So I had a really great time at RecruitFest! I knew it would be awesome. I thought I would have known what to expect, since I went to the Original RecruitFest, but I guess that’s the thing with unconferences, they are fluid, organic, and changing. Personally I love the unconference style of things. Probably because I don’t actually like rules all that much :P

The People...
There were so many new faces at RF2! It was really great to meet so many wonderful people. I was able to really connect with many people whom I didn’t know before, but now will be following online on Twitter and I'll need to update my RSS feed to follow the blogs of the many interesting people that I met.
There were some people who were at RF1 who were missed this year. For me, I really missed seeing Susan Burns, Dave Mendoza, Dennis Smith, Scott Love, Susan Kang Nam, Brendan Shields, Craig Silverman, Adam Peterson, and Gopi. Also, for some reason I thought Shally was going to be there, but he wasn’t. Bobble-head Dave was there, but it wasn’t quite the same ;) There were quite a lot of familiar faces though; Gerry Crispin, Rayanne Thorn, Jerry Albright, Animal, Julia Stone, Alex Small, and of course the organizers, Geoff Webb, Maren Hogan, and Maha Akiki, and the wonderful and gracious hosts; Jason and Michelle Davis.
I know that it has been a hard year for recruiters, and how busy life can get, but I am hoping that everyone will be there next year, making RF3 the largest and best one ever!

The Venue...
One big difference between RF1 and RF2 was the venue. The first RecruitFest was held inside a hotel where there were different conference rooms for each discussion. The second one was held in one huge room at Trinity College in U of T. The building was very old and beautiful. The room was a bit hot, but with all the large wide windows open, the atmosphere was very open and free flowing. After breakfast and checking in, the sessions started right away. People were ready to go and begin the conversations. We had two morning sessions instead of just one as originally planned, which I liked because having 4 sessions instead of 3 allowed everyone to be a part of every session, instead of having to pick their top ones, and end up missing one.

Jerry and Julia…
The first session that I went to was with Jerry Albright and Julia Stone. Jerry and Julia tag-teamed their way through various success principles for recruiters. The discussion tended to flow here and there as it always does, but some main things that stuck out for me were; how to qualify a client using Jerry's 'CUE' check - coordination, urgency, expectation, also having synergy, showing value, and ROI, and following your intuition. Andy Gregory also left me with a good message about starting a business and that was; What is the main difference between someone you see doing what you want to be doing and yourself? If all other things are equal – the only difference is that they DID it.

John Sumser…
This year, John's track was about disruption, which I felt was a really excellent theme considering what our industry has been through in the past year. He looked at trends that the industry has been taking such as outsourcing and price trends. In the past, disruption has taken place with the development of job boards, and new tools, the times are still changing and now more than ever companies are invested in finding that PERFECT fit in a candidate, they are much less willing to take a close fit and grow the person, which is of course what we are always striving for, but now a days, although requirements are stricter, and the value provided by recruiting has gone way up, yet there is still pressure to cut price. The best solution that I understood from this conversation about how to remain on top of the game is to continue to develop your ecosystem as a recruiter in terms of building your complex network of relationships and to continue to increase our own knowledge and ability to deliver value in ways of strategically helping to build a company, which are 2 valuable assets that we can bring to the table.

Bill Boorman…
Bill was a really awesome asset to RF2! He came all the way from England to share in RecruitFest, his track was all about Phoenix Recruiting - rising up from the ashes of this economy, I suppose. I enjoyed Bill's chat, I think he was the first one to take his group outside to the courtyard, where you could hear a bit better and enjoy the lovely sun, breeze and trees. Bill's approach to Phoenix Recruiting is very proactive in nature. He was talking about the importance of really nurturing your talent puddle (top 10% of your talent pool). He shared some really radical ideas such as turning OFF the computer for a whole day every week, and making your personal calls and face to face meetings on that day, really making face time with people, and really listening and connecting with people, so that they are not just a list of names in a database. We talked about referrals, and setting expectations up front with clients. Bill shared about some methods that he uses, like sending a rejection pack to each person who gets rejected including a ton of valuable info, and having a conference call for any and all of his candidates once a week, where they can get useful job seeker information and also about how anyone who is looking to apply online to his company has access to the phone number of a suitable recruiter. While all of these methods are wonderful and have an immediate increase in value for the candidates, I think in some cases, for large companies like Microsoft, where I work, they would not all necessarily be successful. For example, if my phone number were attached to all of my jobs, I am sure that it would be ringing off the hook all day long and I would never get any work done! However that is the thing with this unconference, you take what you need and you leave the rest. This conversation definitely inspired me to see where further improvements could be made to our processes.

