Perhaps it's the finely honed search skills recruiters have that sets them up to be OPSE (other people's search engine). I know I get calls asking if I could "look this up". Sometimes I ask "did you try?" and sometimes I don't bother because by the time I do I have the answer and it's just easier to give people what they want.

A short Twitter conversation happened on Friday, sparked by Laurie Ruettimann's revelation that she "received feedback that "google it" as an answer to a question is rude." I recall my father telling me to "look it up" plenty of times when I was a kid.

I would understand if someone needed information that couldn't wait and didn't have access to the Internet or a phone directory or 411 (how often is that really the case?). However, it was hard for me to understand why a certain person calls me every quarter to ask the local unemployment rate so she can complete her report.

My quarterly response has always served to qualm the curious mall lady. Except for this time...

"That doesn't seem high enough, are you sure" she asked?

I told her I googled it and got the graph. Then she did it... She asked if it wouldn't be better to get the information from the government. I explained that indeed it came from there but rather than having to know exactly which website to go to I just googled it..

I explained how she could go to and enter the search term to use and eventually the conversation ended.

Keith McIlvaine asked the burning and seemingly logical question, "if you have a questions, why wouldn't you "Google It" first then ask someone if you don't get the answer" but it was Maureen Sharib who made sense of it all...

It made me stop and think. The mall lady called from her desk and she was using a computer to do a report, but where I have an igoogle dashboard as my homepage - tracking reputation of the organization I work for (and mine too), the weather, feeds from BLS and other data important to me, the mall lady doesn't even remotely understand the power of search.

I'm really independent and I can't come up with an example of a time I wouldn't try to figure out something myself before asking, just like Keith suggested. But maybe that's why we do what we do and we are who we are. When the mall lady calls in September I'll be ready.

Do you find people ask you things they could look up themselves or are you a mall lady?


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