The countdown is on — and it’s an exciting one! For me, I’m counting down to my third time wearing the chairperson’s hat at the ERE Expo. That role gives me extra liberties to meet and greet, and I take my duty to ensure you’re getting all you can out of the ERE Expo seriously. By that I mean living the ERE Expo cornerstones of “Learn. Network. Recruit!” – things we all do daily, but sometimes forget about when it comes to our own experiences.
In my many of professional experiences, I’ve attended every ERE conference on the west coast and have participated in many others across the U.S. It’s an honor for me not only to represent ERE, but to help create an event experience that is just for the corporate recruiting profession. At the ERE Expo, I’ve made connections with so many interesting people, ones who I’ve stayed in touch with and look forward to seeing each year. This event brings our global profession local, which is a subject I’ve taken about at length lately. For a few days we’re all that much more visible and it’s a key engagement opportunity — so, if you are coming to San Diego, March 28-30, 2012 for ERE Expo Spring 2012, don’t be shy, sit beside someone new, or clink a glass with a stranger.
What can you expect at this year’s event?
Well, a lot actually. I don’t have the space to mention all the sessions right now as I’m preparing for the big event, but I can say they all look excellent! Visit the ERE Expo Spring 2012 website and browse through the full agenda before arriving to build your dream conference, and while you’re reviewing, I’ll give you a few little tidbits to consider. Realize that I’m only just scratching the surface with this preview though!
People are always innovating in recruiting and there is nothing like new words to go along with this. I’ll mention Creating a Workforce of Brand Ambassadors: The JetBlue Approach on Thursday with Julia Gomez. She uses a new word — “brandful” — to describe an engaged workforce. If new diction isn’t motivation enough, Julia will be sharing inspirational stories about how to turn any employee into brand ambassador. You’ll likely learn tips and tricks to engage a team to help the company grow. I’m excited to see Julia and see how this former employee engagement leader for JetBlue integrates with recruitment for success.
Later that afternoon, you might want to head into cyberspace. Social recruiting is continuing to pick up steam. This *Is* Social Recruiting is another one of those innovative sessions with an opportunity to learn from a pioneer. Former head of recruiting of Deloitte in Auckland, New Zealand, Richard Long is now an independent consultant with a law firm — again an opportunity to learn global recruiting locally.
While innovation is always a hot topic, foundational recruiting activities are still a staple for all of us. Larry Clifton is from CACI International Inc., which won the Recruiting Department of the Year during the ERE Recruiting Excellence Awards last year. His team is focused on recruiting training and team development — two elements that we often talk about in theory, but many of us have a hard time planning and implementing. Join Larry at the Training Recruiters session and don’t be afraid to ‘fess us that our own innovation suffers without a solid foundation to build on.
Friday brings creativity and suspense to our program. Joel Spolsky will keynote and his session, Be The Purple Cow: Standing Out and Attracting Top Talent and offers his ‘secret sauce’ to recruit and retain key technical hires using quality over quantity. He has been successful in creating environments where candidates and employees thrive, and offers a lot — especially for those hard-to-find niches many of us are recruiting for back home. I have spent some time chatting with Joel, and I am very excited about this session.
You may end up on the edge of your seat during Paul Hamilton’s Future of Recruiting in 2020 — Group Discussion interactive session. Paul is the head of talent management/recruiting strategies at BMO Financial in Toronto, and he has invited other ERE participants for a live think-tank session to come up with ideas. The second part of the session the “Extreme Team Edition” in the afternoon will be short presentations from the earlier planning stages. Let’s see who the audience votes for — just don’t expect to see Ryan Seacrest.
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On Friday, you also have the opportunity to learn more about the candidate experience from my dear friend and recruiting guru Gerry Crispin – he will be joined by folks from RMS and Sage. Their session, called Creating a Great Candidate Experience Without a Big Budget, Big Staff, or Big Brand will help the audience understand that you don’t need a big budget or strong branding campaign to create a great experience for candidates (really, no big budget, how rare these days … hmmmm?) Good job finding the thread that ties us all together guys!
I am excited to mention my own session as well. I’m really pleased to be hosting and participating in a panel discussion on global recruiting called A Frank Discussion on Global Recruiting. Danielle Monaghan from Cisco Systems in Asia and Roel Lambrichts from Coca-Cola in Europe will join me to dispel myths, talk about global recruiting challenges, and help navigate through this global village we’re all part of, but couldn’t possibly understand from afar. As I am writing this, I am in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and I have much to share about my own experiences in Latin America as well, so we’ll have much (not all) of the world covered.
