What I learned in Vegas: #HRTechConf Wrap-Up

The 14th annual HR Technology Conference didn't disappoint in Vegas this year. Not only was this the biggest collection of rockstar attendees at the conference to date but the breakout and main panel discussions were the best I've seen them. I also love the addition of HR Tech Connect to enable attendees to interact before the event.

From the main / breakout sessions to the expo hall, here are my thoughts and observations on a great few days in Vegas:

Scanning the Twitterverse

First and foremost, I loved the activity on the Twitter stream over the course of the 3 days. A lot of great info was shared by a variety of Twitter users. To check out some of the knowledge shared go to the #HRTechConf hashtag (hours of great content to peruse).


My favorite part of these events is meeting Twitter friends in real life. Here are some people I was really excited to meet in person at HR Tech (you should follow and connect with these people!): @mattcharney, @Blogging4Jobs, @KevinWGrossman, @RadicalRecruit, @MikeKrupa, @BenEubanks and last but definitely not least @MeghanMBiro.


I also love these events to find other great Twitter users to connect and share content with. Here are some great Twitter people you should follow from the event (and also check this great HR Tech Blogger list): @Stelzner, @JasonAverbook, @InFullBloomUS, @AmeliaRecruiter, @mgrennier, @TheRecruiterGuy, @EWMonster, @WilliamTincup, @SteveBoese, @VisierAnalytics, @SocialMediaSean, @TakeTheView, @LizRenteria, @Havrilla, @KimLessley, @Suree_Sockel, @Careerify, @RitaCJackson and @Work4Labs.


OK now on to the sessions....

My 4 Favorite Sessions of the Conference

There were a lot of good sessions at HR Tech but these really stood out to me as the best of the event.


"Walmart Embraces Video Interviewing for Job Applicants" by Mike Grennier (@mgrennier)

First, let's start with Mike's great session on how Walmart has been able to reduce the cost and time associated with first round interviews by using video interview technology. I liked this session not only for the cool things Walmart is doing with @HireVue and @GrJobInterview to overhaul their interview process but also for Mike's engaging and persuasive presentation on why video interviewing makes sense for organizations.

Here are the pearls of wisdom from this session:

  • The reason for video interviewing is twofold: 1) You save $ in screening candidates with a first round interview (flights, hotels, cabs, etc.) 2) Saves hiring managers time as they can screen candidates on their own schedule.
  • Video interviewing should replace the first round interview in your interview process. It is NOT a substitute for final interviews.
  • By using video interviewing, Walmart has saved an estimated cost of $2.2 million in 2011 and $3.1 million in 2012. Andy time you can save over $5 million in two years, you're doing something right!
  • Hiring Manager adoption for this is very high. In a recorded interview with a hiring manager, she asked them to please not take this tool away from them. I've seen this type of buy-in from hiring managers only a handful of times in the HR Technology space. Very powerful stuff!
  • For candidates that don't have webcams (this # is decreasing rapidly), Walmart ships out free webcams that are company branded. Not only is this a nice touch with their employer brand but it helps provide candidates with instructions on how to use webcam so interviews go smoothly.
  • Cost and time savings are the most important benefits but another result of more video interviewing is decreasing Walmart's recruiting organization's ecological footprint as well!

Overall it was a great presentation and if you have any questions on what Walmart is doing, connect with him on Twitter @mgrennier.


