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The Caustic and Cynical Rumblings of a Old Man at ERE Expo 2012

by
Lou Adler
Apr 6, 2012, 5:45 am ET

Note from ERE’s CEO David Manaster: When I saw the latest from Lou yesterday, I was stunned. After all, this is not just anyone. This is Lou Adler. He’s been sharing his recruiting wisdom on ERE.net for over a dozen years. Along with John & Kevin, I consider him to be one of the original authors who put ERE on the map.

Lou shared his thoughts about the latest ERE Expo, and there’s no way to dance around it — it’s harsh. But if we’re going to be trashed publicly, who better than family to do it?

We at ERE pour our hearts into the Expo. Countless meetings; speaker selection; logistics; reviewing attendee feedback. We’ve run 22 ERE Expos and educated thousands of recruiters since the first in 2001, which makes it one of the largest and longest running events serving our profession.

After so many events, it’s a perpetual challenge to keep the conference fresh and innovative. We do our best to incorporate new ideas (unlike Lou, I believe that Joel Spolsky’s discussion on what motivates technical talent this year was a prime example — watch it for yourself and decide). We also embrace new technologies — we were the first to incorporate mobile-based live polling during sessions, the first to embrace a Twitter backchannel for the event, and the first to incorporate live streaming so that those in our community who could not join us could still participate and learn something new.

But we’re not perfect, and I’m sure that some of Lou’s points will resonate. His thoughts on the Expo are below — we didn’t edit his opinions, and the title for the post is his as well. I hope that the attendees and community whom the event serves will use this opportunity to voice your thoughts on the event, and help us make a better ERE Expo for us all. – David

 

Last week, I attended by twelfth ERE Spring Expo in San Diego. As the elder statesman, aka, the Simon Powell of recruiting, I want to give you my frank feedback. The following highlights are not shared by all, but many of the other elders in attendance whole-heartedly agreed. (Note: I’ll be surprised if the management of ERE allows me to publish them all.) There are some recommendations on how to improve the ERE Expo at the end of this post.

Before I go too negative, left me make an overriding statement as the purpose of this posting: ERE is an important forum for the recruiting industry, and I think it has lost its way. It needs to recover quickly in order to fully represent this critical and important industry. I’m my opinion, once everyone has access to the same information, via LinkedIn and Facebook’s upcoming forays into the recruiting space, the quality of the recruiters doing the work will determine which companies hire the best talent. Right now I believe ERE is leaving this critical message unheard. Here’s why I’ve drawn this conclusion:

In general I was underwhelmed. Everything seemed stale or repetitive. There was very little that hasn’t been said before; in fact, much was said at the first ERE Expo in 2000. What should have been discussed was why 95% of what’s been said at Expos past has not been implemented. Now that would be a good session. In summary, my sample surveys concluded that newbies and rookies thought it was a pretty good event, but the more seasoned recruiters and their talent leaders were left wanting.

There were a few great takeaways.

  • Larry Clifton’s session on hiring a full-time recruiter coach was an interesting idea. The bigger third-party recruiters, of course, have been doing this for years. My takeaway on this is that companies should have their best recruiters lead formal ongoing sessions on best practices. The best of these should then be adopted as formal processes with metrics used to track recruiter performance.
  • I thought Paul Hamilton’s “Recruiting Idol” session was fun and very worthwhile. The idea was for recruiters to team-up and present a futuristic recruiting or sourcing idea without the constraints of technology or budget issues. The folks involved were spirited and creative. This should be a major focus of future events.
  • I missed Gerry and Mark’s program on branding for small companies, but Gerry gave me a tidbit ahead of time, and there seemed to be real value on how to create a talent acquisition strategy. Contact Gerry or Mark if you want the personal scoop.
  • Master Burnett told me in the BountyJobs lounge about his new venture in pushing social media to another level. I’m looking forward to learning more, since he seems to have figured out some way to master the hodge-podge of Facebook. If so, he should be one of the keynotes next year.
  • BountyJobs might be on to something — creating markets of top talent that have limited shelf life, that can be had for a reduced contingency fee. They won’t describe what they do in the same way, but that’s the real strategic value in what they’ve put together.

From the big company presentations that I attended — which was a good sampling — there was very little new or it was too general to make an impact. There were too many panel conversations anyway. I never like these, since the people involved don’t a have chance to really present what they’ve done. In my opinion, let someone who’s accomplished something big have center stage and get into the real details of how they did it. This is a much better learning experience for all.

The keynotes fell flat. I’m sure I’m offending a lot of people on this one, but to be told that branding is important and that the office décor and location matters (17 minutes on this one) is a waste of a lot of valuable time. In fact, both missed the forest for the trees. The problems discussed were all attributed to a bad strategy, and you can’t correct a bad strategy by improving tactics. Lack of an appropriate talent acquisition for high-demand talent endorsed and supported by the executive was at the cause of every problem discussed. This problem was highlighted in an earlier ERE article and video The Staffing Spiral of Doom Catch-22.

With this as a backdrop, here’s how I’d improve upcoming ERE Expos:

  1. Have more third-party recruiters present what they’re doing. There’s not one thing I heard at the Expo that great third-party recruiters haven’t been doing for years. And one of the most important is to make sure they work directly and partner with the hiring manager. Of course, corporate HR/recruiting feels threated by this and locks the door.
  2. Eliminate most of the panels and make sure the panels that are retained have a defined learning purpose. As part of this make sure the panelist practice ahead of time, and the team message is loud and clear.
  3. Think out of the box. Get people like Paul Hamilton, Master Burnett, and Larry Clifton to design next year’s event and throw in a couple of successful third-party recruiters who bill $300,000 plus per year. The result of this new thinking: you’ll have an irresistible show that rocks!
  4. Add some hiring manager content into the mix. These are the 800-pound gorillas who actually make the hiring decision and there was only one vendor on the floor or had a workshop that addressed this issue. Why not have a panel of the best hiring managers to tell recruiters what they want.
  5. Add some great candidates thinking into the mix. These are the customers we’re all targeting, after all. Why not have LinkedIn present their survey results of what great passive candidates want from the recruiters who contact them.
  6. Get rid of the big brands unless they’ve done some skunk works kind of stuff. Ninety percent of the recruiters don’t care about stuff they can’t do. Instead discuss nuts-and-bolts implementation with limited resources and too many requisitions to fill. Why not have a session on how to handle unruly hiring managers and too many openings?
  7. There are a lot of great ideas out there waiting to be hatched. Why not add yours to the comments below? If you attended the Expo, tell ERE what they could do to make it better and get you to attend again. If you didn’t attend the Expo tell ERE what you’d like to learn in order to entice you to attend.

