Practioner’s Criticism into SHRM’s Blog Squad

What I really Think of the SHRM Blog Squad

I like to feature guest blogger’s who provide different and interesting points of view, and when Dave Ryan commented on my own blog post about the SHRM Blog Squad, Me + SHRM x (Blog Squad) = Dangerous, I encouraged him to serve as a guest blogger on Blogging4Jobs.


I am really thrilled that SHRM is going to have bloggers at the 2010 annual conference.  But when I saw the list, I could not help but think what audience are they trying to reach with the selection of this Blog Squad? Given, we do not know who applied and SHRM could only select from the group of bloggers who did apply. But I feel like my interests got trashed.   I am an HR guy in a relatively small, privately held manufacturing company.  I am the HR person who does it all. Mike VanDervort described me in this recent post. I am that person.

Practioner’s Criticism into SHRM’s Blog Squad

I have been involved with SHRM National and my local chapter (CIC-SHRM #223) for a long time and now at the State level (IL State Council).  In a completely unscientific measurement, I would say that many, if not most, of the people I come across who are SHRM members, find themselves in a similar capacity.   We are doing HR in the trenches everyday.

Now I look at the Blog Squad and think I don’t really relate to these folks and what they do(with all due respect, to Jessica, as she is gracious enough to give me her platform to question this, and I have also met, and like  all-around good guy Matthew Stollak akaBruno). On the Blog Squad, I see two Ph.Ds (author & professor), a recruiter and a consultant.  And then coming in at # 5 we have April Dowling, the only person who is a generalist (who does what I do). My mind works visually and the graph to the left represents my correlation to the blog squad.


Perhaps this is just my own Napoleonic complex coming into play here, it seems like the little guys and the smaller organizations are having a hard time getting a seat at the table.€ On the SHRM website, they say 50% of its members work at organizations with more than 500 employees.  I look at that and see 50% of its members work at organizations with less than 500 employees. I know the big Companies and big interests throw the big dollar$ at SHRM National.  But, can anyone give me an example of a 100-member or less local chapter that is headed by a Fortune 100 executive or Ph.D.?  It is, after all, the local chapters that hold the local meetings, put programs together with CEUs and do much of the bidding of SHRM National.   So, you would think they could give us a couple more bloggers who are generalists, or at least some folks who deal with the organization’s human resources day in and day out.

Guest blogger on Blogging4Jobs is Dave Ryan has been in HR since it was called Personnel. Dave is active with SHRM in many different aspects.  Dave is also a certified U.S.A. Hockey Official and a frequent speaker at local colleges who speaks about H.R. topics and social media in the workplace. Dave enjoys reading blogs, staying current on H.R. topics, officiating ice hockey, golf, computers and all gadgets electronic. You can find Dave on LinkedInDavetheHRCzar. and on twitter, @davethehrczar.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. adowling says

    I think SHRM might have been trying to cover all bases with their selection of the blog squad; Recruiter, Generalist, Author, Educator, Consultant. One of my complaints from the other SHRM conferences I’ve attended has been a lack of focus on the generalist role.

    I love your response to AKABruno about the Exhibit Hall, that’s exactly how I think and it’s exactly how I plan to approach my portion of the Blog Squad; how will this affect me as an HR Generalist, what did I get out of these sessions as an HR Generalist, what will I take back to my company as an HR Generalist.

    Great post Dave!

  2. John Jorgensen says

    Dave, I agree with your post. I would like to have seen a greater representation of trench HR pros. Not knowing who applied it is kind of hard to say SHRM avoided them. I am not unhappy with the quality of people they chose (full disclosure, 3 of them are HR friends) and I am looking forward to their posts.

    See you in SD.

  3. Michael VanDervort says

    Nice post, Dave. I inquired about the number of applicants to the blog squad, and the selection methodology on Twitter, but never got an answer. I applied and was not selected. It is pretty easy to detect some of the criteria: diversity, generational perspective.

    I have to admit I am disappointed to see that at least one of the “squadders” doesn’t use Twitter, but then I remember, they are not there to tweet.

    I am optimistic about SHRM’s approach to social media this year. They can do more. They can do better, but they are moving in the right direction.

    See you in San Diego, and thanks for the mention!

  4. akaBruno says

    Good post, Dave. If I recall, the criteria for applying was not very detailed (name, address, and a sample of writing, or link to blog). As Curtis Midkiff said in the press release, “The Blog Squad, all active SHRM members, were selected for their current blogging activities, social media knowledge, and a passion for human resources.” (

    My thoughts on the purpose of the SHRM Blog Squad was to give an attendee’s perspective of the conference; to capture the sights, sounds, and smells of the 4 day event, not only for those attending, but for those who are unable to attend. What was the exhibit hall like? What was hit and miss in the sessions? Etc.

