Elizabeth Varrenti currently serves as the Vice President of Professional Development at MATRIX. Since starting with MATRIX in Atlanta in 1998, Elizabeth has fulfilled numerous roles including: Account Executive, Recruiter, Sales and Recruiting Team Lead, Director of National Recruiting and Vice President of National Accounts Delivery. A graduate of SUNY Geneseo, Elizabeth resides in Rochester, NY.
What I Learned at Bullhorn Engage 2017
Bullhorn pulled off another outstanding conference in Boston, MA earlier this month. Engage is one of my favorite conferences because it has something for everyone whether the topics are focused on leadership, candidate experience, reporting and administration, or just plain geeking out on the latest technology and enhancements. It is so much fun to be in a venue with 1,000+ people who are all chasing the same thing: leveraging technology to fill more jobs.
Here were my biggest takeaways...
Start Thinking Like a Freak
Keynote speaker, Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics and Think Like a Freak, talked about the power of small ideas that can have a billion-dollar impact. He is a fantastic storyteller and inspired us with the tale of the employee at the IRS who suggested in 1987 that taxpayers should be required to include the SSN of their dependents on their returns so they could stop the practice of writing off fake kids and pets. Brilliant! The IRS saved $20B because of his idea and he was paid $25K for it, but all he wanted was some recognition. Lesson #1: Money is generally not the driver of employee loyalty or engagement. Lesson #2: There are probably some small and obvious changes (like the IRS example) that we at MATRIX can make that could be hugely impactful.
The Robots are Coming
AI and Robots in recruiting were mentioned at last year's conference as a concept that seemed far away in the future, however, it is clear to me that in 2017 the Recruiting Robots are here. The CEO of a very large staffing company who led a breakout session mentioned that they have been using Robots (think chatbots) to schedule meetings and prescreen candidates for more than a year with a 97% success rate. Pretty compelling. The bottom line is that we need to be automating the mundane tasks in our business to free up our recruiters to spend more time on the money-making, high-value activities. We have seen some promising technology that is available to help us do that and I am confident that by 2018 we will be using Robots and AI at MATRIX.
Bullhorn Novo Checks All the Boxes
As Matt Fischer was walking us all through the next big release of Bullhorn, I heard a lot of clapping and some "YESSSS!!!" and even some "AMEN!". The new UI and functionality in Novo include productivity enhancers we have been wanting to see for a long time. My top three: The ability to edit the resume inside Bullhorn, the ability to have a Note and a Resume open side by side, and finally, the ability to alert you to unsaved changes in a record when you are logging out. I was also excited to hear about some roadmap items including the ability to recall all the items in your "Bowling Alley" if you are logged off or walk away, a true mobile app (YESSSS!!!), a calendar in Bullhorn (AMEN!), as well as Siri for Bullhorn named Cleo. "Cleo, please set a daily task to remind me to clear my cache at 3:12pm each day when my Bullhorn comes to grinding halt."
Never Walk by a Mistake
"When a leader walks by a mistake, they have just lowered the standard." - Ann Dunwoody, Keynote speaker and first female 4 Star General in the Army. Art Pappas hosted a great fireside chat with Ann and I was inspired by her discussion on doing the right thing for the right reason even if it means going against the grain. In my role at MATRIX, I have the opportunity to walk by lots of mistakes and I left that session with a renewed energy to hold us at MATRIX to a higher standard. I will also be speaking up when I see something that is wrong even if it goes against the grain - so watch out y’all.
There were many other breakout sessions and some excellent speakers. I particularly enjoyed Tom Kosnik from the Visus Group who led a session on “Avoiding the Disintermediation Trap”, which is just a big word for the trend of buyers bypassing staffing companies to obtain talent. This was a great discussion on the importance of strategic planning as an organization and identifying what your focus is as a company. Should we do VMS only? Are we “customer intimate”? Should we do both? How? It seems everyone I talk to in our industry is struggling with these questions, however, he gave some examples of companies that have had 2x growth in less than five years by honing in on a strategy vs. being all things to all clients.
It is always a good thing to spend a few days with your competitors and others in your industry to network and learn about what we need to be thinking (worrying?) about as a company, and maybe even enjoying a few cocktails while listening to the incredible Bullhorn house band. In the end, I always leave that conference with renewed confidence that MATRIX is on top of it and in front of the coming challenges in a way that many companies are not. We are lucky to have the people, processes and technology in place, as well as support from our leaders and our board, to make the changes we need to stay current, adapt and compete.
"Cleo, book my ticket to Engage 2018!"