"The Great Technology Debate" with Jason Averbook (@jasonaverbook) & Naomi Bloom (@InFullBloomUS)

As always, it was one of the highlights of the event. With Jason and Naomi doing their best point-counterpoint, here are some of the great sound-bytes from the discussion:

  • "Talent Management never ends." - @jasonaverbook referring to how Talent needs to be an on-going part of your core HR strategy.
  • "The need is no longer a global headcount report. Its understanding your global talent supply." - @jasonaverbook
  • "We better know what we're going hunting for before we go hunting." - @InFullBloomUS on understanding your current systems and data and figuring out what you want & need before looking for new HR Technology solutions.
  • "Some suites are in name only. Just b/c you get them from one vendor, doesn't mean they work together like they need to!" - @InFullBloomUS on making sure that product suite solutions aren't in name only!
  • "If you are moving to new technology, the outcome has to be different. If it isn't you are wasting your time!" - @jasonaverbook on tie-ing your HR technology goals to true business goals.
  • "It has to work for you!" - @jasonaverbook on finding technology that works for what you want to do at your organization and not just blindly using technology that has worked for others.
  • "Organizations need to display technology savvy image to attract next generation workforce." - @InFullBloomUS on the other benefit of implementing forward thinking HR Technology.
  • "Follow the yellow brick road: define clear objectives before moving technology forward." - @InFullBloomUS on understanding internal needs before going with a new HR Technology.
  • "Understand the buyer: what are they doing, where are they going!" - @jasonaverbook & "Make sure to keep track of your current vendors. Shouldn't be surprised by acquisition." - @InFullBloomUS on what to do when your service provider gets bought by another company.
  • "Will need to rethink how we think about talent. In next 5 years, will have 5 retirees for every 1 entrant." - @jasonaverbook

And there was a lot more where that came from. Great debate that I'm looking forward to seeing next year!


"The First Candidate Experience Awards - The Candys!" by Gerry Crispin (@GerryCrispin), Elaine Ohler (@ElaineOrler) & Ed Newman (@newmaed)

Through company surveys, interviews and secret shopper applicants, Gerry, Elaine and Ed were able to find and identify the first CandE winners who showed excellence in candidate experience. 24 companies were chosen to receive an award with 5 receiving special recognition: RMS, State Farm, Sage Software, Pacific Northwest National Labrotory & PepsiCo.


For more information on the awards and winners, go to the Candidate Experience Awards website. You can also receive a free copy of this year's Research Report by signing up to their mailing list.


The best part of the breakout session, however, was the insights from the 5 main winners (although I would have liked a better intro to each as I couldn't tell which company they were with initially).


Here is a synopsis of some of the great things they are doing to enhance candidate experience & other insights from the panel:

  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory provides a pledge to applicants directly on their Career Site to set expectations for candidates for the apply process up front. Check it out here.
  • "We've shifted our candidate strategy from 'Hey, we've got jobs' to 'Hey, we've got people.'" - @TheRecruiterGuy on a change in their candidate engagement / employer branding strategy.
  • RMS uses QR codes to let candidates view informational videos while waiting in line at career fairs. - @AmeliaRecruiter. A very simple and cool way to educate prospective candidates on your company!
  • RMS provides a IM Chat option on their website. Every candidate that contacts RMS via chat receives a call from a recruiter.
  • A cheap way to improve Candidate Experience is to start turning on features on technology that you already have. Great example by Sage Software was turning on automatic responses in their ATS to let candidates know what was happening with their application.
  • "Getting back to candidates is the most important aspect of candidate experience. Even if it's NO" - Great quote from Sage Software.
  • PepsiCo uses Kenexa to be able to enable candidates to view the status of their applications. Most candidates really like it but they are also getting some negative feedback as well. They will continue to evaluate and enhance to find the right method of communicating status to candidates.

It definitely was a panel of recruiters & companies that get that candidate experience and their employer brand is important!


Facebook uses Technology to Manage the Facebook Generation by Molly Graham

This was a really cool and interesting look inside of Facebook and their company culture as well as a look at how they are working on engaging and evaluating their Millennial employees with @Rypple. First, I think it's cool that Facebook was willing to come and share it's internal workings with the HR Tech audience. Second, the presentation was ripe with great takeaways.


To start, let's go over how Facebook evaluates employee performance. Early on Facebook realized that they couldn't do a normal evaluation process as their company culture wasn't what you would call "normal" so they set off to create a process that works for them (and are continuously improving it). There current process consists of a bi-annual performance summary process that is somewhat traditional but unlike most organization they also provide tools that support ongoing feedback to help employees progress in their skills and roles. A very cool way to run your organization.


