“You’ve been lied to, suckers. Social media won’t help you find a job.” Laurie Ruettimann, and my response

I love Laurie Reuttimann’s blog, The Cynical Girl. She tells it like it is, no holds barred. I’ve quoted or referenced her over the years. After seeing the title of a recent post I was really interested in seeing what she had to say. In this post I want to share my thoughts/responses with my users and job seekers. Her post is excellent, you can read the whole thing here.  Most of the quotes below are not from her, but HR people.

“You are being lied to by the internet. There is nothing here for you, especially a job.”

I agree with the “you are being lied to,” but I think the bigger issue is that people are looking for the silver bullet, and this new-fangled Internet thingy seems shiny and bullet-y.  So yeah!!  Actually… no 🙁  The internet is a tool, websites are a tool, and none of this replaces the need to find and nurture real relationships (aka, networking).  Maybe you’ll get a job, or the next few jobs, just by being online, but I’m all about long-term career management, and using the same diluted, saturated tool that everyone else is using, and using it the same way they are using it, is not a good long-term strategy, imo.

“One HR professional told me, ‘If you have time to be on Facebook, you are not fully engaged at your job. I don’t want you.’ “

I can’t agree with this, partially because of the comment below about Facebook.  I don’t spend much time on Facebook anymore, except as a quick way to see what’s going on with my friends and family.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time unfriending a lot of people, even quote-unquote-friends.  This comment from the HR professional makes him/her sound like an old-fashioned, out-of-touch, stodgy person who has no friends or family worth staying in touch with.  But I know some people love to get updates and are fulfilled by staying in touch through Facebook.  Some people rely on Facebook messaging as much, or more, as they rely on their email.  I’m not talking about frilly stuff, I’m talking about scheduling piano and dance lessons, kid get-togethers, etc. Who’s the stodgy HR pro to tell anyone they can’t communicate on Facebook?  This generalized statement sounds a bit too much to me.

“Don’t have a personal brand. ‘If you have a personal brand, you aren’t dedicated to the company brand.’ ” 

This statement sounds like it comes from an HR pro that hears the phrase “personal branding” with a lot of bias, and hype.  First of all, I teach that everyone has a brand (including the stodgy HR person from the last comment).  EVERYONE has a brand. Your brand is either intentional or unintentional, but you have a brand.  I agree that if you work for a company, whether you are an employee or a contractor, that you need to make it clear that you are dedicated to the company brand, to some degree.  However, to aborb the company’s brand and have it be yours can suck pretty bad when some HR person calls you into a dimly lit room to lay you off… and you now you are stuck having neglected your own personal career management because you were “dedicated to the company brand.”  When the company is not dedicated to YOU, how can you be dedicated to it to the point of neglecting your career?  Ask the 15,000-ish Dell employees you just got laid off how they feel about that.

“Don’t believe in the false promise of a social network. ‘I like to hire people I know. After that, people who are recommended to me. I want to know you or know someone who knows you. That’s how I hold people accountable for hires.’ ”

I agree with this statement, however, the HR person hires other HR people.  You need to read more into this statement and generalize it so that you understand that you must develop a relationship, not with the HR person, but with the hiring manager!  So how do you get to know the hiring manager?  Meet them!  Do an “informational interview” (but never call it that), or go to the network meetings they go to, or volunteer where they volunteer, etc.  And how do you get recommended to the hiring manager?  You meet people they work with, and you have a brand (that is, you make it easy for people to understand who you are, and perceive you the right way!).  You can accomplish some of this, even much of this, through social networks.  Yes, I do believe that.  But don’t use your social strategy to get out of real, face-to-face, human interactions. Use it as a tool to do what it’s good for and to facilitate finding those meetings that you go to.

“Don’t use Facebook to connect. ‘I’m there to watch my kids.’ ”

I agree with this.  Like I said, I have loved unfriending people on Facebook because my posts and family’s posts are really part of a life that I don’t need broadcast to professional acquaintances.  Here’s an example… would you go to the hiring manager’s house to talk to them?  Would you go to their church to talk to them?  Would you go to the same vacation place to talk to them? I’m sure some people would, but my point is there are some places that are appropriate for prospecting and business meetings, and other places (especially those that are a lot more personal), are inappropriate. Respect those boundaries (which will be different for different people).

