Recruiting conferences…what do recruiters out there really want?

Now that I am doing the recruiting conference circuit (wheee!), I'm starting to understand how these shows are a little industry unto themselves. I never really went to a lot of these events in the past. I've been more from the school of learning by doing...not just at work but in general. If there's something I want to do that I haven't done before, I figure out how to do it (trust me, it's resulted in some interesting plumbing and electrical experiments at my home). Call me a control freak, but there's a true sense of accomplishment from doing it on your own. So I took the same approach to recruiting. Back when I started, we used paper files (yeah, remember those things? made out of trees!) and if you wanted to send your resume to someone, it came out of their fax machine on weird curly paper (yes, I feel 100). So I had already been recruiting for a bit when the Internet became known as a major tool for recruiters. As people were starting to understand how to use it to source candidates, good recruiters out there just figured out how it worked.

Then some companies, like AIRS, started offering Internet recruiting training. But that was really about it. As a recruiter, you kind of educated yourself by talking to other people in the industry and figuring it out. Flash forward 7(ish) years and I'm noticing that at recruiting conferences the topics are less about tools you can use to do your job (as a recruiter) and more high level stuff, like global recruitment branding or assessment tools. But most of the folks in the recruiting industry aren't the ones making those decisions. Or even if we have some impact, what we want most from these events are tools that we can use to do our jobs better (find higher quality candidates faster). I suspect that some of the big event companies know that there's a need to provide content that is actionable by individual contributor recruiters like me. But nobody has really specialized in that area (anyone? anyone?). I mean, once you have gone to AIRS training, there's not much more available out there.

This is why it's interesting for me to speak at some of these events. Sometimes I just think "you want me to talk about what?", but then I really see it as an opportunity to share, from one individual contributor to others. Plus, what seems mundane to me because I see it everyday, could actually be interesting to other people. It's kind of like doing a blog have to keep asking yourself "do they care about this?" and then ask for feedback.

I know that some of these conference organizers read my blog. So recruiters out there....tell them what you want to see. Let me give you an example...

One of the big challenges I have as a recruiter is time management. Outside of your own ATS, you have to develop processes for getting back to people (my friend Suzanne is a pro at this), how to find time to source and network, how not to rat hole when you are sourcing on/off the Internet. So, if someone were to present a session on time management skills for recruiters, I think that would be very valuable and actionable.

What else? What event topics would be valuable (events, not books or websites...just event sessions)?

Comments (11)

  1. rsm says:

    Thanks for sharing and people do care about your blog, I thought you knew that at a deep level now. Okay, Heather, People care about your blogging, they read your blogging on a scale far larger than the circle of people who tell you they are reading it.

    Training – I respectfully disagree, AIRS is certainly brand of training that the majority of the Fortune 500 recognizes as the gold standard, frequently asking for the AIRS CIR – Certified Internet Recruiter Certification by name. MeadWestvaco did when they set the ad which I replied to and all of our sourcers and recruiters will carry the AIRS CIR certification in the next couple months. I say this not to verbally beat on my chest, but to emphasize that AIRS provides a superb foundation of knowledge that you must then hone through a great deal of useage. Heather your point that recruiters want something to help them personally do their job. I totally agree with that comment. High quality professional training that is task oriented is the mental equivalent of putting Ben-Gay on a sore muscle. You are putting the solution precisely where the issue resides. That point you could expand on and do yourself/those around you a great service. The question then could become how to we raise the individual skill level on a task level ? What do we need and how to we bring this to bear ?

    There are other internet recruiting training solutions out there. I know of several, they do exist and at varying levels of content. Some are so advanced that until you have progressed through AIRS I wouldn’t even advise attempting them. The nooks, cranny and programs are there for a seeker who really wants to learn.

    Time Management – My time spent as a former IT Project Manager is serving me quite nicely these days.

    Here is the short version :

    1. Contact Manager – I use Lotus Notes (no wailing in the background, I didn’t make

    the choice spare me) If I had the Microsoft t-shirt or sweatshirt. I would wear it with pride. XL

    2. Set Expectations – PM technique that really works. Some wants me to source

    their new 15 jobs ? No problem, prioritize those, non of "They all are priority." Of course they are but which one first. Manage (like your hiring manager) the internal customer’s expectation of how long it takes a highly skilled person to complete the task. I’m constantly amazed at how people who don’t know how, think it should be completed sooner. Why ?, because THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT’s involved, unless you enlighten them a little. Not a "Blow by Blow" (that’s actually a good CD). But an expectation.

