Episode 150 is live! This week, we talk with Jennifer Shappley in Nashville, Tennessee. I met up with Jennifer during the LinkedIn Talent Connect conference. LinkedIn hosted over 4K recruiters from over 2K companies from around the world.
Jennifer is the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at LinkedIn in San Francisco, California. She has a long history in talent acquisition, with experience in both healthcare and financial services.
On today’s episode, Jennifer shares:
- Why having a LinkedIn account will help you with your job search
- Tips for optimizing your LinkedIn profile
- How recruiters use LinkedIn when they’re looking for candidates
- Mistakes job seekers make on LinkedIn and how to avoid them
Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.
Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!
Copeland Coaching Podcast | Episode 150 | Effectively Using LinkedIn – Jennifer Shappley, LinkedIn
Airdate: October 17, 2017
Welcome to the Copeland Coaching podcast. I’m your host, Angela Copeland. Here today with me in Nashville is Jennifer Shappley. Jennifer is the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at LinkedIn in San Francisco. She has a long history in talent acquisition with experience in both health care and financial services. Jennifer, thanks for joining me today.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Thanks for having me, Angela.
ANGELA COPELAND: So it’s so nice to meet you. I happened to look at your LinkedIn profile before we got started, and I suspect that you may have also lived in Memphis before.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I did. Yes. So coming back to Nashville is almost like coming home for me.
ANGELA COPELAND: So I live in Memphis. We didn’t chat very much before we got started.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: No, amazing, wow.
ANGELA COPELAND: And we have a bunch of common contacts, and I want to jump into the questions, but I’m curious, were you in Impact Memphis when you were in Memphis?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I was. I was a really early member of Impact Memphis and I actually led what was then called the Promote Memphis pillar. So there were all these early pillars, and so I co-led that for several years.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s cool. So I lived there from 2001-2004 and I left until 2006 and I think we maybe missed each other.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: We may have just—You were 2001-2004?
ANGELA COPELAND: And I came back in 2006.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah. That’s amazing. That creates some connections actually. I may remember your name.
ANGELA COPELAND: I think we may have worked at the same company but at different times.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: What a small world. I love to meet people from Memphis. That’s amazing, especially that worked with Impact.
ANGELA COPELAND: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, so we’re here at LinkedIn Connect, which is an annual LinkedIn event, and I’m really excited to talk to someone who does recruiting for LinkedIn and to talk to you about LinkedIn. So I cover from the job seeker side, and I’m curious, this is like such a given, but do you use LinkedIn for your recruiting at LinkedIn?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Surprisingly, we do, yes, so very heavy users of LinkedIn within the organization.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s great. So one of the top questions I get from job seekers all the time, like, every day, is do I need to have a LinkedIn account? And I’d love to hear your perspective on that and why it’s so important.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah, you know, it’s funny, I get that question often from people too. Sometimes I take for granted, being such an active LinkedIn user, that some people still aren’t quite sure how it could benefit them. And I would encourage people to use it, no matter what industry they’re in. So I think sometimes people think, “I’m not in a corporate role. Is LinkedIn really the right place for me?” And while LinkedIn is an amazing platform for finding jobs and finding that career opportunity, it’s also an amazing place just to network and maintain those relationships. And so I feel like that’s important no matter what job you’re in. So when people are unsure about getting on the platform, I’m like, absolutely, get on there, network, engage. You’ll strengthen the relationships you have and you’ll build new ones.
ANGELA COPELAND: Totally. Well so another question specifically around the network portion that I get literally every day is, should I connect to strangers? Is it a bad thing if I connect to strangers? I can see both sides. What’s your perspective on that?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I think that’s a personal preference for people. My take on it is, like, I will connect of course with people that I know personally, and I’ll connect with people where we have, maybe we don’t know each other, but we’ve got shared interests. Maybe it’s somebody that I feel like I could help because they’re in the HR recruiting field and they’re interested in learning more, or perhaps it’s somebody I think I could learn from. So I think there are reasons you might want to connect with people that you don’t personally know, but it’s everyone’s personal preference. Some people want to keep that network really small. The benefit of expanding your network and connecting with people that you maybe don’t even have that personal relationships is you start to magnify the power of being on LinkedIn. The broader your network, the broader your second and third degree network. There’s a lot of benefit that comes from that.
