Six Degrees: What talent niche groups do you target and are these particular talent areas specialized under your review?
Eric: We place product engineering, product design, product development and product management professionals with companies making branded sports and recreation products. They range from individual contributors to vice presidents. We also do some positions in sales for certain clients.
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?
Eric: Operating on a Macintosh platform, we use Filemaker Pro as the database program. Using a pull down menu, we can create a status report for a client showing exactly where we are on a search and save it as a PDF. Then we can email the PDF to the client to discuss progress. Sure beats the old days of faxing. Remember faxing?
In terms of added value, we cast a very wide net and present real time information customized for the client. So when the status report starts to get long and ungainly, we also make and share a one page Excel spreadsheet as a summary.
For example, on a recently completed search for a Regional Sales Manager with an outdoor equipment company, we talked to a total of 175 individuals. Of those, 67 were potential candidates and the rest were sources. We presented 22 candidates; the client screened eight by phone; and invited three for face to face interviews. One was hired.
Six Degrees: What tools (technology or old school file folder, for example) did you first encounter early in your recruitment career?
Eric: Oh, Jeez! Now I’m really going to date myself [Laughs]. When I was at the BridgeGate Group, we built an in house network using Apple products because Apple was a client. There is probably more computing power in your cell phone today than in those computers. I believe this was back in the misty past, around ’89, when there were still Wells Fargo stage coaches on the cobblestone streets of San Francisco.
Twenty years ago, we had to be trained on how to use the computer. Today, when the network goes down for thirty minutes I feel lost!
I have always been process oriented. My belief is that the client will make the best decision when given fresh information. So before the computer network, all the record keeping was done by hand, What a laborious process.
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?
Eric: When I started at Sales World, we were hammering the phones … just dialing for dollars. The method was to lead with a candidate and try to get that person seen and expand the control from there. It was a pretty hard – closing, sales oriented environment.
When I moved to BridgeGate Group, I began offering the search service, not the specific candidate. That was a real mental shift for me and a difference in the type of approach and type of reception.
People still think, unfortunately, that recruiters are pushy and uncaring. The problem is they’re right in many cases. There are a few of us out here in the real world who operate with the abundance mentality and want to empower candidates to get better positions and enhance the client company team with stronger individuals.
The challenge is there are always people who take short cuts. Whether they’re on the client side or the candidate side.
Six Degrees: Worst mistake, biggest goof, lousiest practice you thought would fly but didn’t…and how that was a learning experience?
Eric: Oh, that’s easy. My face still gets red when I think about it. I was the Team Leader (and rainmaker) when I took a junior recruiter to a meeting with a prospective client. We arrived at the client location, were shown into the conference room and introduced to the Vice President of Human Resources and the Vice President of Engineering. The VP of HR opened the meeting by asking, “So, Eric, what do you know about us?”
“Well, this is a company that makes medical devices, “ I said.
“Okay, what else?” he asked.
“That’s about all,” I stammered.
“So, you didn’t look us up on the internet?” he asked.
“Ummm, no,” I replied.
“Well, this meeting is over,” he said. They closed their notebooks and left the room.
That meeting lasted all of 90 seconds and taught me one of the most important lessons of my professional life. Information gathering and research is a powerful tool which can differentiate you from other resources a prospective client might be considering. It is also a sign of respect. You can never be “too” prepared for a meeting.
I have recently created a blog about this subject. I try to encourage candidates to gather information about the company, the products and the individuals before going in for the interview. It will reduce their fears and help them feel relaxed and confident.
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.
Eric: I guess my ambitions are a bit less lofty. I don’t expect to create changes within the industry. My goal is to provide high level, personalized services to companies and individuals.
For the companies, I want to perform high level, client directed search and bring forward the best possible candidates to examine the opportunity. I want to be the ambassador of good will and keep the karma clean with all people encountered.
For the individuals using my career coaching services, I want to mentor them and improve their skills so they can understand the strategy and tactics of how to get hired. I have enough gray hair and experience to provide some wisdom on these subjects.
Six Degrees: “Best practice” you are most proud of developing (now or in the past) in your recruiting career?
Eric: I would have to say enumerating the ten step search process, teaching it to many people and putting it into practice for a lot of different companies. It’s not rocket science. It’s just a simple, logical progression. My version of this process is on my web site.
It’s pretty easy to comprehend and works in a lot of different applications.
Six Degrees: What are some of the frustrating aspects/obstacles to your day to day as a staffing professional and in general?
Eric: As we discussed earlier, this economy has people looking to cut corners and reduce cost per hire. In many circumstances, that’s a false metric. Some people at companies fail to account for the hidden cost of staff time in the qualifying and interviewing process. Or else they push off that cost by having a number of contingency firms competing to make the placement. That’s operating under the incorrect assumption that more recruiters will bring forward a greater number of qualified candidates.
What the hiring managers don’t realize is that by keeping the recruiter at a distance they are only damaging the REAL recruiter’s ability to understand the company environment.
This business is a lot more complex than “find resume, send candidate, make hire.”
Six Degrees: What are the most common themes of strategic and/or tactical mishaps involving past or present HR/Staffing org?
Eric: Not to beat a dead horse – but it seems like people want to take shortcuts just to get to the finish line. Too often, some human resource people are the most socially challenged people in the building. Some are not playing for the long term and see their role as gate keepers. Some do not care to learn more about the business or operations aspect of the company. Sorry, I can not understand that attitude.
Fortunately, there are many human resource people who have the magic touch. They really shine in this environment.
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?
Eric: Getting to vacation in France again [Laughs]. Seriously, I really like people and like the ability to help improve their lives and move them toward self-actualization. In the best circumstances, that’s what we do … and there’s a relatively small carbon footprint.