By Dave Mendoza
We continue our conversation with our “Fisherman of attracting Top Talent,” Dennis Smith:
Six Degrees: How many applicants at your present employer do you estimate are hired from your corporate website as compared to how many are hired through referrals?
DENNIS: We are a small company so this isnâ€™t a large number for us. We certainly make 5-10% of our hires each year via our website, but the largest percentage of our hires will come through direct networking activity and employee referrals (90-95%).
Six Degrees: What is the source of the “Most Hires” collected from at your present employer? (In terms of Quantity #)
DENNIS: Without question, the majority of our hires are secured through our direct networking/sourcing efforts, which includes employee referrals, and strong networking activity within our individual networks (LinkedIn â€“ Jigsaw), and personal social networks (WirelessJobs.com).
Six Degrees: What is the source of your “LOWEST COST OF HIRES” – (least amount of invested resources for the easiest hires, regardless of quality) at your present employer?
DENNIS: Easy answer – Employee Referrals are the source of our â€œLowest Cost of Hireâ€ by far! Costs associated with our LinkedIn, Jigsaw and WirelessJobs.com are also pretty darn low relative to the investment.
Six Degrees: What talent niche groups do you target and are these particular talent areas specialized under your review?
DENNIS: I specialize in targeting talent groups in the wireless industry. Specifically, this includes technical talent such as RF Engineers (EEâ€™s), and sales and marketing talent within the same industry.
Six Degrees: What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?
DENNIS: I participated in my first training from Adler Concepts five years ago, but I still go through their training at least 2-3 times/year. Constant reinforcement of how to do the â€œsmart stuffâ€ and how to stop doing the â€œstupid stuffâ€ (an Adler quote that I love) is critical in our business.
Six Degrees: What recruitment software tools do you use in your day to day recruitment activities & do they translate effectively within all of the different countries where you recruit?
DENNIS: Our team uses Bullhorn and itâ€™s proven to be an excellent ATS and CRM. Other than that, weâ€™ve yet to utilize any other recruitment software. I like what Iâ€™m seeing in InfoGist and Broadlook, and will most likely explore them even further in the near future.
Six Degrees: What tools (technology or old school file folder, for example) did you first encounter early in your recruitment career?
DENNIS: I started recruiting in 1996 and our company had a very practical/functional database that we used to track candidate activity and communicate with the hiring managers (canâ€™t remember what it was called). In 1997 I joined AT&T Wireless and we had a very cool tool called Excel : ) that we used quite extensively. However, within a few months, we implemented Restrac and I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread (at least in hindsight).
Six Degrees: How did your expectations of being a recruiter compare to the actual, first time you got on the phone or in the cubicle? In your opinion, how do people’s assumptions about our vocation differ from reality?
DENNIS: I think many people pursue recruiting because they are â€œpeople-oriented.â€ Early in my career, I was convinced that all successful recruiters would have an exact personality-match with me: out-going extrovert, with an affinity toward conversation, and a passion for connecting with and helping people. Hello, earth to Dennisâ€¦.
I learned quickly that this business is not for the faint-hearted, and that oneâ€™s ability to survive in this business often rests more on their persistence and drive than their talent and personality (reference to Dan Pink: Persistence Trumps Talent).
Six Degrees: Worst mistake, biggest goof, lousiest practice you thought would fly but didnâ€™tâ€¦and how that was a learning experience?
DENNIS: Well, this isnâ€™t something I thought would fly, but itâ€™s one of my biggest goofs so I might as well show a bit of vulnerability.
While at Samsung, I was working on a VP search and was asked by our President to escort him to lunch where he would be interviewing one of our top candidates. At the table, the candidate was sitting to my right and our President to my left. At some point during lunch, while the President was making a rather poignant observation, I reached for my glass of iced tea (using only my peripheral vision as I didnâ€™t want to appear disinterested in the current point at hand). As the glass reached my lips, I realized (to my horror) that the glass isnâ€™t mine. Yep, it belonged, instead, to our unsuspecting candidate.