    I will also mention that I’ve been involved with SHRM as a volunteer in a variety of capacities and levels for over 12 years (National College Relations Committee, Area IV College Relations Director, State Council Foundation Director, State Council College Relations Director, District Director, Chapter President of GBSHRM, as well as server on our college’s harassment resource committee and benefits committee.

    So, what perspective or view of the conference do you think will be missed, or not covered? Would someone who works in the trenches of a small company have a different view of the exhibit hall or session or Hall & Oates, then a consultant or recruiter or Ph.D.?

  5. Dave Ryan says

    Ok Bruno ya got me on being a volunteer leader, good job!

    It seems to me that the trench HR folks seem to have more of a pedestrian view to things, looking at matters as to how it affect me, my organization and how it applies to what I do. So based on the “how it affects me concept” generalist, recruiters, academics and consultants will all have their prospective. I was suggesting that perhaps more than 20% of SHRM members are generalists.

    In terms of providing an overall sense of the conference I would not think you would not have to be a trencher to do so.

    Bruno thanks for the comments; this blogging is tough stuff!

  6. nralph says

    I have to agree with Dave (a friend in the interest of full disclosure) on many of his points. When it comes to certain things, such as their website, SHRM hits it out of the park as far as the HR generalist is concerned. But when I attend events, such as the annual conference, I tend to get an “ivory tower” feel from the SHRM organization. I’m sure the individuals selected for the Blog Squad are all very capable, experienced, intelligent individuals. But let’s face it, April is really going to be the voice that represents a large portion of SHRM’s audience at this conference. I’m sure I’m going to read her posts and say, “that’s exactly what I was thinking!” That being said, I do look forward to San Diego and will definitely walk away from the conference with more knowledge than when I arrived. That’s what my membership is about for the most part, anyway.

  7. blogging4jobs says

    Thanks for the response to the posts everyone. I thought it was important to talk about this subject. Most of you know my own feelings about SHRM. I am encouraged with their use of social media although very slow.

    I was surprised that they didn’t select more than 5 members of the squad. There are so many different types of HR professionals. I am glad that they are acknowledging blogging as a form of media and credible information in our profession. I would like to see if there is a study regarding the members of SHRM and what percentage of them are HR Generalists, Recruiters, Consultants, Students, and Educators. Is anyone aware of something like this?

    Thanks again Dave for your post and great comments!


  8. HR Minion says

    I have to wonder if the blog squad group is more a reflection of who blogs and less on SHRM’s demographics. If more generalists and practitioners were active in blogging then maybe the make up would be different. Either way, I know that the whole group will do a great job and April will kick butt representing generalists everywhere!

  9. Benjamin McCall says

    I think all of the points raised are great. I think that it is always great to have, as April brings up, the Recruiter, Generalist, Author, Educator, and Consultant’s perspective. What I think is even more important then the perspective and views of each side, is the quality of writing in order to give all SHRM members not attending and attending a valid and easily understood glimpse into the conference as a whole.

    I will always argue that you need more deep step by step reflections on the side of training (which I think is always mentioned but never-ever explained in a way that is meaningful in any conference). Because what is thew conference but a huge “training and transer of knowledge”

    Look forward to seeing the views and blogs on the life going’s on of the conference.

    NOTE: The argument for or against who is or is not “in the trench-practitioner’s” being more represented in any conference or content is interesting. If someone is unemployed, a specialist in one area, a consultant or vendor… are they any less in the trenches (especially if they have years of experience and practice) but the only thing they lack is being in the “corporate or business” atmosphere?

  10. Mark Stelzner says

    I’m loving this conversation and have one simple suggestion – stop waiting for SHRM to give you permission to let your voice be heard.

  11. Dave Ryan says

    Thanks to all of you who posted comments, and a BIG thanks to Jessica for giving me her forum. My observations on the Blog Squad were some what off of the cuff, and now I have been presented a number of additional viewpoints, all of them equally good or better than mine.

    I did contact SHRM yesterday asking for a breakdown of SHRM membership makeup (e.g. 20% Generalist, 20% recruiters –etc.) Well, I did not get anything back from them so we will have to wait and see if I even get the data.

    For those of you off to San Diego – I wish you safe travels, and for those of you who aren’t attending, follow Twitter, as I predict a lot of tweets coming from SHRM10.

  12. AkaBruno says

    @Dave – I similarly tried to get the demographic breakdown from the SHRM knowledge center, and the response was that it was proprietary info. Perhaps you’ll have better luck.


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