ANGELA COPELAND: I totally agree. I often tell people, if you want to meet new people, you have to connect to new people.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Absolutely. And where the platform has gone, it’s so much about digesting information. And so if you got more people in your network, you’re seeing more updates, you’re seeing what they’re sharing, and so it’s an opportunity for you to digest information that you might not otherwise have seen.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. Well, so, when it comes to our profiles, say we’ve decided we’re going to get a LinkedIn account, we’re going to set it up. From the job seeker’s side, what are some of the things that it would be important for us to do that would help you on the recruiting side?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So I think first and foremost is make sure you’ve got a built-out profile, and we’ve got built in to the platform now tips on what you need to fill out, so it’s going to prompt you. You don’t have a summary. Would you like us to help you write one? And so I encourage people to not let it just be this empty shell. If you’re going to be on there, put information about what it is that you’ve done, what your skills and interests are. Help people help you. If you’re putting on your profile what you’re interested in doing, whether it’s doing pro bono work or getting involved in a board or looking for a new job opportunity, the more information that you have on your profile, the better that your network can help you and the more likely you’re going to be found by that person who can either help you find that next job or connect you with an opportunity.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. Well so, sometimes job seekers ask me, “Is it okay if I paste some things from my resume, if I say on the experience section underneath the description of what I did, would it be okay if I pasted in from my resume?” Do you have a perspective on that at all?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I think absolutely it makes sense to paste stuff in from your resume. I think you might not want to bring everything over. I think, put it in bullet points, summarize, make it easy to digest, think about the format and how it’s going to look in that medium on your profile, but absolutely carry information over from your resume. If you’ve got a really strong resume that’s highlighting the skills that you have and the accomplishments that you’ve made, then don’t reinvent the wheel. Bring that information over into your profile.
ANGELA COPELAND: That makes me feel better. I like that perspective a lot, actually, because I think that if you’re delaying on a LinkedIn profile, it’s better to copy and paste than feel like you need to make something completely custom and then delay yourself doing it at all.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: .Exactly. It’s like, remove that barrier. If that is something that’s keeping you from creating a LinkedIn profile, because you’re like, “I didn’t really enjoy creating my resume the first time. I definitely don’t want to have to recreate something,” than import that over. Bring that information. For many people that’s where it starts. It’s just a way to digitize that static resume that’s sitting on your desktop somewhere and put it into your profile so that others can see it.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. So I understand that a lot of your LinkedIn profile is searchable on the recruiter side. Are you searching for things like our headline? Are you aware of what particular components matter the most within the profile?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah, like what’s being indexed or searched. So when I or a recruiter are searching, we’re not necessarily saying, ooh, looking to pul it from this specific piece, but we’re searching on certain words or phrases that we’re interested in. It could be a skill set. It could be a job title. Where it jobs from, whether it comes from that title field or it comes from a reference in the summary you put in there, doesn’t matter as much. It just matters that you get found. And so I think being thoughtful about the words you use, don’t use just filler words, don’t use generic buzzwords. We see those everywhere. But really articulate what are the things that you have accomplished. Think about the information that you’re putting out there and put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes too. If I were hiring someone like me, what would I be looking for? And make sure those things are highlighted on your profile. That’s going to help you get found.
ANGELA COPELAND: Well so from the recruiter side, how do you decide when you’re helping a hiring manager to fill a certain position, and you go into LinkedIn, how do you decide what you’re going to search for, what you’re going to look for? As a recruiter, how do you know?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So you think back to the old job description. We’re thinking through, like, what are the skills that are required or preferred? What is the experience that’s needed? Those are things that go into a search filter that a recruiter is using. So if I talk to a hiring manager and they say I need this person to have so many years of this kind of experience, then that’s what the recruiter is going to look for. There are other things like, if I’m sitting down with a hiring manager, yep, I’ve got this job description here, I understand what the basic requirements are, but I might also be interested in knowing who on your team is doing really well. Who have you hired that has really excelled in this job? Go to that person’s profile. I’m going to now look and see what was on their profile that I can use as a recruiter to help find somebody else like them? I also have tools where you can within a recruiter look and see, find more people like this. So in addition to creating searches off of the experience, skills that we’re looking for, there are also ways where we can say this profile was really successful. Maybe I want to find more people like that.
