HR people on twitter

100 most social HR experts on Twitter

on July 2 | in Blogging, Human Resources, Recruitment, Social Recruiting, Twitter | by | with 33 Comments

So a list of “the 100 most social HR experts on Twitter” this list has been doing the rounds today, courtesy of this Huffington Post article.  I call BS.

First up though, I want to be clear – I know many of the people on that list personally and hold them all in the highest regard. This is not about them – it’s about influence, context, relevance, accuracy, criteria and a load of other niggles which are less worthy of attention.

Let’s start with the title. The “HR Expert” bit.  That makes me think I’ll be finding HR professionals. I’m not seeing that – in fact, over half the people on the list are bloggers, marketeers, consultants, analysts and so on – anything BUT full time HR professionals.  I don’t doubt the depth of knowledge these people possess (I refer you to the second sentence of this post)… however, if you promise me a list of HR experts, I’d like to see it delivered.

Let’s take a deeper look at the criteria the author has listed. The phrase “actively engaged” catches my eye.  It takes me to a talk William Tincup (number 5 on the list) gave a few short weeks ago over at iRecruit. William talked extensively about his own approach to social media – and particularly Twitter.  He was more than happy to admit that he doesn’t really engage that much on Twitter – it’s more of a broadcast engine, tweeting a significant volume of ongoing content in order to raise his profile. If I recall correctly:

“They’re auto-feeds of bloggers I trust (click, I just tweeted again)… and I let the content run constantly and monitor it occasionally (click, I just tweeted again)”

That feels an awful long was from “actively engaged” to me. No criticism of William at all, I LOVE the guy! He has a defined strategy with a desired outcome. He sticks to it and iterates when needed and I’d love to see more companies actually DOING that.  But number 5 on a list where the criteria includes “actively engaged”? ON WHOSE PLANET????

My best guess?  The author ran a quick search on Kred, Klout, PeerIndex or similar. Had a quick look over. Published a list. Fair enough.  No problem with that – but seriously, if that’s all you’re gonna do, be honest about it and say “I just pulled a list of the noisy people from Twitter who mention HR” and leave it at that. Claims of criteria being applied and “research being done”…?  Not buying it.

I’ll wrap on a final point – which is to say congrats to those who made the list.  You’re clearly making noise on Twitter and the HR industry as a whole needs that. It needs to open up, to be more transparent, to recognise the opportunity social technology offers. HR is too slow to do that, so to these noisy people, I say thank you.

To those who trust the list without further thought, I say go grab another coffee first.

  • Crystal Miller

    It’s probably worth noting that there is different kinds of expertise. Book and theoretical working knowledge are both still important – even though many/most may not have been #trenchHR or recruiting, they’re extremely knowledgable topically… which allows them to be able to speak to reputable companies, tech, and tap their network to direct folks to the right people who DO have “trench” working expertise when needed.

    So, I look at it as the “value” comes from the ability to get the conversation rolling and share information that perhaps those “in the trenches” haven’t had time to find/or perhaps didn’t know about. BUT – and this is an important but – it should go without saying that those who have not had true practitioner experience should make that known. It’s one thing to have “worked at a company who had HR policies/tech implementations/hired people that you managed” and its a completely different thing to be responsible for creating, directing, and implementing the strategy of HR & Recruitment programs (and then deal with the subsequent Employment Law/Compliance issues) for that same company. Don’t misrepresent, yo…

    • James Mayes

      Nicely differentiated, thanks for jumping in! I guess I often have the same concern when I see academics being touted as highly knowledgeable. It’s easy to be perfect on the book-law when you’re sitting in an ivory tower. Far more respect for people in the trenches actually doing the job – figuring out how to apply archiac book law in a way that keeps a business moving without actually ending up in court over some bit of red tape or other? Those are the HR folk I respect.

      • Crystal Miller

        Fair. For myself, I respect them both – just for different reasons. Without the “academics” we probably wouldn’t be as far along – they PUSH the industry forward a little faster because of the noise they make and the issues they raise.

        However, the cheeky side of me has to admit that I’d love to see some of them truly be tasked with doing the stuff they talk about all the time – because it’d be a nice “reality check” that they don’t really know what they’re talking about in terms of practical application. I know, I know, bad Crystal… ;p

        • Matthew Stollak

          I’ll just say that academics undertake many of the roles of the full-time HR professional – strategic planning, recruitment, performance appraisal,
          training, employee relations – all part of the job.

