ERE Expo 2011 Spring: Highlights and Takeaways

March 28, 2011

I had the good fortune of attending ERE Expo Spring 2011 last week in San Diego.  It was a packed couple days with speakers from top-notch organizations and plenty of enthusiastic attendees, with discussions on everything from hiring manager partnerships to video interviewing.

Here are a few of my highlights and lessons learned:

Matthew Jeffery, Global Director of Talent Brand at Electronic Arts, kicked things off with a keynote on “Recruitment 3.0.” His take: recruiters need to become emotional marketers—the next wave of recruiting is all about engaging your candidates and creating an emotional connection.  This was an overarching theme of the conference: it’s all about the relationships (and really, it always has been)—but it’s time to get back to those basics, while leveraging social tools that allow you to connect with candidates in countless new ways.

Congratulations to Sjoerd Gehring and the team at Accenture on their win for Best Employee Referral Program at ERE’s Recruiting Excellence Awards.  Accenture is piloting LinkedIn’s new product Referral Engine, and Sjoerd spoke about how the product will allow recruiting leaders to tap into the power of their employees’ networks by matching their LinkedIn connections with the more than 6,000 open jobs at Accenture. Very exciting stuff!

Speaking of employee referrals, industry experts Master Burnett and Gerry Crispin led a session debunking common myths about employee referral programs. The biggest surprise for me? While most companies offer some kind of referral bonus, monetary incentive ranked dead last in a survey asking more than 15,000 respondents about their primary motivation for referring someone. Key takeaway: focus your referral program messaging on helping a friend or impacting the organization—not the referral bonus.

Dan Jessup of Groupon offered a window into the hiring practices of a company that is undergoing explosive growth (Groupon has grown more than ten times its size in two years!).  His message: whether you hire a lot or a little within any time frame, don’t hire fast. Build a relationship with your candidate and hire carefully, no matter how many reqs you have on your plate and how quickly you need to fill them.

More words of advice from Groupon: think of your employment brand as a tool to accelerate your discussion with a candidate. The more they already know about what it’s like to work at your organization, the sooner you can move on to getting to know them.

During a panel with industry experts Lou Adler, John Sullivan and Kevin Wheeler, someone asked where the “smart money” is going in the recruiting industry.  The consensus: first and foremost, recruiters need to become proactive partners to their business—Wheeler defined this as being “a talent architect and a talent strategist.” As Adler said, “it doesn’t matter where you spend the money, you’ll waste it if this isn’t the case.”

All in all, it was a great two days of learning and networking. I’m looking forward to ERE’s next big event, the Recruiting Innovation Summit, which will be held at LinkedIn headquarters on May 17. More to come on that front soon!