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!
How effectively is today’s HR function meeting organizational business needs? How about the individual and collective needs and capability of the organization’s workforce? How can a global CEO study indicate that Talent is the most critical imperative, ranking high above access to capital, (see pg 24 of the exec summary) and at the same time reports are emerging that upwards of 60% of employees would leave their jobs when the economy improves? Increasingly, Talent is disconnected, underutilized, over managed, dispensable and bored. And, companies are not realizing the value in their workforce by merely creating a place for work to be done. Where is the excitement around business? Around new ideas? Innovation? Collaboration? Competition? How frequently have talented employees left a company to give birth to a successful venture on their own – could the idea not be born internally? Can we create a true entrepreneurial culture that supports internal incubators and reward innovation? What’s driving the disconnect and when will business get serious about the value to be realized in attracting, engaging and leveraging individual and collective capability? When will organizations recognize there is greater reward than risk in hiring for potential rather than always hiring to fit the round peg in the round hole and that the same approach applied to successful, innovative business practices can and should be applied to talent practices?
As the ecosystem within which companies operate continues to test and challenge the ability of organizations of all sizes to attract, engage and leverage talent how has the HR function stepped up to lead the way? Today’s business environment persistently demands more from people and their companies. What is the new leadership model at the intersection of HR, Talent and business? And, yet, how many companies have truly evolved their internal environments to navigate the waters of the business environment they operate in today and will be faced with tomorrow? This article from BusinessWeek raises some very relevant questions about R&D. Where is the relationship between R&D leaders, the HR function, the CFO and CEO to set a vision that prepares for the future? Any business issue today is also a Talent issue. How will we create adaptive practices that support continuous evolution that better keep pace with an increasingly shifting world with so much to offer, so many opportunities and filled with so many unique challenges?
The Big What If
I like to ask “what if” questions, a lot! It helps me imagine different realities, explore new possibilities and develop differentiated solutions. The BIG “what if” question I’ve been tossing around? Here’s part one – What if the HR function didn’t exist? Lets just imagine this for a minute. Some how business has been able to survive all these years without an HR function. New employees were still hired. Internally, people were paid on time and appropriately. Employees had access to development opportunities and internal movement happened as needed/desired. Things just happened, maybe not in an exciting way but we plodded along and managed. Now, part two – What if the HR function didn’t exist today BUT a business need was identified that recognized there was a synergistic relationship to be leveraged with talent in a way that would drive adaptive business practices. That would drive personal engagement, job satisfaction, creativity, collaboration, innovation and competitive advantages stemming from a talent-centric organization aligned through shared values and a clear vision.
Needless to say, this is a BIG what if! It’s also a critical question to explore during uncertain times that, to a large degree, has widened the gap between the organization and its current and prospective employees. The result of which does not look good from any perspective – and certainly not if you gaze into the future and wonder what will be different.
About a year ago I began kicking around the idea of Talent Camp – bringing together an intimate group of keen minds with a unique orientation and passion for Talent, business and the HR discipline. All things happen for a reason and in this case I’m particularly pleased that circumstances resulted in Talent Camp being a 2009 venture because there are a few people
involved that I didn’t know last year. On October 18th, 12 incredible people will come together for 3 1/2 days to explore the BIG “what if”. Collectively we have more years, depth and breadth of business and HR experience than I can begin to measure. We also share a strong passion for what could exist at the intersection of talent and business to serve both interests and advance organizational capability and effectiveness. We’ll be gathering in a 4500 square foot beach house on the Oregon Coast to immerse in a dialogue around our big “what if” question, that will no doubt experience the ebb and flow of progress, frustration, curiosity, pain, breakthroughs and clarity as we craft our talent function vision.
What can you expect out of Talent Camp? Well, that’s something that we’ll be defining while we’re together. My goal, hope and desire is that we’ll be publishing a collective work outlining the talent function required for business in the 21st century.
I am so pleased and excited about the incredible collection of people who have committed to join me at Talent Camp. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from them and can follow each on Twitter (their names are linked) and look for #TalentCamp to follow the conversation.
Jeff Hunter – see what Jeff has to say about Talent Camp
Steve Fogarty – see what Steve has to say about Talent Camp
and me, Susan Burns
More risk exists in standing still than in moving forward. We are the future and its time to craft the vision at the intersection of Talent, HR and Business. Talent Camp!
Update: And the winner is…… Lisa Matkowski! Thanks for your patience with the final announcement of a winner. Here’s the irony – Two different winners were selected – each done filming a video of me selecting the winner and both had to decline. I selected a third winner and needed to wait to confirm that they were able to take advantage of the offer. Lisa is confirmed and travel is set. I look forward to meeting you in San Diego Lisa!
A very special thank you to all of my Twitter friends that helped promote the opportunity, ERE for the pass and related promotions and a very special thank you to Glen Cathey, the Boolean Blackbelt for his promotion efforts. A total of 153 people responded to the poll and 92 people submitted an email expressing interest in attending the Conference.
Take a quick survey to share your insights!
Here’s the question: What impact is the current economic cycle having on your talent strategy? What approach to talent and business has your company taken during these challenging times? Respond to one of the two polls below to share your insight.
Here’s the Reward: I want to help you get to ERE Expo at the end of the month. Times are tough and budgets are tight, so in partnership with ERE I’m pleased to help one lucky person receive development and learning to keep moving your career and your company’s talent strategy forward. ERE will provide you with a Conference pass for the general sessions - a value of $1395. AND I’ll provide you with 35,000 Delta skymiles to get your there.
Would you also like to attend the full-day Master Workshop that Kevin Wheeler and I are presenting? I can also offer you a very special rate of $595 – a savings of $200. See a full description of our workshop included below the polls.
Here’s what you need to do: Answer the poll question below that best represents your company’s position and response during the economic downturn. After you respond to the polling question – send me an email with the subject line “I want to go to ERE”. Be sure your name and phone number are included in the email. Also tell me how / where you heard about the contest so I can thank who helped you get here!
Polls close on Thursday, March 12th at 3pm PT. To be included in the drawing you must respond and send your email by that time. One winner will be selected from the participants and I will contact the winner and book their travel with them. Travel must be booked at least 10 days prior to departure or the recipient will need to pay any additional fees related to issuing the ticket. If you win and don’t need travel but prefer to use the miles against a hotel room for ERE that can be arranged.
Respond to only one question – #1 OR #2. You can select multiple answers.
1. My company is making smart talent and business decisions during the current economic cycle by:
- Enhancing our candidate relations, outreach and engagement to build brand equity and have access to the talent we'll eventually need (74%, 79 Votes)
- Making smart hiring decisions by investing in available talent with hard to find skills or in challenging geographies (31%, 33 Votes)
- Offering creative work arrangements to keep more people employed (e.g. reduced work schedule; partially paid leave time....) (30%, 32 Votes)
Total Voters: 107
2. My company is not making good talent and business decisions during the current economic cycle because:
- We have reduced our total workforce, including critical areas, and if business picks up it will take us too long to catch up (50%, 23 Votes)
- We don't have the internal support to create or engage in social networks that could benefit our brand over the long-term (43%, 20 Votes)
- We no longer have the staffing resources in place necessary to deliver a good candidate experience and I'm concerned it will have a negative impact on our brand (30%, 14 Votes)
Total Voters: 46
Pre-Conference Full-Day, Master Session Workshop
Strategic Talent Visioning and Action:
navigating the present to prepare for the Future and advance your talent strategy
Presented by Kevin Wheeler and Susan Burns
“Very thought provoking & encouraged a very holistic approach.
Exercise was very useful to spark strategic thinking.”
Participant at our 2008 workshop
During these difficult economic times it is critical to be able to suggest alternative talent strategies to management and to be able to provide management with facts and data about internal and external talent quality and availability. Developing expertise around the realities of the talent market and committing to strategic directives that establish a guiding path will help to further your own development and leadership capability while also ensuring your company’s success in the future.
