Simple but not easy

Making your way in the world today takes everything you got. .

Okay maybe I am showing my age with that one. But I wanted to sort of highlight the awkward but beautiful position I find myself in almost daily. As someone with a good deal of experience in ONE area (marketing and communications) making inroads into an entirely new field (recruiting), I am often humbled, frequently wrong, seldom comfortable and always unsure.

Never more so than when I hear truly experienced practitioners, veterans of the industry and accomplished business people speak. This happened on more than one occassion at the recent Kennedy Recruiting Conference. First off was a presentation that had everyone buzzing. I had the honor of hearing Arbita’s Don Ramer speak at a Minnesota Recruiters event earlier in the year. However, this presentation made an even bigger impact ( I thought). Perhaps it was the economy, the size of the crowd, the small but distinct tinge of fear in the air among the recruiters assembled there. Ramer’s presentation, visually beautiful (hat tip Seth) and powerfully orated, contained a simple question: “How dare you?” At the end, as if in response to the questions bouncing around in a cynic’s head, Ramer explained that the foolhardiness of choosing one dollar over 7 billion was compounded when you changed the dollars to human beings. It occurred to me that it is a shame that it wasn’t manadatory to attend that session. I guess the people that needed to hear it did.

The “Two Steves” from Adidas presented a powerful and moving presentation on employer branding. It was truly stunning. As I might have mentioned, I don’t like sports, I don’t even really like walking that fast, but the images, music, words and processes these gentlemen had implemented made a huge impact. I doubt there was anyone that didn’t want to work for Adidas after that. Some in the audiece argued that with sports, Adidas had a bit easier time of it than say. . .transtlantic shipping. However, it reinforced the now more prominent notion that marketing should be and is becoming a much more vital part of the recruiting and retention function. It also made me realize how important the marketing function can be and how many recruiters just don’t understand it, although they want to.

One presentation made a huge impact on me, even though I could not be there. Shannon Seery Gude and Jason Buss led a panel on best practices which had eveyone talking and people literally spilling out of the room. Their ideas were so simple, yet so innovative ( I saw the slides and caught the tail end) career vets like Gerry Crispin and presenters like Steve Fogarty were singing their praises. Knowing that both Shannon and Jason have young busy families and intense careers made the in-depth research and well-thought out layout of the talk even more exciting.

I always tell people that I am an idealist. So when an entire panel gets up to talk about ethics, I am loving it. Kevin Wheeler, Susan Burns, Dennis Smith and Steve Rothberg. Hearing people talk in simple, obvious terms about what the right thing to do was, in a word, refreshing. As Kevin Wheeler said, “Guidelines are the floor, not the ceiling”.

I continue to be impressed by my peers and conferences that focus on real depth of the industry will always be my favorite to attend. I realized as I sat down to write this post that I couldn’t even decide what to focus on. That’s not really a bad thing at all!