Cloudburst – #IT18NZ and all that

This week I attended the IT18 IT Talent Conference in Auckland hosted at ASB”s fantastic 5 star green HQ building.

Although not an IT recruiter myself, I was keen to see and hear what’s new in the technology talent attraction space. It was an interesting day.

IT1801Will Staney’s (SAP) keynote address navigated us through the evolving recruitment landscape and offered insights on new trends, tools and search techniques that will matter in the future.

It was a little mind blowing and scary. A great way to kick things off.

I also enjoyed Gareth Cronin from Orion health who talked about how to go about retaining and getting the best out of IT talent. Some food for thought in terms of developing the talent you have.

Another highlight was ASB’s James Bergin who also talked retention strategies and focused on what we have to offer in NZ that is better/different from the US and Australia. He gave us a different perspective that was both entertaining and refreshing.

And then there was Vend’s Kirsti Grant who talked about the different technologies she is using to source and manage candidates for Vend, and was probably the only presenter who is genuinely innovating and creating trends not following them.

As Jonathan Rice has already mentioned on his Whiteboard post, agency recruitment was barely mentioned all day even though a large proportion of attendees were agency recruiters. Job boards got routinely trashed throughout, and disappointingly there was little or no mention of graduate programmes as a way to grow talent.

As someone who works for a relatively young software as a service-type company, it was both reassuring and slightly depressing to hear what other start ups had to say.

I was perhaps less impressed than others by what they served up. We all of course think we are different, have an exceptional culture and are blazing a trail into coolness. What I heard was almost identical approaches to running young businesses.

• the corporate t-shirt with the company logo that everyone wears. Very uniform, almost sheep-like
• the Google-esque office spaces
• everyone wants “A-Grade players” but…
• making recruitment decisions in the pub to see if “someone is a dick or not” is hardly scale-able as you grow, or likely to encourage diversity or the way to recognise A-Graders
• Using the F word in your company values is not edgy, it’s actually offensive to many
• Are there any technology companies these days that don’t have regular innovation/ideas days and allow their staff time to work on their own projects/development?

I think what I took away from that is that we are all becoming the same in our approach and that some re-thinking is due if we want to truly differentiate the brand. Note to self: cancel that t-shirt and fussball table order and make sure the F word doesn’t make it into the new company values!

Finally, Troy Hammond from Candle IT made a plea on behalf of contractors. Nothing new in the suggestion that contracting is the way of the future, but I don’t think we have really woken up in NZ to the possibilities that contractors and flexible working can give us in the coming years as both ways of working, technology and the workforce itself changes. We are still largely traditional in our approaches to resourcing and often treat contractors like second class citizens.

All in all a satisfying day. What was astonishing (to me anyway who is more used to HR driven events) was the sheer volume of attendees, probably half, who were tweeting and posting conference content throughout the day. There was no encouragement, it just happened and was hard to keep up. Brilliant. Take note HR types!

Well done to Phillip Tusung for bringing these types of events to NZ and filling a gap. And also taking them into workplaces away from the boring hotel and traditional conference venues.

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