Some of the economic issues we face are caused by the shifting nature of work and the growth of globalization. As the business and talent landscape continue to shift, increased challenges around competition, multi-generational work environments, global complexities, and economic uncertainty require new boundaries of thinking and action. Developing the skills and approach to frame your strategy and build a compelling case positions you and your recruiting team to deliver increased value and guide your organization to success.
“Great content, made me think broader and deeper about strategic planning.
Included great framework for strategic planning. Very valuable info.”
Participant at our 2008 workshop
Through hands-on, interactive learning this workshop will boost your expertise in navigating the market and support you in:
- Developing a broader understanding of the trends influencing the talent market today and in the future that shape the overall landscape.
- Building an approach to anticipating, preparing for and managing uncertainties in the business environment.
- Designing and incorporating market facts and data and company analytics to build a compelling case for enhanced talent function positioning.
- Leveraging a talent planning strategy to break through recruiting obstacles and reach new ground.
You’ll also work hands-on in a situational planning exercise that incorporates your experience, learnings from this session, and interactions with others to broaden your perspective of potential and desired outcomes.
With the new year upon us there’s no shortage of predictions for 2009. But, predicting the future is a tricky game, especially in times of increased uncertainty – and that’s the one thing 2009 promises to bring us! Your company has most likely completed a plan for the coming year and is also taking a broader view to consider a longer time horizon, ensuring the company is well positioned for 2010 and beyond. The “and” here is very important because, as economic and business cycles go, how a company will weather through a downturn is only half the story. Being prepared to fire-up momentum coming out of a downturn is as important as how the downturn is managed, and a direct result of the decisions made.
So, how has this flowed down into the talent function in your company and how is it influencing the way you’re thinking about 2009 and the future? What does your strategy look like to successfully navigate what the year brings and what the future holds? The absence of strategy in itself is a strategy – just one that lacks deliberate intention and attention. A well-defined strategy that reflects a longer time horizon and includes contingency options to shift and recalibrate as things evolve will support a stronger and more competitive positioning.
Here are a few questions you can reflect on to ride the wave of uncertainty, align your talent function with the strategic business plan and insert agility into your talent function to embrace the future and prepare your company and yourself for success.
Strategy or Economy: What’s having the greatest effect on the company’s business? Is there a good business strategy in place that’s simply feeling the impact of the wide-spread economic downturn or is there something else going on as well? This is important to know because it will have a very different effect on business over the long-term, staffing momentum, and potentially your company and employment brand. Also, how will the natural business cycle of your company weather the uncertainty and what will that mean to talent planning?
Business and Talent: Are you meeting regularly with business and financial leaders in your company? Is there a clear understanding of which segments of the business are being impacted and what the short and long-term outlook is for each of these in terms of investment decisions and/or recovery? What are the differences in growth and contraction across key businesses and what role does talent planning play in the short and long-term for each? Given the outlook and big picture, how will this influence the talent your targeting, your active pipelines and ramp-up time to meet business objectives?
Beyond the Brand: Is your company actively hiring or are they in a frosty freeze? What does the experience look like for job seekers? Attracting new talent and engaging prospective talent in your proprietary community should always be a priority. The experience that each job seeker has with you now will determine if they are open to hearing from your company in the future – so when you reach back out to a candidate in 6, 12 or 18 months – when everyone else is as well, will they take your call and prioritize their interest in your company. The ultimate cost here is the impact on your employment brand. How can you not only protect your brand but enhance it even further? Investing in developing a social media strategy is one way to further support your brand, if your not already doing it. And, even if you are already actively working social media into your strategy this is the time to further embrace it and build up visibility and sustainability. Does your structure support a sustainable social strategy? This is a low cost investment and one that needs time to take root. I’m a big believer in establishing a structure that supports a “community manager”, a term borrowed from the consumer world, to ensure a solid and sustainable solution is in place. I’ll write more about this in a future post but for now what should be considered is the time it takes to actively develop and nurture community. Full-cycle recruiters simply can’t sustain what’s needed to deliver the ROI. Reallocating work across the recruiting team could be one way to free someone up for 15 – 20 hours a week to begin, which should allow you to see a good ROI in 6 – 12 months. The opportunity here is, that in time, you can show the value of the investment and either continue with someone part-time or build a case for a full-time resource. Continuing to identify talent, build relationships and actively qualify talent, even if your not hiring today, will ensure your prepared for the future. I realize that there’s likely been a significant increase in the volume of resumes, referrals and phone calls flowing in but with the technology available today there’s every reason to perform as a high-touch staffing organization.
