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Recruiting

A Tale Of Two Entrepreneurs

kara-lars

The other week I had an opportunity to chat with a friend of mine, Leela Sreenivasan from LinkedIn, about my thought process in deciding to leave the corporate world and launch a new business. She was working on a blog post for the LinkedIn Talent Blog and gathering thoughts from me and a fellow new entrepreneur from the talent world, Kara Yarnot (@klyarnot).

In reading the post, I was struck by the similarities between Kara and my paths to starting a business. Both of us had great full-time roles we enjoyed. Both of our moves were triggered in some way by internal drivers within our organizations. We both cited the influence and impact of our networks in supporting our decisions. We also shared the same sentiment about what we felt we’d miss most in making this decision – leading and mentoring teams. The similarities were quite interesting.

Kara’s company, Meritage Talent Solutions, was launched to “disrupt the talent acquisition process and marketplace by providing a blend of solutions to impact the way companies acquire talent”. She has the experience and vision to make a big impact in our space. I look forward to watching Kara and Meritage’s growth.

You can read more about Kara and my views on launching a new business in the original post below.

Have you ever considered striking out on your own? If you think you’re ready to climb out of the corporate recruiting trenches and advise your peers, read on.

In the last several months, two of my favorite corporate talent acquisition leaders stepped away from high-profile corporate roles to launch their own consulting firms. First Kara Yarnot, who previously ran the Talent Acquisition Center of Excellence for Fortune 500 company SAIC, resigned and launched Meritage Talent Solutions. Then Lars Schmidt gave up his Senior Director role at NPR to focus on his new business, Amplify Talent.

In speaking to both, I identified certain commonalities in their stories (beyond, coincidentally, both of them living in the Washington DC metro area).  As they struck out on their own, our protagonists each had the following 5 things going for them:

1. The sudden impetus to go out and do it.

Both Kara and Lars were sitting pretty in their previous jobs – until a business shift made them rethink their careers. In Kara’s case, SAIC split into two separate companies, heralding change for the Talent Acquisition function. And while Lars had been mulling over the opportunity for a while, the catalyst was the departure of his VP HR and the resulting team re-alignment.

2. A powerful and extensive network.

Kara and Lars assert that who they know will be vital to their success. “Our community is incredibly supportive, even to those of us who ‘change sides’,” said Kara. “I have a large number of connections that have given me advice, sent me leads, reviewed my marketing materials and challenged my business model.  I will be forever grateful for all of the advice and counsel.”

Lars agrees that “If you’ve worked hard to cultivate a network, they will be there for you.” For him, launching the business “really reinforced to me how important relationships are – a core learning for any new entrepreneur.”

3. Determination and know-how to drive wholesale change.

Whether you work in Talent Acquisition or any other function, change management is not for the faint-hearted. But apparently it’s something that both Kara and Lars run towards, not flee from. Before launching her firm, Kara did explore other more mainstream careers, “to be sure that other corporate opportunities weren’t going to meet my need for regular change and disruption.”  When they didn’t, Meritage Talent Solutions was born. Having heard her speak with authority on the power of pilots and working on ‘small, manageable chunks’ to make change stick, I know she embraces that challenge.

Similarly, Lars notes how “most recruiting teams today are so heads-down with their requisition loads that they have a hard time thinking differently about how to engage and attract talent.” If your recruiting organization is ‘bogged down in transaction mode’ and needs help thinking differently, Lars says he’s your man.

You can read the rest of the post, 5 Things You Need to Form Your Own Talent Acquisition Consulting Shop, on the LinkedIn Talent blog.

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Recruiting

Dice Tech Salary Survey Results – 2014

Dice just released their 2014 technical salary survey results. You can download the full survey here.

The report provides insights into the current state of tech hiring across the U.S. The infographic below provides details of the top five salaries and markets for technical talent in 2013.

Dice_2014 Tech Salary Cities

In today’s competitive hiring market, retaining your best technical employees is vital. Rest assured your best technical talent is getting regular calls from recruiters. Will they listen? Are you doing enough to retain them?

The chart below breaks down some of the ways organizations attempted to retain their talent in 2013. They include compensation, increased responsibilities, recognition, and work flexibility.

Dice Retention Motivators

The full report goes into more details on the current state of technical salaries and expectations. More details below:

Dice’s Salary Survey Report for 2014 shows that salaries and confidence are rising for U.S. tech professionals, but tech powered companies are on edge as compensation satisfaction slips.

More tech professionals in the U.S. enjoyed merit raises last year, driving average salaries up nearly 3% to $87,811. Tech professionals understand they can easily find ways to grow their career in 2014, with two-thirds of respondents (65%) confident in finding a new, better position. That overwhelming confidence matched with declining salary satisfaction (54%, down from 57%) will keep tech-powered companies on edge about their retention strategies.

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Recruiting

The Anatomy Of A Top 10 LinkedIn Company Page: Inside NPR

The following post was originally published on the LinkedIn Talent Blog. You can find the original post here.

Last week LinkedIn released their Top 10 Company Pages of 2013. I was surprised and excited to find NPR among them, listed alongside organizations like Kellogg, Adobe, Dell, Mashable, Hubspot and more. As an admitted employer branding geek, I’ve been preaching the benefits for years. I’m also a believer in open-source approaches to work, so wanted to share some of the tips and tactics that helped us make this list.

But wait, isn’t NPR a household name?

In the U.S., this is true. NPR has been around for over 40 years. We’re fortunate to have an incredibly engaged audience, and fans who support us. This certainly gives us an advantage around discovery, but LinkedIn company pages followers are only part of the formula. The real keys are content and engagement. Your name may get people to click the ‘follow’ button, but name alone won’t get them to return and engage with you.

Don’t you need a big staff and resources to be effective in talent branding?

This tends to be one of the bigger misconceptions about social media in general, particularly as it relates to recruiting and employer branding. You don’t need an army of Community Managers to be effective. You need discipline, and tools, and a learned sense of time management – but even if you’re a team of one, you can make an impact. At NPR, we’re a non-profit with limited resources and a lean three member recruiting team. This means that I solely manage our LinkedIn company page (among other responsibilities). It can be done effectively, you just need to be disciplined with your time and use tools to enhance your efficiency. More on that later. Continue reading

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Recruiting

Signing Off: My Career At NPR And What’s Next

Photo by Lars Schmidt

I’ll miss #nprsunset

I still remember my first week on the job at NPR in February 2011. I was touring All Things Considered at the beginning of the Arab Spring, watching the remarkable buzz and pace of the newsroom while covering a Mubarak speech. I sat in the main studio waiting room, speaking with a four star general before he stepped into the studio to be interviewed by Robert Siegel. It was so impressive to this newsroom neophyte, and I knew I joined something special.

I didn’t grow up a backseat baby. I joined NPR with a deep admiration for their journalism and unbiased programming, but not with a deep understanding of public radio. As the next several months passed and I began to get my bearings, I was often struck by my colleague’s intelligence, compassion, creativity and deep passion towards NPR’s mission to create a more informed public. Even though I was the proverbial new guy (an ‘HR’ new guy at that), I was welcomed warmly.

I’ve had an opportunity to work with many brilliant and interesting colleagues, not to mention a stellar stream of candidates and new hires who are shaping NPR today. I readily found collaborators who were willing to experiment and try new campaigns, like #NPRlife. I was fortunate to have a supportive group of HR colleagues and a boss in Jeff Perkins who empowered me to think big, take calculated risks, and not be afraid to fail. I met kindred spirits like Elise Hu and Danielle Deabler, who allowed me to get involved in inspiring initiatives like Generation Listen. I’ve had the opportunity to share our employment branding and social recruiting journey through conferences and media like Mashable, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, TwitterHootSuite, and others. Continue reading

Recruitment
Recruiting

How To Design A High Impact Interview Process

HiringHiring. It’s one of the top factors in determining whether your organization will succeed. Your people, and the culture they help you build, shapes the DNA of your organization. What are your values? What do you stand for (and against)? Why do you exist as an organization? The answers to these questions are generally framed by the founders or executives, but your employees are the ones who determine whether your organization truly lives these truths.