Another aspect of the Facebook company culture are the four Tenets they live by:

  1. Question convention.
  2. Failure is how you learn. Try Stuff.
  3. Ownership is Essential.
  4. Work is personal.

Here are some takeways from these tenets:


Question Convention

  • "Millenials expect you to explain decisions. Answer their "whys"." - Molly Graham. Facebook expects their employees to question everything.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addresses all employees every week with current developments at Facebook. He expects tough questions to be asked!

Failure is how you learn. Try stuff!

  • Example of Facebook learning: Facebook Beacon ruined Christmas for folks when it told friends via News Feed what they were getting for Christmas when Facebook users bought gifts online. While a big failure, it helped lead to Facebook Connect and the Facebook Like button which have been huge successes. Wouldn't have happened with Facebook Beacon.
  • The process of Facebook launching a new product: Try it, Collect feedback, Make it better, Repeat.
  • How did Facebook react when an intern published buggy code and alienated a bunch of users? By making him a full time offer that day. They value employees that take chances.

Ownership is Essential

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addresses all employees every week with current developments at Facebook. He does this to make sure every employee knows what the company is doing and has an opportunity to ask questions and potentially alter the direction.
  • They provide the ability for anyone in the company to publish active code to the website.

Work is Personal

  • "If you give smart passionate people something they believe it, you literally have to SEND THEM HOME from work" - Molly Graham
  • Facebook utilizes Facebook and other tools to enable employees to share and interact with one another. They've found that employees that feel they work with friends tend to be happier and be more productive.

Overall, it was a really interesting look inside one of the world's coolest companies!


Roaming the Expo Hall

Here are some snapshots and thoughts I had when roaming the Expo Halls:

Sonar6 - Went with the awesome Cardboard booth again this year but with a small caveat, this year you get to play with clay to decorate their booth. See the pictures here.

Starr Conspiracy - New Brand this year. And by far the best booth

GlassDoor - The company that brought us anonymous company & job reviews from employees now is reaching out to company & recruiting organizations. You can now create a company page and put up job postings on the site. Definitely something worth checking out as the job seekers that will check out GlassDoor are doing their homework and are interested. Great combination.

WorkDay - By far the coolest HR iPad App I've seen. Very slick and functional. Was by far the most talked about product on the "Awesome New Technologies" panel.

JSTN - They have a slick recruitment video platform. They can help you produce and launch your own recruitment videos.

NuView Systems - Had a great talk with their team at HR Tech. Lots of cool things happening with their HR Technology and ATS products. You should check them out.

SelectMinds - Was really impressed with what I saw of their referral recruiting tool.


Nitpicks from the Event

While it was a great event, I have a few things that I think took away from the experience. Here are a few things that could have been improved:

  • WiFi: Always tough with a crowd this side but it was spotty at best. The only place I received it well was in the hall outside the main conference room. In the breakout sessions and Expo Hall, the signal was non-existant.
  • Twitter names for presenters: While some did this well, other presenters did not. Please have your Twitter names available on your slides during your presentation. It is very helpful when you are trying to tweet quotes by certain presenters and should help you see who was talking about you after your presentation.
  • Meeting places: While there were some chairs and meeting places about, I thought there could have been more for places to congregate and have meetings at.

Overall, it was a great event and there was very few things I would have changed.



Overall the event was better than last year and that's saying something. The knowledge and cool technology at the event was well worth the price of admission and I look forward to attending next year when it's back in Chicago.

You can see my tweets during the conference @smashfly.

Views: 861

Comment by David DeCapua on October 7, 2011 at 3:49pm
So glad to see forward thinking HR firms embracing video technology! There's a million providers, but not many do it right. Certainly saves time and money - no arguing that. TalentRooster will attend next year for sure! #TalentRooster


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