“A useless life is early death.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Chris Hoyt, Associate Director of Talent Attraction at AT&T – Dallas, TX
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Chris Hoyt is one of RecruitingBlogs.com greatest cheerleaders, however in his day-to-day corporate leadership role, he will tell you he likes to ‘dabble’ in social media. He is being modest. He isn’t merely discussing the social media as a phenomenon, but as someone who is leading its full scale integration within a corporate workforce strategy. At AT&T, Chris and his online personae, “RecruiterGuy” are pushing the boundaries of each aspect of the full-cycle model with a matured sourcing model that likewise integrates search engine marketing and optimization to his candidate development arsenal. He is one of a handful in corporate America who can speak with authority on the topic but here at the RBC Community he has always been that ‘one in a million’ who lives and breathes passing it forward and beyond for a profession he is passionate about.
On a personal level, he is passionate about a great many things, be it his ‘dabbling’ or his earnest advocacy for charitable causes such as “Bowl for Kids’ Sake Event.” AT&T managed to raise more than $30,000 to sponsor kids taking part in the Big Brother Big Sister program. In just under two weeks almost $1,600 was raised through using social networks and blog driven communications.
Introducing a Social X evangelist and self proclaimed “Gadget Addict” – someone we can all learn from and with … our Community’s friend and evangelist, Chris Hoyt. (Visualize a Kermit the Frog intro clap with Muppet Show Theme Song!)
Six Degrees: As the Associate Director of Talent Attraction at AT&T and a certified HR Professional, Chris I understand you have over a decade of recruiting and training & development experience. You lead the AT&T Talent Attraction teams with a focused concentration on Interactive Recruiting, Candidate Experience, and regionally based strategies. You are recognized as an expert at external recruitment of Occupational and Corporate Management candidates; e-Recruiting; Candidate screening and interviewing; Salary negotiations; Longstanding SHRM Member; HRCI PHR (Professional in Human Resources) Certification; and HTML, ASP, FLASH, Web Development. A lot of “Wow Effect”, Chris – but today, we want to learn about what makes this “RecruiterGuy” tick. Chris its time we at RBC learn about your home world.
Chris: I’ve been married for almost 15 years. We met in Monterey, CA where she was on vacation with her mother and I happened to walk by a store where she was trying on shoes. I was immediately lost in her. I went into the store and struck up a conversation with that somehow resulted in my helping her shop for shoes for over an hour. When she finally asked me where the cashwrap was I had to confess to her that I didn’t work in the store but was in reality just wanting to take her to dinner. (I still feel like the sales person owes me some major commission!)
We were married 7 months later at Lover’s Point just blocks from where we met and now have two beautiful daughters ages 8 and 11.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that much of my spare time during the week is spent trying to keep up with the latest trends and technologies that touch our industry. Outside of trying to keep my finger on the pulse of our craft I’d have to say that I enjoy golfing, flying, river rafting – almost anything that is outdoors. At least once a year my family takes a vacation where we try and embark on some sort of outdoor adventure. These are typically wonderful times together but rarely go as planned. Our previous trip to Lake Tahoe was when the fires forced an evacuation of the camp grounds the day we arrived. We ended up spending a week on Pismo beach riding four wheelers instead. Even our last vacation as a family might have been hard for some to deal with as we were rained on nearly the entire week. Problem for us? Not at all… we had a terrific time. Honestly I think we’d be surprised if a single outing went according to plan… Surprised and maybe even a bit bored!
Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?
Chris: I’ve been doing recruiting or sales and recruitment training since 1994. It wasn’t really something that I’d planned on doing but was something that I found I was really passionate about and as a result of that passion, pretty good at what I was doing. Of course I think that’s the way things are for most people… if you’re really passionate about what you’re doing, and hungry to always improve it – how can you go wrong?
Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?
Chris: It’s funny… I’ve never met a recruiter that said they knew from a young age they wanted to be a recruiter. It just doesn’t happen that way.
While at the time it seemed unconnected, I look back now and every career step to this date just makes sense. It started when I got out of the Army. I’m a veteran of the US Army – B Co. Rangers, 5/21 7th Infantry. My duty station was Fort Ord, CA and when my enlistment ended I had decided that I wanted to stay in California. I started school right away and took the first job offered to me – which was at a leather coat store. Within my first 7 months I’d sold over $1m in leather jackets and apparel so they quickly moved me into management – There’s a Peter Principal joke in here somewhere.
