As we all know, tech conferences can be fun, if slightly nerve-wracking, affairs. Sure, they’ll be plenty of networking, chatting and partying, but you’ll also likely be running around, desperately trying to squeeze every last drop of goodness from the proceedings.
Your success in such endeavors will largely depend on two things: First, the quality of the conference in question, and second, how you personally navigate the various conference halls and networking events.
For SmartRecruiters’ upcoming Hiring Success 18 conference, we’ll handle the first of those two elements, while the second is up to you. Luckily, we’ve got a veteran conference connoisseur, William Tincup, to give you a hand on planning your Hire18 strategy.
As President of RecruitingDaily, William certainly knows a thing or two about attending, and speaking at, tech conferences. As a confirmed speaker for Hire18, we took the opportunity to quiz him on conference etiquette, and ask what he expects to see trending in 2018.
How important are tech conferences and HR events for the industry in general?
They are extremely important to HR, recruiting, hiring managers and executives of any firm. Talent is the business of ANY business, ahem, let me say that again — talent IS the business. So the more we know (about hiring success) the better we become. The better we become (at hiring success) the more the value of the business increases. Meaning, we need to start thinking of recruiting as a competitive advantage for the companies we represent. So with that as the backdrop, what else could possibly be MORE important than those few days?
Fair enough. With that in mind, what are your favorite things about conferences such as Hire18?
Meeting new people, hearing new stories. I know what I know. I want to know things I do not know. I’m a greedy bastard – I mean, career learner – in that way. I’m a storyteller and I learn via storytelling. That’s the best thing about important gatherings like this for me, the stories.
If you were talking to a person who is attending their first big tech conference, what advice would you give them in order to get the most out of it?
Leave your electronics at home. Work will be there when you get back. Go all in and go to every session you can. Attend every networking occasion that you can – breakfast, lunch, dinners, coffee breaks, etc. Really maximize your experience, meet new people, talk with them about what’s keeping you up at night and learn what’s keeping them up. Share your best practices freely with anyone that will listen. And for those lacking common sense; wear comfortable shoes, drink lots of water, and don’t get drunk and make an ass of yourself. No one likes that guy.
What are some big conference no-nos to avoid?
Wear name badges. I know, no one looks great with a giant lanyard jacking up their attire but, it makes it easier to talk with folks you don’t know (and in my case, sometimes people I’ve known for years). This will sound a little parental but don’t stay out late, don’t sleep in and/or miss sessions. This isn’t a vacation – it’s where you advance your career. That’s how you should treat it at least. Now, that said, I might have a shot a Patron or two but I have a wooden leg, so do as I say, not as I do.
In your mind, what are the ingredients of a great, successful conference?
Keynotes, which are supposed to be three things: (1) educational, (2) inspirational, and (3) entertaining. So expect that out of those sessions. Be sure to visit the partners at the conference. They are paying big bucks to be there but that’s not the reason to spend time with them. The real reason is that you want to see cool new tech and this is a lovely opportunity to do so. So grab a branded frisbee or a flash drive and demo cool software. I’d also suggest that you seek out speakers and talk with them when they’re not on stage. For example, Bill Boorman is speaking at Hire18, Bill literally knows more about global recruiting than anyone I know. He’s British yet oddly approachable. So, seek Bill out and talk him up.
What do you think will be the biggest talking points of Hire18?
Well, I’ll be looking for two things; (1) real use cases where folks are using some of the oft-mentioned technological advancements – AI, chatbots, blockchain – not just for insight but where said insight actually leads them to action – and/or tells them what to do – and (2) real use cases where folks have combined different apps across talent acquisition to reduce friction while getting quality, cost, experience, and speed right.
In my opinion, it’s not enough to integrate recruiting technology. It has to be integrated in a way where six things can happen simultaneously: (1) increase in quality of hire, (2) increase in speed of hire, (3) decrease in recruiting costs, (4) candidates love the experience/process, (5) recruiters love the experience/process, and, (6) hiring managers love the experience/process. That’s the goal, I want to hear those stories.
Which of these aforementioned emerging technologies do you think has the biggest potential for recruitment?
Bots are probably the easiest for people to understand, build, deploy and see the value. AI is all about the long tail. As for potential, most advancements in recruiting technology have potential, but potential alone doesn’t guarantee success. Think of all these advancements like tools in a toolbox. You still need to know how to hammer a penny nail. Meaning, part of this “potential” is about understanding, and part of it is about experimenting with said tools. Lastly, we’re in the embryonic phase of all these advancements.
A year has now passed since Hire17. How has the recruitment industry changed in that time?
The noticeable change in the last 18 months is that we’ve gone from “kind of” talking about AI, (machine learning, NLP, and bots) to every conversation being dominated by our new normal. I think the fear of these technology advancements permeated the industry but that tension has seemed to lessen over the last year.
Obviously, it’s natural to fear advancements in tech. If you owned a horse and buggy shop when cars were first invented, you probably thought it was a fad and/or that it wouldn’t impact your life/business. I think most recruiters first thought AI would displace them and/or render them useless. Nowadays, I think most logical and reasonable recruiters have started to think of AI as a partner in their efforts to recruit the best and brightest talent.
Hiring Success 18 is due to take place in San Francisco, March 12-14. Grab your tickets and check out the agenda here.