Recruiting In the Trenches with @ThisIsLars: Should You Care About Social?

Featured Guest Post by Lars Schmidt, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition & Innovation at NPR 

Later this week I’ll be presenting at the annual Recruiting Trends Conference. My session, Recruiting Lessons From The Trenches: How To Develop, Champion, And..., will explore how recruiting leaders can develop and integrate social recruiting into their workflow, as well as its impact. There is a lot of chatter about social recruiting; benefits, costs, ROI. In this session, I hope to demystify some of the most common myths and misconceptions, providing actual, actionable examples for incorporating social into bigger branding initiatives.

Social Media is a tool, not a strategy.

With all the buzz around social, it’s easy for recruiting leaders to get caught up in the hype. Don’t. If you feel compelled to get your recruiting efforts on social, just to say you are, it will show – and it won’t be effective. It’s not enough to have a presence on social. You have to actively and regularly nurture your network and build the type of engagement that helps supplement your traditional recruiting methods.

While I do think an employment branding strategy should be integrated into every recruiting strategy, the delivery mechanism doesn’t have to be limited to social media. Your career site, job descriptions, candidate experience – all of these are tools at your disposal to enhance your talent brand.

Social is a long play endeavor.

If you decide to pursue social, it’s important you’re prepared to put in the time and work needed for it to pay off. Social is not a quick fix solution. It takes roughly a year to build an engaged network that begins producing measurable and consistent results in terms of source of applicants and ultimately, of hires.

At NPR, we’ve built ‘the big three’ (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) into our top 10 sources of applicants and hires. Twitter, specifically, is our #4 source of hire. It’s been a key resource for helping us reach that elusive ‘passive talent’. This didn’t happen overnight. It took months of engaging, tinkering, and learning to build the kind of engaged community the bears this fruit. You can learn more about NPR’s employer branding journey here.

The image below is a graph from my Recruiting Trends presentation breaking down the three phases of a social recruiting roadmap. This is based on my experience at NPR, and skews towards the employment branding aspect of social recruiting.

So yes, social recruiting takes time. It takes a sustained commitment, and it’s not for everyone. If you're recruiting blue-collar talent, there are other resources where your time may be better served. However, I personally feel social has transformed recruiting and should be a component of most organizations' talent strategy. It’s not easy, and it takes commitment, but it’s worth it.

I understand the thought of this kind of commitment to social can be overwhelming for talent leaders. Trust me, as a non-profit recruiting leader I certainly feel your pain of limited resources – time being the most valuable. There are tools you can use to help you be more efficient, but it’s really about going through a process of trial and error to find the best way to incorporate social into your workflow – even if it’s just you managing it all. It can be done. And when it is, social can be a game changer to level the playing field and be an effective add-on to your traditional recruiting efforts.

About the Author: 

Lars Schmidt is the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition & Innovation at NPR where he is responsible for providing leadership and advocacy for talent acquisition strategies that align with NPR’s strategic mission and core values. Prior to NPR, Lars held various HR and recruiting leadership roles with companies including Ticketmaster, Magento, Pencom Systems and several startups in Los Angeles.

Lars is a fierce advocate for progressive HR with a strong track record in leveraging innovative talent and recruiting strategies. He was named a “Top 100 Influencer” by HR Examiner and "Top 100 Most Social HR Leaders on Twitter" by The Huffington Post. He’s also the founder of Amplify Talent where he writes and speaks about talent and recruiting trends, social media, leadership, recruiting tools and technology. You can follow him on: Twitter at @ThisIsLars, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Views: 2740

Comment by Noel Cocca on October 22, 2013 at 8:10pm

Thanks for the great post Lars.  

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on October 22, 2013 at 8:14pm

that is fantastic Lars - thank you so much! This is exactly what I needed and was afraid I would have to come up with on my own. :)

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on October 22, 2013 at 8:20pm

@ Tino: Oh, if it were a GAFIS World only on Fridays!  However, a world with a fully unleashed Keith in it would not be a happy place:"Be afraid. Be VERY afraid...."

I also think that any environment where calm, rationality, and foresight is a cause for congratulation, and I congratulate Lars as well. (I've occasionally contracted in places like that, too, and one of them was a non-profit, too.) 

Despite my (apparent) bitterness and cynicism, I think that perhaps this is "the best of times and the worst of times" and I really don't think we're descending into a Dickensian era quite yet.



Comment by Valentino Martinez on October 22, 2013 at 8:47pm

Keith,  Your view of the recruiting world is a reality check that all seasoned recruiters are quite familiar with -- my scar tissue earned over the past 40+ years can attest to that.  And we both have had our "Lars moment" (being in a place and time where everything seems to be clicking) where we had to pinch ourselves to make sure it wasn't a dream.  Those were short lived weren't they? 

Your so right about it being "the best of times and the worst of times" -- what matters is how we leverage both.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on October 22, 2013 at 9:06pm

great video! Well worth the time spent - I even stopped and started it a few times so I could take notes.

Charney's right - What Would Lars Do is going to be my new mantra :)

Comment by Derdiver on October 23, 2013 at 9:28am

Being in the same environment as Lars (DC area) we have never really seen a bubble burst here. We have had furloughs and a 16 day layoff but yet the work is still here. By implementing a similar strategy 2 years ago with the small business I work for we have been able to build and maintain a pipeline of contacts and candidates that have helped us increase business and keep our cost per hire to the minimum. I look at this as I did even when I was on the agency side. Continue to be within your tribe and be a voice within however it may be; Onilne, at conferences, events, etc. I believe that it is the very conversation being kept alive is what is important. Just my 2 cents.

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on October 23, 2013 at 12:56pm

@ Tino: Oh, if it were truly a world where GAFIS rule only on Friday and not mainly 24/7/365! However, a world with an unleashed Keith would not be a happy place. Be afraid....Be VERY afraid.

As far as Dickens: I often think this is “the best of times and the worst of times”, and also applaud Lars for creating (what sounds like) a highly-functional recruiting organization. I fear though, that the companies which would benefit most from what he's said and done are the least likely to do it, and vice versa. While he may cover this in some of his talks (I haven’t watched the video yet), I would find it more useful as a recruiter to learn how to turn around a highly-toxic, grossly-dysfunctional, political snake-pit recruiting environment into something more like what seems to be the case at NPR. ISTM our major recruiting difficulties are caused more by these types of problems (which seem to be much more rarely discussed in public,)than the more matter-of-fact "How do we use this new tool/do this new technique?" type. Maybe there are no 45 minute solutions to dealing with well-entrenched jerks determined to have their own ways at everyone else’s expense, but I'd sure like to hear a few if there are.



Comment by Tim Spagnola on October 23, 2013 at 7:03pm

OK- not ashamed to admit that last weekend I just got a tattoo in Old English that reads 'What Would Lars Do'.

Whew...thank you for not making me look like an idiot. 

Great post. 

Comment by Lars Schmidt on October 23, 2013 at 7:15pm

Thanks for your feedback, Tim. I'm afraid it's possible you might be regretting that soon. At least with WWLD you could have come up with some alternate acronyms.

Charney's making WWLD wristbands now, all proceeds go to Movember.  

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on October 23, 2013 at 11:04pm
I'll take a WWLD t-shirt, preferably girl cut v-neck so my sister in law can bitch about how unprofessional I am wearing such work related gear on Facebook. (Long story involving my other mentor HR Nasty :) )


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