The 15th annual HR Technology Conference made it back to Chicago this year and as always last week proved to be a great collection of insights and people to make it a valuable few days for every attendee. Not only was this the biggest collection of attendees at the conference to date but the breakout and main panel discussions provided real value for practitioners to bring back to their organizations.

From the main / breakout sessions to the people I met, here are my thoughts and observations on a great few days in Chicago:

OK now on to the sessions….

My 3 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.

“The 2nd Candidate Experience Awards – #theCandes!” by Gerry Crispin (@GerryCrispin), Elaine Ohler (@ElaineOrler) & Ed Newman (@newmaed)

Building on the success of last year’s Candidate Experience awards, Gerry, Elaine and Ed were able to take the awards program to a whole new level this year.  With 90 companies applying for the awards this year (more than twice the amount as last year), there was even more to learn from the organizations on how to improve the candidate experience.

For a more detailed look at the learnings from this year’s Candes awards, please check out my blog article “Insights from the Candidate Experience Awards from #HRTechConf“.

Just like last year, the best part of the breakout session was the insights from the 7 main winners.  Here is a synopsis of some of the great things they are doing to enhance candidate experience & other insights from the panel:

  • 2012 Candes company stats overview: 90 completed the process, 62 call-backs, 44 launched surveys, 37 winners, 7 with distinction.
  • 17,500 candidates completed survey for this year’s Candes. Trending upward from last year!
  • 53% of applicants said they had some relationship with the company they applied to. <–Important to maintain these relationships.
  • Majority of candidates are likely to share their experience, positive or negative, with their inner circle.

Company insights:

  • RMS sets up office hours for candidates to live chat with candidates at certain times every day.
  • RMS also advertises on social games that promote skills and interests of their target candidates.
  • Due to the popular brands of Adidas, it’s a company policy to make sure to get back to every candidate.
  • @ADPCareers thinks similarly.  A candidate could be a current customer, future employee or potential acquisition target.  It’s important that their experience is positive.
  • 50% of @DeloitteJobs are filled by referrals. They get back to candidates and referees in 48 hours
  • @Casemate uses personal Twitter profiles of recruiters to engage with candidates instead of a corporate profile.
  • CaseMate also has monthly employee surveys to determine gaps in their hiring and on-boarding processes.
  • @TheRecruiterGuy provided his contact info & personal message to candidates for PepsiCo surveys <–Brave Move but worth insight
  • @PepsiCoJOBS got double the response rate than other company for Candes <–Sent out emails to candidates 3 days after they applied
  • PepsiCo also conducts status reports in ATS to measure candidates that have been on same status for 30, 45, 60 days.

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

Informatica Modernizes Recruiting and Takes it to Russia by Brad Cook (@brcook2006)

This was a really cool and interesting look into Informatica’s transformation of their recruiting and technology.  Brad Cook shared how they first defined what they wanted their recruitment strategy to look like and then went about implementing technology and processes to make it a reality.

Here are the snapshots from the presentation, most are sound-bytes from Brad Cook:

  • “It no longer matters just who you recruit but also how you recruit” – @bobhohman
  • Recruitment CRM is not about capturing data to use today but data to use in finding the right candidates tomorrow.
  • Strategic Differentiators to Recruiting: Employer Brand, Operational Excellence, Candidate Experience, Recruitment CRM, Technology, Intelligence
  • SEO is extremely important. That means focusing on Job Descriptions and Titles with rich, relevant keywords.
  • Get recruiters to act as your 1st brand ambassadors. One example is using SlideShare in LI profile for higher SEO rankings.  So candidates find your recruiters easier.
  • Understand your core vs. context activities and try to automate where it makes sense
  • Figure out how candidates are finding you through “reverse engineering”. How could you find jobs for your organization as a candidate?
  • Understand boomerang effect. How candidates are interacting with your sites before apply such as Indeed, Glassdoor, Career Site <–Important to track Source of Influence!

Brad and Informatica have done a great job of implementing technology to take their recruitment strategy and move it forward.  They use SEO Career Sites and CRM technology in accordance with their ATS to improve their strategy and overall recruiting results through robust recruitment metrics.

What’s Next?  What Talent Acquisition Challenges are Seeking Technology Solutions? by Sarah White (@ImSoSarah), Gerry Crispin (@GerryCrispin), Mike Grennier (@mgrennier), Sheila Stygar (@SheilaStygar), Frank Whittenauer (@fwittenauer) and Allen Jenkins.

