It’s all about the proof.

Caution! Opinion piece ahead.


It’s hard to escape your past.

When I was recruiting I used to say “it’s all about the proof”. When I interviewed a candidate and they made a claim I would always say ‘prove it’ I learned to never take anything on face value.

The problem with modern business is that so much of it is driven by opinion and those opinions are given credence by social media.

We’ve all heard the drill, in order to be relevant, a thought leader, an influencer ( insert the term of the week here ________) you have to provide content on social media. But what that mostly means is people are providing opinions. Now opinions can be important but when opinions are presented as guidance or a road map they would be better received if they had some proofs attached.

In my own field (career transition coach) it’s especially egregious. One page, two pages three ? what’s the right length for a CV ?  Articles entitled ‘be prepared to answer these 10, 20, 50 interview questions’. Articles that purport to inform you on the best recruitment methodologies because the author has recruited X number of people. I could go on and on.

Look, I’m not saying that this kind of writing is without merit. But in a business climate where we apply metrics to everything, giving a free ride to someone because they have written an article on social media without substantiation seems lazy.

Back in school teachers tried to instruct us on critical reading and thinking. At the root of that exercise was making sure that the authors we read had the bona fides to write about what they were writing about. In the pre-internet days this was easy because publishers vetted authors and edited and fact checked books, papers and articles.

In the internet age this is no longer true. The article you are reading now will be published to a potential worldwide audience in a matter of minutes without so much as a ‘by your leave’.

So what’s my point? Simply that if the internet and social media are going to be truly valuable, especially to the business community we have to be more focused on the proof. If you read an article and the author makes a claim say “prove it !” and if they don’t, call them out in the comments section. Perhaps if we all do that, we’ll get less unsubstantiated opinion and more supported opinion, and that, in my opinion, would be a good thing.

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