As one of the elders in this industry, I urge ERE to rethink what it’s offering to the recruiting community. What you have now seems old and outdated to me. Instead of following conventional wisdom, why not challenge it instead? Corporate HR and recruiting seems to lag every new trend and they’ve been doing so for years. So my question is “why do you want to continue to benchmark corporate recruiting?” Hiring top talent is too important to leave to chance, and it’s worse to emulate outdated solutions.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Laurie Ruettimann

    Hi, Lou. I own the cynical™® brand.

    I actually liked the diversity of topics in the keynotes — and it was interesting to see Julia Gomez take the stage. She was different — comes from a different culture and background — and I appreciated the new voice. Same thing with Joel. He was fresh and had something interesting to say. He didn’t draw a map for recruiters, but rather, challenged us to think in new and critical ways.

    Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. I will say that the two most offensive things for me are the fact that Dr. John Sullivan can roll into ERE and present a session called “TBD” and that you’re still kinda talking about the same thing you’ve been talking about for years — Taming Hiring Managers and Hiring Great People.

    I know why it bothers me and what my reaction means. I’m frustrated at the audacity of an older guard in recruiting and HR. Men and women who have been saying the same things for years and still fashion themselves as intellectual giants. I wish you guys would mentor a new generation and bring them with you to conferences and say, “Here this is yours.”

    Use your brand to affect change in the industry. Don’t ask three guys to innovate around a new conference. That’s an awful and somewhat self-serving solution. Mentor a young man or a woman, give up your speaking session, and introduce that person as a new voice.

    Teach, lead, and do everything you tell your audiences to do. Give your blessing to a new generation. That’s how you could help ERE and this industry.

  2. Patti Breckenridge

    I always find value in ERE Expos, so thank you to everyone who has put their heart and soul into each one of them. However, I also find value in some of Lou’s suggestions. I don’t feel the Expos are as stale and flat as he says, but the fact I no longer go each year does speak to the need to make some changes. The challenge is creating a conference that is meaningful to all levels of recruiting talent. The elders can be bored while those newer in the business may find every session rewarding. Let’s help ERE by sending them constructive ideas. Planning an effective conference takes a community!

  3. Jody Ordioni

    Lou, with all due respect to a self-admitted elder in the industry, you may be seeing the conference through the eyes of a subject matter expert. The ERE Expo presents an opportunity for people at all stages of their career to attend, learn, share and network with others, including vendors, who are introducing new products and services with the potential to make the recruiting process more efficient and effective for everyone.

    I was fortunate enough to speak on Employer Branding at the Expo, and based on the number of attendees who reached out to me for a copy of the materials, I conclude that there were learnings I delivered. However, statistics say that as little as 3% of my presentation will be retained by my audience. I will not hold ERE responsible.

    To claim that the ERE has lost its way is to dismiss the value they bring daily to their at-large audience, who still finding useful the variety of articles (your own included), blogs, webinars and expos presented each year. (As a case-in-point: one of the most popular articles of the past year is simply a list of 60 interviewing questions http://www.ere.net/2011/08/23/60-interview-questions.)

    While I’m not a big fan of panels either, I might have reserved some of your comments for the evaluation form that was sent out.

  4. Lou Adler

    David and everyone who comments –

    First, David is truly a stand-up guy and I personally thank him for publishing this article as written and his opening comments.

    Second, there is no question that I’m cynical on this one, and I’m am looking at ERE from a different perspective than most, since I go to about 6-8 shows like this per year.

    Third, I’m not referring to the blog postings on ERE in my comments, just the Expo itself. Since I go to other shows some of my comments are benchmarked against these so this reflects my bias. I know why Onrec folded, and I’m starting to see similar trends.

    Fourth, I did speak with others before I prepared this posting, and there’s no question those with more experience were less positive than those who were less experienced.

    Fifth, I believe ERE offers an invaluable forum to all levels of recruiters and talent leaders. So my comments were intended to shake the boat and help put it on a better course that is more more valuable for everyone. As most of you know, I don’t have a diplomatic gene and tend not to coach my words.

    Sixth, everyone should have a chance to input their ideas on how the Expo could be improved. I also believe that the old guard should move on (including me), especially if we’re repeating things that have no merit. My problem is that the new guard is repeating those same things!

    Seventh, most of the new thinking is NOT coming from the big companies – but the TPRs and agressive SMBs (small to mid-sized business) The reason: the CEO is still involved and they’ve tapped out their network of known top talent. So to continue to grow they need to be creative on the talent acquisition front.

    I’ll present points eight and upward, based on any additional comments.

    Don’t hesitate to criticize my thinking or viewpoint. I told David at the Expo that I was thinking of slowing down, and this type of debate is energizing since it forces people to rethink out of the box.

    Thanks

    Lou

  5. Jeremy Eskenazi

    I have never met Laurie Reuttimann before, although she didnt like a blog post I made last year and had her community riled up about it… but, I must say, I think I LOVE her now. The comments Laurie made here were right on!

    I have been to every single ERE Expo Spring conference, and most of the others. I have been the conference chairperson three times, including this last one. Yes, I am a consultant to the recruiting industry, but I GET the concept that Laurie is talking about. In years past, I would do my own sessions, and would work hard on preconference sessions and concurrent sessions that I would present based on my own experiences and knowledge. However, I totally get the idea, that you need to bring in new blood and new ideas from real-world expertise to make the conferences work. In the last 4 years, I have not done a single presentation at an ERE conference… I have done everything I can to bring in people whom I know from real-world recruiting and staffing leadership roles to talk about whats really going on in their world. And, you know what… I learn from them, and if I can learn from them so can the ERE audience.

    “Subject Matter Experts” are great, and we need them too… but what we really need is a dialogue on what works, what doesnt, and how can we learn from others. And that takes a true community. I take huge offense from Lou’s statement that panels should be eliminated. Panels are where dialogue happens and they involve real people actually working inside of organizations. Yes, Lou is right on panel purpose, practice, and preparation… and I must say, I am not sure that Lou could really comment on the panels because there were several underway at ERE (including the panel that I facilitated on Global Recruiting was delivered at the same time Lou’s session was) that he never attended or saw with his own eyes… he mentioned that he did not see the panel that Gerry facilitated (I did, and it was GREAT!). The other panels, including the ERE Excellence Awards session facilitated by John Vlastelica was very well done… and expertly facilitated. And, the panel on metrics in the afternoon on the last day was also well done, with great preparation. All the panelists gave their time and their expertise well… especially since they opened up themselves for tons of great dialogue during and after the sessions for all of the ERE attendees to engage with.

    I agree that there needs to be more content from lesser known branded companies. Companies with bigger brands tend to have an edge over those that don’t in recruiting just because of their brand. But, that being said… there was much more content for smaller or lesser known brands at this conference than ever before. The ERE Excellence Awards had a number of companies with lesser known brands, there was a session that Jennifer McClure delivered for “recruiting departments of 1″, and the Gerry Crispin’s panel was focused on smaller or lesser known brands.