ANGELA COPELAND: That’s such an interesting point because as a job seeker I can go and look at profiles of other people, maybe who look on that team where I’m applying to work and maybe kind of see, are there any kind of factors? Do these people have certain things in their profile that I might want to pay attention to? If I have those skills, maybe I should hire those skills. That’s interesting. I also get a lot of questions, I have to say, over whether we should have a photo in our profile. And I have my own opinion, but should we have a photo in our profile?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: You absolutely should have a photo. One of the things that I find is, people have a photo, but then people want to know, like, does it need to be a professional headshot? How casual can it be? And they want to know, what is an appropriate photo? So first and foremost, you know, it’s something you’re comfortable putting your image out there, I recommend putting a photo out there. Then as far as does it need to be a corporate headshot or not, I encourage people to showcase the personality. I would keep it professional, but I see great shots of somebody, like, smiling, laughing, maybe it’s more of a side profile, and it really shows their personality and it showcases who they are. I think what type of photo you use these days, there’s a lot of variety in there.
ANGELA COPELAND: I totally agree. I think it’s really important. I get a lot of questions. People don’t want to put photos. They’re really uncomfortable, or occasionally I’ll see photos where the person has a friend in the photo with them or maybe they’re in like a prom dress looking kind of outfit at a party, or I’ve even seen people who use cartoons, and maybe the cartoon is a little more passable, I’m not sure. I just prefer a straight-on photo of your face, smiling, no one else.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Agreed. I think it’s best when it’s just you. What you’re portraying or putting out there for future employers or your network is yourself, so I would keep it as just you. I’ve had people ask about, like, pets and stuff, and I’m like, you know, if you work at Petco or something, there are companies that that’s part of your brand, and that might be something. Generally speaking, I would stick with make it of yourself, but depending on who you want to work for, who you are, what you’re aspiring to be, there’s opportunity for variety in there.
ANGELA COPELAND: I think that’s a very smart way to put it because it depends on what your target market it is.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah. Exactly.
ANGELA COPELAND: The likelihood that you are going to be working for a pet company like Petco is fairly small, but if you are—
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: If you are, if you’re a dog trainer, I mean, we have people with a variety of different backgrounds on LinkedIn, and so maybe you’re a dog sitter, and that makes sense, put it out there. So it’s just thinking about understanding your own personal brand, what you’re wanting to put out there, what you’re trying to attract, and doing something that’s authentic.
ANGELA COPELAND: As a job seeker, are there certain things that we could do on LinkedIn that would really impress you as a recruiter? Like, are there things that would make us stand out from other candidates that you can think of?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I think people think a lot about their profile and building it out, and that is important, but what I love to see is people who are really thought leaders in their space, people who are just posting through updates or maybe publishing interesting insights into the field that they’re in. That is a great way to stand out, and so I know for a lot of people the shortform and longform publishing post is intimidating, worried about writing. That’s fine. Updates. Just posting information, sharing an article with a quick insight, those things can absolutely make you stand out. It shows that you’re engaged with your industry or with whatever you’re focusing on, and it allows you to show your thought leadership in a space. I think people, don’t underestimate the importance of that.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. Well so as a job seeker I’m wondering if maybe on the flipside there are some things we should avoid that would sort of turn you off or just recruiters in general that would make the recruiter say, “Eh, I should pass on this person.” Are there certain things that we as job seekers are sharing that we should consider not sharing?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: I feel like times are changing and there’s not a hard line necessarily on what should be shared and what shouldn’t. In general, I would say stay away from saying negative things about your current employer or past employers, similar to the advice we might give someone going into an interview. Don’t get into a new interview and bash your past employers or anything like that. Focus on yourself and your own accomplishments, so I would avoid that. I think, like I said, there’s not a hard line. Don’t forget that you are, what you’re putting out there, whether it be on our platform or any platform, is available for, depending on your privacy settings, anybody to see, and certainly for future employers to see or future people that you connect with. And so again, just really think about what is the brand that you’re wanting to put out there. Is it something that you would feel comfortable with future employers seeing? And think about that before you post. But be open, be authentic. Don’t be afraid to have a healthy debate on the platform. I think there’s plenty of room for that. I would just primarily encourage people to think through, am I okay with somebody in the future seeing this if I maybe want to go work at their company?
