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A solid reboot for the IAEWS conference

Sometimes, a format change is a good thing. At least that’s my opinion after having spent the last couple of days at the IAEWS 2013 Fall Congress.

Although the IAEWS conference has always been a good source of information and networking, in past years it had also begun to feel a bit ‘overstructured’. Single day conferences are tough – organizers are trying to pack as much into 7 or 8 hours as they can so that participants feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth. Based on member feedback, this year the IAEWS threw a good part of the conference structure out the window – to good effect.

I had the good fortune to participate in the survey results meeting on Monday – two hours of very interesting discussion led by David Lewis of AllCountyJobs. Some good questions were raised about the effectiveness and impact of mobile for job boards (fyi, in my opinion every job board should be mobile-enabled), treating LinkedIn as a partner as well as a competitor, and the value of a social media presence.

One request from members had been for more opportunities to network and interact with other members and vendors. That resulted in a Monday night networking and cocktail session. I found this very useful – it was a great way to say hi to old friends, meet people in person that I had only know previously via phone, and pick up some great news and gossip. As this was all pre-conference, none of us felt worn out from sitting in a room all day – we were ready to, umm, network. And drink. And eat. You get the picture.

Next was dinner with self-selected dining partners at restaurants around the city. I ended up eating some very fine Indian food with Steven and Faith Rothberg of CollegeRecruiter, plus folks from HigherEdJobs, Recruitics, HealthJobsNationwide, and others. Be sure to ask Steven how he found fame and fortune on Facebook!

The conference format went as follows: a 30-45 minute session with a speaker, followed by 3 breakout sessions to discuss related topics. I personally heard some interesting aggregator horror stories, an example of how a job board is partnering with LinkedIn, and how one job board has turned its homegrown ATS into a customer retention tool. The discussion sessions – a big change from previous conferences – worked pretty well. There was certainly no shortage of opinions! In general, participants seemed quite willing to share their successes – and failures.

A few favorite moments:

  • Mike Durney’s description of how Dice’s Open Web works – and where it’s going
  • Andy Hibel’s panel of ‘old timers’ talking about the history of niche sites; great contributions from Eric Shannon, Bill Berg, John Cullens, and of course Andy himself
  • Tim Rush’s discussion of how he’s building his own aggregator to take back traffic he’s previously given to 3rd party aggregators

So, congrats to Peter Weddle and the organizing committee at IAEWS on a successful reboot! Was it perfect? No – larger rooms would’ve been nice, and the HVAC system was overtaxed. But those are minor things. Bottom line: if you haven’t been to an IAEWS conf, definitely check it out. I promise you that it will be time well spent.

PS: if you want to take a look at my and other’s tweets from the conference, check out #IAEWSFallCongress.

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2 comments… add one

  • Steven Rothberg (CollegeRecruiter.com)

    October 18, 2013, 4:21 pm

    Fame and fortune? Well, maybe fortune but certainly no fame. My persistence can be a curse but a year ago it was a small blessing. I entered a Facebook content in which Hilton gave a way a million HHonors points (about 50 nights in Hampton Inns or 25 nights in Hilton Hotels) to people who liked their page and entered their contest. The page was so overloaded that I had to hit reload, reload, reload but I prevailed, entered, and won. And the IRS won too as I had to pay tax on the points. Oh well, there’s no gain sometimes without some pain.

  • Ken Levinson

    October 19, 2013, 10:05 am

    Right on with your comments Jeff. I enjoyed the conference and seeing you. Peter and Steven did a great job. Looking forward to the Spring Conference in Nashville.

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