Rejected Again to Speak at SHRM – Could It Be I’m Not Boring Enough?

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I got a SHRM Strategy Conference rejection letter last week.

Some of you might remember the last rejection I got from SHRM. If not, here’s the post on Fistful of Talent (FOT)  – SHRM Doesn’t Like Us – But You Should.

Here’s the email from Rejection No. 2:

Dear Tim,

Thank you for submitting a proposal for the SHRM Strategy Conference being held September 30 – October 2, 2013 in San Diego, California.

Each proposal was given careful and deliberate consideration. We strive to offer a balanced program of educational sessions at the conference and select the proposals that best fit the overall programming framework of the conference. Please understand that we receive many proposals with several on the same topic. Exceptional proposals are turned away each year for the simple reason that we have limited speaking slots. Your proposal was not selected this year. However, your interest in offering your skills, background and knowledge is greatly appreciated.

Once again, thank you for your submission.


Letty Kluttz, SPHR, MBA

Manager of Conference Programming

What SHRM should have written

Here’s what I wish Letty would have written instead:

Dear Tim,

Thank you for submitting a presentation proposal….blah, blah, blah.

I either liked it or didn’t like, it doesn’t matter – we didn’t select it. We didn’t select it because: (followed by 3 actual reasons)

    1. The content didn’t fit what we wanted to do – next time try ….
    2. It’s been done before a thousands times – next time try …
    3. You have no idea what you’re talking about, etc., etc., etc.

Please try again next time – if you want some pointers catch me at the next conference and we can have a cup a coffee.

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3 tips for getting a SHRM speaking gig

There’s no doubt Letty is smart – George Washington MBA grad – and she actually worked at a staffing company (you would think Letty would have a kinship with me!), and she is a long-time SHRM employee.

I’ve been a SHRM SPHR holder and member since 2001, and I keep hearing how they want “fresh blood” and “new ideas,” and yet, every SHRM conference I attend I see the same content, the same faces presenting, the same SHRM.

I’ve actually seen a presentation from a guy at SHRM national who has been doing the same presentation for the last 10 years – he just changes the dates on the first slide! I wanted to shoot myself. But I stayed to listen to him and he gave me these tips for getting accepted by Letty and the SHRM crew:

  • Sell out. Go completely old school HR – FMLA is exciting, OHSA rocks, I have 4 cats.
  • Make a title that sounds so boring you fall asleep actually making it – but make sure to use words like: Strategic, Influence and Results.
  • Don’t say anything slightly controversial in your bio or presentation description – don’t piss off the powers that be.

Sorry, crew – I won’t do it.

Sour grapes?

Truth be told, Kris Dunn and I actually did follow these rules for the 2012 SHRM national show in Atlanta and we got accepted, but then did the presentation the way we wanted to by just using SHRM’s boring title slide. It was well attended, we got great feedback and got strong survey numbers – and – we didn’t get invited back this year.

Letty, Letty, Letty – it’s OK. I don’t bite, really! I’m a former headhunter like you, our kind needs to stick together!

Ugh. This just sounds like sour grapes. I give up on trying to help SHRM.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.