Early Stage Hiring: Phone A Friend

When you’re an early stage startup or small company, hiring tends to involve tapping your collective networks to see who you can hire. This process may lack diversity, but it’s a path of least resistance and generally leads to low-scale hiring success. As your organization grows, these networks grow thinner and begin to dry up. This tends to be the growth stage when most organization will bring on recruiting help, whether in-house or agency, to help them reach new candidate pools.

Building A High-Growth Interview Process

When you’re in high-growth mode you need to build an interview model that’s efficient, effective, and continues to provide the critical lens through which you want your candidates to be viewed through. It’s important this process has enough structure to be followed, but scales and offers flexibility when needed. The ‘Ideal process’ will vary as it should be tailored to each organization, but the following items should be factored in to most high-growth interview procedures.

Requisition Approval Process

Things move fast in high growth organizations, particularly startups. Strategic decisions (including hiring plans) can be made over coffee or beers. It’s important to have a light-weight process that ensures the appropriate stakeholders (Finance, HR/Recruiting, Division lead) have all signed off that the position is within budget and organizational hiring timeline/priorities. You’re recruiting resources are valuable, and you don’t want to waste time building and engaging candidate pipelines for jobs you won’t hire.

Sourcing & Networking

Recruiting is a team sport. Successful companies get this. No matter how effective your recruiting team is, the reality is that their reach only goes so far. It’s vital to build programs that allow the entire organization to rally behind the company’s growth. Strong recruiting teams will develop programs to ensure that all staff are aware of current hiring initiatives (particularly essential roles), and equip their colleagues with the tools and resources they need to be effective brand ambassadors.

Interview Prep

When you’re hiring at scale, it’s important all the stakeholders are really dialed in on the profile you’re targeting in each role. The hiring manager and recruiter should meet with the interview team before interviews begin to discuss the job description, target profile, intangibles, projects and initiatives they will work on, how the role interacts with their area (for cross-functional interviews, which most will tend to be), cultural fit, etc. This discussion is vital in ensuring all the stakeholders are on the same page and fully aware of what they’re vetting.

Interview Process

The recruiter should discuss the ideal process with the hiring manager during their search strategy kick-off meeting. The interview process should be generally defined so internal teams know what to expect, but also flexible to allow you to accelerate if you find stellar talent that has competing offers. The recruiter is generally the top end of the filter – evaluating candidates fit, motivations, qualifications (generally for technology roles), and identifying any potential blockers that might need to be overcome. Once determined qualified, the candidate will generally speak or meet with the hiring manager via phone/Skype/etc. This step is not always necessary, but important for technology roles to vet skills more deeply than a recruiter may be able to vet. Evaluations, code samples, and problem-solving/behavioral exercises help streamline this stage of the process. Free tools like Skype and Google Hangouts, or paid tools like WePow and HireVue, are valuable here as they allow more robust discussions in the early stages of the process to determine fit and potential. Following the initial vetting to confirm viability, the candidate will come in and meet the interview team for further vetting on skill and cultural fit. I find adding some structure to those interviews (behavioral questions, splitting competency evals per interviewer, etc.) adds value to this stage.

Candidate Experience

This is a really important to embed and reinforce throughout the interview process. How an organizations treats candidates, good or bad, is a tweet of GlassDoor post away from your talent pool. If you communicate regularly and treat every candidate with dignity and respect, you have an opportunity to create advocates. They may not get hired, but they will have a deeper respect for your company – and they will tell their friends. Open and regular communication goes a long way in enhancing candidate experience. An example is a recent ‘Candidate Experience Pledge’ we created to give NPR applicants a detailed overview of what to expect from the moment they apply.

