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Organizations are always battling to hire and retain talented people. We spoke to Jennifer Shappley, Vice President of Talent at LinkedIn, to discover why they’re regarded as such a desirable place to work.

Hi Jennifer! We’d love to get to know you a little better, how did you get to where you are today?

I've worked in recruiting for about 15 years, but I spent my first two years in a general HR role. Over the course of my career, I have managed everything from 401k administration to benefits and onboarding new employees.

However, it was when the head of recruiting at my first company happened to be in town and offered to let me spend a week shadowing his team (plug for job shadowing there), that I caught the bug for recruiting and never looked back.

How do you describe your job to others?

I help connect talent with opportunity, attracting incredible people to LinkedIn where they can have a meaningful impact on our vision to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. Simply put, my team helps to attract, hire, and develop talent to fuel our vision.

How does your typical day look, do you have a set routine you stick to?

No two days are ever the same, which makes things interesting. I start every week with an early morning workout which helps give me a jump on the week.

My days are a mix of meetings with my team, ensuring we’re on track with our deliverables; checking in on priority projects; meeting with business partners; and often getting to spend time with our customers to better understand how we’re helping them meet their hiring needs.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

We have an incredibly talented Talent team and my favorite meetings are when I’m spending time with them and hearing their ideas. It’s so inspiring to hear their passion for areas where we can improve and stretch ourselves.

I also love having a job where I have a role that’s similar to so many of our customers who also lead talent acquisition teams. It makes spending time with customers super inspiring and energizing.

What’s your biggest challenge and how do you seek to overcome it?

I’m passionate about the Talent space and it’s easy to spread yourself thin across all of the work to be done. 

I work hard at remaining focused on the biggest priorities to ensure we get traction in the most important areas. I’ve learned that asking yourself “What problem are we trying to solve?” is a great way to ensure focus. 

There’s a lot of exciting work to do, so it’s an ongoing process!

LinkedIn is voted in the top 20 organizations to work for on Glassdoor’s Best Places To Work list, an impressive feat. Why is that, what makes your approach to talent management unique?

At LinkedIn, talent is our number one operating priority and we know that when it comes to nurturing and retaining talent, fostering an environment where employees feel empowered to bring their full selves to work is critical.

While everyone’s leadership style is different, you’ll find that at LinkedIn much of our work really focuses on developing our employees and supporting their growth.

Managers will often ask new employees about their goals and future career aspirations, even when they have just begun a new role. Focusing on how we can support our employees in achieving their own goals and development is core to how we approach talent management.

What’s been your most successful initiative so far?

I would say our LiftUp! Program was extremely successful. Early on in the pandemic, we asked employees the simple question: How are you? 

Through this feedback, we found that burnout was a major source of stress. As a result, we created LiftUp!, an initiative designed to support employees and managers during the extended work-from-home period, including mental health resources, meeting-free days, and creating surprise and delight moments such as an all-company week off. 

This global week off was a gift for team members to express our gratitude. We wanted to provide our people with something truly valuable that helps not only address burnout and self-care but also shows our appreciation for the great work our teams do each day.  

What are 5 things organizations should focus on to attract and retain top talent?

  • Lead with Diversity & Inclusion at the Forefront: Diversity and Inclusion are growth drivers enabling access and impact across audiences. Companies that master the ability to lead inclusively, especially in recruiting, can empower the creativity that emerges from different ideas and experiences and attract the best talent.  
  • Lean Into Skills-Based Hiring: In the past few years, LinkedIn’s talent acquisition team has become laser-focused on hiring for competencies and experience, rather than pedigree. Looking outside of your traditional places results in fresh ideas and can help unlock new talent pools.
  • Embrace Flexibility: Flexibility has become a key determinant of employee satisfaction. LinkedIn data shows that when employees are satisfied with their company’s time and location flexibility, they are 2.6X more likely to report being happy and 2.1X more likely to recommend working at the company. As we navigate this world of hybrid work it’s important to look at each team and employee and see how they’re using tools and spaces and engaging with each other in real-time. Understanding that one approach doesn’t fit all is our foundation and from that, we get to create custom and equitable experiences that meet the unique needs of our workforce. 
  • Create an environment that makes your employees feel heard and trusted: It’s important that your employees know that you trust them to make decisions on what they need to do their best work. In this world of hybrid work, we are in this together and committed to leading with trust and flexibility. It’s also critical to create space and open channels for employees to share feedback. At LinkedIn we have a bi-annual Employee Voice Survey that gives our employees a chance to share feedback with leadership. We know it will take all of us being open, working together, and leaning into a growth mindset.
  • Provide opportunities to grow and learn, and let your employees know there is room for advancement in your company:  Through an external survey, we know that 37% of employees are looking for some sort of transformation in their career: whether they are exploring new possibilities, looking for a new job, or looking for a new role within their company. Let employees know that their professional growth is important and that you’re willing to invest in them through educational, networking, and mentorship opportunities. At LinkedIn, for example, we host an Internal Career Week to empower employees to take advantage of career opportunities within the company and learn new skills that might be beneficial to their careers. 

What are your top 3 strategies for creating a great candidate experience?

  • Streamline your process into fewer steps. With so much competition, companies can’t afford to move slowly. Having a consistent process that supports quick decision-making will help you win great talent.
  • Make the screening process more empathetic and human. It’s important to be forgiving of interruptions and technical difficulties during virtual screening calls and interviews. From the person with a temporary unstable connection to the interviewee who has to quickly take care of to a child in the room, patience from recruiters will go a long way. 
  • Be transparent about what the culture looks like now—not just what it looked like before. Many candidates are interested in learning what life is like in the here and now. The focus is less on what life was like in the office pre-COVID, with catered lunches and happy hours, and more so about how your culture plays out in a hybrid setting. Be honest, open, and transparent, highlighting the ways your organization puts the employee first.

What do you see recruiters doing that makes you think “No, stop doing that!”?

Recruiters who tend to focus more on a candidate’s current job title, or their prior experience doing the same or similar job, to determine whether or not they are ‘qualified’ may be closing the door on some incredible talent. 

Now that jobs—and the skills needed to be successful in them—are changing and evolving so fast, it’s important that recruiters add value by focusing on hiring candidates who add to a business’s culture, who can grow into a position, and who can build a successful career with the organization.

Thanks Jennifer, some great insights there! How can our readers continue to follow your work from here? 

Visit our LinkedIn Talent Blog where we consistently update professionals and hiring leaders with tips, strategies and inspiration to help companies hire, develop and keep talent. You can also follow me on LinkedIn where I share my perspective on the latest talent attraction strategies and recruiting trends.

By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.