Chicago Onrec Expo Highlights “Head-Spinning” Evolution in Recruitment

Darwin might say "I told you so" when it comes to the quest for talent. Evolution in online recruitment is alive and well. In fact, if the Onrec Expo that took place in Chicago Nov 3-4th is any indicator, this past year we witnessed massive change and productivity gains in the process of hiring.

As a sign of a recovering economy, over 500 industry and corporate recruiting leaders from 15 countries around the world registered for Onrec Expo 2009. Held in partnership with Kennedy Information, the industry gathered to learn the latest techniques and technologies to increase speed, lower costs, and add precision to the recruitment process.

“Onrec Expo welcomed Adobe, GE, IBM, Redbox, Saudi Aramco, Wal-Mart, Dell, Motorola, The U.S. Federal Government, Reebok, Fidelity, Best Buy, BASF, and the Mayo Clinic – just to name a few employers,” says RD Whitney, CEO of Onrec North America. “Innovative organizations came out to learn about and share best practices as online recruiting evolves.”

Specifically, the Onrec Expo explored how corporations are advancing their employer brands by investing time and energy online at corporate career sites. In a dynamic session with brand name corporations, we learned how employers are quickly taking their career websites to the next level. They are incorporating 1-to-1 marketing techniques, social media, and interaction into what was (just a few years ago) flat, after-thought sections of company websites. While these efforts require internal investment and focus, they shorten the supply chain and reduce costs and time associated with finding candidates who are a perfect match.

Also, the event highlighted how virtual career fairs are getting traction. Corporations like P&G and Allstate are starting to adopt virtual environments as platforms to attract talent – particularly members of the millennial generation. This method of interaction reduces the risk, cost, and time associated with a physical career fair. It also allows the corporation to leverage the amazing reach of social media to pull a diverse talent pool into the event, where attendees can find out more about the organization.

At several sessions, industry visionaries predicted how mobile recruiting will be the next big thing in recruiting. In the near future, smart phones will connect talent to opportunity. The ability to target and connect to talent via a handheld, mobile device has the potential to greatly reduce costs and time associated with traditional recruiting processes.

Much of the discussion at the event was around how social networking obviously isn’t a fad – rather a “shift.” At Onrec Expo, we learned that organizations absolutely must interact with talent on the social web as part of the recruiting function. This culture change needs to be woven into the DNA of the hiring process of an organization. While it requires an adjustment in the current recruitment communication function, and requires an increased investment in time and focus, it has the potential to connect organizations to talent without third party services, generating significant savings.

Finally, there was a lot of discussion around job-boards. Veterans of the online recruitment industry will remember that job-boards are what ignited the industry as classified advertising moved from static print formats to highly visible, low-cost, and dynamic advertisements on the web. From the discussion at Onrec Expo, it is clear that job-boards are certainly still very relevant (not dead by any means). In fact, several are getting a head-start in the still-young industry and leveraging their brands to evolve toward the social web. Some will thrive; others will go the way of the newspapers that did not evolve their format.

“It all keeps coming back to evolution,” says Whitney. “The web and technology are changing the recruiting process at a head-spinning pace. Those who continue to acknowledge the changes and evolve will be the beneficiaries of the rewards: added productivity, increased speed, and lower costs in the quest for talent.”

For more information about Onrec Expo 2009 (including speakers, topics, sponsors and exhibitors associated with the event), please visit:

Dates for the next Onrec Expo have been set for September 15-16, 2010 in Chicago.

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