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Are You Ready to Disrupt? Here Are My Big Takeaways from SIA Exec Forum ’18

Challenge and opportunity often go hand in hand for staffing. This year’s SIA Forum in Miami was a rallying cry for the industry to act boldly and think outside the box.

Are You Ready to Disrupt? Here Are My Big Takeaways from SIA Exec Forum ’18
By: Penny Queller, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Staffing Solutions, Monster 
“Disrupt or be disrupted.”
Those words from Staffing Industry Analysts president Barry Asin’s keynote at the Executive Forum conference have stuck with me long after any bit of tan has faded from that trip to sunny Miami. (Who am I kidding?! I barely left the Fontainebleau—but at least the views from my room were stunning!)  
It’s been a few weeks since the conference, but I still feel so energized. As per usual, the caliber of speakers that SIA assembled was terrific—from author Adrian Gostick’s dynamic keynote on building great teams to SIA’s Executive Global Director of Global Research Jonathan Nurthen’s panel on what staffing may look like in 2030 to the amazing presentations from my Monster colleagues. 
I was also incredibly honored to be able to announce the winners of the Best Staffing Firms to Work For—and was especially happy to see our customers Beacon Hill Staffing, Travel Nurse Across America, Fusion Medical Staffing, and Murray Resources on the list. Check out the video below for some of my favorite Exec Forum moments:





All told, it was an incredible three days.  I know many of you who attended feel the same. Now that it’s a wrap, I also wanted to share some of what I thought were the most valuable insights from the conference.  

1. Our industry needs future-proofing. 
Asin’s talk really rang true for me: He emphasized that staffing companies need to keep up with the ever-changing labor landscape in order to thrive. “Anticipating client challenges,” he says, “is how to stay ahead. We’re seeing a more strategic future, and in some ways a more challenging future.” I couldn’t agree more.
As always in staffing, challenges and opportunity go hand in hand. That includes an increase in contingency workers (globally, Asin noted a $3.5 trillion gig economy) and encroachment from nontraditional staffing firms. 
Most important, technology will continue to present both threat and potential. Asin acknowledged that new technologies are evolving faster than ever, from chatbots to Bitcoin and everything in between. 
I’ve also written about the need for staffing to play catch-up on technology in order to remain relevant. In fact, my goal is to make Monster a digital partner for both software and solutions, so that our customers can stay on the cusp while focusing on what matters most: the talent. 
Of course, some of what you need to do to innovate still has to come from inside, and internal change is often difficult to agree on, much less implement. (I see you nodding.) So lately, my team at Monster has been using the methodology of Design Thinking to help clients find creative solutions to tough problems. In essence, with Design Thinking, you empathize, hypothesize, and optimize—repeatedly.  
If you had a chance to attend the Design Thinking session at SIA led by Monster VP’s of Innovation Jeff Weidner and Chase Wilson, you had the opportunity to experience the process first-hand. If you missed it, you can download the presentation, or have Jeff and Chase come to your office with a custom session to jumpstart your team’s thinking in new ways. Simply contact your Monster account representative to schedule a session.
2.    The skills gap is hitting our industry hard.
Another major challenge that speakers pointed to was a severe skills gap.  As the economy grows, the supply of talent we need won’t be as readily available. Staffing firms are often called upon to fill hard-to-fill roles—but what if the talent pipeline just doesn’t exist?  
I was interested to see that some staffing firms are stepping up to fill the need and excited to see that Monster customers like Revature and HealthTrust Workforce Solutions are combining intensive, in-person training with job placement, providing a source of talent for the technology, healthcare and manufacturing industries. 
Ryan Craig, whose company University Ventures funds and develops some of these boot camp-style programs, sees the staffing industry as uniquely positioned to step into the training space. “We have a finger on the pulse of what employees are looking for: technical training, coupled with soft skills.” Craig sees training as a possible revenue stream for staffing, creating what he calls “an entry-level talent supply business.” 
I’m eager to see where these solutions lead the industry. 
3. The ways candidates look for jobs is changing. 
Another highlight of the forum—especially for me!—was the panel discussion, Job Boards and Beyond, which featured Monster’s incredible new Chief Product Officer Chris Cho. The panel was about the future of online recruiting, so it was an apt opportunity for Chris to reveal our new vision and the thinking behind it. 
He was frank about the need for evolution: "Job sites today are so focused on keyword search results that it’s no longer a natural experience for the job seeker, particularly the passive job seeker.” He also added that “the job ad itself isn’t going to be the be all and end all.” 
Chris also talked about how the problem with both the traditional job ad and the resume is that they are two dimensional, and don’t allow recruiters and job seekers to see the full picture of each other. In the near future, Monster will deliver a next-gen experience that allows both candidates and companies to show better versions of themselves.
If that doesn’t get your staffing wheels turning I don’t know what will! I look forward to sharing more with you about Monster’s new product roadmap in the coming months. In the meantime, you can check out Chris’ vision here in case you missed it.  
It’s impressive to see how many insights came out of just three days in Miami. What pleased me most was how our industry is acknowledging some of the challenges and risks we face, rather than simply putting a 100% sunny forecast on a partly cloudy reality. We as staffing leaders need to acknowledge challenges to create the best opportunities.  
We’ve been self-searching at Monster, reviewing everything with a fine-tooth comb to see where we’ve departed from a clear focus and where we provide actual value. We want to do better by you, and we recognize that it’s our job to make your job easier. 
I’m glad we got to see so many of you at Exec Forum to tell you more about how we’re thinking and changing, and how our team can support yours. I can’t wait to see what we’ll accomplish together in the year ahead.