McLean, Virginia, United States
Vice President of Business Development
TMP Government LLC, a division of
TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications, LLC
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John Bersantes has had over Twenty years of experience in the publishing and advertising field. Experience includes newspapers such as The Rocky Mountain News and Houston Post to produce regular weekly features entitled The Business & Industry Section. Prior to his appointment with TMP John oversaw online recruitment advertising for bizjournals.com the interactive division of American City Business Journals. Since 1997, Mr. Bersentes has worked in the interactive space to develop and launch leading diversity niche job boards such as HireDiversity.com and WorkplaceDiversity.com. His background includes specialization in multi-cultural marketing, recruitment solutions, and advertising campaign strategies. A graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara with a pre-professional emphasis in Journalism and Minor in Mass Media Communications; Bersentes contributes from an extensive knowledge base in custom print and electronic publishing to both the public and private sectors.
Over 20 years advertising industry experience:
+Seven plus years in creating job boards and online recruitment services.
+A decade of Internet advertising campaign management.
+Effective in trade show marketing and event sponsorship sales.
+Launched start up titles for established publishers in various markets.
+Diversity recruitment and outreach specialist with online recruitment, B2B, B2G media campaign management experience.
Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.
John: I have been happily married for about ten years now to my wife Jenn and we have two great kids, Sophia (10) who can’t get enough-of or off-of Facebook, and Teddy (7) whom has moved on from his Nintendo DS and Wii to the X-Box 360. The challenge we have parents with these two, like so many other parents I imagine – is how to break that electronic bubble. That aside, we have made a wonderful home together in Chantilly Virginia which has been a great transition for us, and is quite the departure from Santa Barbara, CA where we started out with just a little more than a good attitude and an over-priced two bedroom apartment.
We love to travel when vacation time comes around but most of my free time is spent putting together Lego or stepping on them in the middle of the night. As my schedule tends to keep me at the office on a seven to seven kind of weekly schedule, on the weekends we love going to the movies or visiting the local tourist traps. Unlike the west coast there is always a show, museum of cultural event in the area. As the local areas is steeped in history it is hard not to get caught up in the visiting the monuments.
Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?
John: I have been in the staffing industry on and off for about fifteen years now.
Six Degrees: How did you get started in the recruitment industry?
John: To be honest my start in the industry was shall we say not intentional. I had worked in the publishing field for print directory, newspaper and with magazines. At the time I was working for Hispanic Business Magazine a niche publication based out of Santa Barbara that reached an affluent and influential audience of Hispanic professionals and business owners. Having met with success in advertising sales to the government sector and custom publishing lead to my being assigned to another division that was having problems called HispanData. Often readers would send in resumes based on a profile they read in the magazine, and the thought was to provide placement of bilingual professionals.
As part of a small team we created a niche job board back in 97, went multi-cultural with it and built an audience around a website called HireDiversity.com – which I am pleased to say is still around today. That was my start to not only selling the service to but to support operations and help to build viable candidate pools and provide recruitment services for Fortune 500 clients and government agencies recruitment support on a subscription based service which helped me get a start in the industry.
Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?
John: My first recruitment event was at the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. The opportunity to talk to candidates, network them with our recruiter clientele was a great experience. It really opened my eyes to the value of the trade and ultimately the joy of helping young people looking to get off on the right foot to start their careers. At the time I recall thinking how much more rewarding it was helping people find a job as compared to selling an advertisement or sponsorship.
Six Degrees: Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook as an industry professional?
John: I have been very fortunate to have had several mentors at different times in my life for different aspects that have been important to my individual developmental plans related to recruitment. I don’t believe anyone should have just one mentor; because as we grow we learn. As we learn I we change, adapt, and overcome obstacles. In the last five years or so as it relates to recruitment, Mark Havard has been a great friend and mentor to me- as a manager he doesn’t micro-manage but roles up his sleeves and is very generous in teaching my cohorts and I the art, strategy, and tactics that have served him well dating back to his days in recruiting at Computer Sciences Corporation as well as experience in running his own agency.
