So maybe you read half a dozen human resources blogs, or maybe this is the only one you follow. Why do people write human resources blogs? What’s the point?

Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but I can give you some insight into why I write (and read) blogs about human resources every week.

Human resources blogs and my career

human resources blogsWhy in the heck would someone start an HR blog?

Good question.

I started writing this blog four years ago as a way to help others just getting into HR. I wanted to share what I was learning, offer advice to common problems, and get some accountability for myself beyond the four walls of my employer.

And boy have those come true.

The blog has helped me immensely. It was a factor in getting my current job to some degree. It wasn’t a golden ticket or anything, but it also wasn’t completely ignored in the hiring process. I can still remember the president of the company sitting there at his desk and scrolling through my blog while I was being interviewed.

It has opened up doors to partner with great companies and people in so many ways. It has broken down barriers that would have prevented me from connecting and networking with peers around the world. It helped to launch one of the first HR unconference events. It’s just been amazing, frankly.

But that only covers the past four years. What does the future hold? I have no idea, but I’m incredibly excited.

The purpose of human resources blogs

I think the people who take the time and effort to write HR blogs are doing a great service to the profession. For too long “personnel” was seen as a barrier to getting things done. HR pros taking the time to share unique and interesting ideas are helping to shape the future of our profession. Here are two key ways that’s happening:

  • Transparency-HR as a profession has long been sequestered from the rest of the organization. In those circumstances, it’s no surprise that business leaders, line management, and staff workers don’t have much faith in HR. They don’t know what HR does! Sure, they know we help to recruit people and help with terminating the bad ones. But the gap between hiring and firing, the employee lifecycle, is where HR can truly shine. The blogs out there that are sharing what HR truly does on a daily basis are the ones that are the most popular. No surprise there.
  • Insights-A corollary to the previous point is the insight that we can provide. We talk about what we are doing, because we’ve been influenced by others doing the same thing. If you stop for a second, you can probably think of an HR person somewhere (maybe a friend or just an acquaintance) who is doing something that you’d like to be doing. They have an innovative program. They have a unique process. They have something that you’d like to learn how to do. Or maybe you just want to make existing processes better–there’s no shame in that. But we share what we share because we want others to benefit from our success. We are also a little selfish in that we want to get the same thing out of it. We want to find new, unique ideas that help us with our own jobs. And that’s okay, too. I’ve yet to meet the person who has it all figured out and needs no help, insight, or encouragement from others. 

Those two points can’t possibly encapsulate the entire spectrum of HR blogs, but it’s a good place to start.

Human resources blogs and you

So now you know a little more of the “why” behind human resources blogs. So how can you use them?

This post I wrote a year ago about human resource challenges is a great example of how you can take what you’re reading and put it into effect in your own life and career. I also included a similar challenge in the entry level HR course for those new to the profession. I wanted them to understand that HR blogs are not just for entertainment–they’re also for learning new concepts and forcing our brains to think differently about the problems we’re faced with.

I talk with readers via email every single week. They are trying to implement ideas they learned about on this blog, and I’m all too happy to converse with them about how to customize the topics to their unique situations. They are the ones who are truly benefiting from the HR blogs out there.

I know that 99+% of you are not interested in starting an HR blog. And that’s just fine. I talked about why HR people don’t blog previously, and I still believe those reasons are true today.

So those are a few of my thoughts on human resources blogs. What are yours? How have they helped you?

A piece of news: I am still working to notify award winners from last week’s contest/survey. I expect to be able to announce each one sometime this week. Thanks to everyone who helped me by taking the survey last week! I truly appreciate it.

dinner with friends at SHRM12

Loved having a quiet dinner with friends to unwind at SHRM. From left: John Nykolaiszyn, Jason Lauritsen, and me

I started to put “bloggers” in the title, but there are so many people from the conference who started using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for the first time, and I wanted to include those as well. These are my thoughts on where we’ve come, where we’re going, and what everyone needs to do now. Hope you’re inspired!

The SHRM 2012 annual conference is now in the books. As usual, this event consists of few days of frenzied running to sessions, meeting with old friends, making new ones, and generally having an amazing time.

Why I go to any conference

I attend these events on two levels: first and foremost, I’m attending as an HR practitioner. I’m looking for ways I can help our operations team and company be better through smarter people practices. In that role I’m attending sessions, taking notes, and trying to meet people who might have insights in our industry.

On another level, I’m attending as a blogger. I’m trying to gather content, I’m trying to make connections, and I’m trying to find out what my audience is looking for in the way of great content (hint: sessions that are filled/overflowing would be good topics to explore in blog posts).