    I have to say, I totally disagree with adding more third party agency experts at ERE… this is a conference about how to make corporate recruiting and staffing more effective… and we need a community of people who have been successful at doing that. It is different. Yes, having people like Lou, who do come from third party recruiting (along with a huge number of the ERE attendees who also have been in both corporate and third-party recruiting), does make some sense… but we need the voices of corporate recruiting and staffing people who can help us all learn.

    One last thing… I said this at the conference, and Ill say it again: Recruiting itself is pretty simple. The process and methodology of how to find and attract people is fairly basic. What is hard is the relationship management piece. Not everyone can do that well, and you can’t always effectively teach people how to be a great “relationship manager”. So, in the end, recruiting tools and processes will always continue to innovate and change… but the “relationship management” piece will most likely remain similar… so conferences may not be the only place where something “new” hatches, but its always “new” for someone. I always have felt as if I can hear how other people have struggled and gained success, I can learn too. And, that is the power of the community at ERE.

    As far as ERE Expo Spring 2012… take out the fact that I chaired the conference… was one of the better ERE Expos I have been at. I have heard nothing but kudos and great feedback from everyone who was at the conference. And many of these people are pretty big conference goers. Kudos to the team at ERE especially Todd Raphael, who programs the conference. He ALWAYS asks for feedback, who is good, who is new, who has something to say, etc. I always give him feedback and suggestions and although he doesnt always take my suggestions at face value, I know I was heard. I would suggest to Lou, and everyone else that has an opinion, to provide the same feedback to Todd. However, I for one, say… great job this year.

  6. Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Lou.
    As I say every several months:
    I fear that the hype will continue as long as there are slick hucksters with high-level connections ready to sell the latest recruiting snake oil or “magic bullet” to desperate and not-yet insolvent recruiters and their superiors who fail to recognize that in most cases they are futilely “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic” of their companies’ ill-conceived, over-blown, grossly-dysfunctional hiring practices.

    As someone who has never attended an ERECon (Q: Why not, Keith? A: Are you paying for it and my time? I’m a cheap-a*s SOB.”), I think that folks are by-and-large getting what they paid for: an opportunity to show their bosses that they’re trying to do something useful, and networking for a better job on their company’s tab…. ISTM that ERECon is like network TV or big-budget movies: something basically familiar and enjoyable but not rally stimulating or thought-provoking. You don’t want to challenge you audiences’ assumptions and beliefs- though you might want them to THINK you are (a little bit)….As far as content: I wouldn’t expect much discussions on more effectively involving your existing recruiting staff in developing custom-tailored best practices instead of relying on expensive outside “thought-leaders” (no money in that) or critiquing and analyzing exactly how many employers of choice have wasted millions of dollars jerry-rigging grossly dysfunctional-hiring practices (there: I said it again) based on the prejudices and biases of their founders and the complicity of $300k/yr Staffing VPs who should know better, but still have to pay for their kids’ tuition at Princeton.

    I liked your suggestion about getting recruiters from SMBs to talk- I want to hear how to get good/great people to work at no name, wannabe companies that don’t pay particularly well or have other exceptional attractions. (How to get ‘em there? pay for them and their time- they/their companies have no budget for recruiting conferences….)

    @ Laurie:
    ….affect change in the industry. Laurie, by and large, the status-quo aka old guard, doesn’t WANT change. At best they want to be caught pretending to make an effort…

    You want to learn things?
    1) Carefully listen to what self-proclaimed “thought-leaders” who haven’t recruited in a real environment for years tell you to do- and discount it. I’m certainly no “thought-leader” (or as they’d say in German: “Gedanken Fuhrer”), but I tell people who ask me for advice pretty much the same thing…Listen carefully to what I’ve done, do the opposite, and you’ll turn out fine…
    2) Take close note of what the rich, famous, employers-of-choice do- and ignore it.
    3) Use your eyes and ears and those of your trusted capable colleagues and friends to figure out what works for you where you are now.
    “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass

    @ Jeremy: Thank you for putting your time and effort into making the conference work- I can only guess at how much effort it took.
    “I have heard nothing but kudos and great feedback from everyone who was at the conference.” I think that the vast majority of people felt that it was worthwhile. Besides it actually being worthwhile, there is a tendency for people who have invested a great deal (money, time, effort, etc.) to value it more positively than something that isn’t so heavily invested. Otherwise, there would be a sense of foolishness or error: “I spent $100 for that concert? It was a complete waste of time! What a fool I was!” Consequently, there is a bias toward giving marginal things the benefit of the doubt….What you just saw was an example of Behavioral Recruiting- the application of Behavioral Economics, Cognitive Science, etc. to recruiting. A recruiting example would be where equally superior candidates are presented to a hiring manager by both a retained 3PR and by an internal recruiter. The hiring manager is likely to value the candidate for the retained 3PR more, because s/he is paying for it. (Of course, if it was from a contingency 3PR, they might value it LESS.)
    How about some panels/talks on Behavioral Recruiting?

    Happy Passover, Happy Easter,

    Keith

  7. Simon Meth

    I disagree with almost all of what Lou wrote. But then my expectations are different. The #1 reason I go to ereexpo is for the networking. It was, as always, great in that regard. The #2 reason I go is for the exhibition. There were lots of interesting things to see and people to talk with. The distant #3 reason I go is for the sessions. They weren’t of much interest to me this year. But then, that’s just me. I rarely find them interesting. Every now and again though, I attend one that is great!

  8. Paul Tseko

    So, let the backlash begin! ERE, we want something different!!

    I agree that new blood has to be brought in to the presentation fold. I see a lot of the same names, the same Q and A’s but little value. The idea of the conference is a good one but stale.

    ERE, you present topics on sourcing, screening, interviewing, and hiring. Why not take your own advice? Source, screen, interview, and “hire” some new talent to present new, fresh, original ideas at the conferences?

  9. Lou Adler

    Interestingly, the person who disagrees with me the most, actually agrees with me (Simon says he didn’t like the sessions)

    To everyone else, if my session is not rated in the top 25% of all sessions I should be dumped. I have no problem with that, I should be fired. That’s the way you raise the talent bar by upping your game every single year. I also say that to me search clients. If I don’t bring A-level talent to the table I should be fired. (PS – I’ve only been fired once in 30+ years).

    How many other recruiters are willing to be judged harshly on this same metric? I also think that all of you who attended the Expo, should describe how you got better as a result, not your feelings. To be the best at any craft you need a purposeful program of self-improvement, not just talk about it.

    So let’s start performance ranking all of the sessions, publish the data, and then ask the same people 90 days later what they actually implemented. I think you’ll discover that there’s not much there there.

