Cut & Polish

Talent Summit 2022 Recap

Talent Summit 2022 was one for the books! We had over 5,000 attendees from all over the globe to hear from innovative leaders on today’s biggest topics.

If you missed your chance to sign up for Talent Summit this year, couldn’t make it, or just want to relive some of the fun, we’ve put together a summary of some of the highlights:

Our Customer Day, Wednesday, Sept. 28th, was all about how Gem customers can drive the most out of the tools they have. This included hands-on workshops where Gem users could see step-by-step how our latest features support their tactical and strategic talent acquisition goals. It was also an opportunity for attendees to network with other Gem users, share best practices, and build a greater TA knowledge community. 

The main event day, Thursday, Sept. 29th, kicked off with a keynote speech by Gem’s CEO and co-founder, Steve Bartel, which laid the foundation for the rest of the event. Steve’s talk was followed by enlightening sessions on topics like diversity recruiting, employer branding, talent nurture, and much more. And yes, there was still plenty of time for networking, fun and games, and some amazing trivia prizes! 

Navigating the future of recruiting (keynote)

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Gem’s co-founder and CEO Steve Bartel kicked off Thursday with a keynote concerning this year’s theme. “Talent is timeless” was the resounding message—regardless of whether your current req load has slowed or accelerated (e.g. healthcare, manufacturing). Hiring may ebb and flow, but it always bounces back—and always to new record highs. Knowing that, how do we navigate today’s uncertainty while preparing to emerge stronger for the future?

Steve shared what he’s seeing in the industry—based on both industry data and Gem’s internal data—along with strategies for navigating the future. He also invited two guest customers to the stage—Jeff Moore, VP of Talent Acquisition at Toast, and JR Rettig, SVP of Talent Acquisition at Pendo—to talk about the challenges they’re facing, how to stay connected with talent over time, and how they’re resource-shifting on their teams to improve operations while hiring is slower than usual. 

Finally, Steve highlighted a handful of exciting product updates in Gem to help recruiting teams navigate this environment: Talent Compass, our Dashboard Library, Peer Benchmarks, Candidate Rediscovery, Application Review, and more. 

Some gems from Steve’s keynote:

  • “People are the single most important thing that determines whether a company succeeds or fails… That’s why, over the past ten years, Talent Acquisition has become such a strategic function for any company out there.”
  • “For every two open jobs, there’s only one unemployed candidate looking for a job… and even with the recent decline in job openings on average, there are still 32% more job openings [at enterprise companies] today than at the previous peak in January 2020… there’s more hiring happening today than there was three years ago.”
  • “In my mind, there are two things that are key in this environment. The first is to stay agile so we can respond to what’s happening in real-time. The second is to invest in the right things so we can re-accelerate hiring when the market bounces back.”
  • “In steady-state, normal times, talent acquisition leaders might do capacity planning once a year. These days, with hiring goals shifting so much, data-driven capacity planning has become a quarterly, or even a monthly, exercise.”
  • “Now is a good time to re-examine your entire hiring funnel. Look at things like time to fill, passthrough rates, cost per hire, quality of candidate, and source of hire. I can guarantee you these metrics have likely shifted over the past 6 months.”

A conversation with Patty McCord (with Richard Cho)

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Gem’s Chief Recruiting Officer, Richard Cho, led a fireside chat with Patty McCord. Patty is a Workplace Innovator, Culture and Leadership Consultant, and former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix. Richard and Patty discussed the Netflix Culture Deck that went viral shortly after it was publicly posted in 2009, the importance of having candidates self-select into a culture, and the value of the “always be recruiting” mentality. 

Patty offered her opinions about remote work (“It’s too late to have an opinion; it’s here”), about why every person at the company should understand the business, and about the opportunity Talent Acquisition has to redefine what candidate success looks like given so many performance metrics got thrown out during the pandemic when teams went remote. 

Some gems from Patty:

  • “Recruiting never stops, yet as TA professionals, we’re often judged by time to hire. For me, recruiting is not about moving fast; it’s more about finding the right person to solve this problem. It's not about just filling a job at this exact moment. It's about building the team for the future of the company's success.”
  • “When I advise and coach startups and they ask what a great HR person is, I say… the most important part is your talent acquisition team. Yet that’s the thing most startups outsource. And the problem is, you don’t get involved in the success of the business.”
  • “I did a talk before the pandemic with like 800 recruiters. And I said: ‘How many of you recruit software engineers?’ Around 750 people raised their hands. And I said: ‘How many of you have sat next to somebody and watched them write code?’ And almost nobody said yes. You need to understand the craft of the people that you hire.” 
  • “A lot of times recruiting professionals are measured on time to hire. So they get people really fast. Instead, it’s about finding the person who can do this job incredibly well in this timeframe. It’s not just: Do you check all the boxes on the req?”
  • “You should always be thinking: What’s the talent for the next phase?”