    3. Block it out – Remnants of all the Covey Franklin Planner,What Matters Most etc. ad nauseum time stuff I’ve taken. With regard to web recruiting I learned this from Barbara Ling, who specifically directed serious web recruiters to block out that time that is immovable except for a real event for sourcing/recruiting. I have periods when I have a sign on my door that could say "I’m filling the pipeline you are coming to ask me about, please allow me to do this to better serve you."LOL Programmers and Developers will tell you they get uptight when people keep ducking in saying "How’s it going?" You lose your focus and then have to regain it, inefficient. I reinforce this now, when asked spontaneously to do things I’ll typically respond "Yes, I can do this, but you do realize while I’m doing this I’m also not mining your candidate." It reinforces time management, prioritization, making people truly think about how to best deploy you. If they aren’t clear in their mind as to exactly what your skills are and how to best use them, then what is the proabability that you will be optimally utilized ? Very small. So we have to more proactively manage ourselves, we are the experts, right ?

    (not talking about you Heather, not going there)

    Spend the money, endure a solid professional training program. We can learn it ourselves but why not learn in a couple days what it might take years to get, if you learn it. Personally I won’t take that risk, but that’s my opinion which don’t confuse with fact.

    That’s my Friday attempted contribution to humanity. Back to this search, that was a nice lunch break.

    I do want to make one more comment.

    If anyone still doesn’t believe that web recruiting is here to stay it is, it is becoming more prominent with each passing day, when the supply of job seekers dwindles and the board become more pressure (they only represent about 9% of the resumes on the web anyway) you might wish you had some more of those skills.

    My soapbox just collapsed. Thank you Heather.

    Russ Moon

    AIRS Certified Internet Recruiter

    AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter

  2. Sean Kent says:

    Way to hijack this thread, Russ. 😉

    Heather, the conferences I have attended run the gamut from big ones like HR Tech Expo to medium sized like ERExpo to small ones like the Tech Assoc of GA. I’ve heard speakers like John Sullivan, Kevin Wheeler, Gerry Crispin, Lou Adler, and on and on and on. But few of these events have ever really given me a strong "take-away". Sullivan always gives me food for thought, but most don’t give practical tools that can be immediately applied.

    You know one topic I would like to see but never have? Recruiter career development. Everything from exploring different career paths in recruiting, to what skills are the most desirable, to where you can actually end up 10 years from now.

    Think about it – few companies have strong career development programs, and further most don’t care what their recruiters do, as long as the positions get filled. I’ve been in the recruiting industry since early ’97, and have held contract and executive recruiter, recruiting manager, regional recruiter, and recruiting technologist roles. No one has ever helped me decide where to take my career. In a month I will finish my MBA in HR, and have had lots of talks with other HR pros about my options. It has been extremely tough because I’m ready to move to a more strategic role, but so many companies just want me to fill their reqs. Defining my own career path is tough because no one has ever really mapped out how recruiters should grow.

    Hey Russ – you should check out Shally Steckerl’s tools at If you like AIRS, this is the next level.



  3. rsm says:


    Yes, I use his tools now, acutely aware of who is he, what he does etc. He does represent a good recommendation though.

    AIRS is just my foundation, not too emotionally attached to them, it does work if you use as directed, no doubt on that.

    Task oriented = take away

    MBA congrats in one month = mine will be complete Dec. 05 MBA, minor Management 13 months and counting down.

    You are close once I "lock on" to something, it’s "Game over." You are close.

    Gotta give Heather some fodder to attempt to pick apart, if no one can pick your argument apart then it’s pretty solid.

    Hijack ?LOL, let’s get this party started !!!!

  4. Heather says:

    Now gentlemen ; )…

    Russ, I don’t think you and I are disagreeing about AIRS. I guess my question was what else is there once you’ve done the AIRS training? I wasn’t so much asking for time management tips (but thanks…you know you crack me up), as asking whether that was the type of topic that would be relevant for a conference. Could time management prinicpals be tweaked to address the challenges of recruiters? I’ve taken the Covey class and I used it for a while but personally found it a big commitment to implement. Something more targeted to the life of a recruiter (especially a recruiter that has a life outsode opf work) would be ideal. Anyhoo, just looking to understand what people want from confernces.

