Job Search

Job Search Advice: #NPRTwitterChat II Recap

This is a recap of the second #NPRTwitterChat, a collaboration between the HR teams of NPR and Twitter. #NPRTwitterChat is a quarterly chat that brings together experienced professionals at the intersections of HR, recruiting, and social media to provide job search advice and share jobs.

In this edition of the chat, we covered the following topics:

    • Q1: What Social Media advice do you have for recent grads or students/interns?
    • Q2: The job requires experience, but I don’t have any. How do I get it?
    • Q3: What are some tools, tips, and tech that can help in your job search?
    • Q4: I’m a perfect fit for the job why didn’t I get it?
    • Q5: How can I build relationships with recruiters and/or employees in companies I’m interested in?
    • BONUS: Hiring? Take the last 10 minutes to share your jobs with chat attendees.

We had over 50 participants sharing their experience, tips, and recommendations. You can find the Storify recap link below:

#NPRTwitterChat II Recap – 5/30/13

We’ll be back for the third installment of #NPRTwitterChat in late Summer. In the meantime, you can keep up with our friends at Twitter on @JoinTheFlock, and NPR at @NPRjobs.

Be sure to check out the Storify for many other participants who regularly share career and job search insights like Laurie Ruettimann (@lruettimann), Jessica Merrell (@Blogging4Jobs), Matt Charney (@mattcharney), Justin Mass (@jmass), Steve Levy (@levyrecruits), and others.

Data Brain

Employee Engagement: Can Data Save Your Organization?

The following post was co-written by Susan Strayer LaMotte of Exaqueo.

As the economy continued to tank in 2011 and 2012, employee engagement dropped with it. Down economies often impact organizational loyalty in a negative way and Mercer’s 2012 report confirms that. According to the report, 24% of organizations are reporting lowered engagement up from 13% just two years ago.   And while organizations continue to invest in employee engagement, or some form of loyalty strengthening activities, popular HR analysts and bloggers are challenging the notion of engagement score value.

Companies do care about employee feedback: 96% of Fortune 100 companies and 65% of mid-sized companies use some sort of employee surveyBut is fighting for increased engagement scores a good use of executive time and attention? And are increased scores really that valuable to your business?It’s data that’s valuable. But it has to be the right data. Data that provides insight. Data that’s proactive.  Imagine if you had a sense of when your best talent was restless and contemplating leaving – Turnover, particular involving key talent, costs employers billions of dollars every year. There are a variety of ways to consider and calculate the costs – recruiting fees, training/onboarding, lost productivity, hidden costsburnout – it’s a cyclical problem that many organizations face.

The HR profession’s answer to this challenge hasn’t changed much over the years. We create annual employee surveys and performance reviews to measure individual performance and collective themes and trends across our workforce.  These procedures are often ridiculed by staff as a ‘check the box’ exercise, and in many organizations are meaningless unless truly championed by leadership and bought into by the organization.

There are exceptions of course. Organizations that are truly performance-driven are often successful because they have leaders and line managers that are constantly checking in on their teams, identifying and addressing challenges and celebrating wins as they happen, using incentives, and openly and honestly confronting challenges head-on.

So why is it that the HR community has seemed to settle on an annual or bi-annual assessment? A great deal can change in a year. The world of work has evolved. The goal for many employees is no longer 20 years of service and a nice watch, particularly for Gen Y talent. Employees want to be challenged and make an impact. They want to be recognized – and they’re less likely to hold onto a job where they don’t feel satisfied, and job dissatisfaction costs companies talent.

In today’s workforce where job mobility is becoming the norm, it’s even more important for organizations and leaders to regularly assess the mood and culture of their organization, and take steps to address issues before those issues send talent out the door.  The problem is, reactivity is a hallmark of old-school HR organizations.  They use exit interview to assess talent misses and performance reviews to address issues that have already been festering for 12 months. And by the time the leadership team has enough meetings and gets enough buy-in to act, the issues could be years old.

That’s why we were interested in taking a look at a new tool focused on real-time, proactive data: Tiny Pulse, the latest creation of serial entrepreneur –David Niu

The premise is pretty straight-forward. You create an account and answer some baseline questions related to how you feel about and inside your workplace.  Then you invite your employees to join. They create a profile and begin receiving weekly ‘pulse check’ surveys where they answer the same question and have an opportunity to provide anonymous feedback. Then employees begin receiving weekly TINYpulses with just one culture or performance related question each time. TINYpulse’s questions vary from “On a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you at work?” to “What drives you crazy here and decreases your productivity?” Employees can also provide ‘virtual suggestions’ in their weekly surveys, essentially creating a virtual suggestion box for employee feedback

The administrator views all of the anonymous feedback, as well as week-over-week trends in answers in a reporting dashboard. This repetition of questions, along with the stock monthly question ‘How happy are you?’ allows the admin to identify trends and potential trouble spots early. Like many engagement surveys, you can also benchmark your performance against other companies using the same questions.  You can also publicly recognize colleagues through the “cheers” function.

