My Career is Not a “Game”

Well, that tears it. People are writing about “Social HR” now, as if it’s a thing. The problem is, people are attaching that term to dead-ends like “gamification” of the job process,  the “death of the resume” and using Klout scores and other such nonsense to weed out candidates.

The article at Forbes linked above lays out five supposed trends for “Social HR” in 2013. I don’t like doing rebuttal posts, but sometimes easy is easy (disclosure: is a client, and they are much, much smarter than me about both careers and recruiting thinking – but here I go anyway):


  • Gamification: I get the idea of badges or other signifiers of accomplishments, skills or other merits. However, my career is not a game. One must be careful not to trivialize the hopes and dreams of a job seeker, whether they be in need of work or gainfully employed but listening for other opportunities. Work is the roof over our heads, the food to feed our families, our lives. Not a game. Again, be careful not to trivialize it in the name of fun.
  • Death of the Resume: This one is a little easier. There are plenty of alternatives to the traditional resume. However they augment the traditional resume – they don’t replace it. Try to apply for a job without having to show someone a resume at least at some stage. It can happen, but if you think it will be prevalent in 2013 you have your head firmly up your Silicon Valley. Just like the death of print, the sentiment is logical but the reality is years away – and never total.
  • Klout Scores as a Job Requisite: This is the big cruel joke of the Internet. Klout scores are fun, but mean little beyond the ability to make noise online. Yes, some recruiters have used Klout as a yard stick, though it is hard to see where that has been a good thing. I play around with Klout, I’ll admit. I also like to bowl – that’s actually more fun – but I won’t be putting my 219 game on my resume, even though it probably means as much (and maybe more).Bowling- high score!
  • Personal Branding: I have this blog, am active on Twitter, Facebook and other places, so I guess you could say I play at “Personal Brand.” I say that using an online presence as an advantage and requiring it as a recruiter are two very different things, The former is a proactive career help. The latter, a shortcut to some qualified candidates but certainly no indicator of the only qualified candidates out there. Reward public smarts but don’t treat them as false gods.
  • Recruiters Using Social to Find Passive Job Seekers: This I agree with completely. To be honest, it’s more an extension of the last point about personal branding, highlighting the real advantages. It’s best used as a way to get found, rather than proof of superior credentials.

I’ll admit that I have an automatic reaction to made-up phrases like “Social HR.” Overall, there is too much bending over to make up things to fit the script of new buzzwords. There are elements of careerists’ use of social media that makes sense for recruiters and employers to take greater advantage of them than they have.


  1. The fact people want Klout scores as a qualification cracks me up. I had someone ask me this and I said, “So me having a Klout score means what in reference to if I can actually do this job?”

  2. I do appreciate it when people make it incredibly easy to ignore everything they’ve ever said after an absurd article like that.

    I’m just disappointed that Forbes picked it up. Le Sigh.

  3. I don’t want to pile too much on the article itself as there is something to the use of social in HR. There was just too much to rebut that I ended up basing it on that article rather than general trends. Don’t write the author off completely based on one article

  4. Great post, Doug. The capabilities of Social can help recruiters find possible qualified candidates – case in point my current position w/ Accenture Interactive where I was identified as a candidate because of a blog post comment I wrote. Social activity scores should never be used as candidate dis-qualifiers, but there is a TON of bad advice (like this Forbes article) being published.

    For example, I recently saw a post that said any qualified Social Media strategist needs to have at least 1,000 Twitter followers. Really? I’ve been doing Social Media & Social Collaboration strategy since before we knew it as Social, yet I have a mere 240 followers. Why? Just as the validation for leveraging Social needs to support business objectives; my Twitter use supports my business objective of sharing best practices with other SM practitioners. If my business objective was marketing, then yes, I might have >1,000 follows.

    It’s disappointing that Forbes published this misleading article. Understanding the Social space is tough enough for most without inaccurate information.

  5. I agree it’s a poor article.

    Doug- I think points 3, 4 and 5 strongly relate to your comments re point 2. They all provide more data to recruiters beyond what’s been available for the last few years to make better hiring decisions.

    Point 1 is interesting. From a certain perspective, traditional workplace/career elements–such as promotions, raises and bonuses–are gamification-esque. They’re not applied in such a way but they use the same mechanics of Effort > Result > Reward.

    I don’t mind companies adding a “gamification layer” to the existing way of working, but I’d strongly object if it became a main way of working.

  6. Steve,

    Thanks- and congrats on your job. Twitter followers is perhaps a worse false god than Klout. That’s a great way to eliminate good candidates and make sure your wilier competitors hoard the good talent.


    Good points on gamification. I just think there’s a bar below which it feels like companies are not taking people’s livelihoods seriously enough. I want to enjoy my job but I really want to pay my mortgage too. It’s a tough line to walk

  7. I just want to say what a great and thoughtful post.

    I don’t know if I’m crazy.. but I always kinda feel like, when it comes to looking for employment.. that what I’m looking for is a job that is the right fit.. and I feel like if an employer doesn’t have the sophistication of social / digital literacy to understand the limitations of.. say Klout.. then I really don’t think they are the right fit for me anyway.

    With EVERYTHING.. from Logo and web design, to social media, to whatever… what defines the thing as good is how well it executes on the objectives.. and if you don’t understand the objectives then you’re not really in a position judge the thing… and if you’re judging based off very off the shelf.. and probably wrong.. conceptions of what makes for a good.. fill in the blank.. then I think that probably means you’re operating from a culture that isn’t going to manage change and you probably don’t know how to navigate in the modern landscape…

    Which isn’t to say people don’t have bone headed objectives and goals..

    I know I’m probably wrong.. but I feel like so much of the stuff people complain about with the economy is the result of creative destruction.. it’s business models that weren’t able to adapt.. it’s economic darwinism.. It’s that we are moving from a static to a kinetic universe… and the problem is that people’s mind sets are still in static mode.. they don’t know how to think in terms of the trajectory of stuff.. It’s operating in terms of inherited value systems and not realizing we need to new value systems for a new world.. and value systems can include both brand and business / organizational cultural values..

    To me that’s the core of it.. and people get caught up on shiny unicorn poop.. as if that were the answer.. or people think the trendy thing is nothing but unicorn poop and miss the real underlying systemic shift… but in the latter case you can’t entirely blame them.. cause it makes sense to be critical when a mob starts preaching about the wisdom of crowds.

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