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Meet Doug Kerken, Business Development Director at OptiJob, Part 2

Posted on October 27, 2009
Filed Under Interviews | Comments Off on Meet Doug Kerken, Business Development Director at OptiJob, Part 2

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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?

DOUG: Things have changed since I was a recruiter, job boards and resume databases were huge, and expensive. ATS’s weren’t as advanced (I used PC Recruiter). But now, since I’m not doing the actual recruiting for my clients, I can’t say exactly how many applicants are coming in through different sources. However, I can say that I’m becoming quite the analytics nerd these days and I’m able to see exactly how many applicants I’m helping recruiters attract to their organization. Every company tracks their applicants and hires differently, so I have to adapt to each reporting style. Most of the organizations I am partnered with have very strong referral programs and especially in this economy, they’re trying to perfect them and even integrate them with their OptiJob portal, which makes it easier to track where everyone is coming from.

Six Degrees: What is the source of the “Most Hires” collected from at your present employer? (In terms of Quantity #)

DOUG: The “Most Hires” question. I talk about this every day. Recruiters and staffing organizations are trying to squeeze the most hires out of every resource they pay for and use. The ones that don’t produce get sent to pasture. Luckily I can say that OptiJob has helped companies hire thousands of people over the past few years. Now, I wish I could say that every company has hired a thousand people using it, but everyone’s different. I’ve had reports of over 1000 hires a year by one company down to an average of 2 per month for another. It’s all based on the number of jobs and amount of great content in my world.

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?

DOUG: As I stated earlier, I’m becoming quite the analytics nerd. I’m looking at applicant traffic from all over the internet. I’m trying to help companies get their jobs into the index of the major search engines and on to as many social media and news sites as possible. For the most part, the bulk of the traffic and hires are coming straight from Google. Surprisingly, Bing has been sending a ton of applicants to my clients lately as well. In addition, Twitter and Facebook have had their fare share as well. Frankly, I’m amazed at how many people are coming in from the little 140 character Tweets our clients are pumping out.

Six Degrees: What talent niche groups do you target and are these particular talent areas specialized under your review?

DOUG: I’m all over the place when it comes to niche groups. I’m working with Aerospace and Defense companies, Hospitality and Foodservice, to Energy, retail and Healthcare. Needless to say, I’m working every day to target specific groups of applicants for different clients. Each company we work with has specific areas of expertise and different ways of going about targeting these people. Targeting the right groups for F-15 avionics technicians, Clinical Specialists and Restaurant Managers are COMPELTELY different animals you know. You have to think about what the daily lives of these people are like every day and how they’ll be searching for a job. What web sites they visit, groups they use and trust, and what they’ll be searching for on search engines are all very important pieces of the puzzle.

Six Degrees: What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?

DOUG: I’ve taken advantage of lots of different sourcing and recruiting training over the years. The most important training for me now is in the realm Search Engine Optimization. I’m trying to keep up with Google and the other search engines these days. There are so many people out there that think they have the answers. But, can they all be trusted is the question.

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?

DOUG: I use a few specific tools on a daily basis to find contacts and new prospects at companies. Linked In and Jigsaw are by far the most effective. I’m also dabbling in Plaxo and Zoominfo as well. They are all basically the same animal, just laid out differently in my opinion. I’m using SalesForce and Google apps to track my whole entire world as well.

Six Degrees: What tools (technology or old school file folder, for example) did you first encounter early in your recruitment career?

DOUG: My first recruiting job at SMS was just that, old school file folders. It was a ridiculous sea if manilla folders with crossed out names on tabs and post-it notes all over them. It was a mess. The company had PC Recruiter, but the recruiters there before me probably weren’t ready for it. My first month was dedicated to sorting it all out and getting everything that was relevant into the database. We could have heated the office for a month with all the paper we were able to eliminate in that place.

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?

