What Makes a Talent Blog Good

Just a year ago, there were fewer than a dozen blogs that related to recruiting or talent. Today there are probably over three dozen and more appear every day.

Gen Y recruiters regard them as mainstream and so do many Gen Xers and Boomers. Vendors of talent systems and services feel pressure to have a blog to showcase their awareness of the market and of the customer.

They are an inexpensive and fast way for an unknown recruiter or vendor to reach an audience. This, however, does not mean that blogs are well-written or even interesting. Some are just rants or raves and, unfortunately, most are not very good.

I define a good blog as having three characteristics:

  1. It must be concise and to the point. It should be something I can scan in two to three minutes and take away a nugget or two. I dislike long blogs, full of opinions without data or facts or links. If someone wants to write an essay, they should publish it as a white paper or an article. Blogs are for quick reading.
  2. It must offer fresh insight into a topic or take a current idea or trend and offer a different view. I don’t want to read blogs that are just a rehash of other people’s thoughts or diatribes about them.
  3. It should provide links to websites and other blogs where I can learn more about whatever the blogger is discussing. This is either to reinforce the content, validate it, or provide opposing thoughts. It should let me quickly determine through these links and references whether what is said is an opinion or a fact.

Most mornings I spend 30 minutes or so scanning the various blog entries that have come in overnight. Sometimes I miss a day or two, then have a bit of catching up to do, but the time spent usually pays off by making me aware of something new or by jolting me into thinking about an issue in a different way.

The blogosphere enriches and overwhelms. It is very hard to know whether what is written is a fact or an opinion. Ideas are thrown out without the oversight provided in more traditional media by a producer, editor, or director.

This requires that you read blogs written by reliable, trusted sources and that you calibrate what you read with your own experience.

Here is my incomplete and fairly short list of blogs that I like. All of these blogs relate to the world of talent: recruitment, human resources, or development. What I have tried to do is to compile a set of blogs that, taken together, give an overall picture of what is happening in the world of talent.

There is Gerry Crispin’s lively blog called the CareerXroadsAnnex annotating his talent-related journeys around the world and his activities in human resources. He writes about once a week and has a style that both entertains and informs. Gerry can always be counted on to discuss an issue from a little different perspective or chronicle an event in a memorable way.

And every few days, Todd Raphael of ERE keeps us up to date on current events and happenings in the recruiting space, reporting about people, vendors, and corporations. His blogs are short, filled with links and easy to read.

If you are focused on Asia, particularly China, there is no better source in English than Frank Mulligan. Frank is an Irishman who has lived for a decade or more in China and runs an RPO there. He is well connected and very aware of the issues organizations face as they try to find talent there.

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Some blogs are in area related to recruiting such as the future of work, the generations, or employee development.

Russ Eckel, a sociologist who researches the differences between the generations, discusses the values, beliefs, and work habits of the under-30 generation that is just now entering the workplace in large numbers.

Charlie Grantham, a professor at the University of San Francisco, writes a fascinating blog on the future of work. He covers topics from what work might look like down the road to what the workplace will even look like in a few years. The blog contains a rich set of links and great information for anyone in HR.

Several vendors contribute solid blogs and illuminate the technology space particularly well.

One of my favorite is by Alice Snell at Taleo, who covers a lot of territory in her blog commenting on everything from screening processes to hiring in Singapore.

Another blog, commenting more on employee performance than recruiting, but nonetheless very relevant to recruiters, is that by Success Factors. It’s called Performance and Talent Management.

While this is a very small list, it represents a cross-section of commentary and thoughtful practice from some very good people. From time to time I will present other blogs.

After all, they seem to spring up almost daily, but I encourage you to skim widely and wisely.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.

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9 Comments on “What Makes a Talent Blog Good

  1. I personally don’t grade blogs if they are any good or not. I think they are personal opinions based on the writers experience. Half of the rss feeds I read (blogs included) are just gateways to ideas that can be tweaked to what I need in the marketplace.

  2. Like you, I’m usually working on my first cup of coffee as I scan through these articles. Spare me the drab white paper, I want not only great ideas and content, but I also enjoy the personal touch/pizazz/humor as well (thank you Howard Adamsky, Steve Levy and others, you know who you are).

  3. I’m a convert and excited about this new recruiting tool. Time committment can be tough but worth it in the long run.

  4. Kevin,

    I think you’re casting your net in the shallow waters. In early 2006, I had over 300 recruiting blogs I read – and the number has been exploding since then.

    There are hundreds of corporate blogs that have been started for employment purposes.

    There are 60 million blogs worldwide, 12 million in the US, all updated at least once a week – and this doesn’t include MySpace.

    There are software blogs, HR blogs, recruiting blogs, employment blogs, local recruiting blogs, blog portals, and, recruitment marketing blogs, staffing sales blogs, ATS blogs, and those are just the ones in my RSS reader.

    So what makes them good? They are varied. Some are long – some are short. Some summarize what’s going on in the world of online employment, some provide in-depth reporting by industry experts. Some mock columnists, and some suck up to columnists for the links. The variety is what makes them good.

    What may work for you, may bore a line recruiter silly. What seems like wasteful dribble to you, may seem cute and entertaining to an HR generalist. Your list of favorites does indeed have some great names on it – in fact, they are all people who write well, have good experience, are respected by their community and analyze the industry from a clinical standpoint. In other words, they are just like you.

    And while your viewpoints are valuable, they are only a part of the larger conversation that is spilling out past sober assessments of the employment world and digging into the nitty gritty of hiring. Dave Mendoza, Magic Pot of Jobs, MNHeadhunter, Secrets of the Job Hunt, and many more deserve recognition – and of course, Recruiting.com, which has to get some props for any serious discussion of talent blogs.

    I’m glad you’re pointing out the value of blogs – but I want to make sure your readers understand your, uh, counting and analysis is a little one-sided.

    This would have been a great column in 2004 – but that’s okay – the blogosphere moves so fast that we are often all left behind. Why – I didn’t figure out how to embed video until November!

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