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Ep 415: LinkedIn & Career Breaks


Destigmatizing career breaks is something that I feel very strongly about and something that talent acquisition needs to take very seriously. With so much lip service paid to diversity and inclusion and the current difficulties of finding talent, it makes zero sense to still view career breaks negatively.

This week LinkedIn have announced Career Breaks on the LinkedIn Profile to better reflect the realities of career journeys and, in turn, begin to normalize career breaks in the recruiting process.

My guest this week is Jennifer Shappley, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at LinkedIn. As well as talking us through the new career breaks feature, Jennifer discusses the key findings on LinkedIn’s latest Global Talent Trends report and shares her thoughts on the future of talent acquisition.

In the interview, we discuss:

• Global Talent Trends

• Wellbeing and flexibility

• Trust

• LinkedIn’s new Career Break profile section

• How can talent acquisition support people who have taken a career break

• How is talent acquisition changing, and where is it going?

• Making interviews equitable in a hybrid world

• What are the biggest challenges talent acquisition teams are facing

Listen to this podcast in Apple Podcasts.

Interview transcript:

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Matt Alder (Intro) (1m 5s):
Hi there, this is Matt Alder. Welcome to Episode 415 of The Recruiting Future Podcast. Destigmatizing career breaks is something that I feel very strongly about and something that talent acquisition needs to take very seriously. With so much lip service paid to diversity and inclusion and the current difficulties of finding talent, it makes zero sense to still view career breaks negatively. This week LinkedIn have announced Career Breaks on the LinkedIn Profile to better reflect the realities of career journeys and, in turn, begin to normalize career breaks in the recruiting process.

Matt Alder (Intro) (1m 45s):
My guest this week is Jennifer Shappley, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at LinkedIn. As well as talking us through the new career breaks feature, Jennifer discusses the key findings on LinkedIn’s latest Global Talent Trends report and shares her thoughts on the future of talent acquisition.

Matt Alder (2m 3s):
Hi, Jennifer, and welcome to the podcast.

Jennifer Shappley (2m 5s):
Hi, Matt. So nice to be here.

Matt Alder (2m 8s):
An absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Could you just introduce yourself and tell us what you do?

Jennifer Shappley (2m 13s):
Sure. I am Jennifer Shappley. I lead Talent Acquisition at LinkedIn.

Matt Alder (2m 17s):
And that must be a very interesting job.

Jennifer Shappley (2m 21s):
It absolutely is. It’s very interesting to have the privilege of leading the recruiting team here at LinkedIn, while we are in the middle of kind of ourselves, like helping change the way of work and working with so many organizations on how they hire talent. So, it’s a very, very interesting role to be in for sure.

Matt Alder (2m 40s):
LinkedIn just launched the 10th Anniversary Global Talent Trends Report. Obviously, very much looking at how the workplace is changing in these very dynamic times. What are some of the key findings in this year’s report?

Jennifer Shappley (2m 54s):
You know, as you mentioned, you know, the world is changing rapidly. And that certainly comes out in this year’s report. I would say, a key headline coming out of it is that company culture is has never been more important. It’s incredibly critical. It’s critical and retaining talent, it’s critical and how you attract new talent. And we’re seeing an increasing demand for companies to focus on their employee’s well-being, mental health and flexibility. With the shift to remote, it is just you know, as surveyed at the need for the focus on those three things. And that was really coming out and incredibly strong way in this year’s report.

Jennifer Shappley (3m 41s):
Flexibility has become a key value prop for employers, with the move to remote or hybrid, it’s just introduced an incredible, like opportunity for flexibility, for employers to provide more flexibility to their employees. And we’re saying that, you know, candidates’ employees are really looking for that from their company’s.

Matt Alder (4m 2s):
Flexibility and well-being big trends critical for attracting and retaining employees. What are some of the tips for creating a culture of flexibility and well-being?

Jennifer Shappley (4m 12s):
I think, one of the like my biggest tip would be listened to your employees. You know, we have what we call our EVS, our Employee Voice Survey that we send out quarterly. We actually just launched this quarter’s, this morning. And so, I think like listening to your employees, and understanding the types of flexibility that are important to them, whether that be flexibility and how they work or where they work? Make sure you’re giving employees an opportunity to share that with you. And that likely means and those surveys that go out, we were talking to employees about it. Updating the questions, you know, what you need to ask right now, may be very different than what you were asking a couple of years ago.

Jennifer Shappley (4m 56s):
And so, I think being really attuned to that and so that you understand the types of flexibility that your employees are looking for, and look for as many ways as you know, are possible to provide it. One of the things that we have really centered our approach on is simply trust. And we talk a lot about trust. And as we’ve moved to being a more, you know, hybrid organization where we have more employees either working remote, or splitting their time between the office and home. We’ve grounded it all in, not a bunch of policies and processes, but more around where we trust our employees.

Jennifer Shappley (5m 35s):
We trust our employees, and our managers to figure out how work gets done best. And I think that that idea of trust is really, really powerful. And something other organizations can absolutely lean into as well.

Matt Alder (5m 49s):
And are you seeing any other interesting things that organizations are doing in terms of wellbeing?