          • Crystal Miller

            Matthew there are MANY great academics… but there is a difference between theoretical and practical application. I didn’t refer to an “ivory tower” so won’t respond to that – but I will address your last question: “What aspect of HR does that academician not practice?”

            Putting aside professors/instructors that are working in the fields that they’re instructing in, respectfully, at the very least there’s a difference in scale that affects most aspects of HR from budgeting, to strategy development, and communication, to say the least.

            Anecdotally, ( and I’ll concede perhaps my instructors were given much greater leave to behave however they chose) when my instructors decided something, it was pretty much the way it was going to be. THEY WERE IT. I could appeal to the Department Head or the Dean of Instruction if there was unfair treatment or unrealistic expectations/classroom policy, but it was rare that they would interfere with that Instructor’s classroom management. So not the same in HR (at least not for a good deal of HR pros, esp in smaller businesses)… and we’ve heard the stories and frustrations so many times before that I’ll spare the recap there. 🙂

            All of that being said, in my original response I was’t actually referring to teachers/instructors/professors – the “professional academicians.” The “academics” was more the literal definition of “cultural accumulation of knowledge” – which I thought was what James was referring to in those who KNOW about a subject but don’t actually practice (and maybe never have on any direct scale). There’s a difference between being ‘near’ something and indirectly influencing an outcome and being the executive or practitioner that drives it.

            Specifically I was referring to those who sell services and claim to be “experts” in areas in which they have no experience, nor education – they’ve just read about it, maybe wrote about it online and chatted about whatever subject with their professional peers. And no, that’s NOT the same as those who have hands-on practical experience.. but that’s hard for some to get until they’ve worked both sides. It’s a disservice to those they serve (corporate or client) and that kinda bugs me… My apologies for not being more careful with my choice of words.

          • Matthew Stollak

            So how many on the list do not deserve to be there? How do you know they do not have the experience and/or educationHave you gone to their LinkedIn profile? Do you know what they
            specifically did while working with clients or in their position?

            Out of curiosity, I went to LinkedIn to see the profile of everyone of the top 100 list. Less than 60 had formal business education training. Of those 60, less than 25 specialized in HR. Less than 25 had earned the PHR/SPHR certification.

            And, I’d be careful about the use of scale and being “near” something?

            For example, a professor with 15+ years of experience in the classroom, might know a little something about:
            *curriculum development
            *managing attendance problems
            *assessment of performance
            *motivation and influence
            *managing teams

            Outside of the classroom, he or she might have served on several recruiting committees, including serving as chair. In that capacity, he or she might have:
            *written the job posting
            *developed the rubric for evaluating candidates
            *attended a placement center interviewing 30+ candidates
            *narrowed the list to a top 10, and conducted phone/skype interviews
            *Invited and planned campus visits for the top 3 candidates
            *Chose the top candidate
            At what point would this experience scale?

            He or she might have counseled hundreds of students for careers? At what point does this experience scale?

            He or she might have served on the college/university benefits advisory committee, where he or she worked with HR to write the harassment policy, the church plan, the stop loss insurance plan, or the wellness plan.

            I think you get the picture. Job titles may not necessarily detail the actually experience.

          • Steve Ward (@CloudNineRec)

            This is why I hate these lists. Over-analysis ensues. It’s a list, just a list. We’ve all fallen for its intent.

          • Nice response Mathew.. especially As Laurie mentioned, we really don’t know the full experience of some, it’s quite easy to just go off the roof, and assume… There are many an academic who not only has had previous experience, and are now teaching and sharing that experience with others, but are today Expert witnesses for companies, at jury trials.. and also are considered the foremost in this industry Due to their Academic research..

            What i have found is that many assume they really know so much, but they REALLY don’t know what they don’t know.. and quite often, and it too often demonstrated.. and unfortunately.. frequently at the expense on individuals who depend on accurate knowledge

    • Crystal Miller

      Disclaimer: I’m not just saying this because I’m on the list. :p

  • Laurie Ruettimann

    James, so nice to read this post. I appreciate the musings and I always scoff at these lists no matter where I fall; however, your reaction is interesting to me. You call BS on this list and suggest some people aren’t HR professionals.

    I mean, really, how do you know that? How do you know how people publicly and privately earn their income? And aren’t you a marketer? How is it possible that you even understand and appreciate the expertise in this space?

