SHRM13: Keep Calm and Forge Ahead

HR Conferences are a great way to learn, grow, get informed about the latest employment law related updates, network with fellow HR professionals and get a general idea of where HR is headed.  Chris Havrilla and I were honored to attend the SHRM Annual Conference in Chicago as members of the Press Team.  The best way to sum up this year’s conference is Keep Calm and Forge Ahead.

There was an amazingly calming feeling at this year’s Annual Conference.  I had an opportunity to discuss this with Rayanne Thorn in the Dice Blogger’s Lounge during the conference.  For the first time in many years, the HR profession was serving up a large helping of confidence.  There was less talk about the seat at the table and more talk about our contributions as business leaders and forging ahead.

The HR ship has set sail after taking a few years to turn and the engines are running at full speed.  I worked my company’s booth during the conference and as a member of the Press Team I worked in “The Hive” at the Smart Bar.  Attitudes were positive and people actually wanted to learn more about our company (not simply picking up booth swag) and learn how to leverage social media in their personal and professional lives.  They also had all sorts of technology related questions and career transition questions too.  It’s the Smart Bar, frankly they could ask us anything.  During one of my shifts, an attendee told me she was renewed by the impact HR professionals are making today and she was attending the conference to learn more and network to land a position in HR in Chicago.

There was an overall calming force and feeling that we are not afraid to state the obvious, join conversations about the hard topics and more importantly – be bolder, better, stronger leaders!

Hillary Clinton’s speech was quite fitting as the opening keynote, she is the embodiment of GIRL POWER and leadership.  As Hank Jackson, CEO of SHRM stated, she has held many positions as the first female (fill in the blank) of our time.  She is a women’s rights activist, beacon of hope to our little girls and she encouraged us to forge ahead!

“You can’t win if you don’t show up.” – Hillary Clinton, 2013 SHRM Annual Conference

Bolder. Better. Stronger. – SHRM


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06 2013

5 Tips for SHRM Annual Conference First Timers

SHRM’s Annual Conference is rapidly approaching.  I usually start thinking about packing for this amazing adventure about two weeks out.  Coincidentally, I just returned from a family vacation to Disneyworld and I have often referred to the SHRM Annual Conference as the Disneyworld of conferences.  There are tons of rides, shows, souvenirs, treats and you’re sure to find many characters (I use this comparison loosely).  The point…there is no shortage of sessions, keynotes, entertainment, parties, food, exhibit hall activity and business leaders, however there’s never enough time to get on all the rides, see all of the shows or see everything Magic Kingdom has to offer in a four-day stretch.

If this is your first SHRM Annual Conference go with the flow, engage, and don’t overdo it.  With that said, here are 5 Tips that will help with logistics and packing as you prepare to attend the SHRM Annual Conference in Chicago.

5 Tips for SHRM Annual Conference First Timers:

1.  Download the Conference App to Your Cell – Go to your App Store, type ‘SHRM’ and download the free app.  I have used the cell phone app for the past two years and found that it was very helpful.  I didn’t need to carry the conference bag around because the conference information I needed was in the palm of my hand.

2.  Bring Comfortable Shoes – I can’t stress this enough.  I’ve seen numerous women walking through the conference center hallways with their shoes in their hand and bare feet.  This is not attractive ladies.  If you decide to wear your Louboutins, bring a pair of comfortable flats in your conference bag.

3.  Bring an Extended Cell Phone Battery Case or a Power Stick – Imagine 20,000 people in a conference center.  Now imagine they all have some device/s that needs to be charged.  You’ll thank me later! Two of my faves are iBattz and Mophie.

4.  Plan Session/Exhibit Hall Time - Plan to attend two sessions per day.  I realize this sounds like a low number.  With all the activities, it can be tough to make it to more than two sessions each day.  The exhibit hall is full of pomp, circumstance and hubbub.  Plan at least one hour a day in the exhibit hall to check out your favorite vendors and get acquainted with potential new vendors.  You will also have an opportunity to enter to win some of the best conference swag on the planet!

5.  Pack Some Patience & Flexibility - SHRM does a fantastic job of planning and executing this show each year however there are always glitches when the conference goes live.  There are thousands of people in one place.  Packing some patience and flexibility to switch sessions when one session is full or waiting patiently in line to use the restroom can help with your temperament and make your conference experience a pleasant one.

Bonus tips - 

1. Interact with other conference attendees in SHRM’s Conference Community:

2.  Register for the Official #SHRM13 TweetUp & Afterparty:

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone in Chicago for #SHRM13!


