Stay Curious: Top 3 Takeaways from Talent Acquisition Week 2024

There’s a unique energy that fills the air at conferences—the exchange of ideas, the camaraderie among professionals, and the collective pursuit of knowledge. Talent Acquisition Week 2024 was no exception. 

As a moderator for the panel on “Navigating Stakeholder and Organizational Challenges During Employer Brand Launch and Management,” I had the privilege of engaging with exaqueo clients Chrystal Moore, Pinterest, Bari Polay, formerly MarketAxess, and Colleen Reynolds, Serco NA. And while the rush of stepping on stage and the swell of confidence from the crowd’s applause is enough to fill anyone’s cup, the moments of conversations and engaging with these employer brand professionals were incredible. 

All three leaders shared their experiences and expertise with ease, openness, and vulnerability. You could feel the connections being made and light bulbs going off in the room with every word they shared. It was exciting to see all the questions and curiosity that sparked from our panel. 

As I reflect on the conference, here are my top three takeaways to pass along to you: 

Stay curious about data, tech, and AI 

In today's competitive talent landscape, understanding your workforce on a deeper level is paramount. Employment relationships are complex and evolve. A person’s perception of an employer before they started, when they became an employee, and after they leave will change. That’s why it’s important to capture insights from different people, at the different stages they are in, and in a variety of ways. 

Regardless of where employer brand sits in the organization, uncovering insights into the candidate and employee experience is key. These insights can reveal underlying detractors of the employment experience, inform recruitment strategies, and empower data-backed decision making. Approaching data with fresh eyes and an insatiable appetite for discovery will not only help you gauge the effectiveness of your initiatives but also identify areas ripe for improvement. 

In the conference’s opening session, Michael Goldberg encouraged talent acquisition professionals to adopt a curious mindset and embrace innovative technology like AI. His advice is, “Act like a five-year-old. Keep asking questions like why and how.” Being curious rather than resistant will help professionals stay agile and resilient in the face of organizational changes, industry disruptions, and paradigm shifts. 

Many of the speakers and attendees focused on technology, especially AI, and its evolving role in talent acquisition. While AI is certainly impacting many roles within the industry, it’s important to remember that tools don't recruit—people do. It's the human element that ultimately drives successful talent acquisition. Sourcers, recruiters, hiring managers, leaders, coworkers—all play a role in making connections with candidates in hopes of turning those connections into the start of an employment relationship. It’s clear that talent acquisition will always be a people-first profession. 

Be authentic in everything you do  

At exaqueo, we say: “If you're authentic, you have no competition.” I find that statement to be more true every time I say it. Authenticity is the cornerstone of successful employer branding. The employer brand must align with the experience, and the experience must strengthen and sustain the employer brand. 

Today’s talent possesses a keen ability to discern authenticity. Organizations must deliver on their employment experience promises or risk losing employer brand credibility, trust, and even impacting recruiting and retention efforts. During periods of growth or change, authenticity becomes even more critical. Even if the future is uncertain, organizations that are transparent and authentic about that reality will have a stronger relationship with candidates and employees than those organizations that try to hide or distract from it.

When building employer brand strategies for exaqueo clients, I often get asked how to balance authenticity with aspirational messaging. I heard this question a lot at Talent Acquisition Week as well. Employer brands can be both authentic and aspirational, it’s about being authentic about those aspirations and the journey to get there. If your organization wants to build a more diverse workforce, your employer brand can’t lead with “we are a diverse organization” if that’s not true. Instead, lead with messaging that addresses the organization’s aspiration to become more diverse and that you’re looking for diverse candidates to help you advance on this journey. 

That’s authentic and aspirational. 

Cultivate strategic stakeholder partnerships 

The landscape of stakeholders involved in employer branding is evolving, with leaders such as CMOs, CTOs, and CEOs playing more significant roles alongside the traditional CHRO stakeholder. Both Colleen and Bari talked about the role their senior leadership played in the building and launch of their organization's employer brands during our panel. They emphasized the importance of educating and spending time with leaders to get early buy-in and support. It goes beyond just leadership. 

You have to cultivate relationships throughout the organization—not just sell up, but sell out. Internal partners like marketing, internal communications, and even legal are critical to bring along when building and launching an employer brand. Without their partnership, you can face real obstacles to launching the employer brand and dramatically decreasing its successful pull-through across the employment experience. 

When selecting internal partners, consider enlisting detractors and ‘culture vultures’ to join the employer brand journey. By doing this, you’ll foster a sense of ownership and often create your biggest advocates. Plus, they likely will bring an authentic perspective that will resonate with employees and candidates alike. No matter the size of your organization, the employer brand cannot be successful if it is siloed to one department, team, or individual contributor. It doesn’t mean all of these stakeholders need to be approvers, but taking the time to inform, consult, and educate them on the employer brand efforts and strategy will help you gain trust and support when it comes time to launch. 

Talent Acquisition Week 2024 offered invaluable insights into the ever-evolving world of talent acquisition and employer branding. Attendees resonated with the practical, hands-on content that was shared on stage and during individual conversations. In today’s competitive market, employer brand professionals must embrace data-driven approaches, foster authenticity, and cultivate strategic partnerships to build successful employer brands. 

The education doesn’t have to end. Sign up for the virtual TA Week July 22-26, 2024 and continue to power your talent acquisition strategy.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out this interview with Bari Polay

Related Posts