ERE Expo 2007: A Few Conference Tips

It’s coming?the biggest ERE Expo of them all. The 2007 Spring event is officially the largest ERE Expo ever. This, the 12th ERE Expo in the U.S. (14th overall), will have a record number of attendees, exhibitors, and speakers!

I’m excited about that many attendees all gathered in one place, all focused on one thing: improving and enhancing recruiting and talent management.

This is my second time serving as chairman, and while we’re busy putting the finishing touches on the program, I thought it would be great to start a dialogue and share “behind-the-scenes” info and tips to maximize your time.

I know many of you have already registered, some of you will register (you’ll need to grab a room in San Diego fast; they’re in short supply!), and some of you just cannot be with us.

Let me first clue you in a little bit on the conference program and how it’s put together. As the conference chairman, I do much more than serving as your emcee; I have helped to frame the conference program, including coming up with program session ideas and speakers.

For those of you who haven’t met me, I’m actually a working talent acquisition professional. I do write articles periodically for ERE online and in the Journal of Corporate Recruiting Leadership, but I’m working with clients to help improve their internal recruiting and staffing functions, so I don’t have much time to write.

Over the course of my experiences, I have met thousands of people in the trenches of recruiting and talent management, and I have learned from them what they believe are the biggest challenges and opportunities for our profession. This is how we have built our program; we have listened to our past attendees, and have had our heads to the ground to learn what people want to hear and learn.

What we do in recruiting and staffing is not rocket science. It’s fairly simple: its all about relationships. So, much of the conference’s content is built on improving and enhancing your recruiting and staffing processes.

You’ll learn from people who have been in the trenches and have some great stories to tell. When I go to conferences, I don’t want to hear some talking head spouting out why they are so great and all the cool stuff they have done.

I want to hear some real, authentic professionals telling me about what worked, and most importantly, what didn’t work, so I can learn from them.

Pre-Conference Events

If you can come to San Diego a day early, on Tuesday, April 17, ERE will hold several pre-conference workshops.

We have quite a few great sessions, with some ERE regulars such as Lou Adler’s “The Best of Recruiter Boot Camp.” This event is great because you’ll be able to get a solid three-hour taste of Lou’s famous “Recruiter Boot Camp,” which usually takes much longer. If you are a recruiter or sending recruiters to San Diego, this would be a great session for them.

I’m especially excited about the session on Screening and Assessment: The Best Practices and Metrics, presented by my friends and colleagues, Charles Handler and Joe Murphy. These presenters are the top gurus in the field of pre-employment assessment techniques, focused primarily on the tactical “hows and whys” in the world of assessment. I know both of these experts personally, and there’s not a lot of “consultant-speak” and other mumbo-jumbo. You can walk away from this session with an action plan on how to move forward with assessments.

Some other great sessions are planned for the pre-conference events, including a program on workforce planning by Ed Newman of The Newman Group, and a program on re-energizing employee referral programs and strategic referral recruiting by Laura Stoker of AIRS.

I recommend all of the pre-conference sessions, but of course, that’s impossible. So my recommendation is to determine what your needs are and then decide. If you’re a recruiting professional, but not yet a leader of recruiting teams, then the sessions on skill development are very valuable. If you’re a recruiting leader, the sessions on strategy are perhaps more valuable to you.

Tuesday caps off with the Recruiting Excellence Awards reception and dinner. The reception and dinner is the perfect place to network with some of the best recruiting minds in the business.

Most important, it’s not as crowded as the rest of the conference, which officially starts the next day. You can really add to your business card and LinkedIn networks by working the room on Tuesday.

If you’re coming to San Diego to really network with other recruiting and staffing leaders, plan to come on Tuesday.

Conference Sessions

There are so many excellent sessions that have been scheduled for the conference. Here are some highlights:

On Wednesday morning, our opening keynote is Arte Nathan. If you’ve never met Arte, you are in for a treat. Arte is the former chief human resource officer of Wynn Las Vegas and Mirage Resorts.

He is one of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met in the world of recruiting, and you’ll marvel at his humor and style as he walks you through his journey of staffing thousands of hospitality positions and opening casinos around the world. As an expert on taking advantage of technology, you’ll learn from one of the best.

My friend and colleague, Barbara Pizzala, who is the global head of Recruiting for W. L. Gore and Associates, will share her own journey in the really unique world of W. L. Gore. You may not know Gore right off the bat, but if I mentioned GORE-TEX fabric, you may have heard of them.

Gore is a privately held company that has been on the “best workplace” lists as long as they have been published. They also have no traditional titles, no “boss/subordinate” relationships, and the whole place operates as a true team. Barbara has been at Gore for many years and is now trying to globalize the entire recruiting organization. She’s a real practitioner, with both innovative tips and lessons she has learned along the way. Don’t miss this one.