Jenny De Vaughn…
Jenny was a super awesome track leader! By the 4th round of the day, every conversation was taking place outside in the courtyard. Jenny did her last chat on some nice stone steps. We were talking about Social Media and Marketing 2.0 :) Forget about interruption marketing, yelling and selling! In this chat we looked at different ways to use social media. We debated quantity vs quality in terms of Linked In contacts and Twitter Followers. We talked about the importance of being authentic with our readers in Twitter and Blogging and about the importance of knowing your audience and providing value for them.

The Day…
The whole day was awesome, the lunch food was ok :) Animal tried to do his radio show during the lunch, but for some reason it didn’t work out unfortunately. There was a lot of great networking and learning through sharing going on. Personally, the day got me so inspired to move forward in the social media space, which is a huge interest for me, although I have found it hard in the past year to devote time to doing it diligently. It was a very happy day filled with learning and connecting with new and old friends.

The Night…
At the end of the day sessions it began to rain, and I walked over to the Holiday Inn on Bloor with my new friend Kelly to grab a few beers in the hotel bar and wait for the bus to arrive. I was happy to find Geoff and Bill in the hotel bar as well and to continue the inspiring conversation almost until the bus came. Every person there looked very beautiful and handsome, but I found that not too many people had gotten suuper dressed up. It is hard to tell sometimes what to wear to an unconference! The bus ride was fun, some pics and videos were made on the way to the Davis' residence where the party was about to kick off!

The Fest…
Did I mention how much I love RecruitFest? I really really do. I love parties and house parties, and at the Davis residence the party is always a blast! The catering was ridiculously amazing. There was more than enough food. The delicious morsels kept coming around and there was a lovely selection from baked mac and cheese to chicken squeres, quesadillas, tiny roasted veggie sandwiches, butternut squash soup, crab cakes, pad thai and on and on! I think everyone had a great time, chatting, mingling, eating, drinking and laughing! For me, being a smoker, the back yard is my favorite place to be. There were lots of nice tables set up with candles all around. The RedRecruiter busted out his red guitar case and proceeded to elevate the atmosphere with some live jamming on his acoustic, in the back yard. Inside a live performance went on as well, and awards were given to the organizers.

My view...
I thought that RecruitFest Part Deux was Great! I enjoyed the conversations and learned a lot. In comparison with RF1, I liked a few things better about each of them. I liked the intimate venue better about this time, but I preferred the original for it’s drum circle, party magician and poker game:) For me, I only took 2 days off the whole summer, and so RecruitFest has been a much needed break for me in terms of taking a step back to observe life, to observe the big picture and it has given my creativity and motivation to move forward a much welcome spark. The information and motivation that I picked up at RecruitFest, I am sure will continue to filter into and transpire in my life over the next few days, weeks, and months.

This was a long post, but I haven’t written in a while… In summary, I had a great time at RECRRUITFEST 09!!! I hope everyone who came from out of town, enjoyed their stay here in Toronto. I look forward to keeping in touch with and hearing about, all of the fabulous professionals that I have had the pleasure of meeting through RecruitFest and I am very much looking forward to RecruitFest -Part Tres!!!

Views: 27

Comment by Slouch on September 25, 2009 at 1:27am
Wow. Your post made me think of why I like hanging out with you. It's amazing how much you see and remember. Thanks for writing this. It's really helpful.
Comment by Jerry Albright on September 25, 2009 at 9:02am
Nice recap Carolyn. Funny thing is - I can picture you saying each word with a smile. Every single word. How do you do that? :)
Comment by Ryan Leary on September 25, 2009 at 1:44pm
Couldn't have said it better myself. I can still see Jerry dancing the tango through the Kitchen...
Comment by Alan Whitford on September 25, 2009 at 3:02pm
Great Wrap Up, Sorry I wasn't there to support Billy B (as Animal now refers to Boorman) in his element. Glad to see he ripped off my Talent Puddle concept - but then he said he would :-) Hope to make it next year.
Comment by Craig Silverman on September 28, 2009 at 1:40pm
Enjoyed reading the highlights! Thank you. Wish I could have been there.
Comment by Jenny DeVaughn on September 30, 2009 at 1:47am
Carolyn, I appreciate your comments. You speak from the heart and it is refreshing! Hope our paths cross again soon.


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