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06 2013

The Interview – Button Up!

Periodically, we all need to be reminded of the importance of buttoning up in an interview.  An interview is a business meeting where job seekers and hiring managers put their best foot forward to determine if there is a match.  It’s all about making an impression and sharing information in a concise way.  This may seem rudimentary, but I must remind those interviewing that the meeting starts as soon as you park your car.  At the same token, on the company’s side the interview starts as soon as the candidate parks their car.

Interviewing is an assessment of four key areas:

1.  Skills

2.  Fit

3.  Verbal communication

4.  Non-verbal communication

Preparation is key!  In recent years, the way we conduct business has become less formal and so have interviews.  Because of this trend, people seem to be letting their guard down and communicating their accomplishments as well as the overall scope of their job/experience in a less formal way.  Many job seekers are mirroring the communications style or relaxed nature of the interviewer and unknowingly falling short.  The unfortunate side is that there is no second chance and the person doesn’t even realize they’ve done it.  You want to have a solid conversation with someone, while not letting your guard down or sharing too much.

The moment you enter the company’s parking lot, assume that someone is peeking out and already framing their initial impression.  Your communication from start to finish should be positive and upbeat.  If traffic was awful and you’re asked about it, don’t lie just say it was a little backed up but it was nice to look at the Cherry Blossom trees on the way in.  Follow the negative with a positive.

This information is a good reminder to those looking for entry-level positions as well as those seeking corporate leadership roles.  This is a common topic of discussion among recruiters and business leaders right now and it’s something that everyone who is interviewing should be cognizant of.

Your goal when interviewing is to leave a positive and lasting impression in the time allotted.  And please remember to button up and don’t let your guard down.


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04 2013

Master Recruiter Series: What Does Recruiting Have to Do with Retention?

Please note:  This is a re-post of an article, “Hiring For Keeps – What Does Recruiting Have to Do With Retention?”, that I originally wrote for the blog , where I am honored to be a regular contributor!

Recruiting is a Business Function

I don’t think anyone who knows me, sees me speak, or reads anything I write would argue the fact that I love the Recruiting Profession. In business, Recruiting is one of the most important functions that ANY of us do — it is the building of our teams, it is how we achieve our goals, our success.  Unless in your work, you only need to count on yourself, a business cannot be successful without doing Recruiting well.  But what does Recruiting have to do with Retention?  I say it has a lot to do with it.

Why Discuss Retention?

Maybe retention is not one of your MBO’s or tied to your fee, but if you want to be the best, if you want to be different from the rest, if you want to last in this industry as the world changes, you should recruit with retention in mind!

What is On the Line? Having “Skin in the Game”

I remember the first time I introduced retention – keeping employees employed with your company – as a performance goal to one of my recruiting teams and they looked at me like I was crazy. I understood their questions — they had no control, they weren’t making hiring decisions, they weren’t managing them or their environment, etc.  The fact is – no one has total control — or as my friend Ed Newman says, hiring is always a crap shoot. But I wanted them to go beyond what other recruiters did – I wanted them to have skin in the game – and that was exactly my purpose.

Recruiters Need to Own their Work.

I talk a lot about how we elevate the Recruiting Profession to match the importance of the function itself. I believe we do that by truly owning it — and by becoming as much a part of the business as the people we are helping to build their teams.  To do that, we have to know the industry, the business, and even the teams — maybe even better than they know (or want to know) themselves. It is not enough to understand the required and desired skills of the job specs and expect to find the right candidate/fit for the role. You also have to go beyond the resume — get to know your applicants and candidates, beyond the check-boxed skill sets. If you take the time, they will often share more with you, the recruiter, than they will with the hiring manager/team, whom they know are the ultimate decision makers.

So, What Does This Have to Do with Retention?

People don’t leave jobs; they leave bosses or companies that don’t fit. There is so much that has to be uncovered to find a fit. You can take an A-player in one company and put them in a similar position in another company and it could be a disaster. Different environment, culture, players, organizational structure, challenges, objectives, performance measures — shall I go on? As a Recruiter, you should know these things about your organization/teams. Do these things align with what the candidate needs or what motivates him? To know all this, one must take the time, be curious, pay attention, listen, ask questions — as well as having the confidence and credibility to advise and consult those who depend upon your expertise.

