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Being summoned into a senior leader’s office isn’t typically a good thing… unless you’re being given a last-minute ticket to Talent Connect 2016. Being fairly new the Talent Acquisition (TA) world and a Talent Connect rookie, I had no idea what to expect. We’ve all been to those stodgy conferences where speakers talk at you for hours leaving you with a nugget or two of goodness but are mostly disappointing. Talent Connect was anything but a disappointment.

 

With over 5000 of the most talented individuals in the TA space all under one roof, I found myself soaking up some radical ideas and insights. As a millennial whose job is dedicated to building out internship programs for millennials, I spent most of my time in breakout sessions discussing this population and the myths, work habits, and sometimes unconventional expectations of my generation. I felt at home. I was finally in a place with like-minded people who weren’t throwing shade on the generation that not only am I apart of, but also work so hard to advocate. There was a theme throughout the conference that I couldn’t stop thinking about:

 

“Millennials are just like every generation before or after them. They want purpose.”

 

I believe that our search for purpose has been misconstrued for entitlement and attention-seeking. The reality is, we really just have better tools at our disposal to ask those questions and that allow us to vocalize our needs. By far, my favorite session was with Time Inc. CHRO, Greg Giangrande; he walked us through history and showed us that millennials are no different today than they were back in the seventeenth century. Kim Kardashian could be compared to Marie Antoinette but we have very different perceptions of the two. Why is that? We crave the chaos. We need to have something to talk about. Millennials are a product of the time in which they were raised. We need to embrace their ideas and ensure they have what they need from us as their employer… purpose.

 

Another session that got me thinking was focused around Pandora’s diversity & inclusion insights. Why is TA so obsessed with the idea of finding culture fits? Shouldn’t we be searching for culture adds? When you boil it down, the term culture fit is just an easy way for us to dismiss someone because they aren’t like us. The conversation needs to shift from candidates fitting into a culture that is already preexisting to what a candidate can add to our culture that’s perhaps new and unknown. What makes someone a culture add? They may be different from you, which can be unsettling. But isn’t it the fear of unknown that drives businesses to make radical transitions and entrepreneurs to take that first leap and build an empire? Diversity is the same: hiring based on culture “adds” and getting comfortable with the unknown.

 

In my inaugural Talent Connect experience, I met incredible leaders, found inspiration, and walked away with previously unimaginable ideas for my role at Concur. I left with many feelings and emotions but there’s one that resonates most: what’s next? I can’t wait to set my inspiration into motion and answer that question for myself…

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