Spring Talent Acquisition Conferences — Which One is For You?

Every Spring, several organizations put on large conferences targeted towards talent acquisition professionals and leaders. Many of you are considering attending one or more of them. I, of course, have conferenceopinions on all of them. Depending on what you are looking to learn or accomplish, some may be a better fit than others. Here’s my list of what is, and what is not, worth your scare conference budget depending on your goals.

Social Recruiting Strategies Conference, January 27-29 in San Francisco

This conference is held two times per year and focuses on the “social” focus of recruiting. This upcoming conference has a robust agenda with some speakers you know (Shally Steckerl, Laura Stoker and Stacy Donovan Zapar), but a refreshing list of speakers from companies we don’t normally hear from at conferences. Those companies include Rolls Royce, Arby’s, Trinity Industries, and Southwest Airlines. I feel that there will be multiple examples and innovations shared that apply to your company, regardless of your size, situation, recruiting challenges or location.

However, this conference seems to have gotten away from its roots of focusing on social recruiting strategies and tactics and is becoming a more like a general recruiting conference. This move is not necessarily bad, as there are great sessions focused on metrics and predictive analytics, technology, overall strategy and millennial recruiting.

Bottom line: This conference usually has a smaller attendance than some of the other conferences, so it is excellent for networking with other participants, as well as the speakers (don’t be surprised if you find yourself singing at a karaoke bar with some of the speakers late at night). If you are looking for ideas and solutions from a variety of companies and building your network, this is a great conference for you.

SourceCon, March 24-25 in Seattle

SourceCon continues to be the top conference for individuals focused on sourcing and finding hidden talent. This conference is best for “hands-on” sourcers as it contains many sessions that show you exactly how to use many of the tools and techniques that the recognized experts use on a daily basis. Of course, you’ll see some of the usual faces – Glen Cathey, Conni LaDouceur and Jeremy Roberts. There seems to be a large number of speakers from Amazon and PepsiCo. While both companies have top sourcing programs, not all companies have the resources and name recognition, so their challenges are different. I’m most excited to see the session by Lars Schmidt of Amplify Talent on “Career Coaching: Mapping Your Next Step,” as we as a function have been historically terrible about career planning and development.

Bottom Line: Overall great conference for sourcers or want-to-be sourcers. One of the few conferences showing you the “how” of recruiting, not just the “what” or “why.”

ERE Recruiting Conference, April 27-29 in San Diego

The ERE conferences have changed from events that brought talent acquisition leaders and cutting-edge vendors together for discussion and collaboration to events that focus on practitioners networking and sharing accomplishments and best practices.

While there is a lot of debate in the industry over whether the change in format is positive, this Spring’s conference is sticking to the new format.  While there are some intriguing keynote speakers – Antarctic Ultra-Marathoner Mike Pierce and former award-winning NCAA lacrosse coach turned consultant John Brubaker – I don’t recommend investing in conference based solely on keynote speakers. The most intriguing part of the agenda is the TAD (Talent Acquisition Development) Talks where individual practitioners share their specific stories and accomplishments from their firms in TED talk style. What I find lacking in the agenda is anything truly cutting-edge in our space. There are many sessions focused on increased efficiency, branding, social media recruiting, employee referral practices and other ideas we’ve been discussing for years.

On the flip slide, ERE has a pretty impressive group of sponsors/vendors like Jibe, Talemetry, AppCast.io, HackerRank and Glassdoor, all of whom are offering solutions that change the way we recruit and think about our industry. You will just need to seek them out if you interested in learning more.

Bottom line: if you are a recruiting leader in the market for new solutions from the featured vendors, it is worth attending and spending your time talking to the vendors (set-up meetings in advance). I’d also recommend this conference if you are looking to get a handle on the true best practices in core talent acquisition areas.

SHRM Talent Management Conference & Exposition, April 27-29 in San Diego

Yes, you read that correctly, the SHRM conference is being held at the same time, in the same city, as the ERE conference (the venues are actually about ¼ mile apart). SHRM’s Talent Management Conference offers a greater breadth of topics as the focus is on talent acquisition and the other areas of talent management, including onboarding, retention, change management, and employee development. However, this year’s conference has a strong focus on talent acquisition as over half (25+) of the sessions address recruiting topics. There are some intriguing sessions that I haven’t seen anywhere else, like “HR You Can Use! Aligning Recruiting to the Rest of HR,” and “Connecting Investment in Talent to Bottom Line Results.”

SHRM’s events are always large and well attended. You will meet other attendees from hundreds of different companies and the expo floor has more vendors than any other conference this Spring. You’ll meet representatives from applicant tracking systems, job boards, recruitment advertising agencies, social recruiting solutions, video interviewing technologies and assessment vendors. For some people, this can be overwhelming. For others, this is invigorating and exciting.

Bottom Line: I recommend this conference for talent acquisition leaders who are looking for ways to position their function as more strategic, want exposure to a wide variety of vendors, and are comfortable in the large conference environment.

What conference will you be attending this spring and why? Are their others that I should check out?






About Kara Yarnot

Kara founded Meritage Talent Solutions to provide tailored talent acquisition solutions to employers and employment services companies. Kara has over 17 years of leadership experience in talent acquisition and recruiting for several FORTUNE® 500 organizations, including Boeing, Intel, and SAIC.

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