#WorkTrends: Live from HR Transform, Part 1

Kevin and I recently traveled to this year’s HR Transform conference in Las Vegas. Although HR Transform is one of the newest HR tech conferences in the country, it’s already a must-visit on any HR professional’s calendar.

But we know that not all of you could make it this year. That’s why we’ve put together two special #WorkTrends episodes straight from the convention floor. In this episode we talk with some of the amazing speakers from the conference about all things HR tech. They had amazing insights on the candidate experience, both now and for the future. In our next episode, we’ll feature conversations with HR tech vendors from the show.

Listen to the full conversation or read the recap below. Subscribe so you never miss an episode.

Why Is the Candidate Experience So Important?

Does it seem like “talent” is a buzzword these days? The reality is that the C-suite is finally catching up to what we’ve been saying in recruiting all these years: The best businesses have the best people.

“Executives are coming to understand just how important and how much of a competitive advantage talent is,” says Margie Elsesser, vice president of talent brand and strategy at Quicken Loans. She says this conversation is especially important because of changing workplace demographics — younger millennials and members of Generation Z bring a different set of expectations to the workforce, and creating the best candidate experience is critical. “We need to treat that differently than we ever have in the past,” she says.

Mariah Lang, former head of people and talent at Ro, notes that the candidate experience isn’t just about interviewing the candidate; it’s also about the candidate interviewing the organization. She recommends introducing flexibility to your candidate experience, even asking them who in the organization they’d like to meet. “I’ve had high-level executives who were like, ‘I want to speak with a customer service team. That’s where I’m going to get the real sense of culture from,’ ” Lang says.

What Changes Are Needed So That Early Potential Becomes Future Talent?

The sad reality is that many of our best and brightest are overlooked in our educational system. “If you go to public school in a low-income neighborhood, you do not have access to AP Computer Science,” Freada Kapor Klein says. Kapor Klein is the founder of SMASH, an organization that provides STEM education to students in lower-income areas.

SMASH is in its 16th year, and soon will open its eighth campus. One hundred percent of its alumni have graduated high school and been accepted into college. Kapor Klein says that while she believes in her organization’s work, the private sector needs to step up to ensure that STEM education is available throughout the U.S., no matter the ZIP code. “Every company needs tech talent,” she says. “Companies need to be demanding more of our public school system.”

With AI, Will There Even Be Job Candidates in the Future?

Even though we’re in a booming job market — and seeing people like Kapor Klein doing amazing work — there’s still trepidation about the future of the candidate experience … and the employee experience. That’s right, I’m talking about our favorite topic: artificial intelligence.

Author Ravin Jesuthasan says the narrative around automation is overly apocalyptic. While we often believe there’s a binary choice between AI and human workers, he says that’s untrue. “We know from four industrial revolutions and about 250 years of history that automation doesn’t affect jobs,” he says. “What it primarily affects is tasks.” In short, automation frees workers from laborious, repetitive tasks, letting them focus on work that requires more analysis and emotional intelligence.

AI also gives companies a better means of providing services to customers. Jesuthasan singled out a British retailer’s call center as an example: When customers call in with a complaint, the call center’s system is able to chart their emotions. An algorithm then chooses the best representative for that customer to speak with. If the customer is angry, for instance, the artificial intelligence will match him with a service representative who was hired for her emotional intelligence and who has received special training for high-stress situations. The result is a win for the customer, for the organization and for the call center representative, who is best able to use her talents.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode