Who Are These HR Pros Giving Such Bad Advice?

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…


FOT Background Check

RJ Morris
R. J. Morris is based in the STL as the Director of Talent Acquisition and Management for McCarthy Building Companies, a multi-billion dollar national firm. Like many others in the FOT clan, he’s a sports nut who can endlessly draw the parallels between athletes, sports and the talent management game. I know, I know, as if we needed more of that. He has 10 years of practitioner experience leading talent efforts in corporate HR and another 7 years in leadership roles on the agency side, so he gets both sides of the desk. Talk to R.J. via emailLinkedInTwitter...


  1. Colby says:

    You’ve underestimated my love for cake…..

    But it will take a pie or better to get you that extra little bit at Merit time.

  2. R. J. Morris says:

    Pie? Now that is somehting that could open doors.

  3. Cindy says:

    Marketing – the unusual stunt, the flank attack, the ubiquitous “branding” – whether for the individual or a company is best left to experts. HR people are not marketing people; they simply copy and repeat the latest idea. I find that HR advice is seldom helpful largely because HR doesn’t understand the business. I know, I’m preaching to the choir but, really, this has been going on for decades. Where does it stop?

  4. Julie says:

    And here I thought that it was just an urban myth that actual HR people would give that kind of advice.

    However, candidates need to wise up…if the advice sounds flaky (baking a cake?) or stalkerish, then perhaps it’s best to smile, nod, and move on.

    Worst advice I have heard given: Candidates should start the interview off (disregarding any format/questions) by telling the interviewers that he/she would like to interivew them first to determine whether it’s worth continuing…

    …I believe I can answer that “worth continuing” question even before we start.

    • Greg Modd says:

      If that happened – I would probably say “I’m sorry but that’s not how this works. You’ll have an opportunity to ask questions at the end – which is now. Do you have any questions?” lol that is some TERRIBLE advice!

  5. R. J. Morris says:

    Julie-I agree with your comments about candidates owning their own search and needing to sift the good advice from the bad. The challenge, of course, is that, especially for those in transition, they are desperate and might assume that a person in the HR biz is credible. Many make bad decisions, agreed–I just wish they did not have people in the profession helping them make those bad decisions.

  6. I’ve been very lucky to receive only sound advice from my mentors. One of the best things they’ve told me is “I don’t know” which led us to further research and we both learned something. I think people in supervisory or mentor roles feel like they need to have all the answers and that is not the case. HR practices and laws change often. No one knows it all.

Comments are now closed for this article.

Contact Us | Hire FOT to Speak | About FOT