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 - when 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 RecruitingBlogs.com 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.