The dark side of HR

As research for this blog, I read a lot of job hunting and resume advice, most of it on the web. A lot of it, to be blunt, is trash. But I read something this week that really “angered up my blood,” as Grandpa Simpson would say.

It was from a blog on the Harvard Business Review site, of all places, innocently titled “Job Seekers: Get HR on Your Side.” If you’ve read this site before, you probably know that there’s no love lost between me and the vast majority of the Human Resources profession. But this article went above and beyond.

Purporting to show the value of HR, and why job hunters should “challenge their assumptions” about HR, it actually went on to emphasize how all those negative things we think about HR are basically true.

Yes, the author says, HR is basically out to eliminate you from the stack. No, they probably don’t know much about the job. Yes, they often value superficial niceties over real qualifications. Yes, they spend as little time as possible on your resume. Yes, they will likely act bored and dismissive towards you.

But suck it up, job hunter, because that’s the way it is.

The “case study” involving Zappos was even worse, depicting a hapless candidate who was rejected until he could show that he would obey every whim of HR without complaint – and with a smile.

“Any time I asked him to do something like tweak his resume, he didn’t give me an attitude, he just did what I asked,” said the HR manager. “He was very friendly and grateful for my help.”

My translation? “You’ll take my crap, and you’ll like it. Or I’ll make your resume into kindling so fast it will make your head spin, buddy.”

I’m not saying that this isn’t in fact the way the hiring world works, by and large. But asking a job hunter to celebrate it? That’s like a lower-middle-class guy cheering when Herman Cain shouts, “If you’re not rich, blame yourself!” That’s like the guy behind the counter at 7-11 smiling when he hears Gov. Scott Walker blame unions for his upside-down mortgage.

Got a bit political there. Sorry. Ahem.

But my point is – yes, as job hunters we have to work within a terribly flawed and frustrating system. But please, don’t ask us to like it. There are millions of people out of work in this country today, fighting mightily to stay in their homes and put food on the table. Thanking HR for their obstructionist ways is an insult to all those people and their efforts.

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