In the field of Employer Branding, Ellis Pines whom is a genius and is never to busy to take time from his busy schedule for me to provide insights and explain the genius behind how employers go about message development and crafting an effective and measurable Employer Value Proposition. Lastly but not least as it relates to Digital and Website development, Lindsay Wozniak has mentored so many and asked so little in return that one can’t help but be inspired by her dedication and unmatched passion, creativity, and brilliance to fuse the branding and messaging to strategy and metrics.
Lastly, Stuart Miller where I started out in the government directory publishing field who while in college helped me learn effective telemarketing and how to call on government marketing directors and VP’s to subsidize my tuition when bartending just wasn’t cutting it. ltimately it was the lessons learned and generosity of these individuals that I attribute any success that I enjoy today.
Six Degrees: Tell us about your role as Vice President Business Development at TMP Government:
John: My current role is Vice President of Business Development for TMP Government a division of TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications. Much of my current responsibilities relate to crafting an approach and solution sets to respond to Requests for Proposals from the Office of Human Resources or Human Capital from across any number of Federal government agencies. So if I am not in the proposal tank so to speak, I am white-boarding solutions with some very smart people. Or I am presenting to agency officials and program managers as to the value of Employer Brand Management, Online recruitment approaches, mobile and social media strategies for collaboration and outreach. When I am recruiting, it is typically to find that purple squirrel or subject matter expert that can help complete the puzzle for us.
John: My current role is Vice President of Business Development for TMP Government a division of TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications. Much of my current responsibilities relate to crafting an approach and solution sets to respond to Requests for Proposals from the Office of Human Resources or Human Capital from across any number of Federal government agencies. So if I am not in the proposal tank so to speak, I am white-boarding solutions with some very smart peoples. Or I am presenting to agency officials and program managers as to the value of Employer Brand Management, Online recruitment approaches, mobile and social media strategies for collaboration and outreach. When I am recruiting, it is typically to find that purple squirrel or subject matter expert that can help complete the puzzle for us.
strong>Six Degrees: What other companies’ recruiting operations do you admire for their best-practices?
John: Microsoft, Dell, Google, and believe it or not the Internal Revenue Service are all organizations that I have had the opportunity to support and learn from within larger recruiting operations. Granted all have strong brands, but the high-touch and community involvement as well as employee engagement levels are admirable. Microsoft has a robust recruitment event paradigm and approach which comes across when you approach them at shows. More importantly all have well developed strategies and operational goals tied to success metrics which are clearly visible to internal stakeholders. These four have shown strong support for attracting not only diverse but top talent across a broad spectrum of disciplines. Working with Program Managers as strategic partners with a keen focus on the business and operational goals of the organization is a common trait which is at the forefront of their operations.
The approach they take to recruitment events, open houses, sourcing tools and software are excellent. They are risk takers, and have reaped rewards from new tools, technologies, and approaches that not only engage candidates but create a focus on the candidate experience which is unmatched. In fact IRS enjoys a 54% conversion rate of Interns to FTE’s which rivals even some of the biggest brand names in the business.
Six Degrees: What industry trends do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future?
John: Without question as it relates to the government workforce hiring reform initiatives will prove to be critical if we are to develop the next cadre of leaders in the public sector. For many years, diversity and pro-active sourcing have been relatively non-existent. With the Obama’s Administration call to streamline the hiring process we have seen some great strides in cutting down the time it takes to apply for and secure a job in the public sector but there is much work to be done in the realm of HRIT. The Department of Health and Human Services which faces a backfill across some twenty occupational categories representing close to 50,000 jobs that need to be filled are revamping their approach and are one a few key agencies looking at blending internal departments to address HRIT. Frankly over the past few years many in staffing in the public sector would say the hiring process is in fact “broken”; but the time for change is now and leaders are asking for solutions.