DOUG: I had worked in the business selling solutions to recruiters before I was an actual recruiter, so I thought I knew it all when I first got into the cube. Boy was I wrong. It’s not easy getting on the phone and trying to track down that needle in the haystack candidate and then actually getting them interested your opportunity. I thought everyone would be happy to hear from me while they were at work or just when they were ready to sit down to dinner with the family. Not so much. Nowadays, when I tell people I work in the recruiting industry, someone ALWAYS says: “So, you’re like, just a headhunter, right?” No, I’m not just a headhunter. And being “just a headhunter” isn’t an easy job to begin with. For some reason I have lots of friends who became teachers. I’d love it if they wanted to be a recruiter for a month. They wouldn’t last a week being just a headhunter, right?

Six Degrees: How do you personally expect to facilitate change within our industry, and/or at your place of work? /strong>

DOUG: I would like to reinforce what all the bloggers and thought leaders are saying about social media recruiting, search engine optimization and the Web 2.0 movement. I’m at this everyday, talking with HR Departments, recruiting teams, headhunters, trying to drive home that this is the way that recruiting and advertising are going. It has not been an easy road over the past few years but the more that people keep talking about it, taking the jump to implement them, the easier its going to get. I learn something new almost every single day and I use these little tid-bits everyday to help my clients and prospects to give them that small edge they need in this so-called war for talent.

Six Degrees: “Best practice” you are most proud of developing (now or in the past) in your recruiting career?

DOUG: I guess I most proud of giving companies the opportunity to use simple technology and proven SEO techniques to help solidify and empower their employment brand on the web and social media. Companies like Ebay and Amazon have been using these techniques for year to attract consumers to their site. I’m happy that I can give companies the opportunity to use the same techniques to attract better talent and lower their overall spend on internet recruiting advertising.

Six Degrees: What are some of the frustrating aspects/obstacles to your day to day as a staffing professional and in general?

DOUG: The non-believers. The haters. No matter how good your widget, someone is always going to hate what you’re doing. Or, they are always going to have something better and more effective. Whether it be an industry sector that refuses to use the internet to recruit, a specific company that is cemented their ways, or your competition who says there widget is better. There is always going to obstacles and it’s my job to use what I learn every single day to overcome them.

Six Degrees: What are the most common themes of strategic and/or tactical mishaps involving past or present HR/Staffing org?

DOUG: This is an extension of the previous question. Sometimes i will come across a company who only uses the newspaper to recruit talent, who refuses to invest dollars into a functioning career site, who would rather pay $5,000 on full page spread in an industry magazine to recruit talent then to pay for more advantageous technology. Then you also have your decentralized HR teams, where there are eleven different managers with eleven different groups. It’s near impossible to get that many groups to agree on one initiative. Sometimes a company will be “right there” and the idea is squashed and it never happens. Then the fall behind and left in the dust.

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?

DOUG: I’ve been at this for about 10 years. I’ve seen changes and ideas come and go. It’s an industry that always keeps your on your toes. You have to stick and move, go with the flow, adapt to the trends. That’s why I stick around. It’s a challenge. We are an industry, with great minds, which do the most with the least amount of resources. We are the unsung hero’s of not only the recruiting industry but company’s corporate landscape. If it weren’t for the recruiting team, how would an idea for a drug go from a bar napkin, through development, to market, to saving thousands of lives? Think about it.

Six Degrees: What one thing do you ideally hope to accomplish in 2010?

DOUG: In addition to consistently breaking 100 on the golf course, I’d like to keep growing our client list. It may not sound like a lofty goal but it’s real. If you ask me next year I’ll probably say it’s time to take the plunge and get married. But no seriously, I want to keep practicing what I’m preach, give it my all in everything I do and with everything I got, every single day.
Six Degrees: Anything you want to plug?

DOUG: Of course! I want to plug OptiJob! If you haven’t already had enough of me and my company, take a look at our site: Every day, we’re helping HR and Recruiting departments solidify their recruitment brands on the internet.

Six Degrees: How Are You Going To Change The Recruitment Industry?

DOUG: I may not be able to make too many changes on my own, but with help from the OptiJob team, we’re going to keep thinking and developing new ways to help companies gain that small edge in the war for talent.


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