Recruiting Conferences

There are over 100 nationally advertised recruiting conferences held in the United States every year, and each covers a wide range of topics, attendees, and associated vendor participation. These recruiting conferences aren’t cheap, either. One attendee’s 3-day pass averages at over $1,000! When you add in hotel accommodations, travel, and per diem….the cost can add up quickly. This isn’t factoring in the cost of being a major sponsor, holding a client dinner, or shipping and populating a booth with multiple employees.

Effective use of resources at recruiting conferences is crucial for ROI, and that includes knowing WHY you are there.

Why you should attend recruiting conferences

Account executives can make good use of their time at most of these conferences, regardless of topic. If more than 5 HR targets or potential upsell clients are attending and the AE can score an effective, in-person meeting with each them, it can be well worth the trip when a contract or upsell follows.

At recruiting conferences, HR attendees are unfettered by their day-to-day office work, away from their home life, and therefore usually more convivial and easier to converse with on a personal level. It can be an excellent way to build rapport, learn more about their company, and present solutions in a low-pressure environment. They’ll also be more likely to remember the conversation than a pitch in the middle of their busy workdays.

However, attending as a vendor, with a booth or marketing presentation strategy, is a more difficult scenario in which to build ROI. Most conferences have a large “booth ballroom” where attendees are usually forced to get their lunch, coffee, and afternoon drinks. Booths are given a perfunctory once-over, tchotchkes are hoarded, pleasantries exchanged and – rarely – business is done.

Booths with prizes, interactive designs, and those held by logos lucky enough to be the latest rising stars in the HR Tech space are usually the busiest and get the most out of the day. However, the most effective way to grab mindshare at these events is to have your CEO or key leadership attend as a speaker for a fresh and interesting – and if possible, controversial – topic; and/or to hold an interactive roundtable discussion with key attendees.

These approaches are far more likely to raise awareness of the brand, the solution it provides, and attract interest from higher-level executives.

The best formula is a combination of key speakership, an interactive and fun booth, a hosted roundtable discussion, a well-attended drinks/dinner with clients and targets, and a proactive sales meeting strategy by AEs.

With all this in mind, let’s have a look at 4 fall conferences that can be variably effective platforms for one or all of the above strategies:

Talent Connect

When & Where: September 25-27 in Dallas, TX

Ticket Price: $1,395

Talent Connect is a 3-day event that will elevate and inspire you to reimagine not just your future, but the future of your company.

Cons: It’s all LinkedIn, all the time. The company has become indelible to a recruiter’s workday, and an integral part of any talent acquisition strategy – no doubt. But with an already aggressive marketing campaign and very proactive sales force, a weekend at a resort hearing the same pitches and some Apple-esque futurespeak is not always the most effective use of an AE’s time. As a competing or adjacent vendor, you may be wasting your time looking for ROI here.

Pros: They throw a good party! People have a great time at this event, and the speakers are usually top-notch. It is a great place for HR people to meet and for recruiters to network.

Guru Fest

When & Where: September 26 & 27 in San Francisco, CA

Ticket Price: $100 (Early Bird) – $250 (General Admission)

Guru Fest is a 2-day event for recruiting coordinators, recruiting operations, and talent leaders. It’s dedicated to driving what matters in recruiting operations with a focus is on career development, networking, and actionable insights. Speakers this year include leadership from Netflix, Okta, Dropbox, Shopify, and more.

Cons: None– unless you’re just looking for a mini-vacation with open bar. It does compete with the Talent Connect dates, but has a much different focus.

Pros: This is a lean and mean conference, tightly focused on real solutions in the operational side of talent acquisition. Speakers are highly motivated to affect change in their companies and evangelize to the industry. It’s also one of the few conferences that’s attractive to operational managers and recruitment coordinators. And although the conference price does not include hotel costs, it is by far the best bargain in the industry.

HR Tech

When & Where: October 1-4 in Las Vegas, NV

Ticket Price: $1,695 – $2,195

HR Tech is a great place to get the whole picture of the HR technology market; whether you’re looking to increase your knowledge to buy and effectively implement new HR systems or simply to stay on top of this rapidly changing industry.

Cons: It’s expensive, it’s huge, and it’s in a very distracting place in that place’s nicest time of the year. Everyone goes to this and the big logos make a big splash with huge dinners, events, keynote addresses by major VIPs, contests, open bars are everywhere sponsored by everyone, etc. It’s easy to get lost if you don’t have a strategy.

Pros: Everyone goes. Decision-makers, while they will be hounded by literally everyone else, are there for the taking if you can score good meetings. And this is where other tech sniffs out their rivals. See and be seen if you can do it right, otherwise look at the attendee list and send a couple AEs if they can get meetings set up in advance. (ProTip: send the folks that don’t care for gambling or hate Las Vegas!)

Strategic HR Forum – 2019: People & Strategy

When & Where: October 27-29, Boston, MA

Ticket Price: $2,095-$3,070

At the Forum, you will have the opportunity to develop new frameworks for meaningful and dynamic employee experiences; new approaches to talent acquisition, learning and inclusivity; and new partnerships with other functions as you increasingly confront the intersection of social, political, economic and business decisions.

Cons: The conference is widely known as a place for and about senior HR officials. Account Executive engagement strategies are usually not effective here, and pitching tactical advantages of your product are often lost on upper-level people, so a strategy that usually relies on user-based engagement and administrative solutions could get lost in the big strategy conversations.

Pros: If you know anyone who attends, has a major client attending, are looking for partnerships with other HR tech, or can score a speaking engagement to relate your product to a high-level strategic philosophy, then send your CHRO or CEO and get them to speak and meet with key attendees. 

About the Author:

Marshall works in sales at GoodTime!