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These Stats Are Like an Asteroid to the Dinosaurs of HR...

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. WhenOld phone  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.


John R. Atkins

I have been following your conversation on social media off and on over the past few months, but I have to admit that I have not strayed much outside LinkedIn for recruiting purposes, and then only sporadically.

Where could I go -- books, presentations, blogs, etc. -- for a comprehensive introduction to other forms of social media and their applications to Human Resources?

Thank you

HR Minion

Nice post! We need more advocates like you talking about it.

I also wish more people would stop paying lip service to social media. They say they understand "The Facebooks" and "The Myspaces" but come on. I can't think of a faster way to lose credibility than that.

Michael Haberman, SPHR

You are right about this not being an age issue. As you know, since I make no secret about it, I am 57 years old. Yet I blog, I read blogs, I use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the HRM network. It is not about age. It is about being curious, intellectually curious. It is about embracing change. It is about NOT being stale in a profession that is considered by many to be the "dumping ground" for the "impaired executive or professional."

When I teach classes and ask some of the same questions you do I get many of the same numbers and responses that you got. I hear complaints about not having enough time. Time to do what? Shuffle papers? Time is a matter of priority and I consider being connected to "social media" a priority for my business, my profession and my life.

Who knows, I may be your oldest reader, but at least there are some of out there.


Hi Mike -

You are correct - because you've disclosed your age both now and in the past (I wouldn't have guessed it, you look my age in the pictures...), I would consider you the HR poster child for this not being an age thing.

Great point on the curious theme. That's really what it is. I need to do an interview with you to encourage others - open to that?

Thanks - KD

Michael Haberman, SPHR

Sure anytime.

Michael VanDervort


I am rather surprised at the lack of interest by HR people in web 2.0. I recently had a list of 8 factors for strategic success in HR and one item on the list was being an early adopter.

Numerous people questioned the inclusion of that item, and many said they "might be proved wrong" by LinkedIn.

It befuddled me that anyone who had an opinion on early adoption would think that LinkedIn is leading edge.

actually, it's scary.

Michael, thanks for pointing out that pushing paper is just a dodge for escaping from enhancing career skills that per Kris's post will obviously be crucial in the near future.

Rhetorical question: if you don't know how to use FaceBook, how can decide if using social media tools is a good way to do background checks? How do you assess efficiency and cost of social media as a source for recruiting talent? Hww do you provide advice on corporate communications policies or initiatives?

Time to go 21t centuries, dudes!

Full disclosure: I am 51. Younger than Michael, older than Kris.

Michael VanDervort

Joanne Bintliff-Ritchie

As a fellow member of the over 50 group, I can confirm that diving into social media is not a function of age. I am a TopLinked member and am in over a dozen LinkedIn groups including one I started and now manage, have 2 Facebook pages - 1 personal, 1 professional, regularly read at least a dozen blogs, and have used networking sites to identify prospects, communicate with people interested in topics I am, connect with old friends and former colleagues, etc. Embracing change is fun.


MV and Joanne -

Thanks for checking in. Keep spreading the word related to the value of the tools...

Thanks - KD

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