My hope for the social media community

Whether you’re writing a blog, participating in the fantastic HR-related chats on Twitter, or building a Facebook community, I hope that you take the connections you’ve built to another level. I’m already talking with a few people from the conference about working on some partner projects (Heather at A Leading Solution, for instance).

Why?

Because I want to learn from them. Because I want to be energized by them. Because I want to help both of our audiences be exposed to another person who is on fire for this HR thing. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll make this profession better one person at a time.

We are just like you, only we talk louder

Those of us in the blogging community aren’t any smarter than your average HR professional. We don’t even talk more than the average HR pro. We just do it louder. We channel it through the social tools to help us reach a larger audience.

When people come up to me in awe because they recognize me from my photo or blog, I just smile. I’m just a guy who likes to write and share what he’s doing right (and wrong) so people can learn a little bit. I’m no different from you, and I hope you can tell that when you’re standing there waiting for some brilliant statement to come out of my mouth, and I have nothing to say. :-)

Small victories are still victories

If you looked at the Twitterstream flowing from #SHRM12, you might have seen quite a few tweets about HR professionals visiting SHRM’s Hive area for social media advice/help. SHRM (and Curtis Midkiff, especially) did a great job of pulling in those of us passionate about using social tools in HR and leveraged our strengths and knowledge to be ambassadors for those without social media experience.

We helped set up Twitter accounts, discussed LinkedIn for recruiting purposes, and talked about using HR blogs for professional development. Each person helped was a small victory. Did we reach all 13,000 attendees? No way. But if we reached even 500 people (which isn’t an outrageous number based on the traffic we had each day), then that’s a win in my book.

Keep up the momentum

I had several conversations during the event about how people “like us” have been using social media extensively for the past 3+ years. At times, it seems like the topic is old and stale, because surely “everyone” knows how to use it by now. But then I run into an HR professional at a local SHRM meeting who wants to know what Twitter is or if they should have a corporate LinkedIn page, and I realize yet again that the number of HR professionals using social tools is still relatively small compared to the size of the group overall.

Closing thoughts

On Monday I start back to work. I get back into my routine. And it would be incredibly easy to just keep going like I have been going for the past year. Or I can take the time and make the effort to keep up with the connections I made at SHRM. I can keep the promise I made to keep educating HR professionals and recruiters on the value of social tools. I can work to incorporate the things I learned at the event into what I do at work.

Only time will tell which direction I take, but what I do matters much less than what you do. Well, what’s it going to be? I’m waiting…

Hey, everyone! Today we’re going super informal. Not that it’s much different from the norm, but I wanted to warn you. :-) I was gearing up to write a post for today and noticed that I missed it last week. I hit 400 posts (on this blog) and there was no fanfare. There was no celebration. Nobody cracked open a Diet Mountain Dew as a toast to this blog’s longevity.

No, just one more little milestone as we roll merrily along.

I never would have imagined coming this far the day I wrote my first post. When I saw and heard about others who had written hundreds of articles, I was in awe. The two biggest question that popped into my head at the time:

  • Where do you get the time to do that?
  • How do you have that many ideas?

Now I know the answers. The first one is time. It takes a little time invested over a long period to reach those kinds of numbers. When it comes to ideas, they are everywhere. You just have to be sensitive/aware and not let them slip by.

But those aren’t the only lessons I’ve learned and that I want to share. I try to keep away from writing posts like this that focus only on the tiny audience segment that actually blogs, but I write posts for other groups, so why not that one? Now, I’ve written about why HR people don’t blog before, but I still think there are some out there who are wondering, “Is my idea interesting? Would anyone else read it? Am I really a good writer?”

If’ you think you might be interested in writing even a single blog post, try itSend me the post and we can get it published here. We can ask for some feedback from the audience (many of whom are much brainier than me). Whatever it takes to help you get over that first hurdle and start, I’d like to help if you are interested.

If you’re already out there blogging, and you are looking for some tips that I have picked up, here are a handful.

  • The more often you write quality posts, the more traffic you’ll get. When I slow down on my writing, traffic drops. Personally I don’t stick with other blogs that post 7+ times per week because it just gets to be too much to keep up with. I’ve gone back and forth and now try to do 2-3 per week.
  • SEO is worth the effort if you are interested in traffic. If you are just writing for fun, then it’s less important.
  • Connecting with other writers via comments, guest posts, Twitter, etc. is a great way to build your audience.

Any other questions you have about blogging that I can help with? Leave a comment below and we can discuss. Thanks again for the support! I appreciate you guys.