There are some limitations–at this time you’re not able to create your own questions, which may be a limiting factor if you’re looking to gather feedback trends in specific areas or known trouble spots for your organization.  BuTiny Pulse is an intriguing platform that represents new approach to the outdated annual employee survey.

Regardless of the tools used, the question hinges back to the importance of data. Proactive feedback represents a fundamental shift in assessing employee morale and feedback early and often.

Think about it like this: the FAA grounded the Boeing Dreamliners after several major incidents from Boston to Japan. A reactive review is taking place before they’ll be allowed to fly again.  Imagine if regular data was collected on performance at every step along the way from design to development to launch. Could the incidents have been prevented? Maybe.

The idea is we’re a reactive society. We say we care about feedback and engagement but we rarely take action unless it’s reaction. With proactive feedback, you can identify triggers to potential issues before they happen. And address them in advance. Think that would engage your workforce? You bet.

Job Search

Handshakes To High Fives: A UK Ex-Pat’s Journey To The US

The following post is a guest blog post from a friend and former colleague – Sue Dickinson. In the post below, she shares her journey as a UK ex-pat transitioning to the US, and what she learned along the way.


“HEADQUARTERED IN WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA.” These words flashed in front of my eyes, in letters the size of the Hollywood sign. I knew as soon as I saw the job description for the role of HR Advisor with Ticketmaster UK, that not only did I need to get this job, I also had to find a way to make my lifelong dream of living in the United States of America come true.

After a nerve-wracking interview I accomplished part one of my plan, I got the job. Over the next four years I worked hard to build a successful Human Resources team at Ticketmaster’s Contact Center in Manchester, England. I raised my profile internationally by volunteering for global projects, gained credibility, built relationships with key leaders, and four years later was given the opportunity I dreamed about – a new role as Senior Manager of Human Resources with the corporate HR team in Los Angeles. I couldn’t have been more excited, and was ready to pack up and leave rainy Manchester for sunny California to start this new chapter in my life. Continue reading


Are You (Candidate) Experienced?

candidate experience1

There has been a lot of buzz in the recruiting space this year about candidate experience. This is a good thing. Every interaction an employer has with a prospect, good or bad, can send ripples into the marketplace and shape perceptions about that organization.

In many companies, candidate experience is a low priority on their talent strategy list. These organizations are missing the mark – earning reputations as employers who are lazy at best, arrogant and disrespectful at worse.  Continue reading

I want you

Most Job Descriptions Suck. This One Does Not.

Update: a friend of mine, Susan LaMotte, commented below inquiring what sucks about this job. My first response was that as a non-profit, resources are limited. Unfortunately that point was reinforced today, and this position was put on hold – dreaded words for recruiters. So, for the time being this job is on the shelf. I met some great like-minded recruiters over the last month, learned how to create inforgraphic job descriptions, and had some great discussions and feedback on this post – so grateful for all of that. This post can now stand as a window into my personal views and perspectives on what it takes to be a successful recruiter in today’s market.

This is not your typical recruiting job. I’m looking for a progressive recruiter to partner with our team to lead and drive best-in-class recruiting and talent strategies at NPR. This infographic provides an overview of key areas of focus, the full job description below goes into much more details (it’s lengthy, but it’s worth it).

This Is Not Your Typical Recruiting Job

This is the job for you, if…

  • You’re a pioneer; a progressive, hands-on, roll-up-the-sleeves recruiter who would be successful with a landline and a phonebook if the Internet died tomorrow. You’re a natural networker who’s comfortable interacting at all levels – able to simultaneously woo the Executive Producer of a major newsmagazine while helping an intern with her resume. You understand how to leverage social media to expand your network, maintain relationships, and satisfy your unquenchable thirst for lifelong learning (and perhaps your penchant for cat videos and internet memes).
  • Solving big, complex problems excites you. The challenge of figuring something out sparks your competitive instinct. (We’re a not-for-profit, so scrappy resourcefulness and creativity is essential.) You cringe at the thought of reactive recruiting. You’re a team player who proactively shares your knowledge and expertise with coworkers. You have vision, not for what we can be tomorrow, but what might be five years from now; and you have the insight and expertise needed to help guide NPR toward that vision.
  • You’re driven to work at one of the premier multi-media news organizations in the world. The mission of creating a more informed public resonates with you, and you’re inspired and motivated to play a vital role in the hiring, retention, and development of a world-class NPR staff. Continue reading

Things I’m Looking Forward To In My First LinkedIn Talent Connect (#InTalent)

I’m writing this at 30,000 feet as I’m on my way to Las Vegas for LinkedIn’s annual global user conference, Talent Connect. I’ll admit, I’m a LinkedIn homer, and a devoted fan since I joined in February of 2005.