Backwards and Forwards: Look back at the past 10 years and ask yourself how much has changed in a relatively short period of time that affects how you, your team and the talent your trying to attract think and operate. Think about how many new tools and technologies are now a part of your daily toolkit that didn’t exist before. How have these influenced recruiting and talent management? How about the way we receive, manage and share information? Now look forward 10 years to 2019. Yes it feels like a long way off! But, it will be here faster than we can imagine. Remember life without Google, an iPod and corporate websites – not so long ago was it! So, what can you anticipate and be ready for and how will you and your team keep pace to attract the best candidates, provide them with the best experience, and provide your company with a progressive and highly effective recruiting strategy?
Learning for the Future: Its easy to be successful when times are good and much more challenging when they’re not. In the retail industry it was always desirable to have someone anniversary their own business results to enhance their learning, skills and business acumen. Was the business last year a result of excellent planning and execution or timing? When the business climate is challenging it may not be fun but its an excellent learning environment. What is your team learning and how can you operationalize and capture the learning? Granted its not that you want to go through this again but how will what your learning today influence how you operate in the future to deliver enhanced efficiency and results.
Nurture Active Dialogue: How is information being shared to keep everyone on the same page, moving in the same direction, staying focused and having fun. Facing tough and/or uncertain business over a period of time can certainly take its toll. Keeping information flowing and inviting an active dialogue across the recruiting team, and broader HR team, keeps everyone focused, ensures people are informed and demonstrates a commitment to transparency. Taking an approach that looks at both internal and external information and trends is key. Having a process in place to develop and share competitive, economic and market intelligence is important at any time but especially now. What has an effect on your industry, company and the type of talent you need to attract and retain? Knowing the interest and status of your internal talent community supports transparency and ensures that both resources and priorities are aligned. These are all things that will benefit your hiring today, protect the company’s existing talent, and positively impact how prepared you are for the build in momentum that will arrive.
Train for Endurance: As business turns around do you want to sprint or just quicken your pace? How adept is the staffing team at keeping pace with exploring new tools and techniques that will advance talent strategies and actions over the long-run? Technology and tools are changing so quickly that its become an endurance sport just to keep up with the changes, filter through what’s really important and identify what’s right for your company, as well as ease the adoption curve. Perhaps there’s someone on the staffing team that has a high affinity for technology – if not, there really should be. Can additional time be allocated to keeping a pulse on emerging technologies and educating the balance of team members so that when business does pick up your drinking from a straw rather than a fire hose?
Visibility and Review: Are you still on a path that supports your strategy? Is the path your on still relevant? Keep your goals visible and revisit them often so your always aware of what you’ve committed to doing differently to advance your strategy, and its clear what your still doing. It takes 21 consecutive instances of practicing something new to make it a habit. And, it only takes 5% of a familiar past experience to trigger habitual patterns that bring you back to where you were! Lasting change comes one action, one decision, one behavior at a time built up and strengthened through consistency.
With the new year comes a time to reflect and to then begin moving your ideas and plans to action.…a chance to begin anew. It also brings an opportunity for learning. Welcome the challenges that arise and embrace the future!
I had the opportunity to sit down with Bill Vick for a virtual interview last April. We had a great time exploring ideas around the intersection of business and talent, the role of technology, and the emerging 2.0 world. I like how Bill framed this as the “collision of business strategy and recruitment”. Some of the other topics we touched on included “talent as customer”, evolution of communication and talent engagement in a 2.0 world, and the biggest problems facing recruiters today. Check out all of Bill’s video interviews on XtremeRecruiting.TV! If the video doesn’t appear for you below you can view it HERE.