One of the sessions at HRevolution Las Vegas a few weeks back focused on blogging, and a great question that was bandied about was why HR people don’t do it more often. Is it because they are afraid to? Maybe they just don’t know how? Or maybe it’s because HR people have been trained to keep quiet about their real thoughts and opinions, because knowledge is power, right? Whatever the excuse, it’s a terrible reason to keep quiet. Today we’re going to look at what it is, combat a few of the general excuses, and share some resources on how to get started.

What is blogging?

A really basic definition of a blog is a journal. It’s updated every so often with new ideas, insights, or lessons learned. People come by from time to time and read some of that wisdom and can comment or share it with others who might find it valuable.

That’s pretty simple, right?

Even with all the bells and whistles (see below for some tutorials and the tools I use), that’s really all a blog is. If you have thoughts, then you can blog. All it takes is writing those thoughts out! Even if you keep a private blog and don’t share it with anyone, you will become a better, more well-rounded professional as a result of taking the time to organize your opinions into coherent thoughts.

Why not blog?

If it really is that simple, then why don’t more HR people blog?

  • They don’t know how to use the tools-Check out the video below. 81 seconds to start a blog? Yep, it’s that easy!
  • They don’t know what to say-Start slow. Talk about what you do. Talk about what you enjoy about the profession. Talk about employee horror stories (within reason and without revealing too many juicy details). Read other blogs. As my manager put it, it’s about reading for the job you want, not the job you have!
  • They don’t have time-If you have thirty minutes per week, you have time. And I know you do, because you spent at least that much time checking Facebook, getting coffee, and watching TV commercials in the past 24 hours! Seriously, it takes very little time if you are just trying to get your thoughts out there. Don’t be one of those people who keeps going “Ready, aim, aim, aim…” Just fire the post off already!
  • They don’t want to upset their employer-My new friend Buzz writes a blog and has for about 6 months now. She doesn’t tell her employer and they don’t ask her about it. It’s quite possible to share helpful, valuable content with the world without telling everyone where you work!
  • Know another excuse? Drop it in the comments section below and I’ll respond to it!

Blogging tools and tips

I cover everything you need to know to get started here on the blogging page, including what domains and hosting are and who to purchase from, how to install WordPress, how to use themes and plugins, and a big Q&A section that runs the gamut! However, if you are interested and rearin’ to go right away, you can start your own blog in less than two minutes.

Check out this link for a short video on how to set up a free WordPress.com blog in 81 seconds. Less than two minutes. Anyone can get started with that short of a timeline!

Have other questions about blogging? Feel free to email me! I’ve helped several others get their own blogs going, and I would love to help you as well. 

Sunday is my two year anniversary.

It’s been twenty four months since I sat down, said, “Hmmm. upstartHR sounds kinda cool,” and started on a journey that has been exciting and unpredictable.

Just… Wow.

What advice do I have for others?

  • Start when you’re at 90%. If you wait until you are 100% ready then you’ll never get going. It will be a bit unpolished. That’s normal. Just go!
  • Write like you speak. Looking back now, my writing style hasn’t changed much in two years except to incorporate more of the knowledge I’ve learned in day-to-day Trench HR.
  • Quantity of posts is less important than quality, to a point. If you only post once every two months nobody will read what you’re saying. If you post once a week with a really thoughtful, interesting idea or two, people will take notice. Here’s a great blogging example of that by my buddy Michael Brisciana. He posts once a week or so but it’s worthwhile to keep up with! And once a week is 50 posts a year, which isn’t too shabby. That’s how I got RocketHR off the ground while keeping upstartHR going simultaneously.
  • It will make you better in so many ways, some visible and some not. I think I’m a better husband and dad because I am conscious of my time and work to make it worthwhile when I spend it with my family. I think I’m a better employee because I constantly am researching and building my knowledge base. Can’t tell you how many times something comes up at work and I’m able to say, “Well, I just read the other day that you can <insert brilliant solution here>.”

What would I do differently if I started over?

  • Write more. Yes, I write a good bit, but I wish I shared more content by guest blogging. I wish I had more time and energy to write all the ideas I have in my head. See the screenshot on the right? I have 300+ drafts if I just had time to write them all!
  • Take more time for mechanics/fundamentals. I take care of the essentials, but I wish I spent more time on things to help more people find the content that could help them be better at what they do. SEO, partnerships, etc. Room for improvement, eh? :-)
  • More shout outs! I would spend more time working on promoting others and helping them to be successful. I try to do that now but when it comes to shoving an idea out of my head and onto the screen, that has to win or I end up going crazy.