    You only know what you think you know.

    Thank you for writing this post, James, and providing me with a platform to share my thoughts. I want to tell people: let’s just be careful when reading AND responding to this list. Some men and women on this list may be frauds; however, more than most are qualified to call themselves HR and recruitment professionals.

    • James Mayes

      I don’t know how people earn their money Laurie, that’ll be nowt to do with me. As I stated, I respect fully the HR knowledge of those on the list – but I questioned the full time nature of some of them, as that’s what the title lead me to expect. If you’re in business on your own, you have legals, marketing, sales, payroll, admin and so much more to do. That, by default, leads to being less than full time on the topic itself – and yep, I’m totally qualified to comment on that aspect!

      As for me being a marketer – sure, I am. And an advisor. And a sales guy. And a recruiter. And this, and that, and the other. That’s the nature of being independent 😉

      I’ll point out AGAIN – I took great care to outline how much respect I have for those on the list. I called no-one a fraud (I think you may have?) – my issues lie with the branding and criteria for the list, most certainly not those on it.

      Thanks for jumping in and sharing – that’s what makes for active engagement, right!

    • This list is 100% perfect and honest.

  • If I was a publisher & had compiled the perfect Top 100 list, I’d deliberately remove a couple of obvious ones, purely for the sake of controversy.

    • James Mayes

      You take that approach to most things though…. 😉

      • I really do think I’ve got this reputation as a controversial contrarian, which is entirely wrong. I never set out to disagree or offend. I think people read my posts in Glasgow accent, which makes them sound more aggressive than they are.

  • radicalrecruit

    Listen we all know that the real reason for making these lists is so that those self same influencers will publish/tweet/facebook the hell out of the list which in turn will drive more traffic to the site — period. How it was generated, what metrics were used doesn’t appear to come up in the list at all. So really measuring the top 100 Social HR influencers doesn’t appear to be the primary reason for the list.

    I as well will quite transparently tell you that I don’t/rarely engage with anyone on twitter anymore…but use it to continue to throw out content that I think others would find interesting. And as of the past 8 months I’m back in the trenches, but doing very little blogging instead focusing on micro-blogging to folks directly via mainly Facebook and Youtube. Yet I made it on a list that frankly I was shocked to be on for all the reasons stated above.

    I think we just need to keep in mind why these things come out. Heck looking over previous blogs you want to know what the most traffic generating blogs were, yes, you guessed it….lists….something to think about.

    • James Mayes

      Bang on. Cheap and easy content, no real value. Disingenuous at best, misleading at worst.

    • Steve Ward (@CloudNineRec)

      Yes Geoff, exactly right – as I commented on FB. We are duped into caring. They’re just lists. Probably a pretty useful list – but hardly a highly researched piece. There are some fabulous names on there.

      Experts? All of them? Dunno. Prominent – well yes, clearly.
      Prominence does not equal expertise.

      • radicalrecruit

        Well the simple fact is if I changed my keywords on my profile tomorrow I wouldn’t appear at all.

  • jacobstenmadsen

    Ref theoretician versus
    practitioner balance: There has to be mutual respect for this, and no one can
    necessarily be said to be more right that the other. As with everything they
    are on an ever moving trajectory and evolve as we learn as the market and the
    surroundings change. Some practitioners are good at formulating their doings
    into teachings and to be brought on to others, some theoreticians are able to
    see, analyse and to crystallize a subject, put it into a format that can easily
    be read and understood and used by the masses. We are each individuals that
    learn differently and some of us wish to apply mostly practical applications,
    others are more in favour of what someone has written. What each person takes
    away from practical or theoretical sayings is therefore subjective and should
    neither be knocked for being so nor diminished. I have personally from some on
    list learned lots and little, all dependent on my need and the context in which
    I could fit it with where I was/am and what else background/knowledge I

  • Simon Jones

    I think my big problem with this list – as I tweeted yesterday – is that it’s actually the 100 most social English speaking Western World HR experts. (I think I spotted one person from India). If you speak French, German, Spanish etc or happen to be an influential HR person in say Argentina or South Africa you don’t exist

    • radicalrecruit

      Good point, these are typically not Global lists but instead US/Canada based lists. About a year ago I tried to put together a global list of HR professionals and it was difficult given all the translations but for sure worth pursuing. Also I struggled with how to define “influence”

  • Mitch Sullivan

    If I’d been on that list, I’d have sued for defamation.