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. I think of it a lot of times like not sharing something you might not want to share at a dinner party when you meet someone new, especially with, like, our tricky political environment right now. You might just want to keep that to yourself, or keep it on Facebook with some good privacy settings, but you just have to remember that you will be judged for what you say, and it’s important to know that, and it’s one thing if, say, you’re going to work for, like, a political organization or an organization that has to do with religion, then maybe you align yourself to that group, like the dog photo.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah. Yeah. It’s all about I think remembering that everything you put out there becomes a part of your brand, and what do you want your brand to be. And I think if you just think about that before you put that information out there, that’s probably the best advice I could give you.
ANGELA COPELAND: Yeah, absolutely. Well so one thing too that is interesting with LinkedIn and with the internet in general is that you can search for jobs in different cities. So another question I get pretty often, and I’ll just tell you kind of what I think, is, people will ask me, “Well, if I want to move to Dallas, could I just put that as my city?” I generally think that’s bad. I think you should be as honest as you can be, like if you don’t live in Dallas in that scenario. But as a recruiter, would you take note of that if someone had, like, the wrong city or the wrong location? Would it pop up for you?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So we actually have made some changes recently that really help with this. Because I’ll have to share this podcast with a former coworker, because I remember a few years ago, prior to being at LinkedIn, people knew that I was an avid LinkedIn user, and so I would often get questions, and one of them was at the time, her son was interested in moving to a new city, and he wasn’t sure how to showcase that. So now, you don’t have to necessarily showcase this directly on your externally facing profile, but with our Open Candidates feature, you can indicate if you’re open to relocation, and you can share that so that recruiters can find it, which didn’t use to be possible. Now also, you can put it in your profile as well, so if you’re interested and want to put that out there, then I encourage people to do that, but for people who don’t want to broadcast to the world, you can indicate this now through Open Candidates.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s interesting. So another scenario that comes up pretty often, right, is, LinkedIn is great in terms of finding the hiring manager. Honestly, one of the jobs that I had in Memphis, I found the Vice President of Digital Marketing. I was working in digital marketing, and I contacted him and asked him to have lunch with me, and eventually it led to a job offer. But I’m curious from sort of the recruiting perspective, how does the recruiting team in general typically feel when you have a candidate that kind of goes around your process and goes straight to the hiring manager directly? Does that make sense?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So like does the recruiter feel bypassed?
ANGELA COPELAND: Is that a problem?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Generally speaking, certainly at LinkedIn, it’s not a problem. Organizations have probably different cultures and perspectives on things, so it’s hard to speak for all companies, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think our platform is about encouraging and building relationships and connections, and so if somebody already has a connection with a hiring manager or has an intro, a reason they want to reach out to them, I mean honestly, I think done right, that can be helpful in the process.
ANGELA COPELAND: That’s a good perspective. That’s nice feedback. If we do that, if we plan to do that, would you also encourage us to apply online as well and go through the normal process?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yes, absolutely, because at some point, you’re need to go through the application process, so likely if you reach out to a hiring manager, they’re going to one, maybe talk to you, but likely put you back into the process, put you in connection with the recruiter or send you a link to apply. You’re going to still need to go through that process. So honestly, if you’re the hiring manager, Angela, most likely what I’m going to do is I’ll go ahead and apply online and then say. “I just applied for this job. I also wanted to reach out,” maybe mention a shared connection or some piece of information that connects the both of us, but just wanted to let you know that I applied and I’m really looking forward to hearing back.
