5 Accomplishments of the LinkedIn Recruiting Team That Made Me Proud This Year

December 24, 2015

At LinkedIn, we very much believe in continuous improvement.
For that to happen, you have to set big goals. You have to be willing to take on big challenges, even if you aren’t always sure you are going to achieve them. And that philosophy certainly applies to our recruiting team as well.
This year we sought to improve various aspects of our talent acquisition team, from the way we source recent graduates to helping build the next generation of our LinkedIn Recruiter tool. Along the way, there were some failures, but there were some big accomplishments as well.
From that group of accomplishments, I picked the five I was both proud of but also other recruiting teams can relate to. 

The five are:

1. We worked to turn all of our candidates into brand ambassadors

One of our goals this year at LinkedIn was to enhance our talent brand by improving the candidate experience. What we found when we looked into doing that wasn’t particularly surprising – candidates who were given offers by LinkedIn had a much stronger regard for our hiring process than candidates who didn’t get an offer.

Seeing that, we set an ambitious goal: we wanted candidates who were rejected by LinkedIn to rate their experience as the same or better as candidates who actually got offers. To measure all candidates’ experience, we used surveys and NPS scores.

Using feedback from these surveys, we were able to improve our candidate experience by setting recruiter goals and focusing on things like contacting candidates at least once a week, clearly explaining the process and giving actionable feedback to candidates who we rejected. And while we didn’t quite accomplish our goal, I’m happy with our results: the NPS score for candidates who received an offer jumped up, and even better --  the NPS score for candidates who didn’t get an offer increased as well.

2. We completely rethought the way we do college recruiting

We used to approach college recruiting the way a lot of companies approach college recruiting: build a relationship with a few colleges and hire most of our new graduates from there. But not only is that an expensive way to recruit – flying recruiters all around the country to these campuses is costly – it also severely limits our talent pool.

So, we began to approach college recruiting at LinkedIn the same way we approach any other recruiting effort, which meant sourcing using our own LinkedIn Recruiter tool and taking a more holistic view of the talent market. That said, we didn’t abandon our pre-existing relationships with colleges, but began widening our lens to more people.

The result? A few years ago, less than 5 percent of our new graduate hires came from outside of the dozen or so target colleges. Today, that number is over 30 percent, meaning we are tapping into a larger, more diverse talent pool for new graduates.  

3. We played a big part in optimizing the tool we rely on most – LinkedIn Recruiter

One of the biggest product accomplishments this year at LinkedIn was the release of the next generation of LinkedIn Recruiter and LinkedIn Referrals. These products allow you to find the talent that’s most relevant to you faster and easier than ever before, while streamlining the hiring process.

What’s interesting is the way we built this new platform. Our product team, lead by Eduardo Vivas, wanted to construct these products around the needs of the recruiters who used them. And that meant collaborating with our own internal LinkedIn recruiting team – along with other recruiting teams across the country – to hear exactly what we wanted in a sourcing tool.

That collaboration turned out to be the ultimate win-win for LinkedIn and our recruiting team. LinkedIn as a company won because it created a product line that was shaped by the very people who use it. And our recruiting team won because now we had a tool that best met our needs and allowed us to attract and hire talent more efficiently than ever before.

4. We worked to create a more organic, grassroots global recruiting team where ideas and leadership come from all levels

Internally, we worked to have a much more inclusive recruiting team than ever before. How did we do that?

By bringing in more of our own recruiters and every TA manager from every global region in to the building of our Talent Acquisition strategy, roadmap, plan and processes.  Many teams I have worked on have a top down approach for planning. I personally find that disempowering and often resulting in the ideas being missed. We took a different approach. Here’s a perfect example: for our annual planning recruiting offsite this year, we invited more people than ever. From there, we worked as one team to develop the right plan for the year ahead.

By bringing in more people and having a more inclusive feel to our yearly planning, all of our recruiting employees bought into our plan faster than ever before. Rather than feeling like they were given just another mandate, by bringing their voices into our planning, they felt ownership over what we wanted to do as one team and started driving it at every level of the organization. This created leverage, momentum and allowed new leaders at all levels to emerge.

The end result was a happier team who truly believed in our 2015 strategy...because it was their strategy.

5. We developed a stronger relationship with HR

Along those lines, over the past few years our partnership with HR has grown stronger than ever. In fact, I’m so proud of that relationship that it was the focus of my co-presentation with LinkedIn Head of HR Pat Wadors at Talent Connect this year.

What’s key here is that a strong relationship doesn’t mean doing trust falls with HR or having lunch together. It means having a constructive, give-and-take professional relationship that allows us to accomplish tasks we couldn’t do alone.

One perfect example is how we worked together to do a better job of recruiting engineers. Originally, talent acquisition was criticized for not closing enough senior engineering leaders.

However, we asked some of the business analysts on our HR team to look into it, and found the real issue was our sourcing plan and the way our hiring team screened candidates. Both needed to evolve rapidly to focus on the more experienced engineering talents pools because our processes were historically built for less experienced talent. Once we diagnosed the issue, our talent acquisition team, HR team and a cohort of engineering leaders worked together to adjust our sourcing plan and to evolve our screening and assessment. 

If not for the constructive partnership our team has with HR, that problem would likely still exist, with each side blaming the other. Instead, by working together, we were able to overcome a big obstacle within our recruiting team and help LinkedIn win. I am proud to say that we had our most successful year ever recruiting senior level engineering talent.

Tying it all together

There’s a common theme in the five accomplishments listed: collaboration. Better collaboration with our own product team, our HR team, our own recruiting team and all of our candidates lead to our greatest successes in 2015.

During my Talent Connect presentation with Pat Wadors this year, we talked about how your job is not your job. In other words, the specific duty you have to accomplish – say, lead a talent acquisition team – isn’t really what you are paid to do.

No, your job is to help your company win, in whatever way you can. And that often means working with groups far outside your job description to bring as much value to your organization as possible.

So don’t limit yourself to what your title says you should do. Look to build relationships both within your organization and outside, under the guise of helping your team win.

Those partnerships will pay off, trust me. And from them, you’ll be able to do much more than you could alone.

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