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: 2951

Comment by Derdiver on October 22, 2013 at 10:33am

Excellent post.  I liked the fact that you drove home the fact that this is not an overnight fix and it is not for every market. I know people in all walks of life from construction to IT security that are on one or none of the big 3 social sites. Passive people do and will reach out to you IF you make your self available and respond to requests. Time and Patience. Really great read!!!

Comment by Lars Schmidt on October 22, 2013 at 11:28am

Thanks for your feedback Derek! I think they're both important aspects of social to reinforce. 

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on October 22, 2013 at 12:40pm

Thanks, Lars.

I think social recruiting is a very wise and sensible idea if an organization has the bandwidth, money, other resources, and will to devote time to creating a strategic pipeline many months or years in advance to smooth out hiring fluctuations and behave more strategically and less reactive. However:

1) Most companies don't have the bandwidth, money, other resources, or will to do this, and  

2)It's unreasonable to expect the same people who have to fill jobs NOW to also be responsible for creating, filling, and maintaining a long-term pipeline. I would LOVE to have a recruiting job where I'm paid just to reach out to form relationships with people who may or may not be interested in a job with us for 3, 6, 12, or more months, but it hasn't happened yet. 

Fundamentally, many of my colleagues and I live in an "I'll be gone, you'll be gone- let's do the deal" world. (This would apply particularly in cases of those firms who hire and place contractors/consultants.) I believe what you've described is good in an ideal recruiting world of unlimited resources, buy-ins, and timeframes, but again, most of us don't work in a world like that.



Keith, Proud member of KALW-FM in San Francisco

Comment by Lars Schmidt on October 22, 2013 at 1:10pm

Keith - Thanks for your comment, but I disagree with some of your assumptions. I agree robust pipelining is a strategy not all recruiting teams have the bandwidth to support. We don't, at least as much as I'd like us to. But employment branding and true pipelining are 2 different things. 

Bandwidth, money, resources, will?

I work for a non-profit, so I don't have any of the first 3 items you feel are necessary. I did have the will to get it done, and the vision to understand we'd be better served long-term to make this a priority. I was also fortunate to have a progressive leadership team, whose trust and faith I earned over time. 

We don't hire a lot of contractors. We hire about 120 (mostly niche) positions per year, mostly in DC. I have 1 recruiter aside from myself, so I'm still hands-on recruiting. I don't know your recruiting volume, and I don't know if the type of people you recruit are active on social, so I can't comment on what's best for you. 

As I said social isn't for everyone, but to assume it's only companies that have resources, bandwidth, and money misses the mark in my opinion. 

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on October 22, 2013 at 4:49pm

Thanks again, Lars. At least you have the will. You mentioned terms I'm not familiar with in the recruiting context: "vision," "progressive". What do those mean?

Here's an example of a possible difference between what you have at NPR and what many of us have:

I understand that NPR is cutting back staff 10% through buyouts ( In the environment in which my colleagues and I typically work in here in the SF Bay Area, if a company just slowed down its hiring (let alone stopped or reversed it), most of us in recruiting would be out on our ears very quickly until the next "drink from the fire hose" period occurred, and in the meantime, there would be considerable loss of knowledge, skills, and experience, since probably a large number of those in the next upturn period would have to learn the company's policies, procedures, etc. I would hope that in an environment such as yours, the recruiter would be kept on doing the types of longer-term strategies which we've already said are beneficial. My point is this: In an ideal world, calm, rationality, and foresight would prevail. In the real world, the GAFIS Principles (Greed, Arrogance, Fear, Ignorance/Incompetence, and Stupidity) dominate recruiting, except in a (far-too) few places such as NPR, and the firms who would most benefit from your advice and example are the ones least likely to implement it.



Keith Halperin

Comment by Valentino Martinez on October 22, 2013 at 6:01pm

Lars,  I suggest you hire Keith and unleash him in a world where GAFIS is only allowed on Casual Friday.

I applaud your accomplishment(s) at NPR which I wholly blame on you, your manager and the people you two put in place to make all this work in a not-for-profit.  And your suggestion that what you have done in the trenches in recruitment can be done by others, with a focused and dedicated approach, -- is actually proof positive.  Your outline is brilliant in its clarity. BTW--I also worked for a not-for-profit. You learn quickly how to leverage budgets where there is no budget. Kudos...

@Keith - You need to read more Charlie Dickens...he does have relatively happy endings in the face of serious GAFIS...

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on October 22, 2013 at 7:00pm

this is an incredibly timely article for me, as I'm meeting tomorrow morning to talk about / prep for a major SM change for my group. Wish me luck. :)

Comment by Matt Charney on October 22, 2013 at 7:11pm

Amy - good luck. When in doubt, ask, "What Would Lars Do?" Its helped me out numerous times in my career.

Comment by Valentino Martinez on October 22, 2013 at 7:44pm

Amy - Lars actually has a formal presentation...

Comment by Lars Schmidt on October 22, 2013 at 7:50pm

Hi Amy - The video might be a bit long, but here's a post with some of the highlights and a slideshare of my presenting with stats/etc. Good luck tomorrow! 


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