Being a Wednesday morning session, a number of attendees may have missed this event but you wouldn’t know that by the packed room that formed to hear these four practitioners share their thoughts on recruiting strategy and technology.  Representing companies Deloitte, PepsiCo, KeyBank and Lockheed Martin, these practitioners had a lot of insights to share.  Here are my favorites:

  • It’s important to support the tools that recruiters use, scale back in ones that they don’t – @SheilaStygar
  • @mgrennier would like to see functionality where buttons not pressed for two months go away! Too much complexity in systems.
  • @deloitte: it’s about having a global strategy that can be implemented locally. Let the market drive.
  • Recruiting is local, even in a global organization. Awareness of local vendors, cultural differences, etc. help ensure success. (Thanks @pinstripetalent)
  • Doing the math. With 2nd & 3rd degrees, Deloitte is connected to everyone on LI. Why isn’t every LI a referral?  It’s all about making sure those discussions happen and finding ways to facilitate them – @fwittenauer
  • Candidates that apply may be experienced candidates later. Need to capture social ID’s to keep data current
  • I definitely agree. The “silver medalists” are a low hanging branch that should be used in your recruiting process.
  • Best candidates are likely right under your nose in ATS or LinkedIn so key is to know how to contact them & sell your company
  • You need to find a person in your Co that has passion for tech and recruiting to help you build out your innovation – @mgrennier
  • How can we make the job search process easier and better. And how can we support it globally (mobile is a big trend).
  • Wow, very small # of hands go up when @fwittenauer asks how many companies are engaging candidates for feedback. (Thanks @davisory)

There was a lot to think about from this session not only as a recruiting professional but as a vendor as well.  It has become increasingly important for both the technology and the people to work together to be able to drive innovation and solve problems organizations are facing in finding great talent.

Scanning the Twitter-verse

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!): @Blogging4Jobs, @KevinWGrossman, @JobBoardDoctor, @EWMonster, @mgrennier, @PeopleShark, @HRFishbowl, @ImSoSarah, @KyleLagunas, @StaceyHarrisHR, @TeelaJackson, @Havrilla, @RickRosario, @MJCarty, @GerryCrispin, @thelance, @JohnSumser, @ElaineOrler, @dennioravec, @RBCDude, @NovoMedical, @RyanLeary, @VendorPrisey, @SchoolCW, @vlastelica, @StephenRothberg, @newmaed,@Madtarquin and @kris_dunn.

I also love these events to find other great Twitter users to connect and share content with.  Here are more great Twitter people you should follow from the event:  @RobGarciaSJ, @CornOnTheJob, @jasonaverbook, @fwittenauer, @TheRecruiterGuy, @brcook2006, @ToddRaphael, @BillKutik, @entelo, @TalentBinHiring, @TrishMcFarlane and @SteveBoese.


As always, the HR Technology Conference is the highlight of the conference season and is worth the price of admission. The knowledge and cool technology at the event are valuable and I look forward to attending next year when it’s back in Vegas.

You can see my tweets during the conference @smashfly.

4 responses to “What I learned in Chicago: #HRTechConf 2012 Wrap-Up”

  1. Greetings Chris. Thanks for the article! I wish I had run into you at the conference, I met a lot of the spirited people I tweet with. You mention we must “understand your core vs. context activities and try to automate where it makes sense.” What are some situations where automation makes sense? How can it be used to help find the best candidates?

    • Thanks for the comment, Rajpreet! Sorry I missed you at HRTech as well. I would love to grab a chat at some point.

      As for automation, I think that technologies are developing better and easier ways for recruiting organizations to use their technology. A few areas that may be of interest from an automation perspective is automatic creation of SEO landing pages for all your new jobs on your SEO jobs site, automated receipt responses to candidates that apply in your ATS, intelligent automated job posting to specific job boards / sites based on specific rules and/or targeted drip engagement campaigns in your CRM. These are a few of the instances you may automate some of the process with your talent acquisition technologies that can have a impact from a lead conversion and engagement perspective.

      Every organization will need to decide themselves what’s appropriate for them to automate and what’s not. And the real point of all this is to save recruiters time for activities that are most important and require high touch with candidates.

Leave a Reply