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


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


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]


Recruiting In The Trenches: Should You Care About Social?

The following is a re-post from a guest post I shared on 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


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


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.
Job Search

20 Tweet-Sized Social Media Job Search Tips

jobsearchwebsitesSocial Media has impacted the job search process for a broad range of jobs, and changed the ways organizations and candidates court and connect. These changes have raised new questions:

  • How do I stand out in a crowded job field?
  • How can I use social media to gain a competitive edge in the job market?
  • What the hell is a personal brand?

Recruiters are often asked these questions, and fortunately many of us feel its important to help job seekers find answers. Below are 20 tweet-sized tips from leading career experts, many of which were shared during #NPRTwitterChat (a collaboration between NPR and Twitter’s HR teams aimed at providing job search advice).

If you like a tip, click the (tweet this) link to share on Twitter.

    1. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a job, recruiters are always looking for you. Be ready.” @ThisIsLars (tweet this)
    2. “Use SM to network. Reach out to people who are doing the job you aspire to + ask questions.” @TdoubleD (tweet this)
    3. “You can find a job on twitter by helping other people find jobs on Twitter. Good karma and reciprocity are valued.” @lruettimann (tweet this)
    4. “Own your brand. What do your last 20 tweets say about you?” @JMass (tweet this)
    5. “Create lists to show you know your industry–a unique way to stand out and help others.” @SusanLaMotte (tweet this)
    6. “What’s a personal brand? Google yourself.” @ThisIsLars (tweet this)
    7. “Check Wefollow and Listorious to find and follow thought leaders in your industry.” @Keppie_Careers (tweet this)
    8. “Recruiters and hiring managers can see via your #twitter that in hiring you, they inherit your network 2!” @SHRMSMG (tweet this)
    9. “Share valuable content-the more relevant contributions u make, the more others will want to connect w/u.” @anitra10 (tweet this)
    10. “Consider building a personal web page (eg. They’re effective, creative supplements to resume.” @dobbins (tweet this)
    11. “At networking events you have to speak up, get out of comfort zone. Listen & Learn. Twitter is same.” @JenniferMcClure (tweet this)
    12. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Also important: what the internet knows about you.” @mattcharney (tweet this)
    13. “Authenticity = degree of transparency UR comfortable sharing. Don’t fear UR personality.” @jmass (tweet this)
    14. Here’s a guide for how to use #LinkedIn as a job seeker. Good luck. @lruettimann (tweet this)
    15. “Follow people at target companies on twitter. Linkedin-search types of people that your target company hires.” @clairetapia (tweet this)
    16. “What if you treat each bullet on your resume as a tweet? It’d get some attention+cut thru the clutter.” @nikilustig (tweet this)
    17. “I was told that good jobs come to those who bust their butts and get lucky. You need both.” @skuranda (tweet this)
    18. “Networking: Use SM as a sourcing tool. Then find events where u can translate “names” into relationships.” @lruettimann (tweet this)
    19. “Alumni networks are great avenues, I’m more likely to help out someone who went to my school.” @LindsayClaiborn (tweet this)
    20. “Don’t be a ‘personal brand’, be a person.” @ThisIsLars (tweet this)

How To Design A Corporate Recruiting Calling Card

Recruiting is no longer a subset function of the HR team. The key to competing in today’s global talent market is engaging your colleagues to help with your recruiting efforts. Networking, branding, conferences, referrals – all are key components of a successful recruiting strategy.

As a talent leader at a non-profit with limited resources, this has been an important factor for our recruiting team. We’re constantly exploring new ways to engage our colleagues, and make it easy for them to contribute to NPR’s collective talent scouting efforts.

You never know when you might meet your next co-worker – conferences, meet-ups, coffee, PTA meeting, wherever. We wanted to develop an easy way for our colleagues to connect prospects with our various recruiting channels. That led us to create the ‘recruiting calling card’ below. It’s a business card-size summary of many of our key recruiting channels.

NPR Recruiting Calling Card

NPR Recruiting Calling Card

Continue reading


How Not To Make A Video Job Description

A few months ago I attempted to make a video job description with a colleague for a new paid internship we just opened for Generation Listen. It bombed. Our intentions were in the right place, but our execution missed. I’ve tried a few others. Some turned out okay, so were so bad they couldn’t make a blooper real. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned so far as I’ve experimented with video.