Looking ahead

  • Ongoing projects: HRevolution, Project:Social, eBooks, etc. I’m going to keep participating in these things and offering support wherever possible. My life is steadily getting more complex and I’m not sure of the time I can dedicate to additional programs, but I’m willing to offer advice at any time.
  • More products. I have ideas for a handful of targeted, valuable tools to help HR pros in the trenches.
  • Mentoring other bloggers. Want to do it? Hit me up. I’ll be glad to help with the entire set up from the technical to the writing to the networking.
  • Speaking and consulting. I’m looking for ways to get out and talk with more people. I have spoken at local events, I’m looking at working with one of the state SHRM leadership conferences to do something with the Rock Your Chapter stuff, and I am going to be doing more this year.

If I had to list everyone I appreciate for helping me get to where I am, you would leave and never come back. I’ll shorten it to say that I am so appreciative of everyone who makes this experience possible for me. In the daily life, there’s Melanie (everlasting patience and letting me bounce ideas off her), the babies (learning a lot about managing people!), and my manager when I say “Ooh, that’s going in a post.” Outside of that, I have the opportunity to work with so many amazing people. Trish McFarlane, Daniel Crosby, Chris Ferdinandi, Cori Curtis, Dave Ryan, Victorio Milian, Curtis Midkiff, Anne-Margaret Olsson, Chuck Salvetti, Stephanie Walsh, Crystal Peterson, Bryan Wempen, Krista Francis, Stephen Harrison, and many, many more.

Here’s to yet another great year of blogging!

Recently I posted a humorous item about being listed as a “Top 25 Digital HR Influencer.” It was all in fun, but there was something more serious brought to my attention by my friend Charlie Judy on the Trench HR LinkedIn group for “in the trenches” HR pros. He wanted to know why there were so few “real” HR people on the list and how we could get more people involved.

If you remember my Put Up or Shut Up goals for 2011, one of those is to help more people get started blogging. Just putting that out there might seem scary for you. It’s really not. If you don’t have the time for social media or you just don’t have the patience to get your own blog up and running, I would love to help. I want your voice out there.

My friend Steve Browne recently (finally!) started his own blog after months of people begging him to start one. He got started doing guest posts like the one on my site and built an audience of people who loved to hear what he had to say. Then someone gave him a free blog setup for Christmas. :-)

If you have something to say, let’s talk. Even if you think this blog might not be the forum for you, I’ll gladly help you reach out to someone else if I can. The best blog posts are those that talk about personal stories of triumph and tragedy, and everyone in the HR/recruiting fields has seen their fair share of those two things.

And if that’s not enough to spur you on, there could even be some PHR/SPHR recertification credits in there for you. Recently, the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) announced that they would award recertification credits for blog posts that fit their requirements. Here’s what it takes:

  • Credit is awarded under the Research/Publishing category.
  • Blog posts must be 700 words or more on a subject related to the HR knowledge base.
  • Posts must contain facts/data and not be an editorial or opinion piece.
  • Blogs must be posted on a site that is open to the public, whether it is the writer\’s blog or as a guest blog post for another site, such as SHRM Connect.
  • Links to posts must be provided in the submission for recertification.

If you are interested in blogging for fun, for the emotional release, or just because you can get a few recertification credits, please let me know. I haven’t been around this profession as long as many of you, but I know something for certain.

Blogging makes you better at HR.

How to get a press pass and attend events for free

Just want to say up front that this post is going to appeal more to the bloggers and social media users out there, but I still wanted to share with everyone because it’s neat to see the background of some of my (and other bloggers’)  activities. Learning how to get a press pass isn’t difficult, but it takes some effort to position the pitch just right.

When I pitch the idea of covering an event, I think long and hard about the organizer and what they want. The needs of an event planner are fairly simple (I should know).

  • Want people/sponsors to attend
  • Want publicity
  • Want next year to be even better

With those thoughts in mind, I start drafting my pitch. Things I want to cover:

  • Talk about my target audience.
  • Give them some traffic stats.
  • Point to previous event coverage.
  • Give a name or two as referrals to help prove authenticity.
  • Pitch SEO value for future events (when people Google the event, these posts will show up).
  • Tell them exactly what I will provide in exchange for a press pass, comped ticket, etc. (My usual coverage is 3 posts.)
    • Check out this event I am attending and what I expect from the experience
    • Live post during the event or review of a session immediately after
    • Final wrap up, parting words, and recommendation for the next year Continue reading