Tuesday, 3 January 2012

My New Year's Resolutions For HR

Do you recall the episode of Outnumbered in which Karen misunderstands the concept of New Year's Resolutions and, rather than making them for herself, she makes a list for her mum?

Well, dear HR Community, that's what I'm going to do for you today and tomorrow. Fortunately there are only two items on the list, but if we all stick to them, we'll make the world a far better place for everyone to live in!

Here's today's resolution:

We will check out the sources of any article before we distribute it to the wider world.

I have a specific issue in mind, and that is the oft-circulated and quite clearly untrue assertion that (and I quote) "90% of recruiters and hiring managers have looked a candidate’s social media profile (primarily Facebook and Twitter) as part of the screening process."

It isn't true. And ten seconds of thought would lead anyone to that conclusion. Are any of us actually gulllible enough to believe that 90% of (say) the companies in the FTSE 100 index (that's 90 companies if your maths isn't very good ... ) have HR Teams that have sufficient time to trawl through Facebook and Twitter profiles in search of Dark Secrets concerning their potential new recruits? Anyone who actually works in such an organisation will laugh out if you ask them if such activities are a normal part of their workload. There are far more pressing activities to complete and deadlines to meet than playing the HR supersleuth.

The reason that this myth is perpetuated is that we are encouraged to believe it by organisations with a vested interest in making people concerned about their online presence.

The particular offender here is Reppler who regularly feed the fires of candidate paranoia with alarming statistics on "the habits of hiring professionals." Get real HR people! Reppler are an "Online Image Management" business, whose marketing pitch is "Whether looking for a job or building up your career, it is important for your online image to represent you professionally and consistently." Their US-based research ("conducted among a random sample of 300 individuals involved in the hiring process at their company") does not stand up to scrutiny, and flies in the face of the facts.

They have a product or a service to sell, and they are appealing to the fear factor in the desperate (or possibly just the conscientious) applicant who appreciates that the current job market is a jungle, and who therefore wishes to use every tool at his or her disposal to give themself an edge over other competitors.

So please, please, please, dear HR colleagues: don't take such mouthwatering pseudo-facts at face value and mindlessly hurl them into the crowd. Read, think, and exercise some professional judgement and common sense before spreading unverifiable gossip!

I conclude this particular resolution by repeating the challenge previously made in the pages of this humble blog for anyone who is formally involved in the recruitment process to explain just how frequently they indulge in the Dark Practices that some would like us to believe.

Any takers?

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