  10. David Manaster

    @Lou We’ve run surveys and asked attendees to rate the speakers for every ERE Expo since the first. We use those ratings to advise us on who to ask back.

    The main problem with using the ratings though, as Keith astutely noted, is that the people who attended the sessions were a self-selecting audience. The people who thought they would like to hear Jane Smith speak paid to hear Jane speak, and then ranked her performance.

    What this fails to capture are those people who saw Jane’s name on the agenda, had no interest in what she offered, and did not to attend. They never have the chance to register their dissatisfaction in a rating.

    So then why not allow people who don’t attend to voice their opinions?

    In part that is exactly what we are doing here. However, it’s extraordinarily difficult for the event’s producers to tell the difference between someone who would have attended if only we had Bob presenting instead of Jane, and someone who would not have attended under any circumstance and simply is a fan of Bob’s.

    This is probably more detail than most are interested in — my main point is that we absolutely ask our attendees for quantitative and qualitative feedback on speakers, and that our method for doing so is imperfect.

  11. Keith Halperin

    @ Lou: I liked your point of determining a speaker or ERECon’s value. At the same time, I think the defined criterion was not the correct one. Recruiters whose costs were covered by their companies shouldn’t ask: “Did I learn something valuable?” but rather: “Did I have a good time on my company’s dime?”

    YOWZA!

    Keith

  12. Martin Snyder

    Jeremy, Laurie has that effect on people; men, women and folks in between….Can she do anything without being interesting?

    Lou is on Laurie’s antipode right now. I started reading, expecting a real jeremiad, but all I found was Lou in the grip of mild ennui.

    If you have ever enjoyed a scene- from a church, to a country club, rave, or even NASCAR, you will find that you have ups and downs with engagement as what was once new and thrilling becomes less so with time and repeititon, until sometimes it becomes just empty ritual. That arc is everywhere in life, from jobs to marriages to sport, even to one’s the life of the mind.

    The people/events/institutions that can keep it fresh, or at least self-sustaining/renewing, are those with the meta skills that really make a difference.

    I admire what David has done with ERE and respect the huge challenge of keeping it fresh. Keep in mind that for many, the event is a chance to reconnect and enjoy a comfortable, enjoyable tradition (much like the Master’s this weekend!).

    There is no doubt the digital age has had an impact on the value of a semi-annual face to face event- but that impact need not be negative- it can be hugely positive as people who get to know each other online can get together in meatworld. I think innovation in the conference space will come from some kind of deeper mashup of people’s social graphs and the events.

    As to innovation in recruiting: taming hiring managers and hiring great people are the club and ball, the car and track, the preacher and pulpit of the scene- aint gonna ever change, even if the styles and rituals do evolve a bit over time.

    Good of David to print this. My always free and rarely novel advice: look to the happy tailgaters outside of stadiums all around the country. Yea, its about the same every year, but those can still be the great times you never forget and always look forward to.

    It’s about feeling good, having fun, and being around like-minded people who care, even for a weekend, about what you care about.

    Recruiting is still a great game- maybe the greatest game in business outside of hardcore R&D, and one that still is not well understood by almost anyone outside of it. David and company have PLENTY of work do to and new people to draw…..

  13. Lou Adler

    @Martin – brilliant and expertly stated.

    @David, Todd – I nominate Martin for the revival campaign. Get rid of all of the old dodgers and bring in some new blood with new thinking.

    @All – I don’t know Laurie, so can’t appreciate her views.

    @Jeremy – I actually agree with many of your points. The problem I have with panels is the lack of preparation and lack of hands-on value to the majority of attendees. A panel that has practiced and co-ordinated their views, even if opposed, is a worthy event. However, your view on arbitrarily excluding TPRs seems a bit harsh, since the best actually know what they’re doing and those that train their peers can bring a great deal of value to newbies and mid-level corporate recruiters.

    @Keith – I don’t know if you were referring to me as someone who doesn’t still recruit, but I do a bit of retained recruiting still and work with a number of CEOs of mid-size companies on developing TA strategies to support their growth. Also, I don’t know many old-timers who text msgs to their LI contacts and nodes as part of getting a slate of 4-5 outstanding passive candidates in 72 hours of taking the assignment. This to me should be the current Gold Standard of Recruiting which I both advocate and deliver upon. This is now possible with LinkedIn Recruiter!

    @All – once everyone has the same access to the the same people via LinkedIn and Facebook the quality of the recruiter will be the difference maker. I believe the conference should focus on helping these recruiters be the difference makers. On this metric, I don’t think the conference delivered. However, I enjoyed meeting many old and new friends and associates including Kevin, John, David, Todd, Master, Gerry, Mark, Mike, Doug, Marvin, John, Holly, Sangeta, Danny, Ron, Tova, Alix, the guys from Pittsburg, and everyone else who made a personal point to thank me for helping them out over the years. On this standard the conference was phenomenal. That’s why Martin’s sage insight is worthy of additional praise. I warmly thank him for helping me appreciate the experience. And thank David, Todd and all of the EREers who made it happen.

  14. Simon Meth

    Lou, here’s my take: It’s hard to put together a slate of speakers who are all good, professional, interesting, and current. Many professional conference speakers really just regurgitate the same old stuff year in and year out. And then there are speakers who you can count on for talking about all the latest, newest, trendiest stuff out there. There are attendees who want to listen to both types of presentation. Every now and again someone does something really different. I went to a break out session last year that was lead by William Tincup. He had decks of cards, each with a different, challenging, HR related scenario. We broke into small groups and discussed scenarios. I found that session more interesting than any other than I can remember. But was it for everyone? No way! So David, and his excellent team are tasked with putting on an event that appeals to a diverse audience than includes caustic and cynical old men like you (you said it not me), wide eyed newbies, and everyone in-between. How do you do that? It sure isn’t easy. I’m certainly not going to tell David’s team how to do it. I’ll vote by attending the sessions that interest me. I’ll give feedback to those who can make a difference. A couple of years ago I went to a session that was so awful that I went and spoke to an ERE staffer. To some extent you did that by writing the article. Thank you for that.

  15. Morgan Hoogvelt

    I did not make it to the ERE San Diego event as I didn’t feel it necessary to attend the event twice in less than a 12 month time frame. If you attend every single event, I think you are suffering from burnout. I would suggest only once a year.

    Secondly, when I did attend the ERE event last fall, I did find a lot of value in the event and did find things to take away and implement. I wouldn’t say ERE has lost its way, rather that individuals (in my opinion) go to these events seeking answers to solve all problems which this event does not do. To my knowledge, they base a lot of their topics off the surveys of what attendees want to hear about.

    Inviting in recruiters who bill $300k is not impressive nor is hearing from hiring managers since they are all different and some of them don’t know their heads from their tale ends. These two topics will get us no where I believe.

