Unleash Your Greatness: Messages from the 2019 Midwest Staffing Conference


You might not always feel like a hero as you sit there at your desk, phone ringing off the hook, inbox piling up, and co-workers chattering away beside you. But on the morning of Thursday, May 23, we were ready to believe that our office-based careers were just as heroic as Olympic gold-medal winners.

The Illinois Search and Staffing Association’s annual Midwest Staffing Conference kicked off with an inspiring video, correlating well-known athletic heroes with “everyday” staffing professionals. The concluding message: Unleash your greatness. After all, we may not be hanging gold medals on our wall, but we are working just as hard and changing people’s lives with new job opportunities. We are staffing heroes, are we not?

With that inspiring start, we were revved up for a day of valuable speakers and workshops. Here are a few of the highlights.

What Keeps You Up at Night?

Differentiation, the talent shortage, and the talent experience. That’s what Richard Wahlquist, President and CEO of the American Staffing Association, claims to be the top three things keeping staffing pros up at night.

Wahlquist appeared via video during the opening remarks of the conference. He shared a handful of eye-opening statistics – like the record-high 1.8 million open jobs currently in the US, the 16.8 million people who have worked with staffing partners to find jobs, and the $167 Billion top-line revenue of US staffing and recruiting firms.

These are big numbers, and they confirm that the staffing industry has plenty of open road ahead to really put the pedal to the metal and do great things.

Forget the Talent Shortage

Despite ASA’s reminder that the talent shortage is something keeping many of us up at night, Scott Wintrip, author and speaker, opened with a keynote telling us to forget about it. It’s real, he says, but the real problem is the mindset.

The numbers are deceiving. It’s all too easy to look at the 1000s of open jobs and the mere hundreds of talents professionals to fill them. But that’s a counterproductive, not to mention nightmarish, mindset. In reality, you should be looking at the handful of jobs your company has open and the 100s of qualified workers to choose from.

Why does mindset make a difference? Because positive emotions are proven to spark more creative behavior and resourcefulness. And when we get creative and resourceful in our hiring strategies, we’re more likely to be successful.

Wintrip’s keynote and subsequent workshop sessions were chock-full of actionable insight. His book High Velocity Hiring is sure to provide more valuable advice.

The Epidemic of Candidate Ghosting

echogravity’s very own Kevin O’Brien hosted a workshop at this year’s Midwest Staffing Conference, entitled “Candidate Ghosting: The Problem is Fixable.” Kevin has previously published an article on this topic, and the large turnout of 40 professionals at his Midwest Staffing session confirms that it’s still a relevant challenge in today’s landscape.

Kevin discussed how staffing firms can avoid the 20-50% of candidates who “ghost” firms in the recruiting process. Among other considerations, he pointed out that the candidate experience is key, but when leadership wants to do more with less, figuring out how the optimal experience can be operationally efficient can be a challenge. Ultimately, Kevin concludes, the answer to fixing candidate ghosting is candidate control.

Make Your Mark

With a humorous presentation peppered with references from Parks & Rec and New Girl, our very own John Skoutelas, Content Marketing Manager at echogravity, kicked off a discussion for young staffing professionals about “Building Your Persona in the Marketplace.”

From listening to your audience and building your core messages to writing a better email and branding yourself on LinkedIn, John’s presentation was jam-packed with tips and tricks to building a more compelling personal brand. And though it was targeted at “young” staffing professionals, the session brought in people of all backgrounds, including a gentleman with 30 years of staffing experience who knows there’s always more to learn.


The conference concluded with a raffle drawing for a variety of flashy prizes from event sponsors. In fact, I even won a prize myself – the book “Front Line Heroes: Battling the Business Tsunami with Performance Oriented Cultures” by conference speaker Bruce Hodes. I can’t wait to read it!

We’d love to hear about your conference experiences! And if you couldn’t make it this year, we’d love to chat anyway and share more about how we can take your marketing game to the next level.

Give us a call or send us a message today.