It all came together for me in 2010. I can’t pinpoint the exact day, but it happened a few months into a new role leading recruiting & innovation at NPR. I didn't know it then, but that moment reshaped my career.
I had been working in the field of recruiting for 10+ years. I led global recruiting for companies like Ticketmaster and Magento, designing and executing talent strategies from executive search to ticketing operations for the Beijing Olympics to multi-billion dollar mergers. I was well versed in crafting global talent strategies, but the world of recruiting was about to undergo a seismic shift.
Back to 2010. I was a new head of Recruiting and Innovation at NPR building a talent strategy with non-profit budget and resources. The competitive landscape had us competing against for-profits companies on two fronts, News & Technology. I quickly realized my traditional recruiting playbook was relatively obsolete for this situation. I had to adapt.
I began thinking like a Marketer; personas, brand advocates, employee storytelling, multi-channel social activations, and more. The results were significant. Twitter became our #4 source of hire. Engagement skyrocketed. Candidates were more informed about what the work experience would be like, and we were winning those head-to-head battles with for-profits. This new playbook was paying big dividends.
We were now in a new era of modern recruiting. After three years at NPR I wanted to apply what I learned there and over my career to help other companies humanize the recruiting experience, and tell stories that matter. Amplify was born.
Today, Amplify partners with companies from SpaceX to Hootsuite to develop progressive talent strategies that support branding and growth initiatives.
Our values guide us. Our curiosity fuels us to keep learning and exploring. We bring these traits to each new engagement and leverage them to help our clients re-imagine the intersection of culture, talent, and brand.
Lars Schmidt, Founder & Principal
Lars Schmidt, Founder & Principal
Lars Schmidt is the Founder of Amplify Talent, a boutique agency that helps companies like Hootsuite, NPR, and SpaceX re-imagine the intersection of culture, talent, and brand. Before founding Amplify, he was instrumental in developing innovative talent strategies at NPR; recognized by Mashable, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and others. In prior roles Lars, was responsible for creating scalable high-growth global talent strategies at Ticketmaster, Magento, and several startups in Los Angeles.
Lars is also the Co-Founder of HR Open Source (#HROS), a global initiative to drive innovation and education in HR. He’s also a global keynote speaker and podcast host, sharing views and insights around the intersection of talent, culture, brand, digital engagement, and technology. Lars was named a Top 100 Influencer by HR Examiner, included in The Huffington Post’s Top 100 Most Social HR Experts on Twitter, and LinkedIn’s 50 Most Popular Recruiting Influencers. You can find him on Twitter @Lars. Lars lives in Reston, VA with his wife, two daughters, and their dog Mugsy.
Mission & Values
Mission & Values
Amplify's mission is to operate at the intersection of culture, talent, and brand - immersing ourselves in the latest trends, developments, and practices to drive expertise that creates continual competitive advantages for our clients.
Be leaders. Show. Don’t tell.
Be curious. Continuous questioning drives continuous innovation.
Be honest. Trust is everything. Without integrity, we’re nothing.
Be humble. Let your actions speak for themselves.
Be open. Transparency builds best practices and better results.
Be generous. Add value, don’t ask for it.
Be bold. Calculated risks create measurable progress.
Be resourceful. There’s no such thing as a silver bullet.
Be passionate. Love what you do. Life’s too short not to.
Be agile. Change is constant. Plan for it or plan to fail.
Be hungry. Expect Nothing. Earn everything.
Why Choose Amplify?
Why Choose Amplify?
We’re not gurus, or ninjas, or thought leaders, like many agencies. We’re hands-on practitioners – and we get it. With over 15 years of experience in the talent trenches building leading brands, we know what it takes to develop and drive the right solutions.
We create competitive advantage through constant experimentation and questioning of the status quo, developing innovative talent solutions designed to address all approaches and considerations our clients require for success.
No budget? No headcount? No problem. We specialize in helping maximize your ROI by developing high-impact campaigns and programs designed to help clients do more with less.
Culture and talent are different at every company, and therefore successful talent strategies are different for every client. With broad experience working with companies across all industries, from Fortune 500 multinationals to small start-ups, we have the expertise to build the right programs for each client.
You can’t improve what you can’t measure – and we believe in measuring our results to ensure you’re not only getting what you pay for, but we continue our track record of exceeding results and over-delivering for our clients.
No matter where in the world of work you work, we have extensive experience building scalable, sustainable solutions for some of the world’s biggest companies, such as Hootsuite, NPR, SpaceX and Ticketmaster. No matter the market, we speak the language of talent – and make sure that nothing is lost in translation when building your brand narrative and engaging the world’s top talent.