    I believe these sessions and forums are valuable AS LONG as people take ideas back and implement them. Most times in events like these, I see people using these events as a get out of work card and spend their time at the event messing around, checking work email, on conference calls, etc.

    Like anything else in life, this event will give you what you take out of it.

  16. Caroline McClure

    This is a fantastic discussion and huge kudos to ERE for publishing Lou’s comments; you’ve jumped a few notches on my appreciation scale.

    This discussion is endemic to what’s going on in the recruiting industry, I think. Unfortunately, if we’re still discussing the same issues that we discussed ten years ago, it’s because they’re still issues; because they’re still issues, we still need to discuss them.

    The issues are still the same largely because people and organizations are constantly changing. There are systemic, cultural and political barriers in every organization. These realities in are in constant ebb and flow and therefore the foundation for recruiting platforms (I’m not talking about technology) is constantly shifting. My challenges (issues) today may not be the same as those that I had last year. Last years’ conference presentations or workshops may not have been relevant to me then, but the topics may be incredibly opportune today–even if I am in the same company–and I may embrace renewed dialog.

    A successful recruiting operation extends far beyond “access[ing] the same information…and the quality of the recruiters doing the work…” (Adler). There’s no one solution that-fits-all and if an organization’s leadership or processes are dysfunctional, even the best recruiters fail. Envisioning solutions, developing strategy around them, and then operationalizing the strategy is far easier said than done. Attending conferences, even if the same topics are discussed at each, enables participants to elevate their vision from the day-to-day operations of their functions, and to benefit from a collection of ideas presented by a variety of people. My success may envelop pieces of several others’ strategy. Without multiple voices speaking to the same topic, I have no introduction to the diversity of experience and expertise that is likely influence my strategy and implementation plans.

    Where I do agree with you, @Lou, (I’m not necessarily speaking about ERE; I didn’t go to this conference and so can not comment on it specifically) is that it is problematic when the same voices speak on the topics year over year and conference to conference. (Often these tend to be the elders–see my paragraph below about @Lori’s comments). There are probably a number of reasons for this: first and foremost is that they are talented voices with lots to offer; second, these are the consultants to the industry (I’m one too and mean no disrespect), and since their survival depends on their visibility, they’re self-promotive, so…; third, these are the folks that are easy to find; fourth, they’re tried and true, and conference organizers know their sessions won’t bomb. There’s a heck of a lot that goes in to organizing a conference; logistical administrivia can curtail the time that organizers have to identify and vet new presenters.

    As elders to the profession, you have a an excellent view (or should, anyway) of up-and-coming talent, of other thought leaders, of other voices that need to be heard.

    @Lou, you suggest that ERE asks third party recruiters to present what they’re doing. OK, which third-party recruiters out there are innovative enough to deserve the stage? Connect them to Jeremy (or whoever is organizing next years’ conference).

    You suggest that ERE adds some hiring manager and candidate content to the mix. Who would you recommend? Dialog with hiring managers who are willing to engage in the recruiting process and shoulder some of the burden for continued improvement within the profession would be welcomed by many practitioners. They seem to be few and far between–who do you know that is willing to engage?

    You suggest eliminate the panels or make sure the panelists practice before hand. Instead of expecting great depth from panel discussions, I appreciate the opportunity to witness the expertise of several people engaged on a single topic. It’s that diversity of voices again; once I’ve seen who has substance, I can contact them later to plumb the depths. There is some value to panels (although, I agree, they shouldn’t carry the bulk of the conference sessions). Lou, set up a panel at the next conference and show us how well it can be done.

    My sentiments echo @Lori Reuttiman’s: “I wish you guys would mentor a new generation and bring them with you to conferences and say, ‘Here this is yours.’… Mentor a young man or a woman, give up your speaking session, and introduce that person as a new voice. Teach, lead, and do everything you tell your audiences to do. Give your blessing to a new generation. That’s how you could help ERE and this industry.” Bravo; here, here; standing ovation and all of that! (BTW, I don’t know Lori either, but I can still appreciate her views. If I had to know someone in order to appreciate their views, why read anything by any anyone that I don’t personally know? Makes for a closed mind and a very short reading list!)

    Conference participants have a wide range of interests, expertise and need; it’s impossible for organizers to successfully fulfill all of them. What is old-hat to elders will be new to many others. I would argue that conference organizers should be catering to those other than the profession’s elders.

    Pouring your heart and soul into the profession for however many years you’ve been in the business, addressing the same problems year after year, client after client, without overwhelming evidence that the landscape has shifted (if it had we wouldn’t still be having the same discussions, yes?) is liable to breed causticness and cynicism. Neither of those are necessarily purely negative: with those two traits, you (Lou) always seem to generate good discussions, and you certainly keep the conference planners on their toes. Just don’t forget that what is obvious and rote to you may not be so to others.

  17. Stephen Chatham

    Lou,

    I agree with everything you said. The reason ERE has lost its way is because the recruiting profession and function has generally lost its way.

    It astonishes me at the incompetence levels of the majority of those who call themselves Talent Acquisition Leaders. The majority of them would be better suited as a barker at a carnival (my apologies to the barker). Unfortunately, most hiring managers and CHRO’s are also just as incredibly clueless, so it is not that difficult for the blind to lead the blind.

    It makes me laugh at the lack of competency demonstrated by most of those who call themselves Talent Acquisition Specialists. Their idea of aggressive recruiting is to concurrently post on Linkedin and also pay to increase their posting’s visibility on Indeed. WOW, brilliant! They are more then adept though at farming out their jobs to contingent recruiters. Is it not amazing how many company’s contract recruiters are able to do that?

    Third party search firms are generally just as incompetent as their corporate counterparts. Yes, every so often you find a good retained search executive (not Firm, but executive), but for the most part, their incompetency is at the same level of Homer Simpson (my apologies to Homer). And boy, can some of those search firms use their magic to hokus pokus the lazy Heads of Talent Acquisition and CHRO’s into thinking they are getting top service and A Player level talent. The RPO’s also fall into that category on general incompetence.

    I encourage some of the old guard to continue to present, but just change up the material, as too much is regurgitated by some of the same old dogs.

    Every so often, a new guard member emerges, but for the most part, the ‘corporate’ new guard are naive, incompetent, lazy, full of themselves, serial posters, and serial Lominger experts whose assessment skills rival the navigation skills of the Captain of the Titanic. And boy do they have their hiring executives and managers hoodwinked with the Linkedin Recruiter, Landing Pages, Talent Communities, Branding, Talent Management, Change Management, and every other buzzword in their back-pocket.

