DirectEmployers 2013 Annual Meeting & Conference (DEAM13) attained a variety of new achievements this year, one of which being a record-breaking attendance from Members, prospects, partners and invited guests. From the beautiful backdrop to the overwhelming positivity that radiated throughout the conference, we couldn’t have been more pleased to bring the top minds and leaders to sunny San Diego.

After the initial welcome and general sessions held on Tuesday, October 22, attendees had the opportunity to choose from four concurrent tracks, one of which was leadership. This particular track sought to give insight to industry leaders and educate attendees on how to incorporate innovative practices into their organization’s strategies.

The first session in the leadership track featured veteran attorneys and advocates, Katrina Eagle and Douglas Rosinski from the Veterans Justice Group, LLC. Their presentation, which focused on employers and veterans disability law, began by asking employers, “Who is a veteran?” They explained to attendees that to be classified as a veteran, individual’s only need to have 90 days of active federal service, making no requirement for combat, oversees tours, or periods of war. They explained that with this classification, almost 1 in 7 employees may be eligible for VA benefits. They later challenged employers to better understand VA benefits, therefore becoming a resource to their veteran employees.

Key Takeaways:

  • 1 in 7 employees may be eligible for VA benefits
  • 3 important VA benefits include: compensation, health care and education
  • Employers can help veteran employees by learning the basics of VA benefits and preparing/offering information regarding available VA benefits and eligibility requirements

Next, Kristi Zimmerman and Ozzie Meza from Allstate Insurance dove into how they created a “homegrown” employment branding strategy on a limited budget. These two powerhouse speakers took the stage with such a vibrant energy! They explained that large companies don’t necessarily have large budgets at their disposal. They had to first build a case and get their “ducks in a row,” which entailed showing the importance of expanding their current employment brand and making it speak more to job seekers. Kristi then explained that having a limited budget helped make them become more successful because she was able to work with other departments and bring people into the project internally that would help realize their vision. One of the biggest points Kristi emphasized was to focus on your top three priorities and keep your leadership and strategic partners in the loop along the way.

Key Takeaways:

  • 83% of talent acquisition leaders say employer brand significantly impacts their ability to hire great talent
  • 74% of job seekers begin with Google
  • 84% of applicants check a company’s social media before applying
  • Focus on three priorities and keep it simple; don’t underestimate the power of a pilot

Allstate’s informative presentation concluded day one of DEAM13 and attendees headed down to the Association’s first Demo Hall for a couple hours of networking. Day two of the conference then opened with a presentation from DoubleStar’s Harry Griendling, where he used a piano demonstration to show how truly great talent is developed via a skill-building process. His unique “formula” for developing talent (Seen to the right) is how he has researched, as well as experienced, great talent being created.

After a quick break, attendees headed back to their desired track of choice and in the leadership track, UnitedHealth Group’s Ouraphone Siri-Outhay and Rosaly Morsheimer took the stage to discuss underutilization and how to build geography-specific sourcing plans. They discussed their approach to developing a comprehensive, holistic diversity sourcing plan that focused on creating outreach to attract diverse candidates where underutilization existed. They both agreed that building relationships with key national diverse organizations was a cornerstone in how they were able to achieve their goals.

Key Takeaways:

  • Focus on building relationships with local, functional-specific, diverse organizations
  • Documentation and audits are critical to accountability and success of having a comprehensive, holistic diversity strategy

A quick snack and networking in the Demo Hall lead to the final concurrent session of day two, featuring REI’s Bonnie Elliott discussing their quest to find their employer brand. While REI is known for their enthusiastic and unique corporate culture, they were having trouble attracting candidates to their different locations across the country. With the creation of a new career site on the .JOBS top-level domain and a growing online presence, Bonnie explained that they were on track to building and showcasing their employer brand to potential candidates.

As I wrap up this blog post, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to each of the speakers for travelling to our conference and presenting upon a variety of topics that helped to educate and share best practices to our attendees. If you weren’t able to sit-in on one of these sessions, you can view them in our Member-only community Pipeline. Take a moment to also view the photos from the annual meeting at

Although DEAM13 just wrapped up, we’re already deep in the planning stages of the DirectEmployers 2014 Annual Meeting & Conference! Hopefully you’ll join us this coming March in Washington, D.C. as we hope to bring some of the top presenters and industry leaders in the fields of recruitment and compliance to the stage. More information is available at

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