We Need a New Association for Talent Acquisition Pros

I am just home from Las Vegas. My meetings coincided with the SHRM Annual Conference, and I was able to meet human resources leaders from around the world who talked about attending sessions about executive compensation, defined benefit pension plans, and social media.

You know who I didn’t meet? Talent acquisition professionals under the age of thirty.

There’s a quirky and emerging group of HR colleagues who prefer Chloé, not Coach, and entered the workforce as Obama’s policies began to improve the economy. They aren’t digital natives, but they’ve lived most of their adult lives on Instagram. They don’t associate with hoodie-wearing Millenials on Facebook because those people now have kids. And they certainly don’t work in human resources.

This new crop of workforce experts isn’t on SHRM’s radar because SHRM lumps them as “staffing” and “having no money,” both of which are wrong. These kids have cash. They spend it on a good time and personal development, which mostly happens at bars with their friends and colleagues who tell stories and share industry secrets. And they are looking for a community.

That community is not SHRM.

So imagine if a professional associate came along and met the needs of young talent acquisition and recruiting professionals. If you challenged them to be part of a community and infused that community with new and astonishing ideas, and didn’t weigh it down with SHRM or HRCI credits, you might have something special.

And if you asked your community members to stand up and speak, without submitting an RFP or a speaker proposal, you might get something a little more special than Coach K or Mika Brzezinski lecturing a bunch of middle-aged people about how to be a better version of themselves.

(When you’re under 30, you don’t need to be a better version of yourself. That kind of navel-gazing introspection comes after you make mistakes, not while you’re making them and having fun.)

There are great “staffing” communities in places like Chicago, DC and Seattle. But I think there’s room for a national organization to swoop in and help knit these efforts together. We need an association that meets the needs of young, professional experts who know the ins and outs of finding, attracting and retaining great workers.

And if there’s ever a national conference, this new association could offer a Dreamforce and Inbound experience to its members—not a SHRM experience with stuffed animals, tote bags and selfie sticks.

FOT Background Check

Laurie Ruettimann
Laurie Ruettimann is a former HR leader and an influential speaker, writer and marketing advisor. Her work has appeared in many mainstream print publications and major news media outlets. You can find her on twitter at @Lruettimann.


  1. John Touey says:

    From what I know about people in the demographic you describe, I’m pretty sure that if they are looking for a community they will create it on their own. I can’t wait to see what they come up with!

  2. Josh Schwede says:

    Can I get an AMEN!?!? Gerry Crispin and I have discussed this before and agree there is a major need. Personally, I’d love to see a Talent Association inclusive of all things Talent. How do we find the right people and then develop the heck out of them. You’d have a massive vendor community that cares about those topics who can help defer the cost of putting the event on and those are meaty topics that everyone cares about.

    Maybe a ton of business is transacted at SHRM for other pillars of HR, but I’d be willing to bet minimal talent related business is happening at that event.

    LFR, are you the new chairperson of this new association?

  3. Amen.
    and the possibilities are closer than most would think. Also agree it has to appeal to a new generation that has few viable models for non-profits and associations that have become as greedy, self-serving and, in some specific instances, corrupt, as their lumbering for profit cousins. An association should be owned from the beginning by its members

  4. Mike Madeiros says:

    I am not under 30, but I am in! I second your nomination. 🙂

  5. Alejandra Vega says:

    I am a recruiter in the demographic that you mentioned, and I agree. While I loved the conference and did get some good take aways, I would love to be a part of an organization that was more tailored to my age group and what I do. Quite frankly, I felt there were too many sessions on how to work with millenials and how to attract them. I don’t struggle with that; but I do struggle with being taken seriously regardless of my age.

  6. John Jorgensen says:

    No argument but why limit it to the “young”?

  7. Jim D'Amico says:

    Amen as well. SHRM has failed staffing/TA/recruiting (call it what you will) time and time again. Those of us that have hit the “return” stage of our careers (learn/earn/return) need to invest in developing talent in the field. There are currently great strides being made with local and state wide groups and a great national push on metrics alignment. I believe great things are coming!

  8. Adam DiBiase says:

    On the sourcing side of the equation, SourceCon (a division of ERE Media) is doing a nice job with their conferences twice a year. It draws a large and diverse crowd, most under 40 and even under 30.

  9. Steve Madsen says:

    Thanks Laurie and Tim – I couldn’t agree more with your assessment that Talent Acquisition professionals need their own space and association. Recruiters, Sources, perhaps even Lead Generators is where the rubber meets the road in HR – yet they are relegated to the dregs of the HR barrels across every country.

  10. Logan Meece says:

    I’m in.

  11. Matt Jones says:

    I couldn’t of said this better myself. I’ve been trying to push this agenda with STAR Chicago. This idea needs to have a balanced approach between the 3rd party agencies, TA vendors, and corporate practitioners. It needs to be in an environment that is free of sales pitches and high dollar promotions. I’m in for doing whatever it takes to advance the overall knowledge and practices of the TA community. All should be invited but we’re especially lacking the millennial membership in our organization here in Chicago because you typically have the boomer corporate Director of TA who doesn’t see the value in allocating the budget. And in many cases you have the Director of TA reporting to the Director of HR or CHRO and the HR department doesn’t know anything about talent attraction or marketing.

  12. Gretchen Magnuson says:

    Ditto to what all the others are saying. Maybe your next project?

  13. Josh Berry says:

    Laurie – great post. I would agree – Inbound is a good analogy. I have zero experience leading the organization of an event of that scale, but would be in for helping recruit the speakers, sponsors, curriculum, etc.

  14. Tracy Tran says:

    Ironically, SHRM did have have a YP group a few years ago. Not sure what happened to it, but it wasn’t advancing much and believe a few have left from that group. An association would be nice, but young people don’t want to pay dues.

    Another ironic thing: the young people want to be associated to a community, which does include companies, but not associations. Frankly, it’s about the product any organization does to help engage certain people. This is why SHRM has been failing. Yes, they’re making money, but not a significant increase in new members.

  15. Kelsey Esquinas says:

    I concur! I think most of us (under 30 in talent acquisition) are utilizing LinkedIn as our “association” and our conference is TalentConnect, which can be REALLY useful for any HR professional with a talent need(either acquisition or development) not just for us folks in the TA realm! Your address of this “miss” in the HR community is appreciated 🙂

  16. Keisha Wiggins says:

    I’m not under 30 either, but I agree that TA needs its own association.

  17. Prerna Chauhan says:

    Agree 100% but I’m a bit over 30 and a part of that demographic!
    I’ve been thinking about this for a while – who wants to join and start building something? I’m ready!

  18. Shannon Wagner says:

    I’m not young, but over the years whenever someone asked me why I never tried to get my PHR, I was like, Um, I specialize in TA and Retention; ain’t nobody got time for deferred benefit plans and union negotiations!

    I got an AIRS cert in 2009, and ERE is a way more useful tool for me than the SHRM site.

  19. Fantastic article, Laurie! When I was a young recruiter (I started at 24), and then a recruiting manager (at 27), I was desperate for comradery and to share ideas, but did not find anything out there that fit the bill. The AIRS certification was okay on the tactical, but even that did not give me what I needed. I like ERE as well, Shannon Wagner and Adam DiBiase. I’ll check out SourceCon. That sounds like a great.

    We can learn so much for the young professionals. I’d love to be a part of your new community.

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