Awards & Recognition
Awards & Recognition
Glassdoor 2015 Recruiting & HR Thought Leaders to Follow
50 Most Popular Recruiting Influencers, LinkedIn
Top HR Companies to Watch 2015 - LAROCQUE
Team Lead, LinkedIn 100 Class of 2014 - LinkedIn
NPR Innovation Award - NPR
The Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts on Twitter - The Huffington Post
HR Bloggers Network 40 Under 40 - Starr Conspiracy
Top 100 Influencer in Human Resources - HR Examiner
Emerging Leaders Program - IAC/InterActiveCorp
Lars Schmidt's work in the recruiting and employer brand space has been featured in Fast Company, Mashable, Washington Post, Tech Cocktail, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Forbes, Social Media Examiner, SHRM, ERE, and more. He's shared his views on the intersection of recruiting and brand as a blog contributor to LinkedIn Talent Blog, SHRM We Know Next Blog, ERE, and more.
The collection below includes quotes and original authored posts for other publications.
Recruiting is no longer a transactional field. It’s now a creative field. This shift runs deeper than the cosmetic rebrand to “talent acquisition”. As competition for top talent continues to increase, companies have to rethink how they can stand out to draw talent. This new landscape puts increased pressure on recruiting teams to find news ways to stand out and cut through the noise – and this is mainly being accomplished through storytelling.
“Lars Schmidt, owner of the employer branding agency Amplify Talent and cofounder of #HROS, an open-source HR platform, explains the power of the dual messaging: “From a consumer brand standpoint, GE wants to reposition itself as a digital industrial company. From an employer brand standpoint, it’s trying to reintroduce itself as a place young technologists can go and do meaningful work.”
"Human resources (HR) is one of the most unsexy parts of any organization, but no matter the size or company age it’s a necessary component to operating properly. Companies need to recruit, hire, retain, and keep people happy, but the industry is a bit out-of-date, and typically follow certification programs that don’t cater to the largest growing workforce: Millennials. A new initiative, HR Open Source – created by Amplify Talent’s Lars Schmidt and Duo Security’s Ambrosia Vertesi – is looking to change all of this and then some."
“The way that employer branding is maturing and evolving, to me is really interesting, because recruiting hasn’t necessarily been considered a creative space,” Schmidt says. “It was more about selling and relationships, all those kind of soft skills. But now you really need creativity, as well. You need to find new ways to reach candidates and figure out how to use new channels. There is this kind of experimental nature to it right now that really fascinates me.”
HR is hard. The demands on most HR Leaders are both broad and deep, which makes it difficult to keep pace with the changes happening all around them. It’s increasingly important for HR practitioners to prioritize their own education, and really work that into their weekly flow. Try to step outside your functional area to better understand the full employee lifecycle and business.
The field of recruiting has advanced significantly over the past several years. We’ve gotten smarter. We’ve expanded our marketing skills and competencies to help our organizations tell stories and build our employer brand. We’ve seen an influx of new technology that impacts almost all stages of the recruiting lifecycle. There’s never been more choices — and those advancements have created a widening gap between leaders and laggards.
We’re all at different stages of the adoption curve in recruiting, whether we’re talking practices, approaches, or technology. What if those on the leading edge opened up their playbook? What if they shared some of the resources and practices that make them great? What kind of impact would that have on our field?
“The majority of legacy corporate recruiting processes are transactional, meaning real-time recruitment based on current needs. Some recruiting teams are taking a more proactive approach to recruiting by building talent pipelines or and/or leveraging CRM solutions that allow them to stay in touch with talent and build relationships over time. This is particularly effective for niche and hard-to-fill roles, where you may have to build relationships over months or years before the all the variables align for a hire,” said Amplify Talent Founder Lars Schmidt.
In this episode Matt Alder talks with Lars Schmidt of Amplify TalentEmployer branding is a much discussed and often much misunderstood topic. Over the last ten years the digital revolution has brought a significant shift in how companies are addressing the topicIn this interview Matt and Lars discuss what the modern definition of employer branding should be and how digital engagement and social media are driving thinking in this area. Lars also shares a case study about the work he has been doing with Hootsuite which embraces new technology to push the envelope on employer branding.
Lars Schmidt has a well-earned reputation for continuously defining and e=redefining the state of the art in recruiting. With Stints serving Ticketmaster, NPR, SpaceX and now HootSuite, Lars always champions the recruiting efforts of major players with brands that can be leveraged. One of his strengths is his ability to leverage the excess room in a brand.
