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A Rebuttal To Peter Weddle And His Blog Post The Great SCAM in Recruiting

UPDATED: 

- Check out Jim Durbin’s blog post Peter Weddle Owes A Lot Of People Apologies

OK, before I go on a rant a few disclaimers:

  • I have never met Peter Weddle
  • I respect Peter Weddle
  • I am responding to his blog post with a blog post rather than comment there as I have a lot to say.
  • I am responding because for someone who is highly respected in our industry to have this opinion and state it so strongly it needs a rebuttal

Wednesday Peter Weddle posted The Great SCAM in Recruiting on his WorkStrong blog. I had copied and pasted his post below but took it out. Read his post, see my reply below:

Name the scammers (pundits and trainers). I am guessing I am one of them. I am an “evangelist” of using Social Media, networking sites and LinkedIn to find candidates. I have been using these tools for a “long time” and they are responsible for at least 35% of my 2008 revenue.

That Peter does not think LinkedIn is a source of candidates has me troubled and confused. And rather than be overly sarcastic or otherwise say something in appropriate I will move on...

I agree with Peter about Millennials and their use of social media. For the most part they are using it as a communications tool. Oh wait, that is what social media is, a communications tool.

I am not aware how much time Peter spends on a college campus but since I am on the University of Minnesota campus 2-3 times per month working with or mentoring college students I get why there is a separation from how they use it, how I personally use it and how I professionally use it.

Most never considered it a networking, internship or job finding tool until the recession. They share comments, photos, and events but it is not a far of a leap to job search as he seems to think. Conversations on social network sites on job, internship and career topics have increased significantly the past 18 months. Social networks are after all a window to what is going on.

It does not surprise me that they say job boards, company career pages and networking are how they will find a job. This is how they have been taught to find a job. That does not mean social media cannot be used. Many do. Many more are finding out it works.

But Peter gives one side of the story. Consider the CareerXroads 8th Annual Source of Hire Study. Scroll down to page 14-15 and see what these companies reported as their source of hire.

Just because the college kids say they think they are going to get a job through a tool (those are some high percentages) does not mean that is in reality how they will find their job. Worse, because they say that is how they believe they will then recruiters should be there for them? We already have been and most agree that job boards are not the awesome tool they used to be. Still “a good one” but not “the one”.

I would like to see Peter’s cross-generational numbers from his survey. I would also like to see what profession or job titles the respondents have. I ask because it matters. I could put a survey on my blog, Minnesota Recruiters or the Minneapolis & St. Paul Social Media Breakfast site and have numbers on the other end of the spectrum.

This is why I hate statistics. Numbers tell the truth and can lie at the same time and of course it depends on who is using them. I am not saying Peter has an agenda but (and maybe I am taking his post personal and thus have clouded judgment) his post seems more than just trying to shine a light on a topic.

Regarding Peter’s takeaways:

Beware the hype. I agree. Experiment to see if your potential candidate pool is using these sites. If you are recruiting marketing, PR, Social Media or IT you should depending on the size of your city/region have a large enough pool to work with. If you are in a smaller town or are sourcing candidates in legal, medical, administrative types of roles I agree with Peter, it may take a while.

I agree with Peter that social networking sites are different than traditional recruiting methods. Social networking sites are social, this is a far cry from the traditional old school method of post and pray on a job board.

Where I believe he is wrong is when he says these are not “talent markets”. Of course they are. He just has a definition than I have. If I am recruiting IT people in Minneapolis and IT people in Minneapolis are on these sites of course this is a market to use. The difference is I am going to them versus waiting for them to come to my site or ad on a job board. I would rather be proactive than reactive.

Peter either has not researched or dismisses the results that recruiters have had using these tools. I know of some corporate recruiters who are teaching their colleagues how to use these tools would take great offense if they were told they were teaching a “SCAM”.

He says in a comment that the success a commenter had is rare. Really? Peter come to Minneapolis and I will introduce you to corporate, consulting and search firm recruiters who have success. Maybe you need to either hang around a different or a larger pool of recruiters.

What I find interesting that he says 2014 these sites may work. What will change between now and then to make them viable in his eyes?

My last counterpoint is this, if there was ever a time for a recruiter to use these sites to develop relationships with folks it is now. Most people are open to career chat because one way or another they are thinking about it.

Let’s say Peter is right with his 2014 prediction and let’s say the economy is humming along with lots of jobs available is it not a little late to get in the game? What I mean is, that is being reactive. Why not have pre-established relationships? Why not have a passive candidate or talent pool in place?

What I find most ironic about this comments is his last bit of advice, “Learn how to write job postings...” is crazy. That is old news and old advice.

I do believe that a recruiter needs many different tools to use and in part this depends on who one recruits, in what industry and what area of the country. So Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, cold calls, networking, attending and/or sponsoring events, email, blog, RSS Feeds, optimized job ads and whatever else have been missed in my list need to be included.

To use the word SCAM in relation to teaching/training this material is about as silly as suggesting to learn to write a better job ad.

I guess I expected more from him.

Comments

Craig Fisher

Paul, I couldn't agree with you more. I think Peter also misses the point about how social sites are often used. Often they build either a more well rounded or more detrimental picture of the candidate in consideration.

If I receive a candidate's resume because I wrote an excellent job ad, I am often inclined to go check the candidate out on social sites to get a better idea about them. This is especially true if they don't completely fit the job description but I think they have potential. And if a candidate is smart enough to give me links to his/her blog, Twitter page, LinkedIn profile, etc. on their resume, they go higher on my list.

Also, if you build a large and targeted network on social sites as a recruiter, you are much more likely to get good people referred to you both as candidates and clients. But the job candidate who answers the survey question that he got his job through a referral or whatever may not even know that a social site had anything to do with it. Often they have already submitted their resume for the position through a job board. But if they are then referred to me as well by someone in my network, they get a closer look.

Social media recruiting is not just about sourcing. That's where most of the "critics" go wrong. And what's all this about a company devoting most of their budget to recruiting through social media? They are comparatively cheap if used correctly.

Nice rebuttal. Cheers, CF

Recruiting Animal

Peter Weddles made a laughable remark about Linkedin. It's about as important as the resume banks owned by the job boards.

But he's right about Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. They are not an important source of candidates.

Twitter bios are garbage and I don't know how many people take Facebook seriously as a professional site when they fill out their profiles.

This means that it is not possible to search them thoroughly in the standard manner. And that means that most recruiters won't make any effort to do so.

The Minnesota Headhunter might be using FB, Twitter and MySpace to build a talent pool but I doubt many recruiters are doing so. Too much trouble.

Here's my interview with Craig Fisher. He recruits on Twitter. http://cli.gs/82WhMU

Here's Jim Durbin on building talent pools on twitter http://is.gd/imF

The word "scam" makes for a good headline it's a valid response to frothiness.

Heather

Paul, you do seem to be taking this *really* personally or else I am sensing anger that isn't there. Maybe I have been away from the arguey recruiting space for too long and have become soft. It seems like "outrage" is in ample supply.

Peter's audience is diverse and of course there are exceptions. I'm glad that you are finding success with these tools, but most recruiters are going to spend a bunch of time trying to make the tools work for them with little to no results (though I think there's some significant value in LinedIn). Why don't they just sit back and let people like you figure out how these tools should be used and then jump into the mix when there's a better articulated ROI?

"Hype" may have been a better word than "scam". I, for one, am weary of hearing people talk about Twitter who have absolutely no proof points. It seems to me that peoples' espousal of these tools has more to do with their ego-needs to be recognized as an innovator (not you, but others) than any results. Things seem to get really emotional when someone comes to the argument with little to no evidence. The argument gets lop-sided really fast.

Maybe you can share more about the time investment, how you are using the tools and the return from the effort. That may help people understand your side more.

Your friend,

Heather :)

David Kippen, PhD

Paul,

I don't have a quantitative data set or a revenue source to defend or attack. In other words, I really don't have a dog in this fight. What I do have is the product of hundreds of employer-funded focus group discussions in a baker's dozen countries with grads and MBAs. And on the basis of these conversations, I'm substantially more persuaded by your and Jim Durbin's arguments than I am Peter's.

Like you, I respect him and think he generally has smart, useful things to say. I imagine he'd say things somewhat differently if he'd had a chance to think through the reactions he'd stir up before he published. Perhaps now he will.

