RecFestUSA 2023 – Festival Experiences 

First things first. RecFest is NOT a conference… it’s a Festival. There were reminders all around us, yet I still found myself resetting from “I’m at a conference” mode. As a bona fide introvert, conferences… and festivals, for that matter, are not my favorite thing. After experiencing RecFestUSA though, I’m a convert. RecFest will be on my ‘must go’ list again next year!  

 What makes it a Festival? 

 1. It’s outside! 

Perhaps everyone but me realized this before arriving in Nashville. I’m gonna guess I wasn’t alone though. Suddenly, the night before, it dawned on me based on the pictures and the fact that it was at a park… first clue, right? Good thing I’ve taken to wearing gym shoes everywhere in my 40s! Nashville in September (in the shade) was delightful – 81 degrees for a high and not a raindrop in sight. It was refreshing to “work” outside for two days straight.  

2. No main stage.  

I thought I would miss that at first. What? We’re not all going to pile into one place and watch the same thing, hear the same message, and “Get Inspired”? Nope. We didn’t. Yet, as I sit here after the conference writing this review, I feel pretty damn inspired. I took in the content I wanted to hear, skipped some time slots all together in favor of meeting more peers, and met tons of potential partners while learning about their technology and services for the Talent Acquisition space.  

 3. 3 Stages under the Big Tops surrounded by FUN vendor tents.  

Thank you to the planning team for the giant tents and fans – somehow the lack of AC wasn’t really a big deal. The event had 3 stages – Inspire, Innovate, & Disrupt and a powerhouse lineup of panels and speakers within our industry. Vendors were well prepared with fun activities and the ability to draw us into their space and share their passion for Talent Acquisition. No boring booths and stupid giveaways – Seriously, when do you hear vendors and fun in the same sentence? There were carnival-style games, crafts, services, demos, and plenty of space to spread out and have real conversations. Advice for future sponsors, ask which side of the venue gets better shade… it matters for your traffic patterns!  

 4. Speakers brought it. Big Time.  

Some of my fav sessions included:  

  • Using AI & Automation to Create Stronger Candidate Experiences with Darrian Mikell @ Qualifi (Check out their audio interviewing platform to help remove bias from your process and move WAY faster for high volume hiring) 
  • How to Use TikTok to Build Your Recruitment Brand with Joel Lalgee. You know him as the funny guy from LinkedIN & TikTok. He even convinced me to start making videos! 
  • Insert Complicated Talent Brand DEI Activation Here with Ashten Fizer of Dropbox – Gamer in the House indeed!  
  • What Job Seekers Really Want (And What Recruiters Can Do) with Matt Charney of; pretty sure his presentation was not “HR approved” and I was 1000% there for it!  
  • When Good Consulting Looks Like Bad Customer Service with The Amy Miller of LinkedIN ranting fame. Oh, and Amazon.  
  • From Basic to Bomb-Diggity: Game-Changing ChatGPT Prompts for Recruiters with Sarah Zapar, The Talent Agency. I learned that my AI game is better than I thought AND that I’m just getting started. Thanks for sharing ALL your tips & prompts with us! 
  • Woman King Panel did NOT disappoint. Thank you to Rocki Howard (The Mom Project), T. Tara Turk-Haynes (Leaf Group), and Rachel Williams (The Motley Fool) for sharing your authentic stories with us and for standing up for underrepresented women in the workplace.

5. Talent Acquisition Pros are weird and kind.  

Conferences are for HR, IT and Finance. I’ve never felt fully at home in a room full of corporate professionals, yet I am one. TA peeps simply feel like my tribe. We get each other. We’re kind of weird, maybe even awkward. We seem to all like dogs, and cursing, and are happy that the bar opened in the middle of the day. Perhaps you have to be a little odd to keep showing up to the roller coaster world we live in and to connect with people from every walk of life across a bunch of different generations, industries, roles, and personas. Sarah Zapar’s silly acronym said it best, “Recruiting Creates Intense Feelings. Crying Expected.” Even through the tough days, Recruiters are some of the kindest people I know. We show up authentically and genuinely enjoy helping others. It’s refreshing!  

The first-ever RecFestUSA was a success and I imagine it will be bigger, better, and even a little more weird and fun in 2024. Sign me up & I’ll see you there!  

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