It was all I could do to keep from choking â€“ spewing â€“ gagging, as in one painful moment, my recruiting career seemed to sink to new depths. However, since neither candidate nor President were aware of my faux pas, my career was soon revived.
Lesson learned: Donâ€™t allow yourself to get too comfortable at the lunch/dinner interview.
Six Degrees: How do you personally expect to facilitate change within our industry, and/or at your place of work? If you started that process, outline the problem, your solutions, and the vision.
DENNIS: I want to continue capitalizing on the personal change that started in my career back in 2004, when I began making myself available to the general job-seeking public (at least within the wireless industry). Iâ€™d spent the previous eight years hiding behind the comfort of the firewall, pumping out job descriptions and pushing my job-postings on every unsuspecting job seeker. However, I had no personal interaction with that community. I was too busy and didnâ€™t feel the need to â€œconnectâ€ with anybody.
In the words of Scott Ginsberg, my blog makes me â€œapproachableâ€ to potential candidates and clients and allows me to take the first step in relationship-building. I want to continue being an advocate for recruiting processes that facilitate the improvement of recruiter/candidate relationships, banning all processes that lead job-seekers (and their resumes) to the â€œgreat black holeâ€ located near the milky-way.
Six Degrees: â€œBest practiceâ€ you are most proud of developing (now or in the past) in your recruiting career?
DENNIS: I am thankful that I jumped on the web 2.0 band-wagon early in the game and was simple-minded enough to think that a blog could effectively help me target and connect with an audience of job-seekers in the wireless industry. It took few renditions (and four years) before I finally landed on the current theme (WirelessJobs.com), but the people in this community supported me and helped me during that time in a way that was extremely meaningful to me.
As a result, I gained a platform (blog) whose impact on my business has been incalculable, and I witnessed first-hand the terrific impact a community can have on its members when the focus turns to â€œweâ€ instead of â€œme.â€
Six Degrees: What are some of the frustrating aspects/obstacles to your day to day as a staffing professional and in general?
DENNIS: The company/hiring manager that is quick to talk and slow to act.
Six Degrees: What are the most common themes of strategic and/or tactical mishaps involving past or present HR/Staffing org?
DENNIS: The inability to sufficiently forecast workforce demands and the corresponding budgets (although I must admit, T-Mobileâ€™s getting better and better at this). Also, I believe that we oftentimes fail to look out far enough (future) too
Six Degrees: Considering all of the frustrations you have experienced in your career as a recruiter, — what inspires you as you continue in your career?
DENNIS: Lesson Number 6 in Dan Pinkâ€™s latest book: Leave An Imprint.
Six Degrees: What one thing do you ideally hope to accomplish in 2008?
DENNIS: My goal is in 2008 is to have WirelessJobs.com become the go-to site for professionals in the wireless industry. I want to see it become a real community where wireless people hang-out and connect with people all over the world. Whether they are a Web Strategist for Vodaphone in Romania, or a Field Tech for T-Mobile in Phoenix, Arizona – whether they are unemployed, or happily employed. I just want to see WirelessJobs.com adding value to peopleâ€™s lives.
Six Degrees: Anything you want to plug?
DENNIS: Have I mentioned my site, WirelessJobs.com? 🙂
Six Degrees: How Are You Going To Change The Recruitment Industry?
DENNIS: One recruiter at a time. My career has been positively impacted by a few people who personally mentored me (whether they knew it or not): Bill Reeves (EDS), Craig Klein (EDS), Valerie Freeman (Imprimis Group) and Ken Jehling (AT&T Wireless).
I donâ€™t have giant, lofty goals for changing this great profession of ours. But, if I can help make a difference in the life/career of a recruiter, it will be a step in the right direction. Thatâ€™s one way to leave an imprint.
What will I tell them? Iâ€™ll probably just borrow a few lines from Dan Pink and Johnny Bunko:
1. There is no plan.
2. Think strengths, not weaknesses.
3. Itâ€™s not about you.
4. Persistence trumps talent.
5. Make excellent mistakes.
6. Leave an imprint.