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Mouse ears and pitches: the TAtech congress in review

TAtechOn April 16th and 17th roughly 200 job boarders, vendors, and hangers-on descended on the Walt Disney Dolphin, smack dab in the middle of a certain theme-park. Opening day also happened to coincide with a big marathon, some rain, and (of course) hordes of mouse-eared kids running in packs. Here is the Doctor’s take, for what it’s worth.

This is the first Congress since IAEWS turned in TAtech. It seemed like there were more vendors – and certainly a bit more attendance. One big change: the TAtech Center for Deals &  Alliances (official name), or Pitch and Match. Picture a long room with tables on either side and lots of intent conversations, gesturing, and note scribbling. I’m sure deals were made. I used the room to learn about products like Lensa, Recroup, Interview Success, and Emplo. I also managed to stand up at least one person (sorry!). I think this is a useful feature, but it needs a bit of tweaking – some of the presentations were poorly attended because the center was open throughout. Thanks to Ward Christman and Larry Cummings for getting this going.

Felix Wetzel of Talenetic and I opened up with a discussion of the 2016 Global Job Board Trends survey. We had a small group – but fascinating conversation. One outcome I’m hoping for is a TAtech-sponsored survey of employer hiring behavior. Definitely seems like a need!

The opening keynote was by Carol McDaniel, the Director of Talent Acquisition at Johns Hopkins, and someone who has worked our side of the fence in the past. She provided some useful insights into what employers do and don’t want from the recruiting industry(umm, metrics?). Then I heard a panel on startups, in which Ethan Bloomfield posed challenging questions to four very different companies. This is the first time I heard what was to become a refrain: ‘Over 40% of the U.S. workforce will be contingent by 2020’ – in other words, in the next few years it will jump from 20% to 40+%. Don’t think so.

The afternoon turned into a lot of different panels and discussions, capped by an interview by the indomitable Jessica Miller-Merill of Blogging 4 Jobs. I think I sounded coherent! The moment everyone was waiting for occurred at the end, with the networking cocktail party. No mouse ears there (although a few ducks were spotted)!

Day 2 kicked off with a keynote by Smashfly’s CEO, Michael Hennessy. Again the cry of an ascendant contingent workforce, and the digitization of work in general. I thought Todd Goldstein led a great session on the gig economy (and if you want to hear it, check out Chris Russell’s recording). John Bell assembled a formidable panel of ATS folks (Taleo, Jobvite, iCims, etc.) – and my main takeaway was…job boards aren’t our problem. At least that’s what heard. Call me cynical.

Overall, I’d say it was a solid congress – lots of good networking, good sessions, and of course the opportunity to see new and old friends. Some folks stayed on for the SHRM conference, which looked to be big and….focused on talent acquisition. Interesting!

Next up – JobG8’s North American Summit in Chicago – hope to see you there….without mouse ears!

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