Top 5 Things We Discovered at NACE 2018

Top 5 Things We Discovered at NACE 2018
By Cyanne Rohlf and Jeremy Ames

A couple of weeks ago, we attended NACE’s conference and expo at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans. We can happily report that we left eager to book our tickets for Florida next year. When walking into the conference you could feel the energy greet you at the door.  Before even stepping into the halls, attendees were already buzzing about what was in store for the rest of the week.  Now, whether they were discussing the future of talent acquisition or who could find the better beignet is still to be determined.  All I have to say on that matter is…I may or may not have tried to bring a couple orders home (for my friends of course).  On the topic of recruiting, there was no shortage of innovation and conversation throughout our time at NACE.  Whether it was while making our rounds, or sitting in on many of the inspirational speakers there were five recurring topics that we wanted to highlight.

1. The System is Broken

If there was one thing almost every attendee could agree with was that the current system is broken.  It seemed like there is a shift occurring within the industry that is forcing professionals to really take a look in the mirror and see how they can do it better and make their company stronger.  This could mean finding out what more your company can do to attract the right candidate, or what extra steps you might need to take to support them through the candidate experience. Rather than just getting a position filled, what can you do to ensure both parties find the right fit? The industry needs to pivot away from previous hiring norms of connections, or where you went to school, and focus their energy on the candidate.

NBCUniversal Director of Talent Acquisition Seldric Blocker (Left) and Oleeo Head of Americas Jeanette Maister (Right)


2. Millenials vs. Gen Z is a Hot Topic

Throughout the conference, there was a lot of buzz about catering to Generation Z.  Unlike previous generations, there is now this demand for creating experience-driven narratives…requiring a bigger story around your company.  As highlighted by Oleeo’s Head of America’s Jeanette Maister, “Gen Z is much more innovative, much more self-reliant.” She went on to discuss how even more than ever this generation wants a “clear purpose” and prioritizes personality fit.  Are they able to connect with the company as a whole rather than just the position itself?  Shifting away from titles and focusing on how to make your candidate feel as connected to the company as you are. With this generation, the challenges have gone beyond shifting your language but instead making sure that you position yourself properly on a digital level.  By using both technology and data, companies can cater to the constantly changing demands of candidates.

 3. Focus on Preparing Students for the Workforce

Preparing their students for the workforce was a common theme found within college and university speakers. That preparation included making sure schools are supplying their students with the right materials and preparation to feel confident once they take their next steps after graduation. Candidates should understand how to reach their full potential and be given the tools to do so.  Creating personal experiences for their students that truly cater to the individual’s needs is a huge priority, as is ensuring that candidates have a clear perception of what they could bring to your company.  At the University of Arizona, they create opportunities on campus to provide their students the opportunity to learn in-demand skills.

4. Discussion of Diversity Was Everywhere

From the variety of speakers to the topics discussed at meetups, diversity was truly a reccurring theme throughout the conference (as it should be).  Diversity within the workplace goes beyond hiring a mixed group of candidates, it starts by creating a system for the students while they’re in school to empower the individual. In their talk, PwC highlighted techniques such as hosting open racial dialogue on campus to encourage self-awareness and a call to action. By simply starting the conversation, it encourages students to have a sense of leadership beyond their academic setting.  Another technique was by NBCUniversal Director of Talent Acquisition-Campus Programs, Seldric Blocker who touched on going that extra mile for the right candidate.  He discussed that if you are trying to go after a specific group/individual that encourages diversity, it goes beyond whether they can afford to be there.  If you know you want to tap into a certain club or group, go to the campus and find out who they trust.  Going above and beyond classically targeted messaging.  From there as a company, it is important that you prioritize your candidate just as much as their prioritizing you.  Whether that be taking money out of your budget or going that extra mile to follow up, diversity can no longer be seen as a buzzword. In the world of talent acquisition, it’s a crucial ingredient for your company’s long-term success.

5. Technology is Playing a Central Role

A handful of key themes emerged on the technology front at the conference:

  • Personalized follow-ups were highlighted as the way to draw today’s candidates into the conversation. Ironically, despite all the talk of AI, robotic, canned communication will only serve to alienate prospective employees.
  • Building on that theme, artificial intelligence was mostly presented as a way to save time, not steal jobs. That theme was a continuation from Unleash, where Mo Gawdat spoke similarly about the need for us to set the groundwork for AI to be successful.
  • Employers must focus on delivering a comprehensive digital company message to job seekers. New candidates are now capable of absorbing large amounts of information in the fraction of the time. That messaging has to be completely on point…especially since you only have a few moments to attract them.
  • Virtual career fairs were highlighted as the way to reach a larger audience with a lower cost of entry for both the seeker and the employer.

 Final Thoughts

All in all, we had an amazing time as first-timers at the NACE Conference and Expo. With the perfect break in the middle for some fun, we joined our friends over at Oleeo (formerly WCN) to celebrate the launch of their rebranding at Razzoo Bar and Patio on Bourbon Street.  With a new name that means “a diverse collection of things, that together, make something beautiful,” it was a perfect fit for what we’d heard at the conference. From a live local band to a professional photo booth, it was truly a night to remember.  When asked about their new name, they discussed that they wanted it to “reflect our bigger purpose” with their mission focusing on mission hiring and curating diverse teams in order to create the ultimate competitive advantage.  We look forward to seeing where their new name, and the products they have behind it, will take them.

The talent acquisition industry is at an important moment in its overall history. The combination of 3 important factors makes it all the more important that the right decisions are being made, right now.

1) Demand for quality candidates is at an all-time high, which isn’t currently being met by supply

2) Billions of dollars have been invested in creating advanced technology to support the needs of both employers and candidates, and

3) Actually marrying those two concepts together and putting all of that investment to use an opportunity for TODAY, not 2019. Specifically, in this example of NACE getting quality students in front of the right jobs in the most efficient manner using the right technology must be an immediate priority.

Stay tuned for our involvement in the campus recruiting space, and as we continue to find smarter tools for our Hive Tech clients.

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