    I attend ERE every few years as it is nice to get out of the office for a few days, hang out in 80 degree weather, hit the pool or beach, take spins on a jet ski, have a few drinks, see some friends who live in the Hollywood, FL or San Diego area, make it appear to my bosses as though I am staying on top of new trends and best-practices that I know we rarely have the budget to support, check out some of the 22/23/24 yr old newbies that the vendors send out to attract attendees to their booth, and maybe attend a session or two (before i head to the pool/beach) so at least i can bring back some hard-copy material. Once in a while I even get surprised and the session is actually good. Generally it the same old stuff.

    But wait, ERE is not alone. 15 years ago I took a 4 day vacation, oops i mean attended a conference in Arizona. Topic – HR Needs to Become More Strategic. What was the Conference Board’s HR Annual Conference in 2012 – “Driving HR to be Strategic.”

    Keep doing what you do best Lou. Unlike most of the other old dogs out there, you are the voice of reason.

  18. Lou Adler

    @All – the diversity of opinion and degree of cynicism astounds me. I’m blown away by someone who doesn’t want to learn from the best recruiters or their own customers – candidates and hiring managers alike. In fact, I’m speechless. I’m convinced – or hope – this is a minority opinion.

    Regardless, an idea for ERE – first define your audience and then put a program together for them that they believe is worthwhile and will pay to attend. An alternative, put together a slate of possible presentations and ask recruiters which ones they find most appealing. Then only invite speakers from the top vote getters.

  19. Keith Halperin

    @ David M: Thank you.

    @ Lou (I): I assumed that you still do some recruiting. RE: LI Recruiter- except having access to what they’d previously offered (the full LI Network) and have now taken away, I find LI Recruiter to be almost a complete waste, as on numerous occasions my skilled and experienced colleagues and I have received an ~5% positive response rate after a typical multi-week wait to hear back from inMailed prospects. If someone can show me how to consistently increase that response rate by a few times and decrease that wait time by about 80-90%. I’d be glad to pay for that…

    @ Morgan: Well said.

    @ Caroline: You very articulately made some excellent points.
    Hope to hear more from you.

    @ Stephen: You hit the nail on the head.

    @ Lou (II) and David: I think there are a number of excellent, nontraditional commenters right here on this column (I just mentioned some of them above) as well as elsewhere on ERE, so if they haven’t been invited before, invite them to participate on a panel or speak.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  20. Caroline McClure

    Thanks, @Keith.

  21. Lou Adler

    @All – reread Caroline – it’s well stated and insightful

    thanks

  22. Caroline McClure

    thank you to you too, @Lou.

  23. Francesca Marshall

    This has been a dynamic and thought-provoking thread to read, but we have yet to capture the perspective of a vendor. A vendor myself, it’s important to note that the companies that exhibit and sponsor these events are invaluable to the success of the conference – not only underwriting much of the cost, but also bringing new technology directly to buyers so that processes can be improved and business can be done more effectively.

    Lou’s comments here are valid. Speaking from the vendor perspective, I’ll add that traffic around the expo area and during networking events was diminished in comparison to prior events, making it more difficult to have meaningful conversations with recruiters, analysts, and stakeholders in the industry.

    Having participated in the last three ERE events, my organization looks to ERE as a leader in setting the tone for our industry and providing a forum in which buyers and sellers can connect. Hopefully all of the opinions captured here will be taken into consideration going forward, so that all participants – vendors, recruiters, analysts, and industry influencers – remain engaged and find value in the conference.

  24. David Manaster

    Thanks for joining the conversation and sharing your thoughts, Francesca.

    This ERE Expo was actually the third largest in our history of running the event. Only the two that we ran in San Diego at the peak of the last business cycle in 2007 & 2008 had more attendees.

    Since the recession began, each event in San Diego has grown larger than the one before it, and this most recent one was no exception.

    Our entire team is following this thread very carefully, and we’ll be using the ideas that emerge from the conversation in our future planning of the event.

  25. Michael Vangel

    I recently attended to 2012 ERE Expo. It was the first time in about six years I had done so. I really enjoyed it but I did not base the value of the experience solely on the presentations. I don’t deny that Lou may have seen some presentations that seemed derivative but there were a few good ones, too. I don’t really think that is fair assessment of the conference’s overall value. The networking component of the conference is exceptional. I wrote a blog entry about it shortly after the conference http://community.ere.net/blogs/michaelvangel2/2012/04/reflections-on-what-was-it-like-to-attend-the-2012-ere-expo-in-san-diego/

    The exhibit hall experience is not to be missed, either.

    As far as “Innovation” goes maybe Lou was expecting “innovative presos” at the wrong conference or he did not bother to go in to the Exhibit Hall which was loaded to the brim with exciting pre-IPO start-ups focused on providing innovative recruitment solutions. I have been to two Recruitment Innovation Summits and presented at both. The content was leading edge at both RIS conferences in Seattle and Palo Alto by all the presenters who were terrific each in their own way. The amount of innovative exhibitors, though, was much greater at ERE Expo than RIS. That is why I made sure to check them all out (or at least as many as i could get to) at the ERE Expo. They didn’t bite. They were actually very, very, nice but you had to be willing to put your self out there in the exhibit hall.

    Like anything else in life you get out of it what you put in.

    I have heard the comment Lou mentioned about the big brands presenting and their solutions not being applicable to small or medium sized businesses. Frankly, I think it is BS and a huge cop-out on the part of the attendees who say it. The responsibility of the presenter is to clearly articulate the business challenge, solution and result and attempt to make it meaningful and relevant to each attendee. Attendees in turn have a responsibility to be open-minded to new ideas and meet the presenter half-way to see how the solution being presented could be applicable to them for their own companies. If attendees really made the effort to be open-minded and reach half-way I am certain they could figure out how to make the bigger brands solutions applicable for them. Instead, they seem to want to be spoon-fed the answer. Life is not that easy. It takes work.

    Speaking of work, David Manaster and his team do an incredible job consistently delivering a high-quality product. I have put on conferences on a much smaller scale of 200 -300 people and I can assure you it is not easy pulling it all together. The ERE team makes it look easy because they are that good.

    Mark Twain said “Please all and you please none.” So, I hope David takes some of the items from the post and the following comments (including mine) with a grain of salt because ERE does a terrific job overall and is to be commended. However, does the mission of this particular conference need to adapt with the times if the industry is evolving? It probably does and the event is probably more secular than it should be.

    As someone who has presented and knows first-hand the work that is required to prepare in advance for major conference presentations, regardless of who the presenter is I think that the “TBD” session was ill thought out. Attendees deserve better and speakers have an obligation to put the effort in to the presentation wellin advance.

