Cut & Polish

Gem Talent Summit 2021: A Recap

Gem recently held its second annual Talent Summit—a virtual conference in which 2500 talent acquisition professionals came together, shared best practices, networked, and got inspired. This year, top recruiters from best-in-class teams shared career-long learnings for sourcing, nurturing, and diversifying talent pools; and talent leaders shared how they’ve strategically helped their teams weather the storms of 2021 with data-driven insights into hiring. 

Sessions covered everything from the future of remote hiring; to crafting compelling messages in our post-pandemic world; to ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion in a remote workforce; to the core reports that every talent leader needs. We also had the opportunity to offer product sessions in our Customer Day, summarize some of the most exciting features Gem shipped this year, and celebrate our customers’ successes in our inaugural Top User Awards Ceremony. Plus, there was a photo booth, which was one of our favorite elements of the day:



With that, we wanted to offer a recap of our keynotes, sessions, and panel—both for those of you who missed the event and are curious about how the day unfolded, and for those of you who were there and want to relive the experience:

The Recruitment Silver Lining (Keynote)

Gem’s co-founders Steve Bartel (CEO) and Nick Bushak (CTO) kicked off Talent Summit with a reminder that 54% of surveyed talent have recently said they’ll be searching for new jobs within the next 12 months. In our post-pandemic “Great Resignation,” companies have to reimagine their talent acquisition strategies. Steve and Nick discussed the state of talent acquisition in 2021, along with how Gem—and our network of customers, partners, and advisors—is working to be the silver lining of recruiting. Here are some insights from that keynote:

  • “Talent acquisition has been radically shaken up this past year, and we’ve been asked to reimagine hiring” - Steve Bartel 
  • “A company’s ability to hire and retain great people and build a diverse workforce is arguably the single biggest factor in an organization’s success and ability to grow” - Nick Bushak
  • “The strategic nature of the talent acquisition role is only going to increase as the nature of work continues to evolve, and competition for talent will only increase” - Steve Bartel

Are Offices Obsolete? The Future of Remote Hiring

After nearly a year and a half of working from home, employees and candidates have shifted their expectations about their work environments away from traditional office settings; and companies would be wise to shift their recruiting efforts in the same direction. Dai Marie Strong, Global Head of Talent Operations, Compliance, Programs & Early in Career at Cisco Meraki discussed the benefits of hiring remotely with regards to budgets, location, and new markets; offered best practices for transitioning a recruiting strategy; and told the story of how Cisco Merkai used multiple resources to scale their hiring needs. Here are some insights from Dai’s talk:

  • “Allowing employees to work from home saves money, increases productivity, and decreases overhead”
  • “Work is important... but understanding what's going on with your team from a personal perspective is also important” 
  • “People want to spend more time with family, and they want to be able to work anywhere to get their job done. Flexibility is going to be key in this new world of talent.”
  • “Employer value proposition is important because it helps our recruiters, stakeholders, and the business understand what sets us apart and what makes Cisco Meraki a company of choice” 

The Tweet That Launched 2,000 Roles

In December of last year, when Shopify announced the goal of doubling its engineering team via Twitter (hiring 2,021 new technical roles in 2021), Talent Attraction Lead Krystle Olson knew that her team needed to be both creative and proactive with their hiring strategies if they were going to meet that goal. Curious about whether the team met that number? You’ll have to click in to find out! Krystle presented two different programs Shopify created in an effort to meet their hiring goals. She talked about everything from how the team structured its sourcing program to scale hypergrowth to how they empowered leadership to advance their success... and more. Here are some insights from Krystle’s talk:

  • “It's so important to pay close attention to what your leaders are passionate about and to keep a close eye on who in your team is showing readiness for program leadership”
  • “You need to build a strong understanding across your team that leadership is a craft unto its own, and that the first move into people leadership is not a promotion—it's a move into a new craft. As their leader, you need to be prepared to support them through this transition.”
  • “You can't, and shouldn't, champion everything in your team or org… Strong leaders will build what you can't build alone, so you need to sponsor them to be champions of what your company needs, and then you need to move out of their way.”
  • “Capitalize on enthusiasm and foster trust with leaders to truly make building your company a shared responsibility”

