HR People Think They Are Ugly – And That’s Getting In The Way of Organizational Effectiveness…

I’m going to say this in the nicest way possible…

HR pros as a whole have the outward-facing self-esteem of the 1976-77 Tampa Bay Bucs – the team that holds the recor

d for the most consecutive losses in the NFL (26 losses in a row).

Which is a nice way of saying HR people aren’t exactly confident in their personal attractiveness level. Which is a nice way of saying they think they’re too ugly to go on display. Don’t believe me? Here’s 3 examples from my life on the road this year, none of which should be the case:

Example 1 – I’m talking to someone about some potential work Kinetix can do for them, and I notice the capable HR leader in question doesn’t have a LinkedIn account – at all. It’s obvious the HR pro in question has the right skills and abilities to be upwardly mobile, and when I press them about having a LinkedIn profile – it all comes down to the need to put a picture up there. Wow. BTW, I guilted this talented HR pro into creating a LinkedIn profile over the next weekend, and they did it, complete with a picture. Attractiveness level? Check. There was no problem. The problem was in her head.

Example 2Tim Sackett and I are doing a corporate speaking gig, and Tim throws a LinkedIn account up on the screen profiling an HR team member in the audience so we can break down “opportunities” in their LinkedIn profile. One of the opportunities was the fact that she had no profile picture. Upon extreme questioning, the female HR pro indicated she doesn’t use a picture due to the fact that other women were “Katty” (that’s right, I spelled it with a K – deal with it, suckers) about how she presented herself. Again, there was no problem with attractiveness, it all came down to self-esteem and a willingness to put yourself out there.

(Bonus – maybe we should stop tearing each other apart in HR, especially female to female – read Laurie’s post here for more on that)

Example 3 – I’m helping some good HR folks get an organizational video approach off the ground. As you might expect, adoption of an organization-wide approach to video can be tricky to say the least. The HR pros charged with leading the initiative? They wanted to be behind the camera. You could actually see them running to grab the camera so there was no chance of them being in front of it.

You’re right. I don’t have any stories like that about HR guys, although I’m generally not thrilled when I see myself on camera (need a tan, the guns tend to dominate the frame, etc.). That’s probably fodder for another post, by someone’s who not a… how shall I say this…. a dude…

But here’s what I do know – whatever the cause of the self-esteem issues related to looks or simply wanting to avoid putting yourself out there in public for all to view, be critical of, etc – the fact that HR pros actively avoid sharing their image/likeness via new mediums is hurting their organizations.

If you want the organizational effectiveness/engagement benefits that social, photo apps and benefits can provide, you have to participate. HR and recruiting pros have to lead in this area. Otherwise, it’s hard to get people to follow.

We’re doing an interesting webinar this Thursday (11/29, 12pm Central) entitled Video Killed the Radio Star: How Collaboration Tools and the BYOD Movement Are Reshaping the Way HR & Recruiting Pros Get S#*T Done”. We’re going to weave in and out of some trends – the Bring Your Own Device thing, the fact that more and more of your meetings include multiple remote teammates – then talk about how a fresh approach to video can increase employee engagement and organizational effectiveness by simply getting back to face to face interactions. Even when you’re hundreds of miles away from each other.

Register for the Webinar today – it’s good stuff. But remember, technology doesn’t mean a damn thing, and you can’t lead, unless you’re willing to participate.

Hit us in the comments with your stories related to HR Pros actively avoiding sharing their likeness with the world. Feel free to rate the person on a scale of 1-10 related to attractiveness. Since you’re in HR, I’m sure you’ll give them a 7 – you sell out…

FOT Background Check

Kris Dunn
 Kris Dunn is Chief Human Resources Officer at Kinetix and a blogger at The HR Capitalist and the Founder and Executive Editor of Fistful of Talent. That makes him a career VP of HR, a blogger, a dad and a hoops junkie, the order of which changes based on his mood. Tweet him @kris_dunn. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard the good word, he's also jumped into the RPO game as part owner of a rising shop out of ATL, Kinetix. Not your mama's recruiting process outsourcing, that's for sure... check 'em out.


  1. China Gorman says:

    I found the perfect solution: a caricature that makes me look more attractive than I am — and still professional-looking.

  2. Julie says:

    Guilty as charged. You make some very good points. I’ll see what I can do about gathering up my courage…

  3. Ron says:

    Kris, I also see this take another form among HR pros. It’s the use of self-deprecation in working with clients and stakeholders. I work with a lot of pros that have to be in front of clients. There is a role for humor and self-deprecation in diffusing situations, linking with people, quieting a dominant personality, or making your point. For some reason, more often than average, HR folks always turn on themselves.

    “You know if I can figure out how to use this HRIS, then anyone can…” “I’m going to spend some time walking through this because everyone knows I have an issue with math…”

    I get that it is a neutral way to address many situations, but when you use it all the time, I start questioning your credibility and ability to do the job.

  4. Kris Dunn
    Kris Dunn says:

    China – great workaround. I got a post in me about workarounds to this…

    Julie – you can do it!!!!

    Ron – so true. It’s almost if you use that approach, you’ve got to hit them with big value shortly thereafter or it’s hard to recover….


  5. Julie II says:

    Hmmmmm. Might this mean that some HR pros are subconsciously passing on certain candidates because they “don’t look the part” in their profile pictures?

  6. Phoebe Z says:

    I moved from a corporate setting to a natural foods retail setting last year, which has caused me to become frumpier by the day. I look at my LinkedIn profile pic (which it is important to note, I didn’t add until three years after signing up for the site) and don’t recognize myself from when I used to blow dry and wear earrings. I miss the suits, but realized that I’ve always toned it down looks-wise from the beginning of my HR career – but that’s probably less related to being the HR lady and more due to the industries I’ve worked in. Teamsters, warehouses, and food co-ops don’t lend well to a sparkly, suited, heeled HR persona, whether it’s online or in person. Also, people are judgy.

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