Back From The Future (i.e., The ERE Recruiting Innovation Summit)

Earth Year 2013, May 16 (Ship's Log)

I attended this event for the second year in a row and once again have returned safely from the future (but not unchanged). My perspective on the significant impact of technology on talent acquisition has been further validated as well as expanded.

Staffing firms—any firm whose business is “work arrangement intermediation” (part of the staffing talent supply chain)—there is no going back.

Whether you are in perm placement/direct-hire, temp or other forms of contingent workforce solutions, PEO, RPO, etc.--the pace of technological innovation continues on, a relentless juggernaut. If you cannot figure out the way to leverage this new Talent Acquisition Technology (TAT) and evolve as a staffing services provider over the coming years, then the correct adoption and use of TAT by your competitors is probably going to put you into a tough, uncomfortable  spot. 

That perspective was pretty much summarized in the fairly blunt title of the opening keynote, by Steve Miranda, the Managing Director for Cornell University’s “Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies” (CAHRS).  The title: “Get Innovative or Get Dead" (audio: nervous laughter in the room).

There were both blunt and subtle messages one could take away from the Recruiting Innovation Summit. The main messages I took away were:

  • The old models are not going to cut it-- as life, business, and work become ever more digitized
  • Change/innovation is imperative, to succeed (even survive)
  • Technology is the primary driver of change and the enabler of innovation

A very interesting polling of attendees was conducted during the Summit. Attendees were asked the question “Where do you think there is the greatest need for innovation in recruiting?” and provided with a sizeable number of far-ranging possible responses.  Only two responses rose distinctly to the very top of the poll choices: (1) candidate experience and (2) technology integration.  These two concepts/challenges are probably very much related, as suggested in the following slide of one company's inside-out view of its extensive "social recruiting" architecture:

In other words, doing "social recruiting" can go alot further than buying a few "recruiter seats" at LinkedIn. 

The Summit sessions consisted of (a) some expert panels (with topics like “Sourcing Tools for the Future” and “Will Talent Communities Be Dead In Five Years?”), (b) presentations by some highly innovative, enterprise HR talent acquisition departments (like RMS, Sodexo, and Informatica), and finally (c) elevator pitches by 8 new talent acquisition technology solution businesses (part of a contest to win a $10,000 prize and a lot of good publicity at ERE). I’m covering the contest in another blog post.

“Sourcing Tools of the Future” featured the CEOs of Entelo, Dice (which has introduced “Open Web”), and TalentBin. These are all companies that support sourcing of candidates by automatically pulling together candidate information from all over the web and then filter and organize it as a deeper, more far-reaching “profile” than a recruiter might create, after hours and hours of research (one of the providers calls it a “360 degree candidate profile”). Like something out a Jason Bourne movie, these solutions will scour the web for information about candidates in many different places (web sites, social sites, developer sites like GitHub, published articles or blogs, even documents like patent applications, etc. ), so when a recruiter is looking for certain kinds of candidates this information can become the basis for finding a match or further shedding light on one that was found.

The panel session, “Will Talent Communities Be Dead In Five Years,” consisting of talent acquisition visionaries Sarah White (Consultant), Marvin Smith (Strategic Talent Sourcing Technologist, Lockheed Martin and author of “What is a Talent Community in 2013”)  , and Matt Hendrickson (Founder & CEO, Ascendify) concluded that while there are many questions to be answered and problems to be worked out in achieving sustainable “talent communities,” these communities will be an important part of the future.

And in the here-and-now, TA executives from companies SODEXA and Informatica provided insight into the truly innovative approaches to talent acquisition that companies can take (are actually taking) today--not in some distant future.

Even more mind-blowing, was getting an in-depth look into RMS’ (Risk Management Solutions’) ultra-creative “social talent acquisition” strategy which involved partnering with the game “Pandemic” as a way of “truly virally” reaching-out to hard-to-find and engage STEM candidates. This innovative sourcing strategy has been phenomenally successful for RMS, especially in combination with the “We Were Always Cool” employment branding campaign:

To learn more about this amazing feat of RMS, read the article “Turning a Global Pandemic Into Recruitment Success.”

Other heady stuff at the Summit included talking about concepts like “zero time-to-hire” and learning about how new life can indeed be breathed into moribund disciplines like “skills assessments and testing.”

From the talent acquisition, the sourcing and recruiting, standpoint, all of this technology and innovation is about getting to “the prize” faster and at the least cost possible. Decades of progress in technology development is now bearing fruit for "talent acquisition" as new innovation-driving applications and solutions chllenge us with radically new ways of doing our jobs.. The ERE Summit provided a good snapshot of that and amply demonstrated that the future of TAT (Talent Acquisition Technology) is NOW, not somewhere in the distant future.

And if staffing firms do not aggressively engage it, appropriate it, leverage it, those staffing firms could be --looking in their rear view mirrors— cursing and muttering: “ [preferred explitive] !!! The future WAS THEN!!!.”

Staffing firms—there is no going back—only forward.


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Staffing Industry Analysts

Andrew Karpie05/30/2013 04:41 pm

Thank you, Giridhar. Glad it was useful. Was great to meet you last week as well and review the exciting developments at Akken. Great, open technology of the sort agule staffing firms will need in the future.


Giridhar Akkineni05/30/2013 03:37 pm


Thank you for meeting with me last week. I wanted to share your recent insight from the ERE Summit, so we did an abstract blog post with a link to your article:

Best Regards

Total 2 comments