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Last week, our team took to the streets to ERE’s fall recruiting conference in Chicago. While there, we took in all things recruiting for two-and-a-half days and even hosted a wine-and-cheese reception for attendees. For those of you who couldn’t be there in person, we wanted to share some of the insights we learned at the conference. (Sorry, we can't share the cheese...) Below, our top six takeaways from the ERE Fall Recruiting Conference:

1. Recruit today for the skills that will be in demand tomorrow.

In his opening keynote, Ravin Jesuthasan of Towers Watson presented the findings of information from a study Talent 2021, which set out to determine the future of talent supply and demand. Based on this research, the skills most in demand for the next decade include digital business skills, agile thinking, interpersonal communication skills, and global skills. As a savvy organization, seek out employees with experience in these arenas today so you’ll stay ahead of the recruitment game.

2. Retention drivers are equally as important as attraction drivers.

As recruiters, it’s easy to spend most of your time focusing on how to get people to your company with attraction drivers like great office location and exciting new opportunities. But this is only part of the equation. Though it’s hard to focus on retention when your number one priority is to get more people in the door, it’s crucial to your organization’s success. Drive retention by focusing on sustainable engagement among your employee base. One survey found that organizations with the highest level of sustainable engagement had three times the operation margin, 7.3 fewer missed days of work and 49% lower retention risk. If you can’t retain top talent, your organization will never grow to that next level.

3. Look at your candidate pool like a talent ecosystem.

Stop thinking about talent in the binary terms of who’s currently working for you and who’s in the pipeline. Instead, leverage the power of the digital footprint and look at every employee—past and present—as an outlet to convey your company’s hiring story. Through creating and drawing from an expanded “talent ecosystem,” you can keep track of top performers and leverage their connections. Pay attention to key players, observe their career shifts, and use their extended networks to recruit. You may even bring back former employees after they gain valuable skills at another organization.

4. Lean in and take a seat at the executive table.

A company is nothing without its employees, so speakers at ERE encouraged recruiters to step up and gain the support from executive teams to see recruiting as a strategic business function. As Sue Marks from Pinstripe pointed out during the session, “What’s really happening at corporate recruiting departments,” this starts with asking questions. Go back to square one and ask yourself why your company needs to recruit in the first place. If you find that you are recruiting due to a problem with high turnover, aim to fix that problem instead. Her advice to recruiters everywhere? Put on your business cap and pave the way for your organization to look at talent acquisition as a mission-critical business function.

5. Know where to invest—and when to say “no.”

With the global recruitment industry worth $400 billion, the war for talent is as strong as ever—and lots of people are cashing in. From recruiting agencies to applicant tracking systems, video interview tools, and new sourcing algorithms, it can be very tempting to drop a few bucks on the latest, trendiest software available. But take a step back from the noise and plan out your yearly budget based on your greatest recruitment needs and challenges. Bryan Moll showed how he helped Gilt Groupe pare down to just the essentials let his company focus on the most critical piece of their puzzle—employee retention. Look to your organization’s pain points and invest wisely based on what’s most important for you.

6. Oh, and—in case you haven’t heard it enough—employer brand, employer brand, employer brand.

Yes, we’ve all heard how essential it is for every company to develop and maintain a strong employer brand, but I would be remiss to omit it from this list. If there was one thing on the tip of everyone’s tongue at ERE, it was employer branding: How to develop one, how to get support from key stakeholders, and how to apply it when recruiting. According to the Employer Brand International Global Research Study of 2012/2013, 39% of employers plan to increase employer branding this year. A strong brand strengthens public perception, make it easier to recruit, and promote higher retention at your organization. So what are you waiting for?

Looking for even more ERE-related recruiting trends? Check out how these compare to the top takeaways from their spring recruiting conference back in April!

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