    Nobody labels me an HR person and gets away with it.

  • What this really tells us is that the well-known influence tools don’t measure influence. They ,measure activity or ‘noise’ as you put it. Of course, “Klout: the standard for noise” doesn’t sell the tool quite as well 🙂

  • Excellent article, really enjoyed it. About 4 years ago, when the word Influence was the new Pink… and the word of the day, I wrote an article along the same lines.. – these lists are definitely created with SEO generation in mind. There is no Objective qualifiers to determine the successful aptitude of the alleged pros.. and as many of us are aware, a large majority of these individuals on this list, have limited to ZERO experience in Human Resources, Candidate or Employee Oversight and development, and recruiting and staffing.

    These lists are definitely disingenuous at best, especially considering the individuals who do depend on them as peer reviewed… It is a sad demonstration of our industry at best.

    There were FAR too many who do not have the expertise that they were labeled to have.. And far too many who have Excellent experience, and knowledge that were not commended, for the hard work and contributions that they do provide to the industry. I have gotten to know a large number of the many whom I consider as excelling in our industry via

    That said, there are some who were definitely what I would consider the cream of the crop in that list, but their expertise was sadly diluted amongst the others who are indeed what I consider a social media hot mess..

    FYI i wonder if this guy has heard of Google Panda and penguin.. SEO lists like this, will now bring penalties to sites.. they should be avoided like the plague.. Google has caught on to the manipulation of optimization, and are now saying.. eh.. nope..

  • Jamie Leonard

    Great post James and nice to see someone challenging the establishment again, it seems to be a lost art in this industry. As much as I can’t comment on the people that made the list, as I’m not a big fan of following the heavily followed, for all the reasons people have mentioned, you are very correct about lists in general. They have become the fast food of the blogging universe in this 3 second attention span world we live in. The rise of BuzzFeed and other such sites have proven that. And it’s a shame.

  • Neil Morrison

    I’m on the list and I know nothing about HR. Less than nothing.
    I agree, these lists are pointless drivers of traffic. Like writing a blog post criticising them.
    Well done James. 🙂

    • James Mayes

      You’re a perfect example of why the list is so shocking. You’re engaged on Twitter, blog beautifully and won HRD of the Year at the HR Excellence awards (congrats on that, well deserved IMVVVHO!).

      Where do you feature? 92. That’s a shocker, right there.

      As for the game, thanks for playing… a traffic driving list…. a blog post criticising the methodology… a comment criticising the blog criticising the methodology… now it just needs it’s own conference and we’ve completed the set 😀

      • Steve Ward (@CloudNineRec)

        James, I’m not sure the list is in an `order` is it? – or am I wrong? – I think it’s just a list in no order. Hmm, not sure.

      • billboorman

        Does the list say anywhere that it is in order of importance? I don’t think it does. I took it as a list of 100 people who the author considers to be expert. His opinion. His list

        • James Mayes

          It’s not explicitly stated, but when a list is published in terms of “the top 100” anything – and the contents are then numbered – the implication is certainly there. The interpretation is in the eye of the beholder for sure – but my mind goes to those “top 100 LP’s ever” type lists – where the numbering certainly does count. After all, if the numbering doesn’t mean anything, why include it?

  • Marc Coleman

    Can’t belive I am not on the list!! ;))) and most lists coming out of the US are Centre of the Universe stuff …. the ROW does not exist – you never see APAC or BRIC nations get a mention and a handful of Europeans seem to find themselves on lists without having any competence, influence or experience on given subject. Interestingly, I would have pegged William higher than the people above him but then I go back to what James has said above on engagement and it might make people smile to know that William is on social media sabbatical and still gets the vote 😉 he will love that and can add that to his list of observations. There should be some validation/vetting but hey presto the author has had massive result in terms of spread 😉 and I commend him for that – its been a while since anything got a reaction in HR. I made the top 50 global bloggers in HR previously and at the time I think I had written 3 blog posts in 12 months …. I couldn’t find time to blog so no influence. Nice accolade but undeserved at the time because of that despite the blog having +1,500,000 visitors – so I did wonder how they measured it and I think authors need to demonstrate that first and foremost when publishing lists – how they measured and validated the order. Well done to all who got on – James we will be there next year!! ;o)))

    • James Mayes

      Look forward to it – the events are certainly going from strength to strength!

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