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14+1 Lessons from my journey into building the TA community - TA Crunch - Berlin

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Here is my “work after work” adventure - how’s the path so far, what were the proverbial “bumps in the road”, how is it going and what are my learnings after 3 months of launching the TA Crunch - Berlin.


I’ll start with a story, which should answer the question “How did you come to the idea and what made you kick this off?”.


Have you ever felt like, you can do more, you should do more, outside of your day to day job, but still in the professional sphere? Like “I would love to get more inspiration, I would like to help more people in this space, I feel the need to connect more, to grow more…”?

(and feel free to add any other convoluted thoughts between the “...”).


Well, this is how I felt towards the end of 2022. When the industry was already going through hardship and the Talent Acquisition profession was already hit. Hard.

I am tremendously passionate about my job, so my mind was racing. I was not quite sure what it was racing after. It just needed more.


In Nov 2022, after a speaking opportunity at the TecRec conference in Berlin (organised by we.CONECT - Discover a unique B2B event experience! with the support of Anastasia Trubnikova), I reconnected with Matthias Schmeißer, with whom I worked at Zalando and met Sergej Zimpel for the first time. And in one of the coffee breaks, while having a random catch-up / get-to-know chat, I blurted out to them both “Hey, I want to kickstart the TA community in Berlin, wanna partner up?”.

(yes, literally like that.)

Big eyes and shy smiles is what I got in return.

The rest is history.

 

I’ll maybe write another piece about internal motivation and the passion for this profession.

No, not “maybe”. I will.

By Feb / March 2023, we finally came together (still recovering from more and more layoffs and industry bad news) and we had a clear mission: to build an inclusive, non-profit space for the Berlin TA professionals and enthusiasts to connect, support eachother, exchange, and share experiences. Grow together and be together.


We embarked on a journey to create a community fostering knowledge exchange, learning opportunities, and networking in the TA field. In Berlin (to start off with).

 

Our Tagline

"Building connections, fostering inclusion: Join the top community of talent acquisition professionals in Berlin"

 

Today, I am excited to share my journey with TA Crunch Berlin so far and the lessons I learned along the way.



The Mission & Values

  • Our mission was driven by our common passion for all things Talent Acquisition and our desire to see local TA professionals grow, upskill, and raise their level of excellence through being part of a community.

  • We want to create an in-person and digital community space and conduct a series of events and meetups to foster knowledge exchange, learning opportunities, and networking in TA.

  • We believe in, value, respect, hard-work, and entrepreneurship, together with diversity and inclusion in all its forms. We value and strive for outcomes instead of output, aiming for impact and solutions while learning from each experience.


I personally stand for efficiency and delivery and I am grateful to have my colleagues balancing my “scrappy” act with their perspective on agility and design.


The journey


The journey began with setting some high-level goals and creating an operational framework.

  • We assigned owners for topics and it is important to note that, right now, we are all hands on deck. Nonetheless, we still split responsibilities as much as possible, for maximum effectiveness and discipline.

  • We have weekly team check-ins to track progress and address any open questions.

We faced challenges along the way, such as deciding on the level of openness of our community and the potential topics for discussion.

😨 Or, what should be our medium? Do we just want to focus on TA? Or HR too? Do we want Slack? Do we want Facebook Groups?

And no, we have not yet answered all our open questions.


What did we achieve in the last 3 months?


📌 The 1st Meetup: "Reflections on Recruitment: Navigating Career Crossroads and Embracing Change," - April 2023

Our 1st meetup was quite a success. (don’t believe me, it’s my baby so I need to brag. Believe the 65 participants who joined us and our 89pp NPS 😃).

We explored the question of whether to stay or leave a career in recruitment, a topic particularly relevant given the recent layoffs affecting TA professionals across various industries.

  • Our speakers, Dagmara Glowa and Manjuri Sinha, shared their insights on the importance of emotional intelligence in planning a potential career shift or move, and the characteristics of a great recruiter. They also discussed the skillset essential to be successful in talent acquisition, and the pros and cons of staying in the field or branching out into other areas.

💡Key learnings;

  • The importance of emotional intelligence in navigating career growth and planning the next move.

  • How to tell whether we're in the right job role and when it's time for a change. How to understand this based on our values.

  • We gained practical advice on navigating career growth and planning our next move.

  • The pros and cons of staying in the field or branching out into other areas, providing food for thought for those seeking to navigate career crossroads and embrace change.

📌 The 2nd Meetup: “The value that Talent Acquisition (TA) brings to an organisation” - June 2023

Following the success of our first meetup, we continued our journey with a second event, in June 2023. This meetup was a panel discussion featuring experienced industry professionals, including Alex Ganyukov, Isabel Strijland, René Van Olst, and Jakob Gillmann

  • We discussed the importance of TA in today's competitive business environment, the advantages of investing in TA, how to measure TA ROI, and the impact of technology on TA.

💡Key learnings:

 

"Talent Acquisition is not just about filling vacancies; it's about understanding the organisation's needs and finding the right people who can drive its success."

 

TA professionals play a crucial role in shaping a company's culture, driving growth, and ensuring its competitiveness in the market.

