David Manaster and team set out to pull off another recruiting conference in a less than ideal economy. The small but mighty team of event organizers and industry experts pulled together new and experienced speakers alike hoping to attract the usual event veterans as well as new attendees. They threw together an agenda that included social networking commentary, the importance of metrics, recruiting automation and Bacon Salt. (yeah... Bacon Salt.)

Did they manage to run another successful event? Yeah, they did - beating previous attendance was just the start, though. I took a few things away from this ERE Expo that were a bit outside the normal takeaways for me - and as usual (for me, anyhow) the bigger conversations took place between sessions or after typical business hours - once attendees had time to digest what they'd heard and seen.

Here are just a few highlights of what I walked away with...

The industry is still hungry for something that isn't being provided in a digestible format - yet. And while it's great that more and more recruiters are asking Mom & Dad (employer) for a biggie sized lunch plate, it would seem that many in leadership aren't willing to pony up the time/money for anything bigger than a happy meal - if that.

Metrics was a hot topic for quite a few in San Diego... And it's no secret that some recruiters just don't like to be measured on anything except fills. Staffing organizations have struggled with "time to fill" and "cost per app" measurements for years with recruiters often taking the brunt of numbers that actually reflect poorly organized or disengaged hiring managers and leadership. Some dialogue that occurred after Tom Becker's presentation was some of the best I've ever had at an event. And it should have been - in my opinion Tom's session on Driving Recruiting Metrics was one of the best at ERE. Based on the attendance this first time speaker pulled in, I'm hopeful that quantifiable measurement will continue to be more than just a "hot topic" for 2010.

Sodexo continued to be the big dog on the porch in the recognition department. Whether talking communities or best practices/ideas around social engagement - they're a constant in conversation on the circuit. I love my friends at Sodexo but I had to keep scratching my head and asking myself why don't we see more of what they're doing elsewhere? Are Sodexo, Starbucks and very few others really the only ones pushing the boundaries of change here - or are they the most recognized based on popularity and volume?

What I'd really like to see would be more success (or failure) stories from other companies that are pushing forward. More chatter around small businesses or 3rd party agencies or independents in the social arena would be ideal. I know that I share this feeling with several others in our craft - but I also realize that getting these companies to come forward at an event like ERE might also be likened to trying to get blood from a turnip. I don't hold ERE to this as much as I hold the practitioners accountable to sharing. We need more collaboration of experience, so to speak.

Technology was an interesting thing to watch recruiters absorb last week. You have to know that I'm painfully visual and that even my strategies start out on a whiteboard with an image map that could consist of cartoon characters, flow charts and unconventional visuals. So when I took a step back and watched recruiters move from booth to booth on the trade floor I immediately felt like I was looking at 100 bumper cars driven by company representatives... but that were bouncing from potential solution to potential solution - with no parking brakes or seat belts - and with feet pressed hard on the gas.

It's obvious that recruiters are ready for the tech that they didn't dream was available even months ago. I know that in many cases they are anxious for something new and "social" while looking for something proven. I believe that they are still doing their best to try and figure out how each piece of new technology might work for them, in addition to how they'd implement or even endorse to leaders in their organization. (this of course, brings me back to metrics... and those hunger pains I mentioned earlier.)

All told - this was probably one of the best ERE conferences yet. We'll likely watch this conference effort continue to get bigger and more popular as the economy continues to recover and recruiting teams begin to evolve/rebuild as a result. Paired with its sibling, the Social Recruiting Summit sessions, the ERE crew is building an arsenal of information and networking opportunities that so far no one else can match.

Originally posted at RecruiterGuy.net

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