did it entail?

As many other, more eloquent folk have laid out (including Liz, Sarah and a great webinar by Michelle and Ruth), the day starts a few weeks before, when you get given the case studies & starter questions.

Without giving too much away, for me these three topics were on the wider topics of strategy (importance of measurement and evaluation), ethics (on a PR tender for a controversial state client) and leadership (style and skills of a leader). These are different each time.

On the virtual day, there are four key sessions, sandwiched between an introductory and wash-up call. Each session looked at the strategy, ethics and leadership articles and the assessor asks questions to individual participants, based on the articles shared beforehand.

During the sessions, you have the opportunity to interject and come back on points made by your peers. It’s about balanced, reasoned debate. Make the most of this.

My advice?

  • Don’t take it for granted –  yes you’ve been working for years, but this is not an easy process. Make sure you feel ready;
  • Be concise but coherent – I was not comprehensive enough in my explanation. Make sure you are clear in what you are saying. Give real world experience and examples;
  • Know the Code of Conduct back to front, and refer to it;
  • Use examples – from your background OR what you would do in that situation. Don’t worry if you’ve not managed a team of twenty or worked for a global agency. Use things that are relative to you and how you would approach things; and
  • Interact with the other participants – Chartership is all about holding your own in the company of your peers. There is more than one way to answer the leading questions…

Get in touch if I can answer any questions, or help you decide on making the move to being Chartered. Want to know more about getting Chartered? Drop me an email

For more information, visit the Get Chartered page on the CIPR website, that includes finding out if you are eligible, tips and advice, the Chartership handbook (READ IT) and how to register.

It was undoubtedly a tough day, but probably THE most worthwhile in my professional life. Believe in yourself, treat it with the respect it deserves and give it a shot!

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