Here are some of the things we got wrong:

  • No script. The idea to make the above mentioned video was spontaneous. We thought having an unscripted discussion about the opportunity was the best way to convey our excitement about the role. While I don’t necessarily think you need to have every word scripted, having at least an outline of what you plan to cover is a better way to go.
  • No plan. If you’re developing a solo shot video (maybe of the hiring manager) with no editing you’re good to go. If there are two or more people in the shot, you need to have an idea of when you’ll kick it back and forth to each other. Natural banter is good, awkward transitions are not.
  • Time of day matters. Shooting a video late in the day is probably not the way to go. You’re punchy, it’s late.
  • Setting matters. What’s your ideal backdrop? We ended up doing several takes from a variety of angles to find one we liked for video two below. Is there a black background? Remember black shirt = floating head.
  • K.I.S.S. Unless you have experienced multimedia pros in your arsenal – keep it simple, and keep it short. No one wants to sit through a lengthy pitch. Have a point and get to it soon. I was excited about this Q&A with our VP, Programming to promote hiring for the new TED Radio Hour show – but at 5+ minutes, even I had a hard time watching the entire thing. Continue reading

Rethinking Recruitment: NPR’s Brand Ambassadors Presentation [Video]

I had an opportunity to join HCI’s Talent Management Conference last month in Boston to share NPR’s recruiting journey in social media and employment branding. The following presentation touches on the current state of social recruiting, and outlines the steps we took in leveraging social media to build NPR’s employment brand.

You can read a recap of the presentation on HCI’s blog, or see review the case study post on these efforts.


Introduction To Scrum: A Beginner’s Guide For Non-Technical Teams

Recently I had an opportunity to participate in a two-day training program on Scrum. Scrum is a flavor of Agile project management allowing mixed teams to scope, prioritize, build, and launch products during two-week ‘sprint’ cycles. The teams are generally cross-functional, comprised of experts with specific skill sets needed to accomplish the specific goals.

We practice Scrum at NPR so when the opportunity to join this training came up, I was keen to participate and see how I might incorporate these principles to my workflow. Here’s what I learned.

Principals of Agile

Scrum is a framework rooted in Agile development, which is based on the principles of the Agile Manifesto (below).

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:

  • Individuals and interactions OVER processes and tools
  • Working software OVER comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration OVER contract negotiation
  • Responding to change OVER following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

Many of these values can be applied to areas outside of software development. ‘People over process’ and flexibility (adapt as you discover, re-calibrate as you learn) stand out as key components to many organizational strategies.

Scrum Training Exercise

Responsive PaperOur trainer, Jim York from FoxHedge Ltd, has been working with NPR for years. His teaching method applies a variety of case studies, interactive exercises, and actual group work with ‘mini-sprints’ designed to simulate a full sprint cycle.

The attendees represented various levels of experience with Scrum – from complete newbies (me) to experienced developers who were stepping away from current sprints to attend.

I was fortunate to work on a team with most technical colleagues who shared my curiosity about applying Scrum to recruiting. Together we worked on ‘Project Moneyball’, a multi-pronged approach at identifying and engaging talent. The program is still in development, but it was a great introduction to Scrum and did lead to the development of what may be the first paper-responsive prototype (above).

Below is a summary of how I feel the components of Scrum can be implemented into non-technical teams.

What Works

  • scrum_board2Scrum Board: I was already a whiteboard nerd, but having all of my projects arranged by ‘To Do/Ideas’, ‘In Progress’, and ‘Complete’ is a great way to stay organized when you’re managing multiple projects concurrently.
  • User Stories: User stories are a reminder of what drives your projects – covering the who/what/why that helps you prioritize.
  • Note Cards: I used to list my projects out on a white board. Note cards provide more flexibility and allow you to easily shuffle projects based on shifting organizational priorities.
  • Alignment: I assigned numbers to each user story, then tagged each project with the user story they support. This helps me better visualize project alignment and co-dependencies.
  • Time Boxes: Hard start, hard stop – period.

What Doesn’t

  • Sprints: Scrum teams typically work together for two-week cycles called sprints. These are cross-functional teams as outlined in the opening paragraph, where all member’s sole focus for those two weeks is the agreed upon product releases. This doesn’t really convey to many non-technical teams, as our day-to-day is a mix of ongoing responsibilities and reacting to situations that come up in real-time.
  • Scrum Meetings: I love the idea of daily huddles for all team members to discuss what they accomplished yesterday, what they’ll work on today, and any impediments they’ve encountered. It’s great for transparency, accountability, and collaboration. Given the lack of committed all-in team collaboration in most non-technical initiatives, a traditional daily stand up may not add value. I’m actually a bit torn on this one, as I think the more a team is dialed in on what everyone’s working on the better, but I also think its important to minimize meetings.
  • Points: In Scrum, you assign points to each item in your product backlog (i.e. ‘to-do list’). You then calculate and tracks points and time to measure things like velocity and burndown. I didn’t feel this applied to my interpretation of the Agile framework as it wasn’t a true sprint, though I created an ‘alignment’ variation (detailed above) that illustrates project weight.

That’s my initial take on how non-technical teams can implement Scrum. More of a project management tool than a full-on process commitment.

Have you incorporated any aspects of Scrum, Agile, Lean, etc in your non-technical workflow? If so, please share what’s worked for you and what you’ve learned in the comments.