National Public Radio, for example, has created hiring managers out of all their employees, giving prospective hires a better idea of what they are going into. For instance, having employees use a hashtag to talk openly about their jobs.
“I came up with the idea of #NPRlife at NPR as a simple hashtag employees could use when tweeting, Instragramming, etc. about work-related things that fans or prospects might be interested,” says Lars Schmidt, the Founder of Amplify Talent. “The intent was to create a platform where employees could share their experience, helping prospects get a sense of the culture and people they’d work with if they joined NPR.”
Looking for a job isn’t rocket science, but there are definitely best practices you’ll want to employ and mistakes you’ll want to avoid to make sure you aren’t attracting the wrong kind of attention from the hiring managers you are trying to attract. Before launching Amplify Talent, an employer branding and recruiting optimization consultancy based in Washington D.C., Lars Schmidt spent 15 years in recruiting roles, including the last 10 years running recruiting at NPR and Ticketmaster. He’s seen firsthand how the job search process has evolved. Schmidt addresses some key answers job seekers need to know to apply for opportunities successfully.
[Lars Schmidt], senior director for talent acquisition and innovation at NPR, turned to Twitter when he moved to the nonprofit public radio company from Ticketmaster. With tighter resources, creative strategies were essential to meeting his recruiting goals. He started an @NPRJobs Twitter account and now uses it not just to broadcast job openings but to share information about NPR’s work culture, publicize openings at member stations, and build community by offering career tips.
“The people who are great aren’t always looking for jobs, and they’re not necessarily going to our career site, but they are on social media,” said Mr. Schmidt. Two of his key hires last year applied for jobs after seeing postings on the Twitter feeds of people they followed.
Mr. Schmidt says the interaction with candidates and potential candidates is what makes the tool work. He estimates he replies to about 90% of the tweets he receives. “Companies that fail at recruiting on Twitter are the ones that only use it to broadcast jobs and don’t interact with anyone. If you’re just posting jobs, it’s no better than a job board,” he said.
In the age of social media, we have countless outlets for job searching. Platforms such as LinkedIn are the first to come to mind, but can candidates use Twitter to find jobs as well? This past Thursday the HR teams at Twitter and NPR collaborated in the first live #NPRTwitterChat aimed at helping job seekers use social media as a job search tool. The chat was centered on six questions that received over 800 tweets from industry professionals all over the U.S., and even some from New Zealand and the UK. Below is a recap of the topics covered in the chat as well as tips you can use in your own job search.
At a time when many companies and organizations are trying to effectively marshal social media resources to promote their brand and attract talent, Washington-based NPR has put these platforms at the center of its recruitment strategy. It’s an approach that by nature targets a job candidate who is digitally savvy and an active user of social media.
Lars Schmidt, the organization’s senior director of talent acquisition and innovation, said he has found social media to be “a great equalizer” when competing for talent. As a nonprofit, NPR has limited dollars to put toward hiring initiatives, and Schmidt said social media allows it to better compete against other employers with bigger budgets.
When Lars Schmidt launched NPRLife, a twitter hashtag that gives an inside look at working at NPR, it was one more in a series of bold, inexpensive moves. Schmidt, who has built Recruiting teams around the media industry, is the prototype of a pioneer.
He takes a lot of whacks at the jungle to see if there’s a path. Although Schmidt doesn’t describe himself this way, he is the poster child for a rapid experimentation, rapid fail approach to getting things done. Try it, see if there’s traction. If there isn’t, stop. If there is, do more.
This is a guy who creates a reality distortion field that causes stuff to happen. Somehow, he aligns himself with the fates and good things flow in his direction.
“Branding is critical for Recruiting”, he says. “In the news business, the product is the brand that matters. In Digital, it’s our national employment brand. What matters locally is how we’re perceived as a place to work. These are distinct manageable aspects of Branding. In our industry, we call it Employment Branding. It’s really just a layer of engagement with the overall brand.”
Keep your eyes on Lars Schmidt. His experimental attitude is exactly the way that innovation will percolate into our R&D free environment. In his case, influence is a combination of position, temperament and the willingness to leverage whatever you have.
Efforts don’t always have to cost a lot of money. In the last two years National Public Radio has held six “Serendipity Days” in which about 50 employees from different departments, including digital, engineering, HR and news, volunteer to come together and think of new ideas and projects over a two-day period. One idea behind the program is to “work with groups you wouldn’t ordinarily work with through the course of your week,” says [Lars Schmidt], NPR’s senior director of talent acquisition and innovation, who says in past sessions he has helped develop a new social-media training program for staff.