A future-forward perspective on diversity recruiting

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Any organization that wants to succeed in today’s hiring market knows that diversity is one of the most important factors in attracting and retaining top talent. In this session, Sheilesha Willis, Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging at Gem led a panel discussion with Cynthia Owyoung, Tigran Sloyan, Marshanette Nunes, and Rocki Howard about why leadership teams with good intentions struggle to set realistic targets for what diversity looks like within their organization, what it should (or could) be, and how to get there.

Some gems from the panel: 

  • “Setting inclusive recruiting goals can be uncomfortable; lean into the discomfort!”  – Sheilesha 
  • “Set hiring goals according to your stage and strategy, and the addressable talent market.” – Cynthia
  • “There’s a ton of great talent out there, but their resumes don’t always match their real skills.” – Tigran
  • “Creating an inclusive environment doesn’t always have to be a large organizational lift, simply asking folks what their preferred pronouns are can go a long way.” – Marshanette
  • “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you've always had.” – Rocki

Emerging trends: The rise of recruiting operations

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Bernardo Sosa, Director of Talent Sourcing, Ops & Programs at Box led this practitioner panel on the meteoric rise of Recruiting Operations and how TA teams can leverage data to make more informed hiring decisions while eliminating inefficiencies. Bernardo was joined by Danielle Belanger, Ben Abear, and En-Szu Hu-Van Wright to discuss topics like uncertainties in the future of work, market fluctuations, ever-increasing competition, and some key metrics and KPIs every Rec Ops team needs to be effective. 

Some gems from the panel:

How is Rec Ops responding to the changing macroeconomic situation? 

  • “When hiring slows down, TA teams can focus on enablement and upskilling of their team members to enhance their process and be ready for when hiring picks back up.” – Ben

What are some of the most valuable metrics you are tracking right now?

  • “One thing that’s been super valuable for us is to give our recruiters broader exposure to other People Team initiatives that align with their long-term career goals. For quality of hire, we’re looking at how many folks are making it to the 30, 60, 90-day check-ins and how they’re performing.” – En-Szu

What’s the future of recruiting?

  • “Right now so much of TA is reactive and centered around filling gaps when they happen. In the future, TA will hold a more strategic function to anticipate the future needs within the organization.” – Danielle

Emerging trends: Employer brand, winning with authenticity

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In this session, Des Caballero, Director of Employer Brand at Gem talked with Amber Kroner, Caitlyn Metteer, and Michael Mager about why a strong employer brand strategy is crucial for increasing awareness of your company, communicating your unique value proposition, and converting prospects into interested candidates. This session included some fantastic tips on how to build a truly authentic employer brand strategy, how to adapt your employer brand during a potential downturn, and how to become candidates’ employer of choice in a tight talent market. 

Some gems from the session: 

  • “A company’s employer brand will exist whether they invest in it or not, so it’s critical that you invest in it and help shape the narrative.” – Des

What are some strategies you’ve seen companies use over the past few years?

  • “When things are slowing down, companies that don’t have a dedicated [talent brand] resource can use that time to focus on refreshing pages, building new content, and creating new employee spotlights, to set themselves up for when things pick up.” – Caitlyn

How has your employer branding influenced your retention strategy?

  • “We’re now looking at employee journey mapping to understand the highlights and lowlights of an employee’s experience, especially during their first year and amidst a hybrid work environment.” – Michael
  • “We’re very people-focused on our talent brand strategy, which has an impact on retention. When people get tapped on the shoulder to be featured in a blog post, be featured in social content, or speak at events they get excited about it. I think this goes a long way in building a sense of pride within an organization.” – Amber

Close the diversity gap and deliver an unbeatable candidate experience 

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Lauren Loera, Technical Recruiting Researcher at Netflix, joined Talent Summit to offer meaningful ways recruiting teams can close the gap between where we are and where we’d like to be from a diversity hiring perspective. Lauren covered: how to identify and connect with underrepresented community groups, how to build a network of prospective candidates for both the present and the future, how to utilize internal groups to build relationships with URGs and the organizations that support them, and how to use data to track the health of your outreach and hiring funnel.

