We live in a world where social media is everything and nothing. It is everywhere but oftentimes fails us. We live in a weird, weird, world. I can’t help but think that this is what it must have felt like when automobiles first cruised around. You know… you are sitting on your horse on some country road just doing what you do… and all of sudden… vroom…… what the f@#! just happened? Vroom… then it happens again and again… and all of sudden it is commonplace and worse than that you see fewer things related to horses. Fewer blacksmiths, fewer people willing to “deal” with horse attitudes, etc.
Try to put yourself back then… would you have liked cars? Would you have owned one? Would you have been jealous of folks with bigger, faster and/or cooler cars? What would you have thought about this “new” technology? Envy, passion, hate, love, lust, ignorance, apathy, aggravation, etc., etc., etc.
Well, social media/social networking is like that for me… sometimes I love it and some days I pine for the horse and buggy days. I think my feelings about social are natural – or at least my therapist seems to think they are. <Smile> All this got me to an interesting space this week… what happens when brands collide? Specifically what happens when a corporate brand and a personal brand collide? Do we have coping skills to manage this stuff? No. But, like the car, social isn’t going away any time soon. So, how does HR coexist with candidates and/or employees who are social animals?
Bend your mind around this… candidates applying for a job within your firm… totally normal. This happens every day. But, one candidate has an unusually large and engaged social network. Read that to mean 5,000 friends in Facebook, 10,000 connections in LinkedIn, 100,000 followers in Twitter and 1,000 friends in Foursquare. You get the gist. Not just quantity but quality as well and her/his network is really engaged. Does this make her/him more hire-able (sp)? Or, are we secretly afraid of all that s%*t? I know the typical answer HR pros would give me. Like duh. What I’m asking you to do is really really think about this. Does it matter? Would you care? Does hiring this person make you more vulnerable than a normal (read: less connected) person, etc.? My take… I think HR folks are terrified of candidates with large networks. They’re afraid of what happens when things go badly and how they would have little or no control of these social megaphones. Again, my take. I own it.
Now think about employees… folks who have been on the job for some time… same scenario as above in terms of network… does this hurt or hinder one’s ability for upward mobility within your organization? Better than candidates, you know this person; you have some relationship with them, etc. But, with their megaphone, they can do what the f–k they want sans your outdated social media policy. Ask yourself… does a huge network help them or hurt them? My take… rinse and repeat from the last paragraph. I think of the relationship that HR has with employees is similar to my relationship with my Bose headphones. I love them. Especially on a plane with screaming kids near me… I love them. But my love is transitory at best. Meaning, I’ll love new headphones in 2 years from now when these wear out. Okay, maybe that was a terrible metaphor but you get it. Right? I think large social networks hinder promotions. Not sure anyone would go on the record and confirm or deny this but… I think we’re early in the adoption of automobiles… no one knows what next and so fear controls us. HR fears large social networks. My take, I still own it.
Truth is… we have no skills to deal with / cope with people who outshine us. Be it candidates and/or
employees. We fear what they could do with their networks rather than love them for being ambitious social animals. We fear them like folks feared the automobile. Unless you’re a Quaker, it’s time to shed all that foolish fear s%*t and embrace the new normal of social animals. Recruit them, co-market with them, brand build with them, love them… bring them under your tent. Go now or get left behind. You’ve.Been.Warned.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He’s been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.