Written by Susan Burns
In the spirit of pushing the boundaries of an unconference for the recruiting community, the first Recruitfest was a small, grass roots event in Toronto. It was a funky gig by all accounts but it was transformative. As a session leader I had the joy of engaging three groups in free flowing dialogue around talent acquisition practices to build a compilation of the trends, influencers and desired outcomes that were shaping the talent landscape. As only Jason Davis could do, the event wrapped with a drum circle and party at Jason’s home. Imagine that! Jason and Michelle, his wife, opening up their home to everyone that attended.
Having just wrapped my second Recruitfest experience I feel like this was another first. Two years and the maturing of RecruitingBlogs has made a tremendous difference to the scope and format but the spirit was the same. Perhaps two years ago Recruitfest was like a rebellious teenager and this year it was more like a spunky, young adult not content with the status quo and still pulsing with the persistent determination to make a difference and carve a new, experiential path to learning. Jason’s team has grown to include Miles Jennings and Ashley Saddul – the genius behind the quality live stream. Personally, I like events that push the talent agenda and serve as a format for discussion and learning, and Recruitfest 2010 certainly delivered. In partnership with Monster and through the support of a number of sponsors, the Recruitfest live stream reached thousands of people globally – 38 countries, and every state in the U.S.
Eric Weingardner was invaluable as coordinator and host. His passion and wit delivered engaging commentary throughout the day. Eric’s and Jason’s onsite teams delivered a flawlessly executed event. Is there room for more, sure! Enhancing the virtual experience by making it more interactive or hosting simultaneous live stream events that bounce from geo to geo will come. But, the value and meaning of Recruitfest cannot be underestimated.
Three areas that made a difference:
The people and the conversation. The mix of presenters brought a diverse, progressive and dynamic dialogue to life. The panel discussions were some of the best I’ve seen and participated in. They were unscripted, candid, authentic and dynamic. Real and raw. It was the fishbowl concept and it worked beautifully.
The reach. We are part of a global community. Talent is increasingly a global marketplace. Pushing the conversation globally to challenge the state of talent acquisition to share, learn and advance the practice is not only timely but necessary. After all, our work is about people and business. Its about the passion and ability to enable both to accomplish more together than is possibly otherwise.
Purpose. What was perhaps most energizing for me about Recruitfest 2010 was the raw authenticity. There was a common thread of people and purpose, something that all too often gets lost in the crazy, day-to-day pressure of recruiting. And, that is also the problem. We cannot lose sight of people and the power of connecting people to purpose and business to people. Yes, we have the persistent emergence of new tools and technology to manage. But, when the focus on people is lost we dilute the value of our profession and dilute the value of our brand, whether it be the individuals or organizations.
The event kicked off with Chris Hoyt of PepsiCo speaking about their glocal brand strategy and the power of a simple question – “Why do you do what you do? The Candidate’s Bill of Rights Panel with Gerry Crispin, Chris Hoyt, Charlie Judy, Jason Lauritsen and Mike Ramer could have continued for days, which demonstrated the critical importance of getting refocused on the candidate experience. I think too often the importance of the candidate experience gets overcomplicated. My question – what’s getting in the way? Is it the very essence of the talent philosophy, the technology and embedded functionality, or how the function is resourced? If you want to get to the heart of what gets in the way start with these three areas.
Sarah White and John Nykolaiszyn led a discussion on the importance of blending and articulating personal and organizational brand, which has quickly become a topic worthy of more time, understanding and intention. Tim Dineen’s quick hit preso on SEO to enable better search results demonstrated the continued importance of a topic and technique the industry has room to leverage further.
I was honored to participate in a discussion with Joe Gerstandt, China Gorman and Jason Lauritsen on the true value of social recruiting. If you didn’t catch us live I’ll give you a hint – its not just about the technology. In fact, the over emphasis on technology has resulted in minimizing the power of social recruiting to just another tactical tool – watch for the video archive to be released. I also had the pleasure of presenting with Master Burnett on the future of the talent acquisition function. Apparently my comment on just-in-time (JIT) recruiting too resulting in just-behind recruiting caused a few sparks. I suppose that’s the risk of a 20 minute teaser conversation. With respect and admiration to Glenn, he is one of the few who frames JIT with specifics and intention so I can understand his response, although we definitely need to have a conversation on the value of talent communities! Well, let me clarify again the context of JIT during my preso. When recruiting functions operate with an “in the moment” on demand philosophy or approach it has been called JIT, absent of course a complete reference to the full significance of the model. When recruiting operates as a reactive function JIT becomes just-behind because its just that – reactive, and your behind by the time you begin given the process time and absence of an anticipatory approach and alignment with the business strategy and a workforce plan. A proactive approach can also be framed as an adaptive strategy.
Oh, and my take on the future of the talent acquisition function? The Function is positioned to be the talent broker for the organization but only if its pursued with intention, strategic action and alignment with the business strategy – more to come!
Comment by John
Made Wednesday, 13 of October , 2010 at 6:19 am
It was an awesome experience, one that still has me thinking about stuff for the future. (And thank you for the kind words)
Comment by Meghan M. Biro
Made Wednesday, 13 of October , 2010 at 8:10 am
Great meeting you Susan!
Brand, Culture, Talent, Strategy, Community – Recruitfest had all the interesting elements. Most importantly, I had an opportunity to meet my colleagues In Real Life. So important. Delighted to be part if this wonderful event.
We are part of a global talent community. There is no “I” – Only “We” ….
Comment by Miles
Made Wednesday, 13 of October , 2010 at 8:20 am
Susan, thanks so much for the detailed post and your wonderful talk at RecruitFest! I’m just waiting on the video so that I can comment on the content of your track, because there is a lot to talk about and I don’t want to miss anything. Your thinking does a lot to push the profession forward! Thanks again and talk soon.
Comment by Ashley Saddul
Made Wednesday, 13 of October , 2010 at 8:40 am
Susan – Thank you for those kind words. Your post really captured the spirit of RecruitFest!. This event would not have been the same without you – we are all very honored that you took the time to attend.
I can’t wait to put the video of your session up – I saw a glimpse of it, and it looks fantastic! Looking forward to continuing the conversation…