We especially loved Lauren’s insistence on a thoughtful approach to building relationships with organizations and communities through networking and nurture—what she called “the core of your approach.” This is a particularly great session to watch if you want to better understand the role employee resource groups (ERGs) can play in an organization’s diversity initiatives.

Some gems from Lauren: 

  • “Since 2020, we’ve been able to expand our horizons to reach talent outside of those tech hubs. We’ve developed new, smaller tech hubs in Georgia, Texas, Delaware, Virginia, Connecticut, and even Maryland. These states rank high on tech diversity scores.”
  • “Allyship carries so much weight, and what you can expect to learn from these community groups is: how to be an advocate, what challenges we face when we’re breaking into an industry, what biases we face once we get our feet in the door, and how imposter syndrome can play out in our roles.”
  • “Share insights on the best way to prepare for interviews on the technical side… holding mock interview sessions, building portfolios together, and hosting live interview prep sessions with hiring teams to run through the resources.” 
  • “ERGs stand up for peers in multiple ways. They advocate for change in interview structure, check in on how the business is retaining talent, work with HRBPs to get better messages across, and help with referral drives and sourcing initiatives.”
  • “Find ways to use your internal partners to build a broader network, check in [with prospective candidates] every quarter, and keep that consistent. Re-engage as often as you possibly can.”

Building a business case: How to shift TA from a cost center to a strategic function

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In this session, Matt Tague, Director of Customer Advisory at Gem talked with Allyn Bailey, Executive Director of Hiring Success at SmartRecruiters about the strategies she’s implemented over the years to transform the business’ views of the recruiting function.

In his role, Matt works closely with many of Gem’s strategic customers and sits at the forefront of issues that are top-of-mind for TA leaders today; he’s seen recruiting become a strategic differentiator that companies are willing to invest resources in to achieve the headcount that will drive their business goals. Allyn works hand-in-hand with organizations focused on enhancing their TA functions, advises them on how to become a more strategic partner to the business, and combines technology with process, people, and skills. This session covered many of the key aspects of TA that can drive greater outcomes like talent market intelligence, insights about role prioritization and org growth, capacity models, and more!

Some gems from the conversation: 

What is the difference in mindset between a cost center and a value center?

  • “The difference is transactional to strategic—moving away from questions like ‘how fast,’ ‘how many,’ and ‘when’ to questions like ‘could I even fill, should I fill, what is the risk?’ That’s where you start to get into that value chain; and I think that's where our leaders and CEOs are looking for talent leaders to step up and ask.”

What data would you add to your process to make it even more strategic?

  • “I want market data and I want to be able to overlay market data with my historical data and with my current availability data. This allows me to answer questions like: What is the need that the company has? And what is the likelihood I’ll be able to meet that need? Where and how am I going to do that?”

Who are some of the cross-functional stakeholders TA leaders need to work with to become more strategic?

  • “We need to have strong IT partnerships, strong Finance partnerships, and strong executive-level stakeholder alignment and partnerships so you understand where the business is going. Once they understand that you understand where the business is going, you can have a conversation about how your talent strategy helps support that.” 

For someone who's early in their transition to being a strategic leader, what can they do tactically to understand the wants and needs of those cross-functional partners?

  • “I would say get out of our own conversations. One way to do this is by getting a good mentor in the finance department or on the leadership team and being very frank about the fact that you want to understand how to translate what you do into the value that they articulate. Or it can be as simple as reading more of the Wall Street Journal and less of HR.com.”

Analyst perspective: How to boost recruiting results with a modern TA tech stack

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Tim Sackett, CEO of HRUTech.com, brought all his experience and wisdom to bear on a session on recruiting technology. Tim emphasized that technology won’t fix a team. It will allow the team to be faster and more efficient—but only if there’s 100% adoption, and if the processes and measures behind it are already solid.

Tim also reminded us—with data!—that we’re dealing, nationally, with what is going to be a long-term recruiting issue of fewer candidates than job openings. What’s more, “recruiting math” is critical because it’s the only way teams will convince their CFOs that hiring will continue to be difficult in 2023 and beyond without technology. What else we got from this session? The fastest history of modern recruiting, what a “Zen” tech stack of the future looks like, why a single source of truth in your tech stack is critical, and why automation is our best partner.

