6 Takeaways from STAR Chicago’s Annual Symposium

As summer finally feels like it might return to Chicago, it was nice to get out of the office for a day to check out the awesome views of the city from the 80th floor of the Aon Center. I was equally as excited to spend a day thinking about the industry and what’s next by attending the STAR Chicago Annual Symposium. Here’s a link to the agenda if you missed the event and my six main takeaways below.

Talent tech continues to emerge to solve all sorts of issues – from systemic to operational

Obviously, there was a lot of talk at a talent acquisition conference about tools. However, Shannon Pritchett, Editor from SourceCon, shared a perspective on the best recruiters in the future that stuck with me. She envisions the recruiters of the future using these technologies, but going old school – using tactics that helped build relationships in the past, with a focus on picking up the phone!

Here’s a quick list of some of the tools mentioned throughout the day that was new to me, from creating a more diverse workforce to saving time with centralized candidate search:

Get purposeful about your EVP – and ideally, it includes your purpose

Is it time for employment brand to become less of an afterthought? Over 314,000 people mentioned employer branding on LinkedIn in their profile, yet 298 employer branding jobs available in the United States according to Brian Smith from Universum.

Data from Universum continues to show that employee value propositions (EVPs) should be at the core of your employment brand and that Gen Y and Gen Z talent want a job with purpose.

Here’s a quick acronym they presented to start thinking about your own EVP and the qualities it should have:

Your EVP should be S.T.A.C.’D.:

  • Sustainable
  • True
  • Attractive
  • Credible
  • Distinct

Lots of talk about Facebook, little on LinkedIn (from a positive perspective)

In Brian Smith’s presentation, he mentioned Facebook as it relates to creating an engaging and authentic employment brand that showcases real stories and creates a way to emotionally connect and create engagement. Here is an example from the ExxonMobil careers page on Facebook that he shared that highlights real engagement.

Glen Cathey shared observations about the real conversations he continues to see on Facebook groups, and some of the panelists also noted an increase in recruiting and connections via Facebook.

There were a significant number of people that said they were decreasing spend on LinkedIn during an audience poll, with a mixed response from the panelists on the return they are seeing from LinkedIn, from very positive to the expense not justifying the ROI in relation to other sources.

Glen Cathey is the king of memes – and might be one of the savviest marketers around

Given my background as a marketer, it’s probably not surprising that I was a big fan of Glen Cathey’s presentation that covered tons of great info (with many points in the form of memes, no less) but also narrowed in on the need for recruiters to ABM – always be marketing!

YES! This is coming from one of the most well-respected recruiting experts. And he is telling the audience to think like marketers.

Validation. Happiness. Hope.

But why? Glen basically highlighted principles of marketing and how recruiters can be applying. Although he didn’t use these exact terms throughout, this is what I took away:

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  • Market research: what do you know about your candidates to build a conversation focused on them
  • List building: are you overlooking the interested candidates living in your database right now?)
  • Segmentation: have you built out personas of your ideal candidates to guide your outreach and messaging?
  • Targeted communication: are you sending the right messages to the right people?
  • Capturing attention: are you creating an emotional response? Here’s a subject line he has seen used that plays to people’s reaction to humor: “I hate when I open the fridge and get punched in the face by a bear”
  • Tracking results/testing and more: do you even know what’s working for your team?

Good recruiters are not order takers

One theme from the panelists was the work they’re doing to build better relationships with hiring managers to understand the role better, and set expectations accordingly.

For example, Mike Chernesky from McDonald’s always asks hiring managers “What’s around the bullseye?” even though they are still looking for that perfect candidate.

Shannon Pritchett emphasized the goal of always bringing a market analysis and more data to the input meeting with the hiring manager to help set expectations.

The leaders on the panel also recognized that recruiters are partly responsible if they’re not asking the right questions up front. They are coaching their teams on how to “stand up” and not be order takers. This involves building relationships with hiring managers and having candid conversations.

Job descriptions are NOT job postings

Seems so simple, but this also stuck with me. The job description from your HRIS system and all the background information you might discuss internally does not need to make its way into the posting.

The job posting is a marketing vehicle to encourage the RIGHT talent to express interest, and if you’re transparent about the role, ensure that the wrong candidates don’t apply as the role won’t resonate with them.

For example, Jim Conti from Sprout Social shared an example of a creative campaign they’re doing to help highlight the actual day-to-day projects and responsibilities of a platform engineer. What is it really like to do this job?

Mike shared his not-so-secret desires to get to the point where hiring managers could share what they’re really looking for via a short video to candidates.

Although marketing and HR might not have aligned too much historically, to recruit the talent of the future, they need to be tightly aligned. And get there quickly.

Leah McKelvey is Sr. Director of Marketing Strategy & Partnerships at ClearEdge Marketing, a marketing agency focused on the talent management industry. She oversees development of marketing strategies that align to a company’s growth goals, while creating strategic alliances that add more value for ClearEdge’s clients.  

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