Last week, TheLadders and I attended the 2011 Human Capital Institute (HCI) Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference, where we saw firsthand the energy, optimistic outlook, and ever-changing world of talent acquisition today. The three-day conference, located at Sentry Centers here in New York, focused on bringing together members of the industry to discuss and share knowledge regarding the tools, strategies, and opportunities allowing recruitment to evolve in a world in which increasing demand for hiring must be managed by dynamic and flexible talent-acquisition teams. While many hot topics were discussed, the key themes of the event revolved around newer recruiting technologies (such as social media); challenges and tools for managing an employment brand; and strategies to build on-demand pipelines of candidates who fit an organization’s culture and needs.
TheLadders.com kicked off the event in style with a workshop, hosted by our own Vice President of Product Management, Eric Burd, titled “Next Generation Recruitment Tools and Solutions: What You Need to Get Ahead.” Eric led a lively discussion on emerging channels and applications helping recruiters develop new sources of relevant information and new ways of finding the right candidates for their organizations. The workshop was truly interactive, as the audience participated in a “design studio” – a concept borrowed from the world of architecture that we frequently use in our own product design here at TheLadders.
In a design studio, we start creating products by simply sketching our ideas on paper, showing visually what the products will look like and do, rather than writing descriptions. Each group member then presents his or her idea to the group; next, the group as a whole selects its favorite idea or combines the best elements of multiple ideas, producing one large sketch and finally presenting it to the rest of the room. The workshop audience was divided into 15 teams and given the challenge of designing a tool to help capture and understand a candidate’s “intent” – a key element in understanding potential fit and “closeability” of a candidate for a position. Many novel and interesting ideas were sketched as, in mere minutes, this group of talent professionals morphed into Web designers, and the winning team as voted by the group (Team 9) received American Express gift cards!
Following the workshop, the conference continued to address the most relevant topics on the minds of today’s talent-acquisition teams. Companies such as PepsiCo, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Foot Locker, Campbell Soup, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Hertz, AIG, Adecco, SuccessFactors, Dow Jones & Company, Intel, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Nestle, Cummins, TMP Worldwide, Pfizer, and others shared their experiences and insights through presentations, workshops, and panels. Covering a variety of topics, a general theme was present: the war for talent is on, and to win, talent acquisition professionals must make use of multiple recruitment channels, including web and social media tools, and must remain always on the lookout for new ways of building brand and reaching the right candidates.
Gone are the days of “post and pray” and of passive candidates who are out of reach – today’s recruiter is actively seeking out, connecting to and developing relationships with potential candidates, both active and passive. As one presenter described it, if you want to hunt moose, the best strategy is to go where the moose are. Today’s talent-acquisition professionals are becoming more and more “req-less,” going where the candidates are rather than waiting for the candidates to come to them. By developing a pipeline of qualified, interested candidates, and maintaining a relationship with them, many recruiters today are reducing both cost and time to hire. In the words of one presenter, “the game has changed and so have the rules.” Ten years ago, recruiters could succeed through skill in locating candidates and acting as middlemen. Today, by contrast, recruitment professionals must be skilled in building relationships; providing high-touch, “white glove” experience; and making connections.
This year’s HCI STA Conference provided a window into the present and future of talent acquisition and management. In a world of employment where change is the norm (did you know that in 2004, six of today’s top 10 jobs didn’t exist yet?), I’m certainly excited to be taking part here at TheLadders in creating solutions to bring our industry into the next phase of its evolution.
For more on the conference, check out HCI’s event blog at http://www.hci.org/event/1110445/blog.
Noah Goldenberg is a Research Analyst on the Product Management team at TheLadders.com. He’s a New Jersey native, but also spent time as a Virginian and occasionally still says “y’all.”