“Don’t depend on LinkedIn to connect. ‘I go in there about once a month to clean it out.’ ”

I love this statement because it backs up what I’ve been following for years – look at what Compete.com says about LinkedIn, and how often people go there.  Not that often!  I’m not here to rain on anyone’s parade… like someone who wrote a book on LinkedIn, or does training on LinkedIn… because I still think LinkedIn is a great tool.  But “depending on LinkedIn to connect” (or “to” anything else) is like depending on a hammer to build a house.  Perhaps you can, if you have enough time and are stubborn enough, but it is a lot easier to build a house with all the right tools instead of just one tool that is optimized for a few tasks.  Use LinkedIn as a tool, and figure out what other tools you should use!  And, the HR pro who goes into LinkedIn about once a month shows what a horrible networker he/she is.  I’m guessing that once this person is in transition, he or she will be beefing up their LinkedIn profile, presence, groups and network.

“Skip Twitter. ‘I am the world’s biggest Kai Ryssdal fan. Can I listen to NPR on Twitter?’ ”

I have fallen out of love with Twitter over the years.  When it got more mainstream it seemed to have gotten more sleazy.  It’s just not a place I spend time.  The issue, though, is this: is your target audience spending time there?  Are people who might refer you to their boss spending time there?  Can you “brand” yourself there, to help those people understand what your expertise and interests are?   Just because HR people don’t hang out on Twitter doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  I’m not saying that you should, I’m saying to determine who is there and see if it is the right place for you to spend time and effort.

“This (social media) is the future….. But the future is not here.” 

I LOVE this quote from Laurie.  I don’t agree with it because it has been around for years (Facebook is ten years old, have ya heard?).  If you were trying to network into HR for your next job, perhaps I would agree with the statement (although there are HR people who like and spend time on social networks for professional reason).  But most of you are not trying to network into HR, you are trying to avoid HR as you get in front of a hiring manager, or someone who will recommend you to a hiring manager.  Ignore social tools at your own risk.  I bet your competition is not.

“Most people still find jobs through career websites, employee referrals and job boards.” 

This statement is too generalized for me.  I know it is true for some levels (minimum wage vs. $100+k salary), and for some industries (fast food vs. hard sciences) and some professions (entry level front desk admin vs product manager), but I am not sure I believe that “most people” find a job though any particular thing.  I remember a few years ago, after I got on the high horse of social media, I met with a guy who got a great job at a great company.  “How did you land this killer job?” I asked, knowing it was through networking, branding and LinkedIn.  “I applied to an opening on Monster.com,” he said.  Touché. Monster still works.

“So if you’re spending more than an hour/day on the internet with your job search, you are doing it wrong.”

 I can’t agree with this, either.  Some people only have an hour a day, others spend ten hours a day on their job search.  Some days you’ll spend hours just doing legitimate research. Some days you’ll spend an hour just applying to an opening through the horrid (usually broken) application system, because you talked to the manager and things are going well but they still said “oh, please apply online so you are in the system.”  And, “the internet” has a lot more useful tools than just Twitter… you might spend an hour on JibberJobber, or reviewing a dozen job postings to prepare for an interview you have coming up, etc.

“Get up. Get out. Get off the internet. Get yourself back to work!”

I totally agree.  In contrast to my thought in the last comment, I see too many people who hide behind the internet (email, social, soduko) and try to not do real job search stuff.  You need to know when it’s time to step away from the computer and do other things.  Again, use all the right tools for all the right reasons, don’t just keeping hammering when you need a saw or screwdriver.

One thought that keeps coming back to me, with all of these comments, is the advice that you hear at job clubs and from career counselors/coaches: GET AROUND HR!  Take their advice for what it is worth, but you also need to understand who is doing the hiring.  If HR has a small part in the hiring process, find out who has a big part.  And, I’ve worked with HR people before.  None of them were involved in hiring… they were involved in benefits, legal, etc.  But if they say “I’m an HR pro” and they are not involved in hiring, you might not give their advice as much credibility as someone who actually does hiring.


3 thoughts on ““You’ve been lied to, suckers. Social media won’t help you find a job.” Laurie Ruettimann, and my response”

  1. With the greatest of respect to Laurie, do people pay any attention to HR when it comes to recruitment?

    I would have thought that anyone using social media to source a new role would seek out hiring managers, not HR people.

    In the same way that good salespeople don’t waste their time pitching to gatekeepers.

  2. @Thea, some people get really passionate about the name of this type of meeting… “informational interview” has some baggage and connotation… and reframing it to even “informational meeting” or “can I get 20 minutes on the phone with you” can help change the tone of the meeting/call.

Comments are closed.