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LinkedIn Rant – Part II

Dear Reader,
This note actually started out as a reply to Fred’s comment on my first LinkedIn post. Since it kinda grew to a general post, I thought it best to make it a post out of it. To really understand it thought you have to read Fred’s post because he’s bailing on LinkedIn and explains why.

Good point Fred,

My problem is I like the *promise* of linkedin. Up till now they have not really delivered on the promise. I want to know who my friends know. I like the fact that I can’t see more than one level deep because more than that will just encourage spam.

Since I wrote this blog I’ve had 2 interesting LnkedIn encounters.

1) I send a message to someone through 2 people. My wife (the lovely and talented Kathy) was interested in a job at a company. I found that I was connected to the VP of HR at this company through 2 other people so I wrote a message for her and sent it. My friend passed it on to his friend. However, his friend refused to pass it on to the VP. He felt it was beneath the VP’s attention. Well, my problem is that the *promise* of LinkedIn is that you *can* get access to people at this level. So once again, LinkedIn has failed to deliver any *real* benefit to me. (Sidebar: For the record, I have always felt it is everyone’s job at any company to continue to scout talent. The idea that it’s “beneath” the VP of HR to take a look at a resume is stupid, it’s his freakin JOB.)

2) I had a reader write me and invite me into their network. The problem I have is I’ve never met this person. With very few exceptions, I know everyone in my LinkedIn network personally. (Ironically, you are one of the few exceptions) So while I was honored that he would want me in his network, I had to respectfully decline.

I’d love for someone to come up with an alternative to LinkedIn for allowing me to discover who is in my distributed network. It needs to be something easy to use, something that does not require a programmer to operate. Most importantly, it needs to let me keep my data in my silo and let out as much or as little as possible. I’d even pay a reasonable fee to be a part of this new service.

Until next time,
(l)(k)(bunny)
=C=

14 thoughts on “LinkedIn Rant – Part II

  1. “…The idea that it’s “beneath” the VP of HR to take a look at a resume is stupid, it’s his freakin JOB”

    Sorry, but it’s typically NOT the job of a VP of HR to take a look at resumes. This would be why companies typically have a staffing department or employ staffing agencies. The fact that you’ve stated this would lead me to believe you’ve either never worked at a company where you’ve had any contact with HR directly or that you’ve only worked at very small companies where the “VP of HR” typically did EVERYTHING in HR.

    The Vice President of Human Resources for a company might work with management to develop programs and relationships that make said company a sought after and rewarding place to work.
    Responsibility for ensuring compilance programs for labor laws, employee initiated teams and management, training and development programs, compensation and benefits, and a zillion other things… NONE of which are typically reviewing resumes for people looking to get on with the company.

    With that said… If the 2nd degree “friend” was at said company I would think the professional courtesy could be extended to eithe review the resume of your wife themself or ensure that it was forwarded to the correct person within the HR department.

    Of course… you make VERY valid points in regards to the “Network Spamming” that goes on in LinkedIn. I’ve been taking a hard look at the value of such a social networking site when it slowly evolves into something that resembles more of an IM Contact List than a Networking Tool.
    Kudos to you for keeping your Network List clean – I believe (along with you, it would seem) that this is the only way LinkedIN can remain effective.

  2. Hi RG,

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. Actually, I’ve worked in companies where I’ve had way too much contact with HR. I have very little (seriously VERY LITTLE) respect for people in HR. Speaking from the standpoint of a Director of IT (a position I’ve held in several organizations) I have fought hard to keep HR out of the hiring process for positions I was hiring for. The average HR person is incapable of evaluating a technical resume and usually what ends up happening is they are a “keyword” filter. If the resume doesn’t contain specific keywords, they toss it. Some of the best hires I’ve ever made would have been tossed this way.

    HR should only get involved in hiring technical people after the decision to make an offer has been made. Then they can do the dirty work like checking references, filing paperwork etc.