TA brings value to your company in several ways:

  • Strategic Hiring: TA professionals understand the strategic goals and align their hiring strategies accordingly..

  • Quality of Hire: TA professionals focus on the quality of hire, which has a direct impact on your company’s performance. They ensure that the candidates not only have the required skills and experience but also fit your culture.

  • Employer Branding: TA professionals play a crucial role in building and promoting the organisation's employer brand. A strong employer brand helps attract and retain top talent.

  • Candidate Experience

  • Diversity, Equality and Inclusion: TA professionals will help you build a diverse and inclusive workforce, which has been proven to drive innovation and business performance. (we did discuss that, sadly, in times of distress, companies seem to be forgetting the importance of DEI in their hiring).



Easy, right?

The challenges of organising events when you don’t own a budget.


Organising meetups (or anything really) with 0 own budget has been a challenging yet really rewarding experience.


We have to be creative and resourceful, leveraging our networks and relationships to secure sponsorships and support from companies.


Personally, I learn more and more about the importance of building strong relationships with sponsors and ensuring that they see value in supporting our community. It will always be about "give something before you ask for something".

Also learning to be flexible and adaptable, adjusting our plans based on the resources available to us.

Despite any challenges, we've been able to deliver high-quality events that provide value to our community members. (this is what the surveys say, not me).


The Learnings - Are we “there” yet?


I can tell you one thing - NO, we are not “there” yet and it is a learning process, for sure.

It pushes all the right (and wrong) buttons. I cannot speak for my colleagues, however, I clearly gathered some learnings in the last 3-4 Months.

I will consider this a safe space, so no judgment please 🙂. Here we go:

  1. Sometimes things will not work out - you may have this entire vision in your head about how collaboration would look like and how people will be towards eachother. And it may not turn out the way you envisage it. You must be ready to pivot. Fast.

  2. Free will. We are spontaneous, we have our own minds, agendas, triggers. So sometimes collaboration is hard. Other times, impossible. So you will part ways and reinvent.

  3. There is no space for ego. We all need to roll our sleeves and we do the work.

  4. Disagree and commit - big learning. I am a person with an interesting Gallup profile (Command, Restorative, Achiever, Activator, Communication) and some strong professional values. So this one was (and still is sometimes) hard for me to go through with.

  5. Communication open, honest and often - weekly meetings, up to date communication (I love my Google Drive folder-ing) and our holy Whatsapp Chat. Luckily, we are all “instant repliers” :)

  6. Experimentation-first mindset. You need to be scrappy. Very scrappy. However, you cannot forget the importance of being aligned with the mission and values. Let’s say it is an interesting mix of “Just do it” and “Wait, how does this fit in our long term agenda?”

  7. Flexible operational framework. We make decisions and act fast and I learnt that leading with an agile mindset is crucial. Dwelling on making something happen is not an option and sometimes we are democratic, sometimes it is a “this is how it’s gonna be” and then, back to point 3 above.

  8. Relevance - to keep our community engaged, we need to provide relevant content and discussions, such as our first meetup's focus on career crossroads in recruitment.

  9. No room for shy’ness. I needed to learn to just ask for what I need. Sponsorship? Money? Location? I guess that I get to use the skills acquired through my job, those of “influence without authority”, nonetheless, it’s not the easiest of tasks.

  10. Plan. I love this one. Make lists, check everything, meet with the location, facilities teams, IT, set up the entire event-organisation piece (figure out quantities for X amount of guests, plan for drop-outs, etc.). Who knew that planning and event organising would be in my “job description”? I quite like it but one needs to know that you need to buckle-up for it. And the “IT support” piece…👀.

  11. There is always something, no matter how big or small, which will probably flop. So - RESILIENCE.

  12. Check, re-check and triple check. Engage your speakers, panelists. Make sure that the event is properly booked and advertised. Check-in a number of times ahead of the day of the event to ensure that everyone is aligned, all know what needs to be done by when and by whom. Block calendars!

  13. Canva! Bought my own PRO account and I have 0 regrets! Learning a new tool, using my creative brain and using this as an outlet for creating all the designs, logos, pages, flyers, master templates, etc. So - new tech tools.

  14. GenAI - I will not even go there in this article 😆.

  15. Measure success - build that Feedback survey. Share it, share it again, ask for feedback and implement it!

  16. (bonus) Inclusivity / Safe space - allow your community members to ask questions anonymously during your events - use Slido or any similar platforms.

What's ahead?


As we continue our journey, I look forward to more meetups, more learnings, and more opportunities to grow - as individual and as part of this community of practice.

I am looking forward with great excitement and I cannot wait to see this us evolve and thrive! I hope that our experience can inspire others to create similar communities and contribute to the growth and excellence of their professional fields.


Or, I should have said: "Well, you will have to come join us and see".

(shameless plug 😎)

The past months have been a very rewarding journey.


The feeling I have when I get back home late in the evening after an event is pure excitement, happiness and great inspiration. And I cannot wait to see what I will learn in the next 3 months.

Maybe I’ll get to write a second piece with more “results”.

No, not “maybe”. I will.


Until the next one!

Andreea

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