    Sean-great point about career development being a fantastic topic. Especially for people who want to move ahead without managing people. Dr. John Sullivan was the moderator of the panel I was on today and he agreed to do a guest post here (It’s always flattering to find out who really reads your blog). Anyway, this could be a good topic for him. Dr. John, you hear that? ; )

  5. Russ Moon says:

    No, we aren’t AIRS is one of the "it’s". B. Ling, Shalley it goes up the scale , you can go deeper on the sourcing side. "The training itself is only the start, most people don’t realize it isn’t until you really put in a significant amount of time with the training that you begin to start more fully scratching the capeability." Heard this echoed by several of the more technically competent sourcers. You can have the certification (passed the test) and still have a significant learning curve ahead. Each level I learn humbles me as I see through others what is possible.

    I think that is a potential topic – you have the certification, now how are you going to continue you development. More people don’t have it, than those that do, so your role model pool is low and geographically fragmented. Seeking out on-line mentors or coaches. topic

    Time management – definitely, we all experience it in our own way. Juggling how much is enough or healthy, turning it off.

    Me, I’m in an saturation phase to rapidly advance my skill and the MBA is online, this serves as my "break". Do it all at once.

    Compensation Management – working with compensation, how to leverage that relationship to support the recruiting process progressing to strategic advantage. This topic came up recently when I was recruiting for a SR. Recruiter several times. They would ask "What is the relationship between compensation and recruiting ?"

    Time Mangement tips – you didn’t want those ? Balancing

    your deep search time with team time with personal time I think is a bonafide topic. People proabably don’t talk about it openly as much because it isn’t as popular as showing your skill, your intellect but many people could relate.

    Thanks for tolerating this in-between phase while I further develop my "voice". Sometimes when I’m growing like I am now I will miss. Thank you for your understanding. There has been no strong disagreement on anything I have ever read of yours. Have a nice weekend.

  6. Heather says:

    Thanks Russ…you know I still can’t tell when you are kidding ; )

  7. Russ Moon says:

    We will work on that, it is an acquired skill. I have heard that from many people as they get to know me, not taken back at all, its a milestone.

    Tell us how the trip has impacted you —big ways, global ways, how eye opening was it, where is the horizon.

    Did you attend that little AIRS get together with Susan ? Did you hear anyone comment who did attend ?

    What type of message are they communicating these days ? Inquiring minds would like to know, your perception. Thanks.

  8. Heather says:

    Russ- I always enjoy sharing with other recruiters at events, but i can’t say that this trip has had a big impact on me personally. It was especially great to speak with the other folks on my panel. It’s always great to work on my public speaking skills too.

    I didn’t attend the AIRS training. I have been through it before. It’s been a while since I’ve seen something really new from AIRS but, as I said before, I think it’s a good foundation for those getting up tp speed on Internet recruiting, especially for people that work at smaller companies and don’t get as much exposure to resources and other recruiters to share best practices.

  9. rsm says:

    "I have been through it before." – which courses have you taken ?

    Are you certified yet ?

  10. Heather says:

    Not sure of the specific names but they have been to Microsoft to conduct intact training. Wentr to their diversity conference last year.No plans to get certified. If I were an internet recruiter or researcher I would consider it but that is not the path I’ve decided to take with my career.

  11. Shally says:

    There’s definitely MUCH more after AIRS. If, according to Russ, AIRS is the gold standard, that is because they are a smart marketing machine and have gotten the public recognition. However, in every industry there’s always some entity that mass produces and focuses on quantity over quality, then there are the artisans who produce quality overy quantity. Of course, the quality is more expensive, as in any other industry, and can only be "manufactured" manually, painstaikingly, by hand.

    Consider that AIRS is the Ford Taurus or Toyota Camry. A good starting point for those seeking reliable transportation in moderate comfor from point A to point B. A means to an end. Basic. Then of course there are heavy trucks like the Ford F 350 or specialized sports cars like the McLaren F1.

    Or to use a more academic analogy, AIRS could be the Associates degree. It follows then that there are courses which are more like a Bachelors or a Masters degree. Some are obviously recruitment related, others are more geared towards research of all kinds, or competitive intelligence. Finally there’s a level of achivement akin to a PhD, where the training is much more one on one, highly focused and at the pinnacle of performance.

    If, like Russ said, AIRS is "required" – say much like an Associates or Bachelors degree would be – then obtaining a Master’s and then perhaps a PhD, you would be at that next level.



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