Also on Wednesday, my partner in crime here at Riviera Advisors, John Vlastelica, will give a great working session on “Effectively Managing Your One-on-One Hiring Manager Relationships.” John’s session is very tactical and practical. You’ll walk away with some actual techniques on how to manage your hiring managers more effectively. Again, here’s a perfect example of someone sharing some real ideas that have worked for him in real-life, as well as some that have not worked.

My colleague Rodney Moses from Invitrogen Life Technologies will speak on how to turn your talent acquisition team into a profit center on Wednesday afternoon. Invitrogen’s recruiting team is 100% charged back to the business and their model works. They have much more involvement from the line (because they are 100% invested in recruiting now), and they actually make a profit. If you are a recruiting leader trying to figure out how to do more with your HR budget, this is a great session to get some interesting tips.

I’m also doing a session on Wednesday. I am really excited about it, since it’s a new talk for me. I have been working in this field for more than 20 years, and I can tell you that corporate politics are a big factor for recruiting professionals.

I’ve developed what I call “The Recruiters Guide to Navigating Corporate Politics.” I’ll chat with you about how to manage tricky political issues with HR generalists, hiring managers, your senior leaders, and everyone else. I’m excited to share with you some stories from my own experience on what works, and especially what doesn’t.

On Wednesday afternoon we’ll have an opportunity to work together. Back by popular demand (from last fall’s conference in Florida) is the “Afternoon Brainstorming Session.” You’ll find lots of tables with specific topics that we have heard are important to you (such as improving diversity, technology, hiring manager relationships, metrics, etc.).

You get to select the table topic you want to go to, and then for the next hour, you will work together with your peers to discuss and share best practices and ideas. Every roundtable is facilitated by one of the ERE award winners or another expert. You’ll walk away with not only great ideas, but new contacts.

On day two, the conference continues with a great keynote from one the true stars of the recruiting world, Michael McNeal, Intuit’s vice president of talent strategy and acquisition.

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The best part of Michael is that he does not take himself too seriously, and his presentation style is humorous, self-aware, and really smart. You’ll walk away with some great ideas and a huge smile on your face.

Also on day two, we have a featured presentation from the United States Army, Don Bartholomew, a replacement for MG Tom Bostick. If you think you have employer branding issues, think about the Army!

In this presentation, he’ll share some very specific thoughts about how the Army is tackling its recruiting challenges head on. You may not have to hire 105,000 people each year, but I guarantee you can learn from this session.

We have some additional programs on day two that will be very interesting to our attendees, including a session on social networking from ERE regular Kevin Wheeler; a session on customer-focused recruiting from the recruiting team at Lowe’s Companies; an interesting session on the future of applicant tracking systems from ERE’s own Madeline Tarquinio as well as Elaine Orler of The Newman Group; and John Sullivan will talk about building world-class career websites.

I’m excited about the “Ask the Bloggers” panel on Day 2. We’ve assembled a great group of recruiting bloggers to chat with us about what’s working and what’s not working in the world of recruiting blogging. Attendees will get a chance to really engage in a dialogue with this group of experts, and they get to do it in person (and not just online).

Speaking of blogging, we are starting something new for the expo this year: a blog. Speakers, attendees, and exhibitors can communicate with each other before, during, and after the event. Look forward to my part of that blog, too, with some fun and interesting “behind the scenes” stories for you.

Finally, it’s really important to let you know about the Expo hall itself. Some of the best recruiting and talent management suppliers, vendors, and resources will be exhibiting in the Expo hall. The hall is a place to go check out new ideas that you can try inside of your own organization.

It has been a lot of hard work helping to put on these events, but I can tell you, it’s worth it. I personally look forward to meeting with you, and I look forward to keeping in touch with you prior to, during, and after the Expo as well.

It’s a good thing that we can close the doors of our ERExpo to the outside world. We don’t want anyone to know that recruiting is essentially so simple?it’s all about relationships. It’s just a challenge to execute!

See you in San Diego.

Jeremy Eskenazi

Jeremy is managing principal of Riviera Advisors, Inc. (www.RivieraAdvisors.com), based in Long Beach, California, a leading human resources consulting firm focused on helping companies improve their internal recruiting processes and capabilities. In addition to his more than 15 years of consulting with corporate staffing teams all over the globe, he has more than 20 years experience leading the global staffing function for companies such as Universal Studios, Idealab, and Amazon.com. He is a leading speaker to organizations on the value of the staffing function, including chairing the ERE Expos in 2006-2007. He is a professional member of the prestigious National Speakers Association and the Institute of Management Consultants; and has served on the national staffing management special expertise panel and the workforce planning standards committee of the Society for Human Resource Management. He is the author of the book “RecruitCONSULT! Leadership: The Corporate Talent Acquisition Leader’s Field Book” (STARoundtable Press, 2011).