Posted by Adam Weissman, Director of IT and Legal Technology at Glenmont Group
There are hundreds of recruiting industry-related seminars, webinars, conferences, discussion groups and training events. Many of them are offered free of charge, but there are a small percentage of those which charge a fee for participation. Regardless of how much or how little the expense, if you are paying to participate, it is reasonable to expect that you are listening to or speaking with a leading industry-recognized expert, and that it theoretically and practically adds value to your business. Topics run the gamut from Getting Clients to Call You First, and The Art of Targeted Cold Calling, to 5 Simple Steps to Get Top Talent to Find You, and Behind the Scenes of the Hiring Process (just to name a few I’ve seen throughout my recruiting career). If you look hard enough, you can likely find one that potentially provides some level of benefit to your business, and hopefully your bank account.
I recently participated in such a seminar designed to provide new techniques for recruiters to grow their individual businesses. This was widely-marketed and geared towards established recruiters across industries, and touted as expert advice on how to take a book of business, no matter how successful, and substantially increase individual revenue. I paid a higher-than-average fee to “attend” and listen by phone. By the 30-minute mark of this seminar, I hung up and disconnected from it.
In those 30 minutes, I gave 100% of my attention to the presenter – I paid money to listen to ideas that were supposed to enhance my day-to-day business, so I wanted to get my money’s worth! I neither made nor accepted other calls, did not respond to emails, nor reviewed resumes (all activities that help me make money). In addition, this seminar was scheduled right in the middle of the day, at what we consider prime-time for calling candidates and clients.
(NOTE: The following comments are not intended to be cruel, spiteful or discrediting to the host.) The information presented in this seminar was catered to inexperienced and independent recruiters whose business may be stagnant, struggling to grow, or just getting off the ground. However, it was also advertised to experienced agency and executive recruiters. The presenter stopped short of recommending that recruiters should consider finding humans to fill jobs for their clients, but the level of advice being offered, excuse me, being paid for by more than 100 participants, was at best elementary.
It would be equivalent to a doctor attending a one-hour medical industry seminar advertised to practicing physicians, conducted during regular office hours, and the presenter spending the opening 15 minutes explaining the value of having a stethoscope. Following the handy outline, the speaker then uses the next 15 minutes to break down why having two stethoscopes is better than only having one, and where one might look to procure said value-adding second stethoscope.
When someone targets experienced professionals who are, in other words, industry peers, with the notion they will be bringing new ideas or concepts to the attention of the “community”, the audience has a reasonable right to expect exactly that. There are probably no more than a handful of legitimate thought-leaders in the recruiting world whose ideas are worth spending time and money to hear. It is not always easy to decipher the good ones from the bad simply from the topic of the seminar or from whether you recognize the names of the presenters. However, you also cannot assume an event is inherently going to be worthwhile simply because it was promoted on a popular industry website or is booked at a banquet hall at the chain hotel in the City. Substance is substance. You don’t want anyone to steal your money, so don’t let anyone steal your time.