    HR is a hot-button for me, sorry to jump on your post over it. There has only been one HR person that I’ve respected. That’s because he made it a point to let me do my job and he got involved only when necessary.

    My original point though was that it is everyone’s responsibility at any company, large or small, to scout for talent. We are heading back into a war for talent and unless a company is constantly scouting, they won’t be able to find it when they are looking to hire. It’s a different take on the old “Harvey McKay “Dig your well before you are thirsty.” And for the record, the VP did not review the resume. His friend did. Now that means (to me) one of 2 things. Either the friend is trying to be a “gatekeeper” and thus limiting the value of LinkedIn to his friend or the friend is accurately reflecting the attitude of his friend. In this case, well, see my screed above. :)

    Thanks again for the post. (wanna join my network?) :)

    =C=

  3. Hello Cal,

    I’m the reader that invited you to join his network. First I would like to say that I would never “Network Spam” anyone as in what RG said above. I read your blog and resume and thought you might be a good person to invite into my network for the exact reason you state in your reply here. I work for a very large organization and we have openings in IT all the time. We’re asked to refer potential candidates/friends to apply for these open positions and I felt that the LinkedIn network might be a good way to do my own “Scouting”. It’s a shame that LinkedIn did not work for you and your wife.

    Secondly I do respect your decision to decline but it does seem to go against what you are saying here.

    Now on to the HR comments. I totally agree. We have the exact same problem that you talk about. Our HR filters out on keywords in the job description. The group I work in has had 2 open positions in which one has been open for over a year and a half. The other has been open for over 6 months and it looks like there is no hope in sight. Our manager is gutless and won’t stand up to the ways of HR. Oh, his position is open as well… I bet HR will be less involved in his replacement.

    Take Care,

    ~Scott

  4. Hi Scott,

    First, I hope I didn’t offend you by posting about your invite. I really was flattered that you would invite me. I did not mean to imply that you were network spamming. I do understand your reasoning and I guess it points out the different ways people use LinkedIn. With very few exceptions, I only add people I have met personally and have a working relationship with. i.e. I don’t add people just because I met them at a conference. If I meet someone at a conference and I’m going to have an ongoing relationship with them, then I will invite them. Other people may have different rules and yours is by no means the only one I’ve turned down for this reason.

    As to HR…sigh. I understand the need for an HR department. However, most the ones I’ve seen are more like little fiefdoms. They like the power they get form being the gatekeeper. The absolute best HR person I have every worked with was Bobby over at jupiterhosting.com. Bobby was the CFO and since we didn’t have an official HR department, he handled it. basically, he got involved when I prepared an offer letter. Until then he didn’t know nor care. Once the offer letter was accepted, I turned the new hire over to Bobby with absolute confidence that by the time they showed up for work, all the necessary paperwork was complete and the person was ready to start programming. Bobby understood that HR wasn’t a “gatekeeper” function. It was a servant role in the organization. I have great respect for Bobby because he made my life so much easier.

    In 24 years in the workforce, that is the one and only good HR story I have.

    Good luck in your hiring. If you are hiring PHP, let me know, I may be able to help you. :)

    =C=

  5. Cal,

    No offense taken whatsoever. In fact I’m flattered that you posted about my invite but I totally understand your reasoning and appreciate your honesty.

    If you’re ever looking for work here in Florida give me a buzz and I’ll see if I can be of help. I’ll keep your PHP offer in mind as well. ;)

    ~Scott

  6. Ah, the old IT vs. HR debate. ;)

    I can identify with your frustrations of needing to hire good people only to have viable job seekers removed from consideration because an “HR person” is just keyword screening and ditching the rest.

    While keyword screening has it’s merit, just like anything else, there is a downside if used incorrectly. If a person is using the method of keyword search as their ‘prescreener’ so to speak – they’ll no doubt lose MANY otherwise qualified job seekers. A sad part of the business when you’ve rookie or generalized recruiters that don’t bother to learn the business they’re recruiting for.

