Late last week, I did another installment in what has become an advocacy project for me - I presented to our state HR conference on the glaring need for HR pros to pick up some skills using social media. Here's the deal - if you want the message delivered to any group you think has the need, call me. I'm a big enough believer that I'll find the time to make it happen, free of charge.
What I've found in talking to the average HR pro about social media is that usage is very, very low. If you read this or other blogs centered around the HR and Recruiting professions, you're bleeding edge. When I asked how many folks knew what a blog was, every hand went up. When I asked how many of the HR pros had read a blog in the past month, only about 5% of the group had. LinkedIn? About half the hands went up when I asked who had a LI account. When I asked how many had invited a colleague to join their LinkedIn network, half of those hands went down. When I asked how many had used LinkedIn to recruit, one hand in a big group was in the air.
That doesn't mean the audience wasn't a talented bunch. It just means that unless they embrace the tools, they run the risk of being dinosaurs at some point in the future.
Don't believe that? Consider these stats mined out of BusinessWeek:
"It’s a given that young people live in a high-tech world. For details, take a gander at some of the data compiled by Peter Schilling, who heads the IT department at Amherst College in Massachusetts. His IT Index, as he dubs it, shows, for example, that just 5 of 1,680 students—0.3% of the school’s enrollment—have landline phones, compared with 82% of Americans. The data also capture emerging tech preferences. Freshmen (average family income: $76,183) make up half of those on campus who own an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch.
In contrast to upperclassmen, first- and second-year students are also more likely to own Macs than PCs, for instance. And 89% of the incoming class applied online, vs. 33% in 2003. As for the total e-mail received on campus, 94% is spam, Schilling found. Finally, a note to orientation planners: When 99% of freshmen join Facebook groups before hitting campus, does it make sense to assume these kids haven’t met?"
Right now, a lot of HR pros can rationalize that they don't need social media skills because they aren't doing campus recruiting. As more and more of these classes come out and start looking for their 2nd and 3rd jobs, the competent HR pro or Recruiter is going to have to know how to use these tools, or they're going to be roadkill. Both externally (recruiting) and internally (multiple uses for engagement, retention, etc.), the tools are going to be as ubiquitous as Outlook. The only question is how quickly that critical mass hits.
Until then, the dinosaurs (don't email me with ageism rants, because this is about change and keeping skills fresh, not age) can survive. But, it's still a great way for you to separate yourself from the HR pack.