How 'Dan from HR' became TikTok’s favorite career coach

You can get a lot of advice about corporate America on TikTok. ‘Dan from HR’ wants to make sure you’re getting the right instruction.

Dan Space

'Dan from HR' has posted hundreds of videos on his TikTok account about everything from cover letters to compensation.

Image: Dan Space

Daniel Space downloaded TikTok for the same reason most of us did. He was bored.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Space wanted to connect with his younger cousin, who uses TikTok, so he thought he’d get on the platform and try it out (although he refused to do any of the dances). Eventually, the algorithm figured out that Space is a longtime HR professional and fed him a post with resume tips — the only issue was that the advice was “really horrible,” he said.

“It was essentially an urban myth advice that actually damages candidates’ chances,” he told Protocol. So he responded to the video and debunked it. “I never want to hurt people’s feelings, but my thought is ‘You can’t give bad information,’” he said.

Time and time again, Space started to see users with little to no HR experience give their followers bad career tips, and he felt he was in a good position to set the record straight. The former Spotify and Electronic Arts leader started posting about LinkedIn job postings, lesser-known career paths and other job market tips.

Close to two years later, Space has posted hundreds of videos on his TikTok account, “Dan from HR,” about everything from cover letters to compensation, and he’s amassed close to 100,000 followers along the way. His platform has unintentionally turned into a whole side gig; in addition to career consulting, Space is now a career coach for people who reached out via TikTok, and he eventually wants to start a separate account to help college students with their first careers.

Maybe without even realizing it, Space joined a small group of users who wouldn’t necessarily call themselves “influencers,” but are on the platform to give people tips and advice on the working world based on their experience. There’s Erin McGoff, a film director and video editor who helps people level up their resumes, as well as former tech exec Cathryn Patterson. These creators aren’t on TikTok to crack jokes about the corporate world like Rod or Corporate Natalie; they joined the platform to help young users, specifically, get the best job counsel.

For Space to meet that goal, he walks a fine line between telling users not to listen to creators with no past HR experience and trying not to hurt those creators’ feelings. At one point, he needed to tell his followers to stop tagging him in videos that included potentially poor career tips because he didn’t want to upset the person behind the post. Another time, a user told Space they would never post a TikTok again because he pointed out that the user wasn’t offering good guidance.

“I always try to be very careful that it's never the person [I’m] attacking, it's the advice,” Space said. “My driving force is I don’t want people to have this bad information.”

Space said he most frequently sees poor tips about interview questions and compensation on TikTok. For example, some users would tell their followers to be aggressive with salary negotiations, but Space said the key to negotiation is to make a business case for why someone should be paid more money. “Everyone says, ‘Use Glassdoor so you have market research,' but that’s bullshit because every company pays differently, and [companies] protect that information so you can’t really get market research.”

The TikToker said he’s also learned to stay away from some topics, notably unions, either because they’re too complex or will get an overwhelmingly negative response. He’s talked about his thoughts on unions before (and the backlash he’s received), but he’s realized that the issue is tricky to navigate on TikTok because people have already developed strong opinions on it based on companies that have exploited pay or work practices. In reality, there’s more complexity to unions because “every company is different and every industry is different and every HR team is different,” he said.

On the other hand, Space talks often about gender disparities and racism in the corporate world. While working in HR, Space said he began to notice a sharp increase in the number of white males making their way to senior roles and wanted to address the issue to his followers. “That became really important for me to talk about. As a white male, I have that privilege to talk about that and to utilize my platform to drive that focus, especially as it relates to pay transparency.”

The HR professional’s TikTok has become more of a community than he expected. Space said his platform became a safe haven while he was caring for his mom last year. After she passed away, he posted a photo montage, and condolences poured in, even from followers who seldom interact with his posts. “So many people tracked down my personal information by going on LinkedIn and sent me personal emails … that was so touching.”

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