Who Are These HR Pros Giving Such Bad Advice?

RJ Morris Bad HR, Career Paths, HR (& Life!) Advice, RJ Morris

As usually happens, smarter people than me wrote about an idea before I could hit publish.  Happens all the time.  I am more than a bit slower than Laurie Ruettimann, Allison Green and Steve Boese, all of whom wrote really good articles in the last few weeks about career and HR myths.  It’s early January, and apparently we are all already frustrated with bad HR this year.  Good start.

I agree with all of them that there is a bunch of crummy advice and myths out there, both for managers and candidates.  Those three writers do a really solid job of counseling people and offering solid advice.

Me?  I am more interested in calling HR and career professionals out by poking fun at the results of their mistakes.  Who are these fools putting this horrific advice out there? Please, for the love of God and less than 10% unemployment, stop.  You are killing candidates and their chances to get a good job by advising them poorly.

You might say, “Come on, R. J., are there really that many ill-informed career and HR professionals dispensing antiquated and destructive advice?”  I think there are, because we see the results of their “advice” frequently as candidates sabotage their own career searches.  You’ve seen them, too.  Check them out:

The broken foot—Some crazy HR hack tells a candidate to apply to any open position at a target company, just to “get his foot in the door” or get her “name out there.”  The candidate applies to 22 jobs in one night, ranging from janitor to vice president of infrastructure.  End result:  Company thinks th

e candidate is an idiot and rejects him for all openings.

The Fatal Attraction—the career services lady tells the aspiring graduate to follow up as often as he can–“gotta make sure they know you are interested.”  The candidate presents like Glenn Close, getting in the way of HR and hiring managers getting work done.  End result:  Hiring managers kiss the Telecom manager for finally installing Caller ID.

The Free Toaster—Parade Magazine quotes some quirky HR manager talking about a few wacky stories of folks pulling stunts to get hired.  Remember that cheesy guy who told you to bake your résumé onto the top of a cake with a note saying you “were made for the job?”  I guess this stuff does work once in a blue moon, but Vegas has the odds that it will work equal to the odds of me dating .   End result:  A lot of wasted effort and frustration.

Hey, HR professional, here’s an idea.  If someone comes to you for generalized career advice (not asking for a job, but really looking for advice), how about maybe acting like a professional?  Take your responsibility seriously.  Listen to their needs, give good counsel, give a resource or be quiet.  When appropriate, take informational interviews, treat referrals well, and perhaps even volunteer to provide career assistance to those in need.

Don’t tell the story about the one guy in a thousand who wore a sandwich board résumé on a downtown sidewalk and got a job as a VP.  That is BS.  Focus on helping a candidate increase her odds of success across a large percentage of employers, and feel good about representing the profession.

What bad advice have you heard/read? Hit me in the comments…

RJ Morris
I have spent the last 20 years of my professional life advising leaders to make great talent decisions to drive business results. In my current gig, I lead talent acquisition and management for a multi-billion-dollar, 100% employee-owned construction company. I geek out on analytics, succession planning, etc. and love it when we position folks to do their best work. That’s fun stuff. I tease bad HR people, because I think we can all do better, myself included. That’s fun, too.