Buyer Beware: HR Advice From Bloggers Is Sketchy

I make a decent living as a Human Resources consultant and blogger. People pay me for advice and counsel.

I am not sure why.

While I can support myself and dole out advice on everything from strategic HR to recruiting, I never take my own advice. I know what needs to happen in your workplace and in your office. In my life? I like the road less traveled, baby.

So here is a list of advice that I have given in the past week that I can’t seem to swallow.

Assume good intent.

I just advised a colleague to chill out and assume good intent during a difficult conversation. That's good advice for you, too. Doesn’t matter whether it’s company-wide layoffs, the ambiguity of a new CEO, or a disagreement between you and the guy who loads the raw-stock-machine. Employees should always be respectful to one another.

But in my life? I will break you down like a side of beef if you get on my bad side.

Sometimes it’s important to be nice. Other times, it's critical to be cynical and jaded. No matter what your perky HR lady tells you, don’t always assume good intent. Keep a smile on your face but keep your guard up.

A gap on a resume means trouble.

As a recruiter, I am suspicious of you. If you quit a job before having another job lined up, I will never hire you. The inability to “tough it out” at a bad job is the single biggest indicator of stupidity and immaturit

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Oh yeah, me? Well, I just quit a job without having another job. I like the pressure of doing something new. But I have the freedom to mess around with my life and my finances because I don’t have children and I have someone who helps me pay the mortgage. And I would never let a chumpy recruiter judge my knowledge, skills and abilities based on my resume.

Your life is probably different than mine.

Pay it forward.

When life hands you lemons, someone else is in the background making you a tall, cool glass of lemonade. Your success is rooted in the success of others. You should work hard to close the karmic loop in your life. Give back before it's even expected of you.

Meanwhile, I’m over here sulking and being selfish. When something good happens to me, I am about three days late in thanking the person who made it possible. Oops. I mean well.

(No, wait, I don’t.)

I’m working on it. There is always 2013.

I love my HR blogging brethren but I want you to remember that the best HR advisors out there are working through their own quirks and idiosyncrasies. They sound great on the internet. Their personal and professional lives are filled with long lists of mistakes and messy, confusing relationships — just like yours.

Buyer beware.


FOT Background Check

Laurie Ruettimann
Laurie Ruettimann is a former HR leader and an influential speaker, writer and marketing advisor. Her work has appeared in many mainstream print publications and major news media outlets. You can find her on twitter at @Lruettimann.


  1. John says:

    Totally agreed. I particularly like your point about not quitting your current job before starting a new one. On this note, another thing I hear people complaining about is how to quietly look for a new job without letting people know they’re actually looking. One great way I’ve heard to do this is creating an anonymous profile through Whitetruffle. Seems like it works pretty well. Check it out!:

    • laurie ruettimann says:

      Oh come on, John. You work at that website or you’re a PR hack. Go take that comment elsewhere.

  2. jessica lee says:

    well, i take offense, as a sometimes HR blogger.

    i think that’s an unfair sweeping statement when there are some lovely HR bloggers WHO ARE STILL PRACTITIONERS and in the trenches and have great advice because they still have awesome, amazing perspective given they are grounded in the real stuff.

    not to say that all non-practitioner bloggers are awful or don’t get it. but i”ve gotta give a big ups to the ladies and gents who are still doin’ it and doin’ it well.

    • laurie ruettimann says:

      Oh sheesh, JLee. So quick to offend. Come on.

      This past year, my team made a list of HR blogs:

      If we apply the tools we love as HR professionals — the 9 box grid or the bell curve — we both know that most of these bloggers fall in the center of the box and in the middle of the curve. Statistically, most HR blogs are average. Few are amazing. Some are downright awful.

      And the practitioner v. thought leader argument isn’t fair, either, because China Gorman and Sue Meisinger are writers/publishers who no longer practice HR but have something to say about the world. I think they’re better than the guy who was coached out of his organization, can’t find a job and started to blog. Yeah, he’s trench HR — but that trench is nowhere you and I want to hang out.

      I think you’re right that a broad brush isn’t the right approach. I simply made a statistical implication in this blog post: very few HR blogs are great so buyer beware. 😉

  3. Joel Kimball says:

    JK rolls with:

    1) Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Always. I’ll assume you’re straight till you prove you’re not… but I always have a backup plan. (see also “I Wanna Be Nice, But This It Not My First Rodeo”)

    2) Nope, the resume gap is always trouble. You? You ARE different. This is why you’re more an independent contractor/bidnesswoman than a paycheck hack like me. Me? I’ve had a “job” since I was 12, and can prove it. I expect those we’re looking at for Big Chairs to have at least some continuity. Entry level? A gap is fine.

    3) Always say “Thank You!” More importantly, mean it. Your people spot a fake a mile away. My folks love me. Why? Cause I love them! And trust them, give them feedback, take their counsel, set them straight when they’re off track…but I always say “:thank You!” And I mean it. And they know.

    Laurie, I’m disappointed you forgot your most important contribution to humanity(tm) – “TEAMBUILDING IS FOR SUCKERS!” Dropped that one on the big boss the other day in an appropriate context – he loved that coming from his HR guy!

    Brilliant stuff as always. Slainte, and Happy Holidays to all the FoT’ers!

  4. Joel Kimball says:

    PS that Muppets pic is the coolest since the video of them doing NWA “F@#$ tha Police”. Epic.

  5. Chris A. says:

    I really dont understand the beef with gaps in a resume. If you’re able to have some money saved up and dont need to worry abou it I see nothing wrong with taking a few months between looking for a job.

  6. Shannon says:

    I don’t read blog posts that are sponsored by a company trying to sell something (in our business, it’s usually a tech vendor of some kind). What can I say? I’m jaded.

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