‘Tis the Season to be Conferencing

I attended the ERE Conference in Orlando this week and is specific to people in recruiting and talent acquisition. It was enlightening and provided attendees access to exhibitors and speakers. My single-day pass on Tuesday provided me with a day full of roundtable discussions, short talks with people sharing personal experiences on failures and what they did to overcome them (think Ted Talks), as well as full-blown presentations.
Running concurrently and in conjunction with ERE was the Talent Board Symposium and Annual Gala where companies who have met and exceeded job candidate expectations are awarded and recognized as an employer of choice. The Talent Board is a non-profit that works to educate companies about the job candidate experience and why this is such an important part of their brand.

The keynote speaker this year was Pat Williams, Sr. VP of Operations for the Orlando Magic. He talked about how selecting the right people for the right job is so important. He, also, said something that made me stop and take pause, but when I thought back on it later that day, I believe he was right in his proclamation. He said, “Hire slowly.” Hire slowly! Everything we hear about today is how companies hire too slowly, and they need to pick up the pace. What Mr. Williams was pointing out is that companies need to do a better job at vetting candidates. Take the time to conduct a proper and thorough background check. Ask good questions during the interview that allow the candidates to expose their true self. By taking this tact, hiring companies can better determine if someone is going to be an aligned culture fit for the organization or if they’ll be a misfit. In his line of work, I can understand why this is critically important. There’s the starting five and a sixth man, then bench warmers. There’s no room for driftwood on the roster. If more companies took the time to look at hiring talent like they have a starting five and sixth man, perhaps they would be more circumspect in their hiring practices for both their betterment and for the candidates’.

The roundtable discussions were a font of information, and everyone in attendance participated. The two sessions I participated in were “Conscious and Unconscious Bias” and “Hiring People with Disabilities.” I’m going to share two observations.

The first session on bias was a roundtable of 12 people. We discussed how companies can refrain from both forms of bias and what it takes to make ourselves aware of how we perceive others. As people go, we are all shaped by our environment so taking steps to better understand why we do what we do, and how this can impede our ability to embrace others unlike ourselves, is a step in the right direction to acknowledge how we look at situations and the people in them.

The second roundtable was a discussion on hiring people with disabilities. Here is something very telling about this breakout. When I looked around the room at tables with other topics, I noticed there were about 8 – 12 people at each table. The table to discuss disabilities had 4. What does that say? Well, the four of us discussed this, too, in addition to why many companies are reticent to hire people with mental and physical challenges. What our tiny group concluded is that certain perceptions form our opinions and from there bias takes over. Here are some of the perceptions and biases companies form about hiring people with disabilities:

• They will be out sick, often
• They will raise the company’s insurance rates
• They will cost the company money because the organization will need to accommodate them
• They will make others uncomfortable
• Employees will not be able to relate which will make them a bad culture fit
• We won’t be able to fire them for poor performance

In short, we debunked every one of these. It would have been nice to have more opinions on this, and we’re sure there are many more biases, but as stated above, there were only four of us.

There were many presentations that were enlightening and some that were a regurgitation of material that is well worn. One tidbit that all employers should know was shared by Gerry Crispin, founder of the Talent Board.

Based on the Talent Board survey data taken from over 130,000 job candidates in 2018, the number one item all people want to know is (drum roll)… salary. The next most important item revealed through the research addressed fairness and if candidates felt they were treated fairly during their candidacy. The next most critical need is communication. Without surprise, the survey revealed that the longer someone was kept waiting without any communication from the hiring company, the more poorly they are rated as an organization. In essence, people want to know, quickly, if they got the job or not even if it’s not the response they were hoping for.

So all-in-all, the ERE Conference was a great event. A lot of value and information was shared, and if you have not heard of it, I recommend that you check it out. This may be just the type of event you need to round out your conference roster.