Network. One final tip is to grow your network – followers on Twitter, connections on LinkedIn, and friends on Facebook. Not only do they show that your ideas are worth listening to, they represent a critical resource that you bring to any employer.
“We’re getting to a point where your network is as valuable or more than your resume. It’s not necessarily what you know, but what you can get access to,” explains Schmidt of NPR.
Your network could give you access to other companies (in other words: potential business partnerships), as well as potential job candidates. In fact, new tools like Barrel of Jobs and GooodJob help companies hire the connections of their existing employees, who earn a referral fee in the process.
Sometimes what your job posting looks like can be more important than what it says. Using eye-catching formats shows that your company is innovative and willing to present information in easy to digest manner – pretty important if you are a news organization like NPR.
Lars Schmidt, senior director of talent acquisition and innovation at NPR, shared NPR’s strategy for exposing potential new hires to what it’s really like to be an employee at their organization.
“We used Socialcam to capture and share a more realistic perspective of what it’s like to be an NPR employee.” He went on to explain how, exactly, they did this: “We would record NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts using Socialcam, then push the videos out to our various social sites.” This visual element helped NPR “show the true experience, the energy and buzz of what it’s like to work at NPR.”
“The advantage of having a digital footprint for job seekers is that it makes them findable,” said Lars Schmidt, senior director of talent acquisition at NPR, which relies heavily on social media to advertise jobs.
Schmidt recently met with journalist Dawn Siff after she posted a quirky résumé she created on Vine, the Twitter app that allows users to share short, looping videos. Siff’s vine, titled “Why you should hire me, in 6 seconds,” was quickly beamed around the Web and garnered her phone calls from several employers.
NPR is rethinking the standard human resources-driven recruitment strategy. Instead, the strategy is to empower current employees to help with outreach efforts. Smaller nonprofits can also use Twitter to share insider views of their organization, making the culture more engaging and transparent. Creating an open organizational culture is becoming more necessary. Volunteers, funders, donors and other stakeholders are checking out nonprofit organizations prior to engaging.
It’s not just job-seekers who use Twitter. Increasingly, employers use Twitter for real-time recruiting. For instance, National Public Radio uses Twitter to find people who are the right match with the company’s needs and ethos. The organization’s head of talent acquisition, Lars Schmidt, observes:
“Successful recruiting campaigns are not just a broadcast of jobs. They are active campaigns to engage and interact with fans and prospects who are interested in the organization.”
In my role as a recruiter at NPR, I’ve experienced firsthand some of the different ways social media has changed more than just how we communicate with each other. It has created new opportunities for candidates and employers to get to know each other.
From Twitter and LinkedIn, to Facebook and YouTube, employers and job seekers are using a variety of social media tools and platforms to find each other. These can be very valuable resources when you are job searching (whether casually or actively) to help you research companies and positions, build your network and learn about the latest developments in your field.With so many social media platforms to incorporate into your job search, it can be difficult to determine which ones will help you be most effective, and most importantly help you land that perfect job.
Keeping in mind NPR is a nonprofit, it’s competing with other media power houses with big hiring budgets; social media tends to level the playing field. Leveraging their Twitter handle, @nprjobs, they manage to list job openings and show an insider’s point of view of the company. Encouraging its own employees to use Twitter and Instagram, they share photos and anecdotes of things going on in the office.
They’re leveraging hashtags, too. Aside from #nprlife providing an insider’s view, they started another one, #pubjobs. The goal? To garner a recruiting effort across all public media organizations to help each other share information about job opportunities.
“My first LinkedIn Talent Connect conference is in the books. As I wrote in a blog post on my way to Las Vegas, there were quite a few things I was looking forward to at my first #InTalent. The turnout was strong, with almost 2,000 recruiters from around the world converging on Las Vegas for three days of networking, sharing and learning. The energy was palpable. It was great being surrounded by so many of my recruiting peers at a conference.
I noticed some themes recurring throughout this year’s conference: employment branding, data-based decision making, Recruiting 5.0, Cory Booker (who owned the room), social media, and more. Let’s dig into three of the key themes of Talent Connect 2012….read more“
…To see how that plays out, wander the halls of a conference with Lars Schmidt, head of talent acquisition for NPR. “Recruiters don’t stay in the office anymore,” the public-radio executive explained one morning. “You need to be much more externally focused.” His old-fashioned ritual of swapping business cards has been redefined. Schmidt became a fan of CardMunch, a two-year-old iPhone app that turns photos of business cards into digital contacts. In January 2011 LinkedIn bought CardMunch and rebuilt it to pull up existing LinkedIn profiles from each card and prompt people to connect.
