Bullhorn Engage Boston: Rachel and Kim’s conference recap

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Bullhorn Engage 2024 was amazing, inspiring and full of insights from industry leaders and technology partners. I mean, where else can you network with 1,000 of your closest staffing industry friends, preview new advancements in recruiting technology and witness the evolution of AI right before your eyes? 

Before the busy week, we were able to catch up with many of our current partners. Huge shout out and thank you to Staffing Engine for inviting us to the Red Sox game Monday night: Fenway has been a bucket list item, and it was so fun to spend time with Matt Dichter and Ryan Wiggins at the game! It was also great seeing old friends (and current partners) from Veritone Hire (AKA Pandologic and Broadbean), Monster and Cloudcall. And of course, to our Bullhorn team Mary Kai Macken and Adam Lewis, thank you for helping to make the event a success for us! 

This conference was a testament to the power of community and the relentless pursuit of excellence in the staffing industry. It provided a platform for industry professionals to engage with the latest trends, technologies and thought leadership, setting the stage for a future where staffing and recruitment are more dynamic, responsive and impactful than ever before.

Bullhorn CEO Art Papas welcomed everybody with an opening keynote which focused on the tough market and the current “WTF” moment we are in: Not only is job availability low, but so is candidate availability, which has introduced its own new and unique challenges. Papas also discussed Bullhorn’s journey over the past 25 years and shared what Bullhorn calls the “S.E.A.” of data, which Bullhorn sees as a tremendous opportunity to leverage AI and automation to realize the gains we are looking for in this market. Here is what Bullhorn had to say about the “S.E.A” of data:

  • Specific: For AI to impact the staffing industry, the data involved must be as specific to staffing as possible.  
  • Enormous: No single staffing firm has enough data to fully train an AI model, but with Bullhorn's large industry-specific data set, we can bridge the gap left by traditional AI models to better serve the staffing industry.
  • Actionable: Similar to tools like Waze, which provides driving directions and traffic alerts, the most effective AI tools offer actionable insights and outputs to help users dial in on the most important actions and information. Rather than providing outputs or suggested actions based on non-staffing outcomes, our AI model will base its outputs on successful placements—to help every recruiter perform like the most successful recruiters.

The opening keynote was a great kickoff to the conference week. The insights gained from attending panels, seminars and networking with technological leaders were incredible and hard to sum up in a few takeaways. With that in mind, here is our breakdown of advice, new tech and takeaways that have stuck with us as we look back: 

Breaking barriers for women in leadership

We kicked off the conference by attending the “Breaking Barriers to Women in Leadership” luncheon. Listening to a panel of female leaders who shared simple nuggets of advice that can have major impact was a great way to start the conference. We also really enjoyed how the luncheon ended with everyone in the room standing up and saying out loud this pledge “I commit to one deliberate act a day to help another woman rise.” 
  • The biggest piece of advice that was valuable to me (Kim) was, “Don't be your own barrier to success”. A lot of women are just that, their own worst enemy. We need to build ourselves up (and each other) and believe in ourselves. I don’t know how many times throughout my career I’ve said to myself “What are you doing”, “You can't handle this” or “You don't know enough for this meeting/project/role”. Looking back, I was completely wrong! 
  • From my (Rachel’s) perspective, work-life integration and giving yourself grace resonated with me the most. You may not know the full solution at the time, but be kind and understanding toward yourself, especially in times of difficulty. We are all human. By giving ourselves grace, we allow ourselves to navigate life’s challenges with a more supportive mindset.

Innovating during tough economic times 

This topic echoed throughout the conference: It’s all about winning new business and building new relationships in 2024, but we must be creative in how we do it. Papas said, “The old sales and recruiting playbook isn’t going to cut it in this current market. It’s going to test our teams and push them out of their comfort zone. And that is where we are going to be successful.”

Implementing AI

We need to build a tech stack that is going to increase our efficiency as a team. We must embrace AI, not to replace the human element of our jobs, but to automate the tasks that are weighing our teams down. Matt Fischer and Jason Heilman spoke about how we need to use AI to “uplevel all recruiters to perform like your best recruiters”. That means using AI and automation to decrease the time to fill, improve quality and efficiency and achieve greater scale. 

There are so many ways to accomplish this. Here at Horizontal, we are proud to be a technology-driven organization that strives to stay ahead of trends and embrace new technologies early. It was very insightful to meet with some of the partners using AI the right way and learn how they are developing a playbook to help staffing. Our tech stack at Horizontal is already using AI, but the possibilities are endless, and we saw that at Bullhorn Engage.


Another key point that seemed to fill every session: Quality data is key to success when implementing an AI strategy. It’s the adage of “Garbage in, garbage out”. The Bullhorn Engage Expo was full of partners who can help to clean up your data, and as a great follow up to the conference, Bullhorn released a guide with data hygiene tips and best practices:
Spring Clean your Data. This is a fantastic starting point for adopting any sort of AI strategy. 

Closing keynote

The closing keynote by Will Guidara, author and #1 world restaurateur, was such a great way to wrap up the conference. He drove home the notion that it's all about relationships and experience. These quotes from Will really resonated with us:
  • “It wasn’t hard. It required trying harder.”
    • Effort is something that every individual has complete control over. When times are tough, simply putting in the effort is something you can do to make an immediate impact in whatever role you may be in. 
  • “It doesn't matter how good your product is. It doesn't matter how strong your brand is. It doesn't matter how much more talented you are than the next person. The only competitive advantage that exists comes from consistently investing in relationships.” 
  • “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

What a great way to end the conference! Thank you, Will

After the conference

Now onto the fun part: The Bullhorn After Hours party at City Winery! It's always so much fun seeing the Bullhorn leadership share in something that they love: Stampede. This aspect of conferences is much more than a fun event to close out the week. It speaks to the importance of work-life balance, harmony and integration.

As we reflect on Engage 2024, it's clear the staffing industry is on the cusp of significant change, driven by the adoption of AI, innovation and a deep understanding of the needs of both clients and candidates. The connections and relationships built during this event helped to further spark that fire of building that best solutions for our team to support our clients, candidates and current consultants. We are excited to continue conversations with the new contacts we made during the event and see how we can continue to leverage new tech in 2024! 

If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help optimize your business needs, learn more about our talent, team and project solutions or contact us today. 

Want to talk about tech with Rachel or Kim? Connect with them on LinkedIn to chat today. 

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