    To my mind what would have been more interesting and engaging would have been an “unconference within the conference” set within the exhibit hall that would have included Kevin Wheeler, John Sullivan, Master Burnett, Eric Winegardner, Laurie Ruettimann, Jennifer McLure, Sarah White, Andrew Gadomski,Marvin Smith, Gerry Crispin, Mark Mehler, Dan Kilgore, Jeremy Eskenazi, Matt Alder, Richard Long, Arie Ball, Anthony Scarpino, Dave Mendoza, John Sumser, Lou Adler and any other attendee that wished mixing it up with folks like Joe Essenfeld from Jibe, Nolan Farris from Indeed, Jim Milton from SelectMinds, Carol McCarthy from SimplyHired, Joel Spolsky from Stack Overflow, Kevin Grossman from HR Marketer, Steven Duque from Bullhorn Reach, Diana Corso from disABLEDperson,Chris Billetz from Beyond, Rayanne Thorn from Broadbean, Danny Bepko from BountyJobs, Brett Starr from Starr Conspiracy, Todd Maycunich from TMP, Mira Greenland from TweetMyJobs, Stefan LaViet from Work4Labs, Ted Daywalt from VetJobs, other exhibitors like Glassdoor, LinkUp, Hirevue, Wowser and any others who would like to join in. The true innovation occurs when Consultants, Vendors, TPRs & Corporate HR connect and share, discuss and debate, learn and grow.

    I would also like to see in the exhibit hall all the finalists get to present the case studies they submitted for the Recruiting Excellence awards. The recognition is terrific but aside from the rather large and fast-paced panel discussion, there were no in-depth case studies shared. I think attendees would really like to hear and learn and discuss those with the practitioners responsible.

    Last, the line has blurred between “Consultants” and “HR Corporate” which is a good thing. I think the time has come to blur the line between Vendor and HR Corporate, too. Most of the folks who moderated the sessions where HR Corporate folks spoke were “Consultants”. The word “vendor” comes from the Latin word “to sell” but aren’t “Consultants” selling their advice and expertise just like vendors are providing solutions and services, too? Let’s be honest. There is an unsaid but nevertheless palpable old school caste system that needs to be erased among HR Corporate, Consultants and Vendors. I say do away with the Vendor & Consultant and TPR labels completely and call them what they really are “HR Staffing Solutions Providers” and treat them all equally. The world will not end if you do. I promise.

    The forward thinking Talent Acquisition Managers and Directors of Recruiting already know this and treat these “HR Staffing Solutions Providers” folks as a vital extension of their corporate staffing teams. ERE should, too, when it comes to evolving ERE Expo. It’s time.

    .

  26. Kevin Grossman

    I was a working stiff this time at this year’s spring ERE Expo, relegated primarily to the expo floor, but I did hear similar sentiments about the content, sessions and speakers. I’ve been to many of the expos (not all), but was at the first, and these are truly the main events of the recruiting industry. I’m sure David and his team will take all this feedback, especially Mr. Adler’s, and apply it generously to the event’s future.

    I will say though that the expo floor was more vibrantly busy and buzzing, more full of talent acquisition leaders with shopping lists, than I’ve seen in a few years, which leads me to believe the economic ice age continues to thaw. I spoke with many attendees on the floor and the elevated mood was infectious. David’s team (Kevin, Danielle and Amy) does an amazing job

    Lastly, I agree with Lou about having more third-party recruiters present what they’re doing in conjunction with how they’re working directly with and partnering with the hiring managers as well as HR/recruiting leaders. I forsee some innovative recruiting models coming out soon that lead to an alignment of incentives, improved retention and the dawn of a new recruiting age.

  27. Keith Halperin

    @ Everybody: Judging by the comments so far, it looks like the folks should work to significantly change the Con, while keeping it more or less the same. Now, I wouldn’t liketo not think that isn’t all that unclear to you, or is it?….Realistically though, if it grew this year (and has continued to do so), and you don’t have an equally growing contingent of the dissatisfied,: keep things as they are, and give the customers what they want. Again as a non-attendee (so you may have had it and it wasn’t mentioned)- there might be an easy solution to people attending groups which they subsequently feel aren’t inappropriate:
    Include more extensive and/or obvious labeling or track information for the talks and panels. For example: something which is just for SMBs or just large companies might be labelled as such, and discussions at elementary, intermediate, or advanced levels should be likewise indicated.

    Cheers,

    Keith

  28. Martin Snyder

    One theme of this discussion is Third-Party v. Direct Hire content. Lou comes from the third-party side, but much of his thinking and writing is clearly targeted for direct hire work. ERE has its own business reasons to separate programming and focus (in order to properly segment the Fordyce Forum), but I always thought a big strength of the ERE community was the cross-pollination between the spheres.

    My firm’s business model (unlike the most of our competitors) takes it for granted that people will move between the worlds (sometimes in tangent with the business cycle) and that eventually practices, terminology, and mindset would tend to converge, and I think we are seeing that more and more as Sourcing has become recognized as a distinct discipline and social media creates relationship opportunities well in advance of applicant status.

    We believe that Recruiting is a sub-discipline of sales (probably the highest stakes/highest complexity sale that is done in high volume), so perhaps ERE might look to expand Expo programming more toward traditional sales content: lead generation, qualifying, organizing and closing skills, etc. Catalyzing a tighter union between the worlds of sales and recruiting may serve a big chunk of both key audiences- with more focus on marketing for Direct Hire and hardcore sales for Third Party.

    It seems to me that the logical future evolution of the recruiting profession will more closely parallel the sales profession, just as employment branding is now trending toward classic product/solution branding for many organizations- for example, I see more and more HR payload in everyday advertising.

  29. Keith Halperin

    @ Martin:
    While reading your comment, I had a thought (a rare and dangerous occurrence). The “sales” component of recruiting (here defined as gradually pre-closing and closing a candidate toward the virtue of accepting a position with our company/client) comes into play when the candidate has some viable alternative: 1) accept another offer, 2) stay where they are (if currently employed), or 3) keep looking (whether employed or not). ISTM that if you’ve done your homework and have a reasonable offer for a rational candidate (dangerous assumptions all, I know), you don’t NEED heavy selling if you aren’t going after the Fabulous 5% (which you probably shouldn’t do unless you’re a Fabulous 5% company in terms of salary, benies, career growth, QoL, genuine opportunity, something real, etc.) or candidates with heavily-in-demand skills. Thus, it makes sense to adopt the Robust Company Model: making your processes so efficient that you don’t need everybody to be a superstar for you to succeed.

    On a side note:
    Why don’t companies that ARE in the Fabulous 5% as far as the real stuff (NOT their own hype) is concerned spread the word far and wide?

    Cheers,

    Keith

  30. Martin Snyder

    Keith,

    Sales and marketing work together- rarely is something of high value “sold” on a single encounter/exposure. It happens, but it’s not the norm.

    Even within firms (the top 5% included) there are roles of greater and lesser market value, and of course, in many cases there is not even an “opening” when top candidates become available- the role is created on the spot or a latent need is formalized.

