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by Clare Vanderweele, Director of Content Marketing, echogravity

Following a day of engaging workshops and a lively cocktail party, this year’s Midwest Staffing Conference, hosted by ISSA and WASS, aimed to inspire.

After opening remarks from ISSA board members, the conference kicked off with a dynamic video, sharing the message, “unleash your greatness!” Staffing professionals may not have the muscle or speed of an Olympic athlete, but we’re just as dedicated to our work, changing people’s lives, both personally and professionally.

It was an inspiring message that set the tone for the entire conference. Each speaker was introduced as a “staffing hero,” and each presentation gave us a new vision into how we can take our jobs and our businesses to the next level.

Here’s a little insight into a handful of those presentations.

Richard Wahlquist: What Keeps You Up at Night?

President and CEO of the American Staffing Association, Richard Wahlquist tuned into the conference via video. He reminded attendees that the staffing industry in general is creating $167 billion annually in revenue with 16.8 million people working with staffing firms each year. Those numbers serve as a good reminder that we’re doing something important in our world.

That said, Walquist acknowledged that issues like differentiation, talent shortages, and digital innovation are just some of the things keeping us up at night. There’s a record-high 1.8 million jobs open in the US right now, with few candidates to fill them. But that’s why associations like ASA, ISSA, and WASS exist – to bring people together to help solve this conundrum.

Scott Wintrip: Just in Time Talent

Keynote speaker Scott Wintrip had us on our feet with some fun dance moves as he explained that most of our challenges as staffing professionals comes down to the fact that, for our clients, hiring is an inconvenience. Not only are they doing their own job, they’re also trying to cover and delegate the jobs left by open positions, and do the job of hiring someone new. That’s three jobs in one, so it’s little wonder why many clients drag their feet.

That said, Scott presented a wealth of insight into solving this challenge. First and foremost, a mindset shift is required: the talent shortage is certainly overwhelming, but when you dismiss the fact of millions of open jobs and simply look at your own handful of open jobs, the ratio of open jobs to available candidates becomes much more manageable and even attractive. That positive mindset allows us to get more creative and resourceful in our hiring strategies.

Scott also revealed his formula for hiring profiles as well as his insight on experiential interviews. Both elements aim to position staffing professionals and hiring managers to fill open roles faster and more effectively than ever before. Scott covers these topics and more in his book, High Velocity Hiring.

Kevin O’Brien: Fixing the Problem of Candidate Ghosting

Co-founder and partner of marketing agency echogravity, Kevin O’Brien has a background in staffing and continues to work closely with top staffing firms. That’s how he gained valuable insight into the problem of candidate ghosting, the topic of his workshop at the conference.

Already faced with significant talent shortages in most sectors, staffing professionals are often frustrated to find candidates “ghosting” them during the recruiting process. Candidates get all the way to the interview – or even the job offer – and then simply disappear. It’s a common problem, occurring with approximately 20-50% of candidates.

Kevin proposed that the candidate experience is essential to managing this problem. Yet he recognizes that leadership often wants to do more with less, resulting in a tug-of-war between that optimal experience and operational efficiency. But, when you’re focused on candidate control, candidate ghosting becomes a thing of the past.

Brian DeCook: Leveraging the Power of Conflict

Brian DeCook, CEO of Two Fires, delivered an inspiring message about the power of conflict. Like a tiny controlled campfire has the power to spark a destructive forest fire, conflict can likewise start small and erupt at any given moment. But true leaders have the ability to transform conflict into opportunity.

In the staffing world, where we’re under immense pressure to deliver, conflict often simmers under the surface. Brian reveals common sources of this organizational conflict, including a lack of clear and courageous leadership, a lack of agreement over values and goals, a lack of clarity regarding roles and responsibilities, and a lack of support for collaboration in decision-making.

Instead of being defensive and reactive in the midst of conflict and pointing the finger, try finding opportunities for growth through the conflict, reinforcing respect and responsibility among team members. It’s a valuable lesson for situations even outside the office.

Wrapping Up the Midwest Staffing Conference 2019

This year’s Midwest Staffing Conference concluded with a raffle from our sponsors. Participants won prizes such as Amazon gift cards, aged whiskey, and autographed books.

We are so grateful to all our speakers, sponsors, participants, and committee members for making this year’s conference great! We look forward to seeing you at next year’s conference as well as the many ISSA events in between.

SITE Staffing Inc.


Sterling Engineering

Email ISSA info@issaworks.com   |   Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1228, Westmont, IL 60559