Some gems from Tim:

  • “If you suck at recruiting, new recruiting technology can help you suck much faster!”
  • “What we’re seeing now is talent acquisition leaders, CHROs, and CEOs asking: How do we ensure we don’t have a knee-jerk reaction if there’s a market correction or a small recession, and go and cut talent acquisition? Because we know how hard it was to turn recruiting back on [in 2020].”  
  • “The amount of automation and change we’ve had in the talent acquisition world dwarfs our HR peers by a lot. Part of that is because what every CEO and C-suite has figured out is: talent acquisition is a competitive differentiator at every level.”
  • “The average enterprise TA tech stack today has anywhere from 20-25 technologies that they’re relying on a daily basis. There’s an overlap of technology that seems to be increasing. This means that within the tech stack market we’re going to see a lot more consolidation happening; we’re going to see technologies buy each other and then integrate.”
  • “If we have the right tech stack and the right automation in place, at the end of the day the future of recruiting is simply our ability to make more connections. It’s our ability to get someone to trust us with their career faster than somebody else is going to get their trust. Can we build a better relationship faster, and is our technology allowing us to do that?”

Emerging trends: Talent nurture is the new sourcing (Michael Franco)

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In this session, Michael Franco, Senior Director of Recruiting at Yext, dove into why relationship-based recruiting is the future of our industry. He discussed why the talent shortage is here to stay, and why technical recruiting for roles like Engineering, Data Science, and Cybersecurity are sure to remain competitive no matter the broader market conditions.

Michael covered why he believes thoughtful, patient, long-term nurture sequences that build trusting relationships with talent are the future of sourcing; best practices for building talent pools and crafting nurture campaigns; and how to filter down groups like former silver medalists for more personalized, targeted messaging. Sourcing and recruiting is a long game, and it can take multiple touchpoints to influence a career decision.

Some gems from Michael: 

  • “Using nurture campaigns to target passive candidates is a great way to get candidates in the process as soon as the requisition is open, reducing time to hire even if your interview process is complex.”
  • “There's a lot of hidden talent in your ATS, including silver medalists, candidates that dropped out or accepted another offer, or whose recruiters recently left the company.”
  • “Recruiting events benefit the organization just as much as the candidate. They give passive candidates an opportunity to learn more about the organization in a low-pressure environment.
  • “You must act like a marketer and sell candidates on the opportunities using tailored content.”
  • “Great content going to the wrong people is no good, but lousy content going to the right people could be worse.” (Originally quoted from Lauren Shufran, Head of Content Marketing at Gem)

Don't believe the hype: What's actually happening in talent acquisition

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In this closing session, Matt Charney, Talent Acquisition Community Leader at HR.com, talked with Paul LesserAdelia Curtis Duarte, and Eric Trickett about what they’ve observed in the broader talent acquisition industry landscape. They shed some light on why the tech sector seems to be the only industry seeing net job losses as of late, shared tips on how to become recession-ready without losing sight of current goals and strategies, how to leverage your TA team’s market knowledge to inform business strategy, and how to prepare your recruiting team for when hiring ramps up again.

Some gems from the panel: 

  • “In a competitive labor market, candidates are evaluating your company and recruiting process just as much as you are evaluating them.” – Paul
  • “A lot of TA teams want really sophisticated integrations and products, and think they’ll be the end-all-be-all solution. But many of these things can be solved for by focusing on process re-engineering and fewer tools with more adoption and engagement.” – Eric 
  • “For us, hiring both internally and externally, the competition for talent is as hot as ever, so prioritizing mission alignment and helping people find their true purpose day-to-day have become much more critical.” – Adelia 
  • “The best recruiters have always had a tenacity and resilience to find a way to make it work, but now they are more data-driven and analytical.” – Eric
  • “To make recruiting more of a business imperative instead of a cost center, TA leaders need to bring data to the conversations regarding where they can bring value—and the cost of doing nothing.” – Paul

This year’s Talent Summit went above and beyond our expectations and gave us so much insight into the the state of Talent Acquisition today, what TA leaders at top companies are doing right, and what we can do to improve the TA function within our organizations. If you’d like to watch (or re-watch) any of the sessions we’ve covered here, you can find them on our Talent Summit resources page

Thank you so much to everyone who helped make Talent Summit 2022 possible. We can’t wait to see you again next year!

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Content Marketing Manager
October 6, 2022
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