Reasons To Try Stuff

Last week I got a chance to speak at the 5th annual Michigan HR Day on Social Recruiting.  The group was great, I had fun, we gave out some Coach Bags and I made some HR ladies uncomfortable.  I don’t actually intend to speak and make anyone uncomfortable, that isn’t a long term plan of speaker success.  But it usually happens to a small number of folks.

Here’s how it normally goes:

1. I talk about how to use a social networking site like Facebook to recruit great talent.  Show them how to do it.  Show them how they can get really specific in who they are searching for by skill, gender, location, company name, Likes, etc. All really good information, and the crowd eats it up! Things are going really well for me.

2. “Um, I have a question?”  Here it comes.  You probably noticed it yourself in the line above. He said ‘gender’ didn’t he? You can’t do that mister!  I’m an HR lady. You can’t do that. Then she pulls out her HR lady badge.

3. I say, “Yeah, you can do that”, and pull out my HR Guy badge.

4. She says, “No you can not!” Like my Mom, but scarier. “If you use a program like The Facebook to recruit, you’re going to have ‘disparate impact‘!”

5. I’m a pro, I’ve been here before. So I start asking questions, like, “Do your hiring managers ever see your candidates?” Yes.  “What the difference if they see them as a candidate or as an interviewee?” Well. “If you have a hiring manager willing to discriminate, that isn’t a Facebook issue, that’s a manager issue, isn’t it?” Yes. “Do you have any set of demographics you would like to have more of in your organization, like female engineers, let’s just day?” Yes. “What are you really worried about when recruiting on Facebook?”  Silence.

We don’t try stuff, because trying stuff could cause change.  When I speak about things people haven’t tried, a very small group, no matter where I am, will immediately try to come up with reasons on why they shouldn’t try it.  Not why they should. Our initial reaction to change is to find reasons to not change.

It really has nothing to do with recruiting on Facebook.  Facebook’s own demographics will show almost a 50/50 gender mix. LinkedIn, admittedly, is heavily male dominated.  Do you recruit on LinkedIn?  Do you see pictures of potential candidates on LinkedIn?  Aren’t you, the HR department, the ones pulling potential candidates, who have been trained not to discriminate when it comes to hiring?  So, what’s really the issue?  You see, it breaks down very quickly.

We aren’t really concerned about disparate impact or being discriminatory, we concerned about this guy asking me to do something I’m not comfortable with.  I just like playing Farmville and watching so funny kitty videos on The Facebook.  Do make me feel like I should have to do work on there as well!

The problem we tend to have in HR is that we don’t find reasons to try stuff.  We are pros at finding reasons not to try stuff.  Find some reasons today to try stuff, you’ll be a better HR Pro because of it.

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