Thinking Outside of the Box: Talent Sourcing and Resourcing With Box

Creativity comes in all shapes and forms, and that’s perhaps especially true in the Talent Acquisition industry. Bernardo Sosa, Director of Talent Sourcing, Ops & Programs at Box, came to recruiting with a background in sales and marketing; and he has a unique lens into TA from that experience. In this conversation with Sarah Koo, Head of Product at Gem, Bernardo discussed how Box thinks “outside of the box” when it comes to talent sourcing and resourcing for all roles in a Talent Acquisition team. Here are some insights from Bernardo: 

  • “For me, it's about investing in sourcers’ development and investing in the right tools. It's very easy to present a business case around ROI and say these tools are going to make our sourcers ever more productive.”
  • “Just like in marketing and sales, I see sourcing and recruiting as two sides of the same coin. Both play a significant role in communicating employer value proposition and shaping the employer brand.”
  • “My peers would agree that we've experienced so much change this year that we must reconsider whether our tool stack is still the right tool stack for the team” 
  • “DEI continues to be a major focus for Box. We've set a great foundation over the last couple of years, and now we’re entering the second phase of tactically implementing a structure and incorporating it into our day-to-day routine.”

Crafting Compelling Messages that Wow: 3 Steps to Optimizing Outreach with Gem

Over 300 billion emails are sent and received daily across the globe. So how do you break through the noise of your prospective candidates’ inboxes with a data-driven, high-yield messaging strategy? How do you use your unique voice to connect, human-to-human, with prospects? What are the best strategies for personalization across industries and roles? Maisha L. Cannon, Manager of Global Talent Sourcing at Procore Technologies, shared ideas for creating engaging outreach that converts in a sea full of #recruiterspam and other inbox noise. She showed us how to work smarter by infusing practical creativity into our outreach. Here are some insights from Maisha’s session: 

  • “‘What’s in it for me?’ This is the question your intended recipient will be asking themselves when they receive your message in their already-overflowing inbox.”
  • “Gem’s data shows that highly-personalized outreach messages see a 73% engagement rate. So I try to include one or two details unique to the prospect in my opening paragraph.”
  • “You can come up with numerous ways to A/B test, whether you’re comparing content, outreach mediums, the time of day and the days you send your messages, you name it. Whatever you decide, know that Gem’s analytics will support your efforts.”

Industry Insights: The Future of Hiring (Keynote)

What’s top of mind for companies when it comes to hiring? That’s what we explored in our keynote session with Pat Wadors, Chief Talent Officer at Procore. In conversation with Matt Tague, Director of Customer Advisory at Gem, Pat provided industry-level observations on the current state of hiring, including talent hiring trends and strategies that should be top of mind, CHRO priorities for the rest of the year and beyond, and how to rekindle diversity inclusion and belonging in a changing environment. Here are some insights from Pat: 

  • “Without belonging, you will underleverage the workforce you have, you will create less innovation, and you will leave opportunity on the table for you and your customers”
  • “Make sure that as you're looking at talent across the board, you see what’s coming through that pipeline and being more intentional about making sure there's diversity from top-to-tail, and that you're looking at the right competencies, a more objective evaluation of talent. If we go fast, our biases sneak in.”
  • “Argue like you're right, but listen like you're wrong”
  • “Leading with compassion now is a call to action like never before. Keeping mental health at the forefront, especially with that sense of belonging—people experience life differently at different points in time and it's okay not to be okay.”

Ensuring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in a Remote Workplace

As organizations assess their return-to-work strategy, questions are bound to arise about attracting a diverse team and ensuring an equitable environment for all workplaces and styles. This esteemed panel included Marco Lindsey (Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley), Jason Medley (Chief People Officer at Codility), Ragini Holloway (SVP of People at Affirm), and Dr. Christal Morris (SVP of Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at Peloton). They discussed the current state of DEI and shared their strategies and successes with DEI in a changing workplace landscape. Here are some insights from that conversation:

  • “Our decision to be remote-first at Affirm was in part because we never wanted there to be a question of: Will where I choose to do my best work be a hindrance to career development?” - Ragini Holloway 
  • “You don’t just take one employee survey and then you’re locked into that forever. People have different seasonalities in life. We’re gonna support you even if your situation and needs change.” - Jason Medley
  • “Begin your meeting considering how people will enter… There’s nothing worse than joining a meeting and not being acknowledged.” - Dr. Christal Morris

Together We Go Far: Recruiting Strategies That Don’t Break a Sweat

Peloton’s mission is to bring immersive and challenging workouts into people's lives in a more accessible, affordable, and efficient way; they’ve taken the fitness world by storm and become a staple in many people’s lives. And their commitment to technology doesn’t stop at the pedals: Peloton has evolved its hiring strategies to use the latest tech to enable the talent team to be a strategic partner within the larger business.

During this session, we chatted with Tim Brown, VP of Talent Acquisition, and Will Blaze, Director of Talent Acquisition, to discuss Peloton’s hiring journey. Here are some insights: 

  • “We’ve seen a big shift... how can we look beyond traditional candidate profiles and start to look for candidates that are in an apprenticeship model or other kinds of early career models that extend beyond traditional internships?” - Tim Brown 
  • “The big change we’ve seen in the role of talent acquisition—especially for talent leaders like Will and myself—is you’ve got to think like a business person first. The days of hiding behind ‘We’re in HR or People’ are gone.” - Tim Brown
  • “At the end of the day, recruiting is a team sport. Recruiters are an extended part of all the teams that we support. - Will Blaze

An Inspired Hire: Unique Roles To Run an Efficient Team

In the wake of the pandemic, Credit Karma made a strategic choice to restructure their teams and push the reset button on their hiring program. With a fresh, holistic view of their team, they were able to pinpoint and hire for enablement roles that most organizations might not even be aware of, to create a high-performing and functionally-sound team. Ashleigh Anderson, Vice President, Head of Global Talent Acquisition at Credit Karma, talked about the decision behind pushing that button, how the team pinpointed the most effective enablement roles they needed to hire, what technologies they used to hire for those unique roles, and how the restructuring and introduction of new roles has optimized team performance. Insights from Ashleigh include:

  • “New, powerful systems and tools, and marketing intelligence on candidate pools—these things are the difference-makers for a recruiting team”
  • “Talent research and delivery is like the nutrition mechanism that continually feeds the company”
  • “Bringing in passive talent is critical to the success of delivering top talent quickly to the business”
  • “If you are only utilizing entry-level folks to build passive pipelines, that’s a giant opportunity missed”

Three Core Reports Every TA Leader Needs

In this session, Chelsea Cohen, Manager of Recruiting Operations at FullStory, explored the three core reports talent acquisition stakeholders can leverage to understand recruiting productivity and inform their journeys to building high-performing hiring teams. Chelsea covered which metrics to report to your Head of Recruiting, how to use recruiting technology to streamline reporting, and strategies to optimize your core recruiting KPIs. She talked about data and empathy together, such that KPIs and reporting ultimately lead to better candidate experiences… not to mention ICs who can do their best work with the right structures in place. Here are some insights from that talk: 

  • “Gem’s Talent Pipeline is a great resource to help talent acquisition leaders stay in the loop with hiring activity on the ground; it’s also a go-to resource for our recruiters and coordinators to help them keep on top of their active pipelines”
  • “With Gem’s Pipeline Forecasting Calculator, you can see how many onsite interviews it will take to get to an offer, how many recruiter screens, and so on. So if we need to give business leaders an estimate for how likely their team is to close their open roles by the end of the quarter, we can easily estimate whether we’re on target to meeting hiring goals.”
  • “We include passthrough rate ratios on our interviewer and hiring manager training decks. So even before they’ve gotten in the weeds of interviewing, they have a sense of, Okay, I’m hiring for engineering, here’s how many onsite interviews it takes to get to an offer.” 

If these sound-bytes interest you, we hope you’ll take the time to watch Gem’s Talent Summit sessions, keynotes, and the panel in full. We think you’ll come away from them as inspired as we’ve been… we know we’ll be re-watching some of them ourselves! 

Get started with Gem today

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Get started with Gem today

Source candidates in half the time… and get a full view of those efforts in your hiring funnel

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Content Strategist
September 23, 2021
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