Jim Durbin

If Peter is plugged in enough to know this is happening, he's welcome to apologize or "clarify." Well, actually he needs to apologize and clarify.

If he does, I'll be the first to stand up and praise him and agree that some training is useless, social media is a part of and not a replacement of the recruiting process, and even remind people of the times where I publicly apologized for being wrong.

It's just basic decency. He'd do it in person, but he doesn't seem to understand that online is in person.

Recruiting Animal

Jimmy, come on. What does he have to apologize for?

I have to agree with Venus de Micro. This is just a fun discussion. Take it lightly. (She'll show you the way).

Jim Durbin

There's a far cry from questioning the validity of a training method and pronouncing a dozen people as con artists perpetuating a SCAM.

He's not interested in starting a discussion. He was taking pot shots at people, without having the courage to name them.


Heather

And recruiters are used car salesmen. Microsoft is the evil empire. All Americans are fat and lazy. And single women of a certain age own lots of cats. Geez, I am a horrible person then.

Come on Jim. If he was saying that, then *prove* him wrong, if this is so important to you.

The apology thing is just silly. He didn't target you and he's entitled to his opinion. Do you not agree that there are band-wagon trainers that will jump on any trend to make a buck?

Minnesota Headhunter

Craig – Thank you for stopping by with your thoughts. I may soon need another one of those late night chats :)

Animal – “They are not an important source of candidates.” I would like to suggest that you add this quote to go with yours, “for me.” It may be who you recruit, where and what industry but to make a declarative statement like that I will have to disagree with you. I am not saying you are wrong as I think I know you well enough that you say things from your experience.

Just as it would be misleading of me to say Social Media will work for everyone because it has for me.

My (and other Recruiters) experience has been different than yours.

Sure bios suck, but not all. I find someone on Twitter and then find them on LinkedIn where I will likely have more information about them. But there too their bio may suck so I move on. I do suggest that you go through the bios of the folks I follow and see how many suck. I bet it is less than 5%.

“This means that it is not possible to search them thoroughly in the standard manner. And that means that most recruiters won't make any effort to do so.” So is that an issue with the tool or the worker using it? I suggest it is the worker.

“The Minnesota Headhunter might be using FB, Twitter and MySpace to build a talent pool but I doubt many recruiters are doing so. Too much trouble.” Again, for some it may be too much work or trouble. That does not mean it does not work. Many told me the idea of starting a blog 4 years ago was a dumb idea. They were wrong. Some told me 18 months ago when I started on Twitter that it was a waste of time. They were wrong.

Heather – Anger, no. Frustration, absolutely.

“Why don't they just sit back and let people like you figure out how these tools should be used and then jump into the mix when there's a better articulated ROI?” I think that is what some of us are trying to do and that is why I am giving a rebuttal. I am 100% confident I can teach a one person recruiting shop or a search firm focused on an industry and location how to use these tools. I have been for the past 16 months here in Minneapolis. Some are getting results. Some are not. In most cases the ones not getting results are not consistent enough in their interaction with their “pool”. Maybe the ROI is not there for them or maybe this is a marathon in an industry that is used to a sprint.

Can I teach a large company (Microsoft) how to scale what I know, I don’t know. Never tried but would love to be asked.

To use another analogy, most hunt all day long and are not willing to farm now and again too.

I do suggest that common sense (mine anyway) says that if who I recruit is using a tool I too should experiment with the tool.

To use my fishing analogy, I can sit on the same hump in the middle of the lake with all the other boats (think job board) and wait for fish to come by. Or I can go where the fish are hanging out and showing activity. I do a little of both.

I have been doing seminars on Social Media, a very general one, for about 8 weeks now on how I use these tools. Not specific to a recruiter but a general user. Feedback has been really good. Maybe those being free so far has something to do with that as sessions started with 15 and now getting 55-70 every week.

David – Any trips to Minneapolis planned? In case you are not aware Monster did sponsor our Minnesota Recruiter’s event in March and looks like our next one in July. Definitely a win for Monster and the group.

Jim – An apology may not be needed but a clarification is.

Heather – I do think there are band wagon jumpers which is why when I do pay for a training I make sure to pay for information from someone who has done what they are teaching. Jim is one of those who walks his talk. That is why a clarification would be useful. Or say who is doing a SCAM.