    It’s incredible what a little communication and active listening could do BEFORE the recruiting for a specific skillset or title starts, eh?

    Of course – don’t forget…
    Every time you bash HR as a whole – the same is done to IT. I’m always amazed when I listen to the same arguement from both sides of the fence.

    “They are so stupid – they just don’t get it.”
    “They have NO idea how the business works.”
    “No one but ‘them’ would understand that.”

    Why can’t we all just get along? :-)

  7. RG,

    I’ll take your posts out of order and respond to the last one first.

    You have invoked the name of his holiness, Pope Joel. :) Yes, that’s an excellent article and should be read by every IT manager.

    Here’s my take on the hiring process:
    http://www.calevans.com/view.php/page/nerdherding

    My beef with HR is simply this. In the world I live in IT people (with possible exceptions for Directors and above) actually *do* things. HR people don’t. I’ve never seen an HR employee be given “Employee of the Month” for the best filed form. They exist simply to process paperwork and make sure guidelines are followed.

    I can appreciate that this is a job that needs to be done and don’t despise them because they don’t contribute to society. I despise them because (other than Bobby) they build little fiefdoms to try and justify their existence. They set rules and policies that actually hinder people from doing their job. 9i.e. all resumes must be screened through HR before they can be passed on to the hiring manager.)

    I live in a technocracy. What you have done and can do with technology determines what power you have. Respect is earned by merit, not dictated by memo. So when an HR person tells me they want to prescreen all my resumes I immediately start climbing the corporate ladder in hopes that I can find someone who doesn’t have their head stuck up their ass and will help me around this problem. To date, I’ve only had one company where I couldn’t circumnavigate the rule but the time it takes to get around it is time wasted.

    I say in all seriousness that a properly run HR department provides a valuable service to any company. So does a properly run Janitorial departments. Let’s not pretend that HR actually produces something that the company needs though. Let’s treat them as what they are, paper pushers. Assign them the respect they deserve as low level cogs in the machine and relegate them to a cube farm somewhere so that they are out of the way. Because the only way an HR department is beneficial to a company is if they are out of the way.

    And I don’t need to listen to them tell me IT is just stupid. I said it to a VP of sales once and it applies equally to HR.

    “I can teach my programmers to sell” (or in this case fill out forms) “Can you teach your sales people to program?”

    Sorry, not mad at you, this is just one of my hot buttons. (Don’t get me started on the liberal media or Hollywood!) :)

    Thanks for writing,
    =C=

  8. It’s obvious you’ve a bit of a bad taste in your mouth for Human Resources. I still differ greatly with you on several points, but I can see where you may have (over the years?) arrived at such a sour outlook on such a department.

    By my understanding above, you feel that a corporation should be run by whomever can program the cleanest code or manage a database the best.

    What an interesting place that would be to work, I think.

    You are of course correct, Cal. After all – you can teach any IT guy to fill in a form (as stated above.) I couldn’t agree more.
    And when your company runs into some FMLA or EEOC issues, you could quickly train that same IT guy to ensure that the other 49 employees are in compliance and that your company is safe from violating any laws.

    Come to think of it – the IT guy could also brush up on the new EEOC standards in regards to what is an “Internet Applicant” so that you aren’t accused and penalized for discriminating when you perhaps did no such thing. Then again – you might as well get him to ensure that all of your other IT guys aren’t asking any inappropriate questions (How’d you lose that arm? Do you have kids? etc.) during job interviews – since each IT manager will be doing their own hiring. (of course – your IT guy in question will no doubt handle the referrals, attend those events, speak to those colleges and bring you EVERYONE that expressed an interest in the job – we don’t want your IT guy to not pass any resumes along.) ;)

    Don’t forget that your IT guy will also need to be pretty savvy on benefits and taking care of any issues that your other IT staff may run into – personal issues – drug abuse – family violence – FMLA – mental wellness – Family assistance – and all that.

