It’s all about local – recruitDC

By Derek Zeller
So what is the value of a LOCAL recruiting conference? Why go? What could I possibly gain from this? I mean there are lots of conferences to go to. ERE, SHRM, Sourcecon, Talent42, etc. They are national stages and days long seminars and meetings. They offer the biggest speakers for 30 minutes snippets of knowledge. What would a LOCAL conference, RecruitDC, have to offer a senior recruiter like me? I decided that it would be fun and since my good friend asked if I would speak at a break out session I decided why not, sounds like fun. What happened surprised me by what I did get out of it.

  • I got to engage with my professional peers that do what I do in the local area. I.E. they know the daily pains and struggles of finding and reporting in the way we do.
  • I was able to listen to some engaging speakers that told me there best practices. What makes them successful and how I can walk on a paved road, not a dirt one.
  • It was great to catch up with old friends in the industry and shake the hands of those I have not met.
  • In a world of social media it was great to put a name to a face on people. There are some I had chatted with for months who I have never met in person.
  • I was able to hear a great sourcer share some insights that I did not have on websites that he used to find hard to find candidates.
  • A truly moving and motivating speech by a Marine that served his country and reminded me that there are always struggles it’s how you handle them.
  • Personally I got the chance to speak at the conference about something I am passionate about to a room full of my peers with a REALLY BIG SCREEN.

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You see for me it is not JUST the actual conference that mattered. It is what you take away from it that does. Not SWAG or a free lunch but the education part of it. It was the people I got to meet that I could meet up with AGAIN and really get a chance to learn and talk with them. We were local. We could plan to spend time with each other and it was just the right size that after the conference you could even get some one on one time with your favorite speaker!

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Then there was the follow up. So here was my two weeks following the conference.

  • Five meetings with vendors offering products that I not only use but could get at a better price and they were local
  • Four meetings with fellow recruiters learning how we could start best practices with each other’s companies in hiring and share knowledge
  • Three meetings with younger starting out recruiters that wanted advice from an old salty tech recruiter like myself.
  • One BIG meeting with my a vendor to find out that we have a way of doing business with each other and help each other win work in the area!

Conferences for the most part for me and much of the general public are just large parties disguised as a working learning session and not an “I always wanted to go to that city” type of thing. This was a true social meet up. Looking back I am really glad that Kathleen asked a guy to buck up and come to RecruitDC this year. Smartest thing I have done in a while and it was worth the $70 for sure. I hope to see you all at the next one and when you are there come up and say hello!

Derek Zeller is a senior corporate technical recruiter within both the Federal and commercial spaces. He has been both a contractor and permanent employee and has worked both the agency and corporate side of the house. Find him on Twitter @derdiver and blogging on