I do believe Peter meant to word his post the way he did. Here is his Tweet about it:

Another blog post-"The Great SCAM in Recruiting." A topic sure to get some pundits atwitter with outrage. It's at www.weddles.com/WorkStrong5:43 AM May 27th from web

I am not sure why a rebuttal is getting this much attention. Animal, your Tweet that I attacked Peter may be a fair one on some eyes but not in others. I do wonder why you did not choose to say Peter attacked the “teachers” or “gurus” in our industry. I bet that would have brought much more attention.

As usual I get way more email about blog posts than I do comments. I strongly encourage those to make their comments public but if not, no worries I will keep replying to your email in private.

Jim Durbin

Heather - I don't care if Peter actually apologizes to me - but it doesn't change the fact that his blogspot is insulting to a lot of people.

Peter probably feels he's above speaking to the huddled masses, but he certainly feels its okay to cast aspersions from above.

He's welcome to do so, but I'm welcome to call him out for it, and let my readers determine which of us is correct.

An apology is a way out - he chooses not to take it. He didn't publish my comment, and that pretty much solidifies his lack of expertise in this area.

That's more damaging to his credibility than anything he could say about mine.

laurie ruettimann

Paul, I'm sorry I didn't chime in sooner. When someone has an investment in the status quo, there is no compelling reason to evangelize and support the new & emerging technologies.

Peter knows what works for him and what doesn't work for him, and I think his post is an example of how power corrupts -- or makes someone lazy. He is using a platform to benefit his own interests instead of the interests of workers and the recruiting industry.

You can only evangelize for so long in America before you get tired, you get sick of traveling, and you need to pay the tuition bills and the mortgages. I suspect that if social media could meet these needs for Peter, he would embrace it.

Janet

How can you find a Java Programmer in Minniapolis that is interested in my job using facebook, twitter, myspace....you cant.

Minnesota Headhunter

Before the weekend gets here I want to say thanks for the comments and email. I hope everyone understands this was about wanting to create another view point versus making comments about Peter Weddle. I would have had the same reply regardless of who authored the original post.

Janet: Depending how one uses these sites will tell me if a recruiter can find a Java Programmer in Minneapolis.

If one posts like one does on a job board, I would agree with you. If one does not participate in the social activity of the network I would agree.

Some folks are having some success following others and doing the post and pray like on a job board but that has been mixed. It tends to work at first and then die off after followers grow tired of the business only messages.

My experience and that of most Recruiters I know is that we participate in the community, we invest in it, we contribute content, we develop relationships with people before we make a withdrawal from the community (post a job).

If one uses social network sites as I just described, then I would disagree with you. This is more personal for me because I live and work here in Minneapolis. I see many of the folks at industry events. A few are neighbors. So this is as much personal as it is professional for me. Not everyone has this situation.

I know our Minneapolis IT market well and while a Recruiter can post an ad on a job board today (in this recession/economy) and likely find a good Java Programmer, Recruiters were not getting good results 9+ months ago.

I have more to say about how this can work for Recruiters but rather than post it here and now I will do series of posts the next two weeks doing a general outline of what I and others have done including the mistakes that have been made. There has been some trial and error.

Hopefully that will help this conversation along. Hopefully it will set the proper expectations. Hopefully it will help Recruiters understand if this is for them and if it can work for them or not.

Moving on...

I did a quick search and found the following blog posts from this week. I will be adding them to the top of the blog post and put them here so you will get the links.

I do want to say, I am not happy about how Peter has been characterized. He has an opinion. That’s cool. Agree or disagree with it. That’s cool. But some of what has been posted as bothered me.

Blog posts:

Bearing Fruit Consulting:
Michael Specht On The Value of Social Media in Recruiting
http://www.bearingfruitconsulting.com/2009/06/michael-specht-on-the-value-of-social-media-in-recruiting.html

Social Workplace Blog:
And I thought I was controversial - Peter Weddle goes that bit further
http://blog.hirestrategies.co.uk/erecruitment/2009/06/and-i-thought-i-was-controversial-peter-weddle-goes-that-bit-further.html

Punk Rock HR (This is Laurie Ruettimann who has posted here)
Recruiting Controversey: Job Boards v. Social Media
http://punkrockhr.com/2009/06/03/social-media-2/

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