Six Things Said at Every Major HR Conference Since 2009


There were several Human Resources conferences, this month, that I was unable to attend. A few of them looked pretty good. The rest were weak sauce.

I have spent the past four years at conferences. I’ve spent the past few days checking in on blog posts and twitterfeeds. Because I love you, here are six things said at every major HR conference out there.

“I am slammed with resumes. I don’t want volume. I want quality.”

Okay, Mr. Recruiter, let me get this straight: You want an algorithm to do your work for you, sort through resumes and tell you who to hire? Be careful what you wish for because LinkedIn is about to make that happen.

“The recruiting model is changing.”

This is what lazy people say when they don’t know how to recruit.

“Mobile matters.”

No, clean water matters. Proper hygiene and sanitation in developing countries matters. Social justice matters. Let’s use that word properly.

Mobile only matters after everything else about your recruiting process has been fixed. Prioritize what’s broken. Get to work. When all of those other issues are addressed, you can then think about mobile tools and the actual adoption of mobile strategies in your applicant population and with your hiring managers.

“Recruiting is a hub of innovation.”

No matter how many times you say this, nobody believes you.

“We should treat our employees like our customers. After all, they are our brand ambassadors.”

You don’t pay your employees enough to be customers. Start there.

“It’s all about relationship-building.”

This is why people hate HR. You are there to hire the best talent and help the business gain market share. You will build relationships to get your work done, yes, but that’s a tactic and not a strategy. It’s really all about winning.

I know I have missed some obvious ones. I am guilty of saying many of these things, too. This is why I am doing penance (and real work) to make sure that I only contribute unique ideas at these major conferences. If I don’t have anything different to say, I won’t go.

It’s sad. I like attending HR events and line dancing like the rest of humanity, but new ideas come at a price. Back in the real world, we still have a broken labor market. Hundreds of thousands of positions go unfilled in this country. Qualified people apply for jobs and fall into a black hole. Executives lie and tell you that there is a war for talent.

At some point, you are either part of the problem — sitting at conferences, drinking beer, attending vendor parties, tweeting about the candidate experience while your open requisitions go unfilled — or you are part of the solution.

I think most HR conferences can do better. I hope I can write a blog post with six new things said at HR and recruiting events in 2013.

Stay tuned!

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