I admired their strategy to build market share and focus on becoming the de facto professional social network, before looking for more way to monetize their site and offerings. I’m a tech geek with an affinity towards mobile apps, and LinkedIn has strong iOS offerings that really provide a lot of value for recruiters. The Outlook calendar integration in particular, and tools like CardMunch, are huge time savers with practical use for mobile recruiters.

Today’s recruiters have to be mobile, engaging the populations where their organizations recruit, and evangelizing for their companies at every opportunity. These are some of the benefits LinkedIn provides that I mentioned in a contribution to George Anders recent Forbes cover story on LinkedIn.

So, yes, I’m a fan. What am I looking forward to over the next three days in Las Vegas? Continue reading

Job Search

How To Impress A Hiring Manager

If you follow this blog, you know I work for NPR. As you might expect, I get to work with some smart people. Mensa smart. After 18 months at NPR I’ve grown accustomed to the intelligence in the building; but am also reminded of thoughtful, caring and compassionate employees we have quite often.

One of these colleagues is Matt Thompson, our Director of Digital Initiatives (and Mischief). Yes, that is his real title. Yes, he is cool enough to carry it. Matt wears many hats at NPR, but one of them is to be the lead resume reviewer on a new hiring initiative building our new Race, Ethnicity and Culture team.

We’ve had over 1300 applications for four open positions. Matt and the hiring team will be reviewing every one of them. He recently penned an article for Poytner detailing what he’s learned in an effort to help journalists seeking jobs – 10 ways to make your journalism job application better than everyone else’s. You should read it. The tips and points he lists are valuable for all job seekers, and transcend journalism. It was one of the more thoughtful collections of advice from a hiring manager I’ve read. I wanted to highlight a few tips that really stood out: Continue reading

Job Search

Introducing Career Hangout

Pay it forward.

My friend Laurie Ruettimann and I got together a few months ago and talked about the state of the job market. Many people are struggling. Struggling to find jobs, to keep jobs, to find their way out from dead end jobs, and struggling on how to advance their careers in a climate where salaries are flat and opportunities are scarce. This discussion got us thinking about what we can we do to help.

We’ve both been in HR for our entire careers. We’ve been exposed to almost every HR scenario you can imagine: hiring, firing, promoting, training, developing – you name it. We both have a lot of smart friends in our industry with great expertise in job search and career development. We know recruiters at many top employers throughout the U.S. We have friends who are accomplished professionals in a variety of fields. We realized we could leverage those contacts, knowledge and expertise to to help people manage and develop their careers, and we could do it through Career Hangout (CHO). Continue reading


It Takes Courage To Say ‘No’. Taking A Stand Against Unemployment Discrimination.

Last Sunday I was watching 60 Minutes. In the second half of the show they had a story, “Trapped in Unemployment,” that featured an innovative program developed by Joe Carbone, who works at the state unemployment office in southwest Connecticut. All of the individuals they profiled were long-term unemployed who had already exhausted their unemployment insurance (which happens after 99 weeks of unemployment). They were former white-collar workers who were taking whatever jobs they could: landscaping, temping, etc. You can watch the video here or read the story here.

The program, Platform to Employment, helps the long-term unemployed adapt to an evolving job market.  They train people on topics like social media, digital footprint, and resume writing. They don’t promise their enrollees jobs, but they do work with employers who offer internships that in many cases do lead to jobs. Platform to Employment’s track record is pretty solid: out of 100 enrollees, roughly 70 of them found jobs in the first year. Joe is doing noble work and I applaud anyone who is focused on helping others develop the skills necessary to be successful in today’s job market. Continue reading

Job Search, Video

4 Tips For Writing A Great Cover Letter [Video]

I just returned from the UNITY12 conference in Las Vegas where I had an opportunity to lead a panel discussion of recruiters sharing job search tips. We spent a good amount of time discussing cover letters so I wanted to share some of those tips.

  1. If the application instructions request a cover letter, be sure to include it. (you’d think this is a given, but recruiters and hiring managers see a lot of applications without them. Don’t be that applicant.)
  2. Avoid cover letter templates that are clearly boilerplate. It’s important to personalize your cover letter to the organization. More on that below. (If you do use templates, BE SURE to double-check the company name before sending. Listing company A when you’re applying to company B will sink your application)
  3. There are 3 things you should convey in every cover letter: a) why you’re interest in the organization b) why you’re interested in the role c) why you would bring to the role or team. The last point is important, as it allows you ro present yourself as someone who is bringing solutions to the problems this job is trying to solve.
  4. Make sure your cover letter does not exceed one page. This is a general rule.  There are exceptions in situations where you’re asked to answer multiple questions or provide lengthy feedback. Anything more than a page runs the risk of not being read when a recruiter or hiring manager has hundreds of applicants to consider.


There was a great article shared by Craig Fisher (@Fishdogs) recently, Best Cover Letters of 2012, with examples of cover letters you might want to review for inspiration. A key point to consider is cover letters won’t even be read if the resume doesn’t align with the role, so make sure your resume is strong first. What advice would you have?