What Really Matters -

The simple fact is it does not matter if the company thinks the candidate is a perfect fit for them, if the company is not a fit for the candidate — and vice versa. Unfortunately, neither side (jobseeker nor recruiter) usually takes the time to make sure it is a fit on both sides. The Recruiter can play that devil’s advocate or objective party — that person who is not too emotionally (or conveniently) invested in filling the seat or getting the job. I am by no means saying that this is how it happens — I am simply saying that in order to elevate this profession – that is how it should happen. Where there is fit, there is retention – so I ask, why wouldn’t recruiting be relative to retention?


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02 2013

Master Recruiter Series: Sourcing, SourceCon & SourceCon After Dark

I am starting a new series of posts that I will write on from time to time, that will focus on skills and concepts that I think are the difference makers that define great recruiters.  Sourcing, how we discover and identify potential candidates, is one of those difference makers.  While a whole profession of specialists were born to tackle the challenge of and mystery surrounding the art of data and deep candidate research and identification — the ability to learn these skills as a Recruiter, on any level, is a differentiator for those of us dedicated to finding talent for our companies or clients.

Pic via and Lance Haun

I find it interesting how many Recruiters and Recruiting Leaders misunderstand, discount, or just plain avoid developing or adding these skills/tools to their “toolboxes” or their teams.  It is tough to write a post on what level of sourcing any Recruiter can and should be doing – or how a Recruiting Leader, should incorporate this function — or this skillset — into their teams.  So much depends on time, budgets, structure, workloads, resources, talent pool, process, etc.  What you can do is educate yourself and then make that determination of what and how to incorporate sourcing into your own process or teams.  You can start by reading (SourceCon – the site or one of the several outstanding sourcing related blogs, such as my personal favorite Boolean Black Belt by Glen Cathey), hiring a Consultant (*smile*), or attending SourceCon – the conference.

The sourcing talent community comes together once again next week in Atlanta, where it all began — for the conference that has come to represent this incredible community of talent — SourceCon Atlanta February 7-8, 2013.  To understand more, I strongly encourage you to read my post, Examining Talent Communities…SourceCon, as well as SourceCon: The Ultimate Talent Community, by my amazing friend and Recruiting Toolbox colleague, Carmen Hudson.  SourceCon, brought to life by the brilliant Leslie O’Connor in 2007, purchased by ERE Media in 2009, is the premier, must-go-to event dedicated to the art and science of recruitment sourcing.

Pic via

One little gem I will share with all of you is that usually late in the evening after the first day of the conference has ended, there is a bit of a source-a-thon, a show-and-tell if you please, of tactical, hands-on, let’s-get-real exchange of ideas, tips, and sharing that happens called SourceCon After Dark.  This brain child of my dear friend (and genius) Eric Jaquith was meant to be a time to extend the learning beyond the conference and actually put each others ideas, experiences, and things learned into practice — on actual searches people had or brought to the event.  #SourceConAD is free and open to attendees or any Recruiters/Sourcers that are local and just want to participate.  Bringing your laptops and challenging searches makes the event PRICELESS!  Even if you are just open for some great networking, food and bar specials — consider registering for the event in Atlanta ASAP that I, in conjunction with Eric Jaquith and Ronnie Bratcher, will be hosting the evening of Thursday, Febuary 7th at Park Bar, in downtown Atlanta from 9pm =>

While I am giving props and shout outs, let me just take a moment to talk about Park Bar Atlanta…many of you already know that Park Bar and their sister facility, Sidebar, are my go to venues for any after-parties I host after events going on downtown.  Park Bar has great food, craft beers, and an awesome collection of fine bourbons (even Pappy Van Winkle’s *smile*).  We will have appetizers, but go early and have your dinner there too!!  You will not be sorry!

Bottom line if you want to master Recruiting – if you really want to be the best, different from the rest, and really last in this industry as the world changes, you should learn more about the art and science behind Sourcing.  Talent communities, like Sourcing, are nothing without the contributions of the people who make up that community.  You may know of some of this profession’s visionaries, but there are countless others who also contribute.  As I said before, educate yourself…attend events like these to help you learn and incorporate what you can.  Think about contributing the things you find and how you apply them.  And to that end, if you don’t know SourceCon’s wonderful Editor, Lance Haun, make sure he is at the top of your list to meet if you do attend one or both events next week!


Side note:  For those of you looking for a breakfast or brunch option during your Atlanta stay, hit up Babs in Midtown for the best coffee and food EVAH — tell Randy, Havrilla sent you :)

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01 2013