I had the pleasure this month of attending and exhibiting at SXSW 2013 in Austin, TX. This being my first venture to this world-renowned conference I did quite a bit of preparing to make the best use of my time. After hours of research, and frankly feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the event, I read a quote from Dan DeLuca of the Philadelphia Inquirer that succinctly put everything into perspective: "...one will quickly find that a trip to SXSW is more about serendipity than planning." The author went on to point out "...the everything happening all at once all over the place nature of SXSW can lead to many happy accidents." Upon arrival I quickly learned there was information and lessons all over the place that impact in-house creative leaders, and I had many happy encounters that brought clarity and passion to what I do. Here are top takeaways from the conference.

  • Reputation as a currency.
  • The resume is dead.
  • Top talent needed.

  • Leah Busque, the founder and CEO of TaskRabbit, gave a compelling talk on the importance of your on-line reputation and how it will "be the most important factor in determining the trajectory of your life." Leah's premise for this bold statement is that until relatively recently critical information was filtered through three antiquated tools:
    • Credit Score
    • Information Gatekeepers (yellow pages, consumer reports, Zagat etc.)
    • The Resume

    • It is becoming increasingly clear that the credit score system is broken as scores vary wildly between agencies and 79% of credit reports have at least one error (good luck trying to get that error resolved). Regarding information gatekeepers, Leah's premise is very straightforward: it is clear that consumers are now relying on social consensus. When you go to find a new restaurant do you turn to Zagat or do you rely on your social network or read real reviews on Yelp or Opentable? The trend has clearly shifted.

      Leah's final, and most important, assertion is that the resume is a dying, if not dead, tool. Job seekers have become very good at loading up their resumes with key words to make it past the technology gatekeeper resulting in a volume of candidates without a clear way to differentiate which candidate is truly best fit for the job. This is compounded in the creative industry where a candidate's portfolio and work samples are just as, if not more, important than the resume. After all, what good is it to read HTML 5, CSS, and Photoshop on a resume without being able to see samples of the work the talent used those technologies to create? Furthermore, once samples are reviewed, don't you then want to investigate the candidate's on-line reputation to determine if it matches what their resume and portfolio claims? Ever check out a candidate's LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter handle before you interview them? You aren't alone and it happens everyday. Now, ask yourself this: does your recruiting process embrace this reality? Or are you relying on a Vendor Management System (VMS) that blocks communication with key recruiting stakeholders and relies on keywords to find candidates? Or perhaps you are working with an HR person who doesn't know creative and is weeding out candidates based resumes only? If so, it is time to evolve or get left behind when it comes to recruiting the top talent needed to do top work.

      Top Talent needed. Top Talent needed. Top Talent needed.

      We had more than 1,300 people stop by The BOSS Group's booth who were interactives and creatives from all-size companies and all areas of the world, ranging from senior-level executives of in-house marketing and creative teams to owners of ad agencies and digital marketing firms, to mid-level managers at all-size companies. Yet seemingly regardless of firm size or location, there was a very common theme--we need top talent and we need it now. The irony of this commonality is that SXSW is filled with plenty of very qualified people who are also looking for jobs. What SXSW confirmed for me is that companies are still not doing an effective job of eliminating barriers between those who need talent (hiring managers) and those who have the skills to do the work (candidates). Unfortunately, I am seeing an opposite trend where many Fortune 500 companies seem to be putting up more barriers and creating more bureaucracy when it comes to streamlining the recruiting process. Anyone else feel that procurement, HR and legal seem to have the upper hand in controlling the process of acquiring top talent? You aren't alone. In the war to acquire the best talent the winners will be the in-house leaders that find ways to collaborate with these stakeholders to ensure their goals are met while breaking down barriers to accessing top talent.

      The paradigm has shifted. Antiquated tools are dying and old ways of screening out talent will leave you left behind. We need to be forward thinking about the ways we screen IN top talent and embrace the new reality of today. I didn't go to SXSW planning to walk away with these points as my biggest takeaways, serendipity lead me there. Thanks serendipity.