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The Coming Social Media Test for HR Pros...

I'm booked 4 times for 2009, at this point, for what has become an advocacy project for me - presenting 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. I've told this story before, but it's worth repeating - whenOld phone I asked how many folks knew what a blog was in a fall 2008 presentation, 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 remained in the air.

Guess what?  It's not good enough.  Here's another reason why from William Uranga at Talent Alchemy:

"One of my standard interview questions is “How do you stay current in your profession?”  The response usually includes a mixture of the following: magazines, newspapers, books, associations and conferences.  That is a “good” answer, but it is falling short more and more.

Why?  There continues to be an explosion of new content and sources of content.  In 2006, Google indexed 25 billion web pages.  For recruiting, take with almost 15,000 members and that is one of the many cadre of recruiters.  On top of that, how do you cover the content for your marketplace where you recruit, your industry in which you recruit and your skill sets that you recruit?"

William's talking about candidates in general at TiVo, but why should it be different for HR pros?  To his point, the future will bring each HR pro a social media test related to professional development.  One such test is the simple question, "Are you using social media to make yourself better?".  That question might come from an interviewer, or it may come from a new boss (an HR boss or the CEO you work for) as a quick way to measure how current you are, both in your own profession and technology.

If you answer "I belong to national SHRM and go to the local SHRM's lunch meetings", someone in your future isn't going to be impressed, because you're making the minimum investment in your career. 

The day may not be here yet, but the competent HR pro 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. 

Remember the Internet?  Turns out it wasn't a fad, and neither is the always evolving field of social media.  Don't be roadkill when you're asked the question. 


Jim Durbin

Excellent point Kris. I think we've reached the point where it's okay to say that it's not okay for HR to understand what's going on in social media.

It's mainstream with the best jobseekers, and in the next year, it will be mainstream with the majority of jobseekers (and thus employees), and it's time to get on the boat.

Martin Couzins

There is a a fair amount of community interaction around sites such as and in the UK, but I agree there is so much more potential for HR professionals in using social media and in particular online tools.

Steve Boese

Really good observations Kris, I have been trying (unsuccessfully so far) to get more of my colleagues aware of the need to understand and engage the social media space. Is the presentation you give uploaded on the blog or on Slideshare for viewing?

Paul Hebert

And I would submit it is even more about "contributing" versus consuming. As a hiring manager I would be more impressed if the candidate had contributed some thoughts to the posts read - or had their own site, twitter, etc.

hmmm...Does this mean I should print out each comment I've ever put on a blog and attach that to a resume?

Paul Hebert

including this one?

Paul Hebert

To follow up... here's a snippet from Ryan Healy's post on Employee Evolution today...

"Jarred Taylor works in the legal department at Google in Mountain View, CA. As far as dream jobs go, Google headquarters is probably right there at the top of a lot of lists. Jarred loves his position, and he’s pretty convinced that he got the job because of his blog.

“Everyone who interviewed me,” Jared says, “from the recruiter in the phone screen to the senior attorneys during the videoconference, asked me about the blog. ‘What do you blog about? Why? Give an example of something you’ve learned from what you’ve researched.’”
His blog didn’t have a huge following or a ton of readers, but the interviewers at Google understood that if Jarred took the time to write about his career interests in his free time, he would also go above and beyond at work. Including his blog on his resume allowed Jarred to get his dream job by standing out from the crowd."

Two points - he had the blog and the folks at google were interested.


Michael VanDervort

Who doesn't have ablog, or LinkedIn account, or use twitter? It is almost incomprehensible to me that HR professionals overlook these important tools.

Kris, you should add me to your follow on twitter. I tried to DM you today with an idea and couldn't send it!

twitter id = @mvndrvrt


@Michael V

Answer to your question--most of the HR folks I rub elbows with. Maybe it's my locale (buried in the frozen northeast), but like you, I'm amazed that anyone (HR, or not) isn't availing themselves of the technology and using it to their advantage.

twitter id=@jbomb62

Meg Bear

+1 for KD. Wonder how many years will pass for this to reach mainstream. My guess is 2 but I'm often wrong on that part.

Mindy Favreau

I'm a reporter for a business journal called Mainebiz, and I recently used this blog post as a jumping-off point to consider how HR professionals in Maine are using social media.

Check out the article here:

Kris -- thank you for your help with the article. I appreciate it.

Brett Hummel

While many HR professionals have not involved themselves in social media for recruiting purposes, I believe they are also missing another opportunity: integrating social media into their companies. Many people, especially Gen Y (the future of the workplace) have found ways to make them more productive in the workplace. I do not think that social media is the golden goose or will save the world; however, there is a tremendous opportunity for companies to connect with their employees in new ways. Just like companies are always looking for new ways to connect with customers, companies should look to connect with employees in new ways. It is HR professionals who must lead the charge to the adoption of these new forms of media because they are the main interface between management and employees.


Great article, but often the gap is not just a knowledge gap, but a "knowing-doing gap". It's a fast paced world and we often don't do a good job of showing people an organized way to get to the next level with clear learning and tools. Here's one: if HR people want to understand social media and how to incorporate it, they should sign up with one of the only social media education sites:

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