I really, REALLY hate the internet right now. I had just finished reading the latest in a string of bad advice articles (from “experts”, on LinkedIn of course) and my mother pointed out a RIDICULOUSLY inappropriate and unfunny Facebook status on my 16 year old son’s wall. (Yes, he had been hacked by one of his idiot friends. Yes, 16 year old boys have warped ideas about what’s funny. But it’s on the bleeping INTERNET, where your grandmother and just maybe future bosses can read it for God’s sake.)
Lord, I hate the internet.
I was fortunate enough to grow up during a much safer time. I was always somewhat cautious of the kinds of pictures we took, because it meant taking our 35MM roll of film to Walgreens where the creepy dude would process our photos. Only rich people had video cameras, and there was no such thing as snapchat (thank goodness). I even started recruiting before the internet really took off. Most of my applicants came in from an ad posted in the newspaper, or word of mouth / referrals. It was a much simpler time.
Now EVERYBODY’S an expert. It used to be that candidates, say a warehouse manager, would know his job. He’d be the BEST warehouse manager he could be. He’d be ready for a new job, and we would meet. I’d talk to him about the role, help him prepare for the interview, and make sure he got a fair offer. He’d take the job, I’d collect my commission, and everybody wins. Hiring managers didn’t have to be recruiters. They just had to know how to interview for their openings and run their business. Candidates didn’t need to be recruiters. There wasn’t a lot of ridiculous salary “negotiating”, just fair and honest discussions. They were expected to know their jobs, not mine. Recruiters got to be RECRUITERS. We found people for jobs and jobs for people. Life was good.
Nowadays? With the power of the INTERNET? Oh, well you can find a “thought leader” or “subject matter expert” to give you whatever kind of advice you’re looking for. Do you think large multi-national corporations are the devil? Someone will back that up for you. Think all recruiters are slimy bastards getting between you and the job of your dreams? Yep, somebody wrote that one too. Thinking about working for a startup? Don’t! They’ll pay you with blocks of government cheese and make you work 22 hours a day! Unless you’re a cool kid, because everyone knows startups are the ONLY acceptable place to ply your mad skills. Someone, somewhere, will tell you only losers work for THE MAN.
The internet has made us STUPID. We’re more likely to take advice from a celebrity wannabe who’s got a hundred thousand followers over proven concepts from people actually doing the job. Because we like their answers better. If I’ve been rejected for a job, I want to believe it’s because the evil, soulless corporation has a black hole for an ATS. If I didn’t get the 20% increase I think I deserve when I change jobs, I want to believe it’s because my new boss is a cheapskate. Resumes MUST be dead, because no one is calling me about mine.
Bad advice and those that dish it out are not new. What has changed is that now all the world is indeed a huge, visible, instant gratification stage. We all have the opportunity to climb up on our soapboxes and get thousands of people to hear our message, no matter how ludicrous. Indeed, it seems the more sensational (read: bad) our stories are, the more popular we become. So let’s do ourselves a favor, even if it’s just for one evening. Step away from the computer. Put down the smart phone and pick up a book. Play a board game with your kids. Hug your spouse. Write a letter to your mother. And don’t call me out on the irony of posting this on the internet.