Jennifer Shappley (5m 54s):
There’s some examples in the report of what other organizations are dealing. I can share a couple that I think are interesting that we’ve done over the last couple of years to kind of meet employees where they are and try to help support them. One thing that we created to help address employee burnout was a program called our Lift Up Program. That program does a few things, but it really was just focused on providing our employees the type of support that they need right now. And so, a few things we’ve done through that program. We’ve offered no meeting days. So, we now, we have one Friday a month, that is a Lift Up Day, where we encourage employees not to have meetings.

Jennifer Shappley (6m 38s):
That’s in addition to we’ve always had in days, which were a day each month that are aligned a different theme, where we asked employees to focus on, whatever the theme of that day is, which are also often used as no meeting days? We’ve introduced new surprises and delights throughout the year, including an interviewer silver lining show that we’ve done the last couple of years. Last year, it was hosted by Trevor Noah, these past years, or two years ago was hosted by Trevor Noah. Past years was by Mindy Kaling. We weave in, you know, kind of like inspirational Global Voices into those, as well as our own employee stories, employee sharing their silver linings from the year.

Jennifer Shappley (7m 20s):
Last year under that program, we had rest up week, where we gave employees a week off. And then we’ve also provided global well-being days off as additional surprises and delights. And just looking for ways to kind of give people that extra support that break from work. We introduced last year, our first career month in October, to help employees in their own career journeys. Helping them realize what their career goals are at LinkedIn. In addition, a couple of other things, we offer 25 free sessions to help support employees in their mental health and wellness.

Jennifer Shappley (8m 0s):
And then we also have another program that we’ve run, that was running before the pandemic that we have added to over the last couple of years, called Perk Up. And Perk Up is an annual allowance that we give employees, that where they can use this money on different unique needs. So, things like childcare, pet care, tax prep, etc., just to help them out with other unplanned expenses. And last year, we added home gym equipment, which was very popular during the pandemic, and virtual childcare and tutoring. So, we’ve just really looked at like a variety of different programs that again, kind of helped meet employee’s needs, where they are right now, which those needs have really changed a lot over the last couple of years.

Matt Alder (8m 44s):
This is a very interesting week to be talking to you because LinkedIn are launching a new career breaks feature. Can you tell us all about that?

Jennifer Shappley (8m 52s):
Yeah, I’m really excited about this one. So, we’re going to be launching the career breaks option on the LinkedIn profile. So that our members can better like reflect the reality of what many of their journeys look like. Many, many members take breaks between, you know, moving from one job to the next. And introducing this option is going to give them a better way to really reflect what they were doing during that time off. So, members will be able to add career breaks to their profiles and share more about what they were doing. So that could be they maybe they took a break for full time parenting, maybe they took a break to manage their own health or provide caregiving.

Jennifer Shappley (9m 37s):
Maybe it was due to some other life meter experience. But this is something we’ve really heard from our members, specifically women, that they wanted a way to more positively represent career breaks on their profiles. About 68% of women say, this is something that they want to be able to show and be able to speak to on their profile. I’m particularly excited, as a recruiting leader, for recruiters that we’ll be able to better see these intentional pauses that people may be taking between their jobs and have an opportunity for folks to talk about the skills that they gained during that period.

Jennifer Shappley (10m 18s):
I think it’s going to be fantastic for both members and for recruiters.

Matt Alder (10m 23s):
What will can talent acquisition leaders and recruiters do to support people who’ve taken a career break?

Jennifer Shappley (10m 30s):
I think they can do a couple of things. One, recruiters can help candidates by destigmatizing it with hiring managers, and talking, and really help advocating for candidates and the skills that the candidates gain, develop, further refine, during these career breaks. And so, I think, you know, recruiters really, really advocating for candidates in that way can be incredibly helpful. I think they can also, when you’re talking to candidates, talk to them not about you know, don’t focus so much on questions around will tell me about the last company you worked with, or tell me what you learned to this specific place.

Jennifer Shappley (11m 14s):
Really focus on the whole individual. Think about how you structure your questions. And are you structuring your questions and guiding candidates in a way that really only gives them space to talk about, you know, what they’ve learned, or done when working at a specific company? Or are you structuring your questions and those candidates, you know, those phone screens to really get a picture of the whole person. And I think recruiters can really help candidates by asking more broad questions, really focusing on the skills that the candidates have, and not necessarily just the skills that are specific to a certain company.

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Matt Alder (12m 23s):
Switching gaze back and talking from your perspective as a leader in talent acquisition, how do you see the acquisition has changed in the last few years? And where do you think it’s going?

Jennifer Shappley (12m 34s):
You know, it’s almost a how hasn’t it changed over the last couple of years? I think it’s we’ve seen a lot of rapid evolution and a short period of time changes that probably would have come but certainly the timing of them has been sped up. The shift towards remote work has certainly I think, been one of the biggest changes for the world of work at large and specifically for recruiting, needing to think through things. Not how do I virtually interview if you weren’t prepared to do that at scale.

