Talentcon 2019 in Amsterdam, Talent Acquistion conference review

A review of Talentcon 2019 in Amsterdam

Last week I went to Recruitee’s Talentcon ‘Future of Talent Acquisition (TA) conference in Amsterdam. Huge respect to host Gary Gillick and the team, who mainly ran it themselves with a small events staff guiding them. It had the feel of a small new festival with good bands, and was a fantastic experience all-round.

There were tonnes of genuinely useful takeaways from the conference, and I’m sure they’ll have plenty of videos up on their YouTube channel soon. In no particular order, the really standout takeaways for me were:

Authenticity, Employer branding, the future of TA

Developing your career in recruitment Panel lead by Modiara Kamps, Talent Attraction @ Amazon.

Eva Baluchova (LevelUp Ventures) & Anouk de Wolff (Scale Force Talent) – put the emphasis on the need for TA staff to be authentic at every point of the candidate journey, and how that feeds into employer branding.

“In TA you’re the face of the business and if you aren’t real in person, how can you differentiate yourself from the competition?”

Anouk emphasised how TA teams should permeate a hospitality mindset in everything they do. In terms of the future of TA, Mariel Dommering from ‘Nmbrs‘ outlined how AI will always need Human Input – Nmbrs run an interesting team structure of over 150 people in HR& payroll with zero managers.

Talk host Modiara Kamps from Amazon, stressed the need to adequately educate all stakeholders in the recruitment journey. Eva then rounded off the talk with thoughts on about the future – she can see increasing use of sentiment tracking software around TA content online.

Culture Creation, Collaborative hiring, ROI on advertising

Coen van Hees from the rapidly growing ‘Story of AMS’ (Design & video marketing) spoke about their journey going from 2 to 40 staff. He believes their culture-building success and associated low attrition rate has been achieved by linking core values to defined staff behaviours. As they now double in size, AMS plan to hire for Person-organisation fit, as well as person-team fit where appropriate.

Coen made a great point about how consumers shop on slick interactive consumer sites, and organisational career shoppers are no different. Check your candidate buying (job application) experience and ask ‘would I shop here?’

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The Collaborative hiring talk with Hoda Farhangi (KARL LAGERFELD), Jae Nguyen (5CA), Jan Bauer (Kuoni Tumlare), and Marc Keur (BDO) was the most entertaining of the day, and there was plenty to pick up. The general theme centered around successfully implementing a new Applicant Tracking system across the entire company.

Jae was particularly forthright in insisting that sometimes hiring managers need extra persuading to join the new ATS experience, and you may need (and be ready to) keep explaining the ‘why’ when things gets tough.

But the sell is also important – outline exactly what’s in it for them (new staff, faster!) – sentiments echoed by Jan. Hoda described how Karl Lagerfeld – with no shortage of applicants as a consumer fashion brand with an audience – faces different types of TA challenges compared to many other types of business: all new starts are enrolled in a carefully crafted brand experience to build on their existing identification with the company

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Anouk Kon of Indeed spoke about ROI on TA advertising. There were some really interesting stats here, the most interesting being the fact that nine billion dollars is spent on recruitment advertising every year.

Also – 83% of online job applicants, when asked to report where they heard about a job, will report the channel they prefer, and not necessarily the real source. Point being? You’ll need to track candidate-application-sources on your ATS with source tags (easily implemented), and don’t rely on candidate self-reporting to inform your future recruitment advertising spend.

Employer branding

Dave Hazelhurst, PHCreative

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Though the theme of Employer branding ran right through the conference, they saved the best for last. In particular, Dave Hazlehurst from PhCreative spoke about attracting and engaging people through your entire branding experience.

For any medium to large MNC’s looking to do something different in a creative-sense, Dave is your guy – the depth of knowledge and breadth of experience was seriously impressive. A few of the standout takeaways were:

  • ‘Innovative’ is the fourth most used word on the internet – stop using it!
  • Understand your target ‘beyond your target’: Dave used the example of an apprenticeship program campaign that targeted the reluctant ‘informants’ (Mam & Dad, who weren’t so sure an apprenticeship was the right path for their kids) to increase applications – and it worked.
  • Increasingly candidates want to see Youtube/Insta videos of who they will be working with – PhCreative are seeing real traction with YouTube playlists.
  • He’s a huge fan of facebook live for TA events
  • Dave reckons Robert McKee has a great image formula for job-descriptions, something Mitch Sullivan might find interesting.

And last but not least, Dennis Damoiseaux of Heineken (who has ran successful recruitment campaigns for seriously niche skills by using his iphone and just 600 euro ad-spend on Linkedin!) told us how Heineken Amsterdam have just one TA professional for 1800 staff. He gave a pretty impressive demonstration of how good branding can be leveraged for cheap yet successful recruitment campaigns.

To conclude – there was tonnes of great information from the conference that I have omitted. I’m sure next year’s will be even better after last week’s success, and Congrats to all speakers, hosts and organisers.


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