for some, not all – Job Board Doctor

: vaccineAs the wave of the pan­dem­ic fades, peo­ple are going back to ‘nor­mal life‘: eat­ing out, going to con­certs and gath­er­ings, and yes, return­ing to work ‘in per­son’.  Many of us are vac­ci­nat­ed, boost­ed, or dou­ble-boost­ed. Masks are seen less, and mark­ers of pan­dem­ic life such as social dis­tanc­ing and bar­ri­ers are becom­ing much less com­mon. Even as the pan­dem­ic regains strength in some areas such as Hong Kong, it is wan­ing in much of North and Europe.

One sign of the change? In-per­son indus­try con­fer­ences are com­ing back.

His­tor­i­cal­ly, the job board and recruit­ment mar­ket­ing indus­try has had three main recur­ring con­fer­ences. TAt­e­ch (for­mer­ly IAEWS) put on sev­er­al events each year, with one major one focused on employ­ment sites and relat­ed sup­pli­ers. This year it will occur in Austin, from May 31st to June 2nd. UK-based Jobg8 put on two job board con­fer­ences each year – one in the UK and one in the US. The recent­ly announced that it was end­ing those con­fer­ences, which had been spear­head­ed by Louise Grant. Final­ly, the AIM Group held its annu­al RecBuzz con­fer­ence in var­i­ous loca­tions, usu­al­ly in Europe. This year’s event will be in Ams­ter­dam, Sep­tem­ber 13–14.

Two out of three ain’t bad, right?

So are you going? Con­fer­ences like these can be great for net­work­ing with oth­er com­pa­nies, see­ing what com­peti­tors are doing, and learn­ing more about spe­cif­ic sub­jects such as AI or pro­gram­mat­ic. Con­fer­ences inevitably involve talk­ing – a lot. And they can some­times be where you form a last­ing rela­tion­ship with indus­try peers.

But for some of us, COVID has changed the ‘con­fer­ence equa­tion‘. The old way the con­fer­ence equa­tion worked was: you looked at the out of pock­et expense (fee, trav­el, hotel, food, etc.); the time away from work; and the con­ve­nience or incon­ve­nience of the con­fer­ence loca­tion. Then you made ‘go-no go’ deci­sion. For some, attend­ing every con­fer­ence was a no-brain­er; for oth­ers, once every cou­ple or three was plen­ty. Some nev­er went at all.

But COVID added a wrin­kle to my per­son­al con­fer­ence equa­tion. In addi­tion to the fac­tors list­ed above, I have to take into account that my wife is immuno­com­pro­mised (as am I). If she catch­es COVID, her sur­vival is not at all assured. Yes, of course she is triple-vac­ci­nat­ed and masks dai­ly and plen­ty of pre­cau­tions. But if her hus­band (i.e., me) brings home any strain of COVID from a con­fer­ence – be it new or old – he might just kill her. COVID, as you know, makes us all risk asses­sors. Is it see­ing a movie on open­ing night with a full house – or would it be bet­ter on a Sun­day after­noon with 2 oth­er view­ers? Is it worth eat­ing a 2 hour din­ner in a restau­rant in win­ter, with min­i­mal air­flow and with no knowl­edge of the vac­ci­na­tion sta­tus of fel­low din­ers? And so on. Of course you can nev­er be per­fect­ly – but in a nation where a sub­stan­tial minor­i­ty refus­es to be vac­ci­nat­ed, and will even lie about their sta­tus, it’s not worth it for some of us.

Thus, I’ve become one of the folks who won’t be going to con­fer­ences for a long time – if ever. Think about it – hours in the con­fined and usu­al­ly packed envi­ron­ment of a plane. Hours inside a con­fer­ence cen­ter, being exposed to peo­ple of unknown vac­ci­na­tion or expo­sure sta­tus. Lots of aerosol dis­per­sal in the form of laugh­ing and yelling. Nope, it just isn’t worth the poten­tial con­se­quence.

So the con­fer­ences will go on, but just for some – not all – of us. I will miss them.

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