Jennifer Shappley (13m 15s):
So, needing to solve for and make sure you had the tools and systems to be able to virtually interview, whether that be just state a pure straight video interview, or whether it be coding, or other technical skill that you needed to assess. And I think that’s going to stay for a while. You’ll see, we will continue to see a shift towards I think majority of interviews needing to be done in some kind of virtual manner. I think what recruiting leaders and teams are going to have to think about too is as we start to introduce in person interviewing back into our processes, how do we do that in a way that is equitable?

Jennifer Shappley (14m 0s):
How do you make sure that whether candidates choose to interview virtually or if they come in person? How do you support both of those? And so, I think that’s going to continue to be something that needs to be top of mind for recruiting leaders, making sure that the candidate experience really supports both paths as well. We’re also seeing job seekers are changing jobs quicker than they have in the past. The great reshuffle is real people are looking for their next play. And so being attuned to the fact that what we have seen in the past as far as the trends as far as, how long somebody will stay in a job, and what you can expect there, that is really shifting.

Jennifer Shappley (14m 46s):
And then back to remote again. So, you know I talked some about how I think it impacts? How we virtually interview and screen? But also, how we source talent? It’s really up ending for recruiters that maybe are dead gotten into a pattern of. These are the companies I recruit from these are the places I look. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. There’s our talent pools have opened up in incredible ways. And I think the opportunity is amazing and great organizations are going to take advantage of it. But your talent pools have opened up. Where I can look for talent has now brought in significantly for organizations that are leaning into flexibility and supporting remote.

Jennifer Shappley (15m 30s):
But that also is a challenge that we’ve got to think about in our, you know, recruiting teams around. How do we post jobs that are in multiple locations? How do we support our recruiters in kind of optimizing new channels? And so, this is something I think recruiting teams are going to have to really be focused on in the coming years is thinking through now with these larger pools. How do I actively…? How am I running recruitment marketing? What are my talent attraction campaigns, you know, targeted towards the right folks and run messages, correct? If we’ve traditionally been hiring from certain places, and now we have the opportunity to look in new areas, then we’ve really got to like rethink everything we do in the process.

Jennifer Shappley (16m 18s):
And I think it’s incredibly exciting. But there is a lot of opportunity to rethink our strategies in this new world.

Matt Alder (16m 26s):
That leads nicely on to my final question. Because obviously, you LinkedIn is uniquely positioned in the industry in terms of seeing what’s going on with recruiters and with candidates? What do you think the biggest challenges recruiters are facing at the moment when it comes to finding and hire in time?

Jennifer Shappley (16m 43s):
You’re right, I’m starting to get into that last comment. It’s the, what has worked in the past may not work in the future. Are whether we know it or not, our behaviors, our actions, our processes start to kind of shape around, you know, candidates and places that we’ve traditionally recruited from. And so meaning to rethink, is this outreach message going to land? If I am now targeting different candidates with different needs, do I need to adjust? How I reach out to them? What their priorities are? What they’re looking for? You know, what maybe, would have been compelling than a message I would have sent to a candidate in the past, maybe it’s not because the candidates needs are changing.

Jennifer Shappley (17m 31s):
And so, I think there’s a big opportunity for recruiters to lean into better understanding, what candidates needs are? And then so I think this will be a challenge as recruiters reach out and realize the needs of candidates and may be changing. And so, I think like we get into the seminar, Global Talent Trends Report by it’s, why it’s really helpful, not just for recruiting leaders, but for individual recruiters to read. Because I think there are a lot of insights about how this is shifting, that would help them and changing their outreach approach. We’re seeing different generations value different things. And so really needing to understand that.

Jennifer Shappley (18m 12s):
So, it’s, again, it’s a challenge for recruiters, we’ve got to think beyond the one size fits all approach. And really think broader about the individual needs of the of the candidates. Which I think great recruiters have always done, right. Great recruiters don’t just send out one template blast everybody with it. They customize it to the specific individual. And I think that’s never been more important. But I think, this specifically will be the biggest challenge. What has worked in the past may not work in the future. And we’ve all got an opportunity to rethink everything from, how we reach out to candidates to or overall channel strategies, etc.

Jennifer Shappley (18m 56s):
And I think this definitely brings some challenges for recruiters but I personally believe, I’m an optimist at heart, that the opportunity is greater than the challenges. The opportunities around being able to reach out to folks that maybe we wouldn’t have before, to open up our talent pools through remote opportunities, to focus more on people skills, and really think more broadly about, what it actually takes to do the job? I think this new world of work is giving us great opportunities to assess and value candidates in new ways. So, while there are certainly some significant challenges in front of us. I think the opportunities outweigh them.

Matt Alder (19m 34s):
Jennifer, thank you very much for talking to me.

Jennifer Shappley (19m 38s):
Thank you, Matt. I really appreciate you inviting me on.

Matt Alder (19m 43s):
My thanks to Jennifer. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple podcasts, on Spotify, or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for recruiting future. You can search all the past episodes at On that site, you can also subscribe to the mailing list to get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show.

Matt Alder (20m 37s):
Thanks very much for listening. I’ll be back next time, and I hope you’ll join me.

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