Six Degrees: Tell us about your broader involvement within the staffing industry:
John: Conferences I have and typically attend include National Black MBA, National Society of Hispanic MBA’s, Society of Hispanic Engineers, NSBE, SWE to name a few. Diversity Best Practices, SHRM, HCI and ERE are also great shows for me. I enjoy speaking at many of the good government events and human capital focused events these days but fondly look back at the days when I would recruit at no less than a dozen diversity focused shows a year. Most recently I have spoken on behalf of TMP Government at the Federal HR Technology Conference, the Center for Human Capital Innovation, and regularly attend the Excellence in Government events here in Washington DC.
Six Degrees: From your perspective, how did the recessionary period impact the broader market? Are there atypical factors your role at TMP observed that have yet to been discussed in the mainstream media?
John: Much of the discussion had been about the “retirement tsunami” before the recession and it is believed that the economic downturn has pushed back retirements for so many in the Federal workforce. You will never meet more dedicated people that truly want to make a difference than you will find in the Federal workforce, at the same time there is also allot of “dead wood”. Engagement levels at 30% but large groups of folks that really don’t want to rock the boat and are complacent are creating more opportunities for those in the training, organizational development, and performance improvement arena. That said, the biggest impact will come as shortages of talent in the public healthcare sector, IT / Cyber Security, and Acquisition Workforce retirements start to really kick-in as the economy starts to turn around. Presently close to 40% of an aging workforce are retirement eligible, OPM is looking at executive search as means to address diversity at the mid-career level, and USAJobs.gov the official government job board is due for an overall this fall after being brought in-house from Monster. Bottom line try and get a clean feed of jobs right now is difficult and agencies need to articulate better the Employer Value Proposition to a multi-generational candidate pool.
Six Degrees: Aside from simply the generic term “Networking” what specific efforts have you made on your own behalf, or on behalf of colleagues to broaden your opportunities. Are there specific groups, both online and in-person that have proved fruitful in extending your personal brand?
John: I stay active in several groups on LinkedIn.com and plan several Human Capital or Digital Breakfast events for the company. In terms of expanding my personal brand I have found that whitepapers are a great way to garner attention around the issues that are important to me and my company.
Six Degrees: Given your own Trial and Error experiences as a Networker, what advice do you have for your peers on what NOT to do?
John: I feel it is important to leverage the social networking tools that are out there for free and more importantly get out of the office and engage in face to face functions and events relevant to your community of practice. Not all are free and when you invest your time and energy and try to build networks that are focused in on key areas it is important to do your homework. I always try to have one or two questions at the ready for key presenters or speakers but always elect to ask off stage, or before the event. Never put your panelists in a position that puts them on the spot but approach networking as an individual that wants to learn more about the topic as opposed to try and position yourself as the subject matter expert. It is important to always follow through as well and be sure to send a follow on message within a day of meeting someone new at an event via linkedIn.com or whichever is you social network du jour. Most importantly be courteous to the time requirements of those you ask to participate or panel discussions
Six Degrees: How do you foresee your role evolving in the next several years?
John: I would really like to become a global brand strategist that is focused on employer branding for clients. After five years in the recruitment advertising agency field, I am excited about emerging technologies, and relationship marketing but it is the brand management side of the house that I see as a potential next career aspiration. Having worked with guys like Ellis Pines at TMP Government I would say the one thing I really need to get there down the road beyond just more experience in facilitation, will be increasing my ability to listen and observe. I like to think of a Brand as a conversation, so one must be a better listener to be truly a good conversationalist if you will.
Honors & Awards
New Hampshire Corporate Diversity Awareness Council – Speaker
NAHFE –National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives
Certificate of Completion for Diversity Training 2002 NAHFE Annual Leadership Summit
Invited Panelist “ Internet Recruitment Strategies” FY2001
Invited Speaker “ Effectively Working with Media “ FY2000
Certificate of Appreciation 1999 Hispanic Assoc. of Colleges & Universities Annual Conference
Guest Host for Online Chat with CareerPath.com “ Seeking adventure abroad -jobs overseas