Decision

After the interview, you’ll want to get the stakeholders together to discuss feedback. There are a variety of ways to do this. One way I’ve found to be productive is brief written evaluations (based on pre-determined templates) sent to the hiring manager and recruiter, followed by a group discussion. Gathering the written feedback in advance allows for unbiased input, and raises potential red flags to be discussed in the meeting. The eval includes a thumbs up/down on support for hiring. The hiring manager has the ultimate decision, but should ideally get near consensus from the interview team. Any red flags that are surfaced should be discussed and addressed during the review meeting.

These are just a few things to consider when developing a high-growth interview process. What tips and procedures have you found successful when developing your hiring plans? Please share in the comments section.

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Recruiting

Developing A Winning Talent Brand: LinkedIn Talent Connect Session [Video]

The following video is from the 2013 LinkedIn Talent Connect session, “Developing a Winning Talent Brand as a Small to Medium-Sized Business”. It highlights some of the techniques and methods NPR and Suncor Energy used in developing their talent brands.

You can learn more about what was covered in this session in my #InTalent preview. [Las Vegas, NV, October 2013]

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Recruiting

Recruiting In The Trenches: Should You Care About Social?

The following is a re-post from a guest post I shared on RecruitingBlogs.com this week. You can find the original post here.

This week I’ll be presenting at Recruiting Trends annual conference. My session, Recruiting Lessons From The Trenches: How To Develop, Champion, And Manage Social Media Recruiting Strategies That Work, will explore how recruiting leaders can develop and integrate social recruiting into their workflow, and the impact it has.

NPR Recruiting Manager Infographic

There is a lot of chatter about social recruiting; benefits, costs, ROI. My aim will be to demystify some of that, and provide actionable examples of how to implement social into your 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 (like the example on the right), 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 source of applicants and 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. Continue reading

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Recruiting

#InTalent Preview: Develop A Winning Talent Brand As A SMB

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This week I’ll be hitting the road to attend my second LinkedIn Talent Connect conference. Talent Connect (#InTalent) is LinkedIn’s annual user conference; bringing together users, speakers, and recruiting thought leaders from around the globe to spend three days learning about the latest trends in recruiting. I enjoyed my first Talent Connect experience, and shared my review on their LinkedIn Talent Blog.

I was happy to be invited back as a speaker for this year’s event, and wanted to share a preview of our session below. I’ll be joining two talented peers from Suncor Energy, Lauren Larose and Stephanie Ryan. If you’re not familiar with Suncor, a Canadian-based global energy company, you can learn more about them here.

You might ask how organizations like NPR and Suncor got paired for a Talent Connect session (full disclosure, I’m sure we did as well). While our organizations appear quite different on the surface, we learned during our session planning that we traveled similar paths in developing our talent brands. We each had unique challenges based on our organizations, and our tailored tactics differed, but our strategy and roadmap was surprisingly similar.

In our session, “Developing a Winning Talent Brand as a Small or Mid-Sized Company”, we’ll be sharing our individual stories of how we went about building our talent brands.

We’ll focus on four key areas:

  1. Define Your Talent Brand

  2. Gain Executive Buy-In

  3. Develop & Execute

  4. Measure & Optimize

Our presentation will be Wednesday 10/16 from 2:45-3:45pm in Room 312/317. If you’re attending Talent Connect, we hope to see you there. You can read the full session overview below.

Develop a Winning Talent Brand as a Small or Mid-Sized Company

You can follow along on Twitter at #WinningTB

2:45 PM – 3:45 PM  Wed, Room 312/317

Lauren Larose Marketing & Communications Advisor at Suncor
Stephanie Ryan Manager, Talent Acquisition Marketing & Stakeholder Relations at Suncor
Lars Schmidt Senior Director, Talent Acquisition & Innovation at NPR
You don’t need to be a Fortune-ranked company or the latest hip start-up to have a winning, engaging talent brand. You do need the right strategy, planning, and action. In this session, you’ll hear from two talent acquisition leaders from Suncor and NPR’s Head of Talent Acquisition & Innovation on how they brought their employment brand to life through a targeted multi-channel approach. Core takeaways will include how to create and garner internal buy-in for an employment brand targeted talent attraction strategy, how to engage your employees and build brand ambassadors, and how to measure success.