Whether you’re going global or not, one person you likely want to hear from is Mary Wright, an attorney (did smoke just come off the screen?), yes, I said attorney, and she will host an open mic session to answer all your questions about recruiting. We often hear the only things certain in life are death and taxes, well in our profession, I will add another certainty and that’s not realizing all the legal issues we face! She wears several hats from mediator to judge and is not afraid to answer anything we may throw at her — so take advantage sans billable hours!
Like I said, this list is not extensive, but I wanted to give you a sample of what’s available. Now for my next set of duties — making sure you have the best possible ERE Expo experience possible. Here are some suggestions that will maximize your ability to learn, network and recruit, but also may help avoid some of those embarrassing blunders:
- Clear eyes and full hearts … and an open mind — can’t lose. Remember that the best learning in sessions comes from having an open mind. I have found ERE attendees often are very sophisticated and experienced recruiting professionals; however, there is always something new to learn, so be open to it. Talk to the speakers, exchange contacts, and connections. Keep in touch with them too.
- Network like it’s 1999 (put your mobile device away until it’s time to exchange details!) Networking at ERE is probably one of the best reasons to come. You can often learn more from the networking with other recruiting pros than you can just by going to a few of the sessions. So, improve your odds of really getting a bang for your buck at the conference … go to sessions, and introduce yourself and trade contacts with people you don’t know — you can probably learn from them too!
- One is the loneliest number — I know many conference attendees can feel very lonely at a conference. Yes, that’s right … in a room with a thousand other recruiting pros, people can feel very lonely. That’s because conferences are great places for people to reconnect with people they already know (like a reunion of sorts), as well as for teams of people from the same organization to gather. However, all of those single attendees would love to be welcomed into the community. Even for recruiting pros, it’s hard for people to force introductions. So, try hard solo attendee. Go out on a limb! Force yourself to be open to introduce yourself to people. And, for all of you attendees from the same company: get over it, you know these people! Split up, extend the olive branch, network, and learn and maximize your attendance. Don’t just hang out with the same people. I will be swarming around the conference looking to introduce people to others, and I will be breaking up masses of recruiting pros from the same company. I will also make sure that if you are a solo attendee or a first-time attendee, I will do everything I can to welcome you into the ERE family. Those of you who are already “in the family,” open your cliques up to adding new folks to mix!
- What are YOU looking at? That conference badge: Oh, how the name badge is a critical element to the conference scene. Yes, we have a great sponsor for the lanyard that attendees will receive with their badge at the conference. But, most attendees sling this lanyard around their neck with the badge dangling about three-quarters of the way down your torso. It swings and dangles and its one of the reasons why many conference attendees are not looking at your eyes, but staring at your chest to try to read your name badge. Here’s what I suggest: If you want to wear that convenient lanyard, just tie a knot on the lanyard to make the loop shorter and your name badge appears higher on your torso. Or, even better, hang on to that lanyard for your keys when you go to the gym or out to walk the dog back at home, and pin or clip that name badge high on your chest just below your shoulders on the opposite side of your body from the hand you shake with. Why? Because when you meet people, people won’t struggle awkwardly to see who you are and where you are from. When you shake hands with someone, they will see your name badge straight away.
- We all contribute to the experience. Please visit the exhibit hall and talk to the exhibitors. Not only are they there to meet you and possibly have a business relationship with you, but they’re also great networkers and great people to know. So what if you don’t have the budget, don’t have an interest in their display or their sign, or whatever, go and introduce yourself to the exhibitors and network with them too. Believe it or not, many exhibitors have great networks and ideas they are willing to share. The way I look at it, every single person whom you have not met is an opportunity waiting to happen. You never know. Plus, those exhibitors often have some great knick knacks too!
As you can see — so many great sessions and with my tips of the trade, a great event is to be had! If you can’t join us in person this year, many of the sessions will be streaming live through www.ere.net, or you can follow us in real time via Twitter. Look for us @ereexpo, through mentions from the many bloggers who join us, or mention us yourself. Engage remotely, ask a question, send a comment, or re-tweet a tip.
See you soon in San Diego or online!