The Spring HR and Recruiting/Staffing conference season is almost complete (we have the exciting SHRM Annual Conference still upcoming in at the end of June). I must say, I have thoroughly enjoyed the 2011 conference season. Most of the sessions I attended at ERE Expo Spring 2011 and at the SHRM Talent & Staffing Management conferences were excellent! The networking and vendor conversations were all great. Both of these conferences are truly different from one another, which makes them both must-go events.
Caveat here… some snarky humor is coming in this paragraph. One of the most important things that came out of this, the 2011 Conference Season, was the true arrival of the “CelebutaHRd”. You know what I may be talking about… those people who are self-appointed, social media climbers, HR vendor types, who have been crowned by the ether of the social media world as “Celebrities in HR”. Or, as I call them, CelebutaHRds. For example, here are these people, many of whom have never been (or very briefly were) in an corporate HR or Recruiting leadership role, and are out in the social media-sphere spouting out edicts on how our profession sucks, how HR is “not at the table”, how this tool or that tool will change our industry, etc. At the recent ERE conference, let me say, that the conference was so full of CelebutaHRds…that I counted no less than half of the main room full of people not paying attention to the sessions, but typing away with Hoot Suite, Tweetdeck, or some other site blaring away in their faces so that they could be consistently be building more inbound marketing and enhance their own sphere of influence to do whatever with. How could they be actively participating in the live discussion?
What is up with this phenomenon? I have been in this game for a long time, and there have always been “celebrities” in our profession. But, with social media… there are people who have built up audiences to listen to their (often excellent, often not) commentary. Much of the commentary is often “snarky” and controversial… some of it is very valuable. But in the end, 95% of the CelebutaHRds are not really HR folks. They are often more “observers” of the function, and a few seem to have a deep-seeded disdain for the function. Where are all of the voices of people who are IN or WORKING in the profession? Why do these people work for vendors trying to sell to the profession and are not IN the profession? Caveat– of course, I am a “vendor” to the profession too… but I will qualify this… I spent a long time running global recruiting and staffing functions and living in the HR world. I learned a lot during that time, and I also made a lot of mistakes that have helped me in my role as an advisor to the profession. I have also spent the bulk of my time in consulting (more than 10 years now), actually doing work with our clients, not “selling” them or building out my own “celebrity”. I wrote this blog article and am posting into the world of social media too — could I be a CelebutaHRd too? Maybe, partially.
Many of the CelebutaHRds are folks that may have had a very small part of their career in the HR or Recruiting profession and now they are “experts” in the world of HR by observing us, not by “living with us”. There are all sorts of people out in the social media sphere now spouting all sorts of observations about the profession without actually really being in it. I actually saw a tweet from one of these folks saying something along the lines of “why is it so hard to get these HR people to like being sold to?”.
Social media is a huge game-changer for all of business… especially HR. But, most of the voices that are now building influence online (called “influencers”) are not HR people at all. And, the audience in the HR/Recruiting social media world, who are they? Spending time in the HR/Recruiting social media world its really hard to find more HR practioners and true “subject matter experts” than self or social media-appointed “influencers” as actual members of the “audience”. Many cliques have emerged of CelebutaHRds…”influencers” influencing other “influencers”!? So, what I have found is that so many of the early-adopters of social media in HR/Recruiting are the folks who have time. That’s right… they have the time. To be able to consistently monitor the web for content to push out to social media, to be able to effectively research and author content, or simply write rants and opinions takes time… time away from actually “doing” or practicing HR/Recruiting. There are so many “meetups”, “tweetups”, “unconferences”, and even old-school conferences filled with CelebutaHRds and their followers (usually other “influencers”), all talking about how to leverage and actively participate in social media. Where are the real HR/Recruiting leaders?
Here is my point: HR/Recruiting practitioners must start taking an active role as both voices to be heard and the audience that hears them. Social media is here to stay, and to avoid active participation and leadership is a huge mistake. Giving up the leadership of both the voices of influence and the audience that shapes how influence is implemented and executed is a huge scary and a huge misstep. To the CelebutaHRds… thank you for being early adopters of social media voices and audiences… now its time to help marshall our industry practioners to join you and truly have them do what we have always done… help shape the future of our industry, together.