    You know…. The more I look at that IT guy now that he doesn’t have any time to program or check code or do any type of IT responsibilities… He sort of looks like an HR person – and not just a form filling paper jockey – he’s swamped! (and you and I both know that these are just the tip of the iceberg for what a true HR department in a sizeable company deals with – don’t get me started with unions!)

    Cal – your assertion that you could teach a Sales Person to code is right on the money. But lets reverse that and realize that you’ll run into an equal problem teaching a hard core IT guy people skills or compliance issues, etc. And it may not be that the IT guy can’t learn it – it may be that he could care less and hates that kind of stuff.

    But just because he hates it, doesn’t mean that the function should go away or could be run by just anyone, sir. His situation alone proves this.

    FYI – I had the same discussion last week with an HR person that thought poorly of IT as a whole. When you generalize your nurture a disdain for a “group” of people or department like this you are doing no better than those HR persons you’ve formed your opinion *from*.

    Also – Employee of the Month programs are crap. Just my humble but correct opinion – they were flawed from inception.

    BOTTOM LINE:
    I’m a results oriented manager as it sounds you are as well, Cal.
    I appreciate productive employees and persons. I cannot appreciate those that hide behind “knowledge” or “fiefdoms”
    HR has them. IT has them.
    Anyone denying either of these is either out of touch or in denial.

    Agreed on the liberal media, Hollywood, and Sir Joel (*gasp* an HR person that reads him regularly?!)
    I may not add you to my LinkedIn list just yet, but you’ve surely made it to my bookmarks. :)

  9. Hey Cal, I’m glad to be one of the people in your LinkedIn list and I find that it’s a good tool for remembering all the people in the industry I’ve come across. I did get some of the “who are you and why are you asking me to join” messages from people but I explained to them what I was doing and if they didn’t want to join, no big deal. It’s better to have people who actually know who you are in your network. Gives you more credibility when you ask them for a favour. ;)

  10. I have been part of LI for 18 months. Initially i put time and effort into it.
    But then found that:
    1. People don’t pass on requests
    2. The final person does not respond

    This is common with other people in my next level who i have asked aboiut their success.
    I have once contact who really worked it hard….1500 contacts – he has given up on it as well.

    I garee with the gving away data as well, plus helping untword people accessing info about you who could use it for less than savoury purposes.

    BTW Carl, you are not using your own plugin on por blog any more??? How come?

  11. Cal, have you checked out collectivex.com? I’m buddies with the founder, Clarence Wooten, and played a small part fleshing out the project.

    This ain’t a pitch, just my take on it because I think they ‘get’ social networking.

    The problem I have with LinkedIn and others is that you spend all this time developing your network, but then there’s nothing to *do* with it.

    CollectiveX is a bit different because:

    1. You can have private groups, branded if you need it. This isn’t a selling point for me, but for some it’s significant.
    2. Group members share objectives: things they want to accomplish, so there’s always motivation to interact with people or share a connection for someone who can help.
    3. Group members share key connections: people they know, not necessarily in the group. The catch is, you don’t get names of these folks, just title, company, and how close the member is to that person. This is key, because if one member lists as a key connection the VP of Something at Big Company and has him on speed dial, and another member wants access to that person, that member has to actually network/socialize/communicate with the other member. It’s not an automatic process. Networking works in a ‘real’ life way.
    4. A very smart search, and appropriate use of ‘web2.0’

    So I think Clarence has cracked the social networking nut. If you care, Mike Arrington calls CollectiveX the LinkedIn killer. It changes the game from seeing how many connections you can collect, to sharing your goals and helping fellow members with their own goals.

  12. John,

    I couldn’t agree more. Now that I’ve got everyone I know in LinkedIn, what can I do with it? The tools they provide me to use with my network are stupid and they won’t provide an API to let me do what I want.

    Thanks for the tip on http://www.collectivex.com, I’ll take a look at it.

    =C=

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