ANGELA COPELAND: That’s great. That’s really good.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Because by doing that you’ve taken action yourself, you’ve made it easy for, if that hiring manager doesn’t even respond, they’ve seen that likely and they’re going to remember you, and they don’t have to come back and be like, “Can you please go through the application process?” You’ve done the action. You’ve taken the work on yourself, and you’ve just reached out and maybe put a little bit more recognition to your name. That’s the way I would approach it, and I think most people would not be bothered by that extra step at all.
ANGELA COPELAND: I love that, and a lot of candidates are afraid they’re going to offend someone, and so that’s really nice feedback, and I’m sure that it doesn’t always apply with every company, but it’s just helpful to know that it’s a possibility.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Yeah, and I mean, obviously, recruiters are like anybody else. They want to be respected in the process. But that’s not bypassing anybody. That’s, look, I applied, I went through this process, but I just wanted to let you know how interested I am and I’m looking forward to talking to you. I think that’s very unlikely to ruffle any feathers.
ANGELA COPELAND: Is there anything—I guess this will probably be my last question—is there anything that we as job seekers could do to make your life easier, or is there anything we’re doing that makes your life harder? What should we keep in mind? Because if we’ve never worked in HR, recruiting, it’s hard to picture what we could do better as job seekers
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: The more information that you can provide, either on your profile or let’s jump to a phone screen interview when you’re talking to the recruiter, share as much as you can. Be able to articulate what are the accomplishments that you’ve made, what value you can add. Be the best advocate for yourself. The more you can share and help the recruiter understand why you are qualified and the best candidate for the role, helps the recruiter advocate for you further down the process. So don’t just come into an interview passive, waiting to see what the questions are. Think ahead in how you’re going to respond, what information you want to share. Again, think about branding. what is is that you want the recruiter to understand about you after this conversation? And come in prepared to share that. With that, listen. Don’t talk to the whole time. Sometimes people get so excited to talk, it’s hard for the recruiter to get their questions in. You get to the end of the interview, and the recruiter is like, “I only got through one of my five questions,” or whatever it is. And that’s not helpful, because the recruiter hasn’t been able to get all the information from you that they need. So I would be thoughtful ahead of time about what you want to get across, but make sure you’re listening and watching for cues from the recruiter so you’re giving them an opportunity to ask everything that they need in order to further advocate for you.
ANGELA COPELAND: Yeah, that’s a great, great point. I get questions a lot about, “Well, gosh, they already have my information in my resume. Why do I have to retell them?” And I’m like, “Well, they talk to a lot of people.” Also it’s important I think to talk about things in plain language, because you may be talking to someone who does a certain type of software development, and if they can’t explain what they do in a way that’s understandable and general, how are you supposed to help them? But that’s just my personal take on it.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Absolutely. I think back to doing public speaking workshops and stuff. The burden is not on the audience, it’s on you, as the communicator. So it’s not on the audience to decipher and make sense of what you’re telling them. It’s on you to communicate clearly in a way that they can understand, and so I think that applies really well to an interview too. The burden’s not on the recruiter to understand what it is that you’ve done and how this jargon applies to their role. It’s on you, the communicator, the candidate in this situation, to explain that in a way that they can understand.
ANGELA COPELAND: Absolutely. So I think this question is obvious but I have to ask it: where can we go to learn more about you and your work?
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: So, LinkedIn profile is a great place. So in addition to just the history and my work experience, I’ve also got there links to past presentations and other things that I’ve done, which is another thing I encourage your listeners to do. If you’ve spoken in the past, or you’ve got presentations, put those on your profile. It’s a great way to share more about yourself. But that’s the best place to go to learn a little bit more about me.
ANGELA COPELAND: Oh, that’s perfect. Well Jennifer, thank you so much for joining me today. This has been so helpful. It’s been great to meet you.
JENNIFER SHAPPLEY: Thank you Angela.
ANGELA COPELAND: And thanks everyone for listening. Thanks to those of you who sent me questions. You can send me your questions at email@example.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach, and on Facebook, I’m “Copeland Coaching.” Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review.
Author: Angela Copeland
Angela Copeland is Founder and Coach for Copeland Coaching, a great way to jump start your job search. Follow her on Twitter @CopelandCoach for tips on finding the perfect job for you.