I’ve always enjoyed networking (translation: gift of gab) and it wasn’t long before the stores I was responsible for were staffed with the strongest sales persons and managers in the district. I soon found myself traveling from market to market to train recruiting and sales teams which later transitioned into self employment, speaking/training jobs and full-time contract recruiting. While I was a contract recruiter with a passion for process improvement it was obvious to me at that point that I wanted nothing more than to try and change the way most corporate or HR departments looked at the recruiting craft.
One job led to another and I was recruited to AT&T in 2000 to be a contract recruiter responsible for North Texas. After 7 fun and challenging years I’d worked my way from being responsible for Northern Texas to leading the strategic and tactical recruiting teams across the country.
Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?
Chris: My embracing the Internet. I’ve always been a huge fan of networking and making real life connections. But when I really started to use the Internet for sourcing in 1999 it was a breakthrough for me. It was when I managed to gain two hires from digging through a company’s round robin call list discovered Online that I got REALLY excited about how the Internet could be used to change what I was doing. The idea then was the same as it is for me today – the Internet continues to be a powerful tool that can be used to create introductions that otherwise might not occur. Of course the real connection and relationship is up to the recruiter to forge – a high speed modem doesn’t build a relationship.
It’s always really interesting to me how many recruiters or staffing people often miss that part of the puzzle and lately tend to treat the Internet and technology as though they are a complete solution. Being connected to the web doesn’t mean you’re connecting to your potential candidates.
Anyhow… I’ve been pushing as hard as I can in a direction that leverages technology and online initiatives for recruitment and hiring ever since.
Six Degrees: Tell us about your role and the staffing organization you oversee.
Chris: I’m the Associate Director of Talent Attraction at AT&T. I lead both strategic and interactive recruiting teams and sourcers and have responsibility for our Interactive Recruiting Strategies (SEO, SEM, Social, etc.) various Recruitment Marketing initiatives, our new award winning Career Portal (www.att.jobs), and Job Board strategies. My teams are responsible for the sourcing and attraction of any job seekers for non-contracted external hiring efforts.
Six Degrees: (A) What other companies’ recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?
Chris: There are some really good ones out there…. but two that come to mind I guess would be Best Buy and Microsoft…
I’m a fan of the Best Buy career site because I love the way they’ve embraced social media as a tool for recruitment with video, social bookmarking, and how it seems to be a pretty accurate reflection of their corporate culture. Of course if I’m not mistaken the career section of their site is driven by the Jobs2Web engine. So what I really love is the almost seamless integration of the SEO initiative into their brand. I’m big on SEO/SEM initiatives and think many employers are still too slow to embrace these powerful strategies.
I’m still a huge fan of Microsoft’s “The Changing Face” site (http://www.youatmicrosoft.com/) and it’s because I think it’s the absolute best job I’ve seen of pushing employee testimonials to active and passive job seekers. Microsoft is always a fun employer to watch when it comes to recruitment marketing online but I just feel they nailed it with the YouAtMicrosoft.com site – from the site navigation to the talking Polaroids to the direct contact forms… just awesome – top notch and something to keep in mind when reworking an employment site for sure.
“AT&T ‘Day In The Life’ of a Corporate Call Center employee. Jobs video production by: www.maddash.net “
Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?
Chris: I feel that I’m in a place right now that has taken some hard work and dedication to achieve and where it’s sometimes overwhelming to take a step back and really take in the scope it’s impact. Leading recruiting teams at a FORTUNE 9 employer is as challenging as it is rewarding – and I’m thankful every day that I’m here and able to make a difference. But I’d be a liar if I told you that I’m not always working towards a next step… taking recruiting and employer brand to the next level is my primary focus here of late.
I know when people ask this question they often expect to hear a job title or scope of responsibility as the definitive career goal response. I don’t think I’ve ever thought of my career planning in that way – for me it’s been about setting an impact goal or evolutionary change to a process as a way to measure effort and success. In this case, I like to think I’m working towards the evolution of how large companies view the recruiting craft and the incredible impact that employment brand can have on various business initiatives outside of just talent attraction.
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