    As you also well know, recruiters are “selling” all the time- they often use candidates to point to other candidates and to extract or implant intel information about targets or sources.

    As to the efforts to needed to market and close: not much difference between moving an A player, B player, or C player. On that subject, nobody I know of is sharper than Joe Murphy-

    http://www.shakercg.com/blog/2012/04/lessons-from-lake-wobegon-and-quality-of-hire/

    http://www.shakercg.com/blog/2011/11/blinded-by-star-gazing-and-the-a-player-myth/

  31. Sarah Sheasby

    Lou- thank you for your candor. I completely agree with your comments. I started recruiting in 2000 and went to my first ERE in 2006… Absolutely loved it. I had 6 years of recruiting experience (2 in corporate) and I was educated, able to network with peers and left excited to try new avenues. I then returned in 2010 (now with 10 years of experience) and only pulled a few small nuggets from the presenters. The convention was no longer interactive and involved simply sitting and listening to speakers…. My ADHD would have preferred I listened via a conference call so I could multitask. I would recommend the ERE for new recruiters however seasoned vets are looking for more depth in the presentations and more of a chance to network and discuss the current challenges with their peers.

  32. M R

    It has all been said before over and over again. I have never attended the Expo and most likely wouldn’t, but I have yet to hear anything new about recruitment overall either here at ERE.net or anywhere. All of this was said back in 2000. I am shocked how most companies these days are hiring inexperienced recruiters who are more personality (perky, cute, cheap) than knowledgeable. This industry has become stale and tired, or maybe it’s me. At least in the day it was a challenge, now with the internet and social media, anybody can be a recruiter/sourcer. It’s time to retire I think Lou, you and me :)

  33. Carol Schultz

    Not sure how I missed this when it was published last month, but I’d like to chime in. I think Lou makes some valid points, however he needs to stop breaking his arm patting himself on the back. The “elders” as he refers to himself, John and Kevin (they are so famous that he doesn’t feel the need to use their last names) did not impress me upon studying their behavior at the Fall 2011 conference when I presented. In fact, one of the other folks he mentions in this article is no one I’d ever consider employing because of how arrogant he was when I introduced myself to him. I’d liken it to anyone who thinks they are better and above the rest. It’s just poor form. Clearly these people weren’t raised or taught the benefits of humility.

    I wrote a brief article for another company that I contribute to where I present some of my experiences at Fall ERE in detail. http://www.task.fm/business-function I’d love to hear comments about it.

    I’d like to address some of the items Lou suggests to improve ERE functions. I couldn’t agree more with his first point. All his ideas are good, but I think they may have some challenges.

    My topic at last Fall’s conference was on a brand new paradigm I’m building. Though I had a number of people come to me after the session to give me accolades about my topic and process, there were also the neigh sayers who didn’t believe what I spoke about was feasible. Not complaining, just stating the facts. I suspect the powers that be at ERE grapple with bringing in such new ideas and the possible negative impact they may have to future attendance.

    I’m not sure putting the 300+k billers makes sense. Quality third party recruiting in its process is diametrically opposed to the challenges faced within corporate. Corporate recruiters have less experience and training compared to the best third party folks (CRs, don’t bite my head off), they are paid far less (which is why the best folks are third party) and not respected enough. These are huge challenges to overcome as long as the leaders of companies see internal recruiting as a way to get it done “cheaper”. It’s kind of a Walmart mentality. Lou needs to be looking at the CEO and starting the conversation here. That’s where I start. Until CEOs understand that the #1 item of importance at their companies is talent, I think we’re climbing a mountain that can’t be summited.

    Third party recruiters aren’t working on 15-30 (or more) reqs per month. They aren’t expected to be a “jack of all trades, master of none”. This model is inherently flawed. Consequently, I’m not sure these things can make a difference. The example I’d give is the folks in my session that were brave enough to put up their hands when I asked if they were thinking that what I was talking about could never be accomplished.

    I know I’ve said this before, but the process doesn’t work and that’s what needs to be tackled. Can and should ERE events be improved? Sure. I think any event coordinator needs to be looking at what they can do to make their event better…always. I’m sure this goes on behind the scenes, otherwise I wouldn’t have been there last Fall. I’d also assert that the “elders”, given the brief encounters I had with them, are probably pressuring the ERE leaders to put them in to talk. I’d encourage the leaders of ERE to bring in more unknowns.

  34. Carol Schultz

    PS:

    Thanks to all commenting here who had the chutzpah to tell it like they see it. It’s not easy to say what may be perceived by some as politically incorrect.

    I neglected to address one thing in Lou’s response to the masses. He says, “…and there’s no question those with more experience were less positive than those who were less experienced.”

    I sit on a board of directors of a non profit in Denver as the Education Director. It is my responsibility to bring in quality content 9 times per year. I can tell you that before I took over about 30 people would show up to monthly meetings. Now we get between 50 and 60. I’m not attempting to blow my own horn. My point is that education takes a great deal of effort and is complex. Regardless of who I have at our meetings there are always some folks who complain. The majority of experienced folks either don’t attend meetings or have dropped their memberships. It is an ongoing challenge to provide education of any kind that suits the needs of all. I’d say it’s next to impossible. Maybe the answer lies in a place we haven’t looked? Maybe there can be sessions for experienced and sessions for inexperienced? Who has suggestions?

    Be part of the solution!

  35. Lou Adler

    Carol – I think you’re writing these just for me, the posting is not too active. Regardless, I suspect whoever dissed you at Fall ERE 2011, did not mean it. I think I know who you’re referring to, and the person is not the most extroverted person in the world. So what you took as arrogance, was more introversion. We often times make quick judgments about people and when you actually get to know them they are far different than their first impressions. Me on the other hand, am exactly the same – direct, frank, caustic and cynical. And one of the elders in our industry amongst 100s of others.

  36. David Manaster

    I am following the comments on this post with great interest, Lou, as is the rest of the ERE team. I am hoping to see more good ideas for fresh and useful content for the Expo as the comments trickle in.

  37. Carol Schultz

    Lou: I’m writing them in hopes that the folks who originally commented, including you, are still following the discussion. As I said, I’m a month late to this discussion.

    I maintain that anyone presenting at a business event or representing a known brand should be far more cognizant of their business conduct. I understand clearly how someone can be different once you get to know them; however, that’s not an excuse when it comes to business. I am very aware of my words and behavior when in a business setting. As you know people are always judging and assessing.

  38. Martin Snyder

    I lurk old threads too.

    Carol makes a great point about education; I think the world at-large needs more understanding of what recruiters do, and the world needs more recruiters in general to better create and maintain organizations.

    Recruiting is like other sales professions; its essence is about states of mind.

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