NPR’s Schmidt said journalists should use knowem.com to research and monitor the availability of their first and last name, or preferred “handle” for social media accounts. If your first and last name is already taken, then claim a relevant alternative, as Schmidt did with his own domain after realizing larsschmidt.com had been taken.
Schmidt’s final recommendation, interestingly, is an old-fashioned one. He urges journalists to “include a resume and have it up on your portfolio.” Yes, a resume. An easy-to-find resume, Schmidt said, is still the best way to say, “here’s what I can bring to your organization.”
2. NPR. The recruiting team at NPR has been very active in the social space as of recent launching their #NPRlife helping to drive conversations and communications around a very strong culture of fans and employees. Their Instagram account also supports theiremployer branding on other channels helping to drive influence and increase their candidate and fan base.
…Lars Schmidt is the talent acquisition leader at National Public Radio, a company he describes as “sort of a 40-year old startup.” NPR certainly has no lack of passionate fans, so tapping into the consumer brand doesn’t seem that challenging, but as Schmidt explained, the reality is a little tougher to tackle. “We’re obviously very entrenched in the news media space but we’re relatively newer to the digital space.” And therein lies the rub. “When you think NPR, most people’s first reaction is radio, most people’s first reaction is not digital.” And digital is exactly the type of talent that Schmidt and the NPR recruiting team has trouble finding.
“Consumer brand is hearing the end result of that on air,” he says. Employment brand is the experience of that employee.”
“It’s really important to know who within your organization you need to have good relationships with to be able to champion and move these ideas forward,” Schmidt says. “You can have the best ideas in the world, (but) if your leaders don’t get it, and don’t see that value, you’re not going to get very far.”
“A lot of what we’re doing in employment branding is giving our employees a voice,” says Schmidt, about NPR. “We showcase them, showcase their work.”
“…Here at NPR, we’re committed to promoting, and growing, #PubJobs. That means helping to promote all job opportunities throughout the public media system, not just via social media but also through word of mouth, conference and event-related promotions, and through our job application FAQs (something every NPR job applicant receives). We also point all of our applicants, successful or not, to opportunities in public media beyond NPR. (We believe strongly that we all benefit from having great talent in the system.)”
“…If you’re considering starting corporate recruiting accounts on these platforms, first build a list of top corporate Twitter feeds, or follow top employers on Facebook and then watch. See what they post, observe how they interact with their communities on each platform, gauge the percentage of posts that are job broadcasts versus others posts, and what type of messaging they use.
When you’re ready to launch the platform of your choice, don’t just use it as a way to broadcast job openings. Share content, pictures and videos. Interact with your followers; give them reasons to come to your community even if they’re not looking to work at your company.”
You may have seen the #pubjobs hashtag on Twitter in recent months, in connection with public media job announcements; that’s the brainchild of Lars Schmidt, Director of Talent Acquisition for NPR since February (pictured at left). Ditto @nprjobs, an account Schmidt manages that currently has over 4,000 followers, where he regularly re-tweets job listings for stations and other public media colleagues. Schmidt, the former Vice President of Human Resources for for Ticketmaster/ Live Nation Entertainment, says his recruiting philosophy is “driven by collaboration,” and social media is a space that makes collaboration a breeze — I’ll re-tweet you if you re-tweet me. Having managed several collaborations in public media myself, including the CPB-funded EconomyStory project, I can attest that social media is indeed an easier play space in many ways than, for example, coming up with a co-branding strategy; it’s low-hanging fruit, often with high-impact results.
As Director of Talent Acquisition at NPR, Schmidt broadcasts some of the strategies and best practices he’s experimenting with as he builds the venerable brand’s employer branding profile.
On both his personal Twitter account and as the voice of @NPRJobs, Schmidt’s approach involves inserting himself in the community and conversation, openly offering expertise and experience with no agenda other than a dual passion for technology and talent.
“It’s definitely a big deal.”
That’s what Lars Schmidt, director of talent acquisition for media non-profit NPR, said in an interview yesterday afternoon. “Facebook has the potential to be a huge player in recruiting and employer brand marketing,” he said. “However, I still don’t see it as a robust sourcing platform like LinkedIn.”
So you’re thinking about creating a separate career-focused Twitter handle for your company. You’ll just share a stream of job postings and call it a day, right? Wrong!
To convince people to follow along while they’re looking for a job and continue to listen when they are employed, you’ll need to share a steady stream of interesting content that really says something about who your company is. I know, it sounds like a lot to pack into 140 characters — but you can do it.
Here are five types of content to fill your career Twitter stream with, as illustrated by the always engaging @NPRjobs handle.