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Meet Rob Dromgoole, “1,000 Recruiters of Light” is Making A Difference

Posted on June 17, 2010
Filed Under Interviews | Comments Off on Meet Rob Dromgoole, “1,000 Recruiters of Light” is Making A Difference

By Dave Mendoza

Rob Quotables:

“The premise of the novel was that there was no such thing as coincidence and everything is connected. Lizzy posted a comment, reviewing the book on a web site. I replied. We started a thread and eventually exchanged phone numbers and the rest is history. So we met online, but not a dating site, we met discussing a book that posits there’s no such thing as coincidence … coincidentally?”

1,000 Recruiters of Light’s vision is to engage the recruiting community to help veterans find jobs. We are not seeking money, we want your talent and your time. We are asking 1,000 recruiters to contact and develop a job search mentoring relationship with 1,000 veterans; they have the talent but we have the knowledge, the tools, and the contacts to help them find the right job.


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• Websites: www.pnl.gov & www.battelle.org
• Community Volunteering: 1,000 Recruiters of Light Project
• Office: 509-375-2441
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It is always with a genuine smile that I get to feature someone I have not only met but featured in our “Six Degrees from Dave” networking listings who has a personal story to tell experiencing the depth of industry virtual handshakes. It is also a pleasure knowing that someone who so often comments on my Facebook posts, is also someone who shares the same admiration of valuable contributors in our industry we also are fortunate enough to call friends. Ron Dromgoole is such a person, and I recall after several years of comments and emails that I realized I was sitting next to him having drinks with Kevin Wheeler at ERE and he did not disappoint. we immediately hit it off viewing the world in much the same way and yet I also realize he has done far more than I have in my own life, when it comes to ‘walking the talk” in serving our country as a veteran. He is one o the nicest guys you can meet and in much the same way I tend to judge people by how they treat their animals (serious) I can also say how they view their families as part of their identities matters as well. When I received pictures from Rob you can tell he never tired of a picture holding his son’s hands or on his shoulders. I can relate given we have little ones nearly the same age. You view your legacy in the little ones we hold dear. Rob is about friends, family, and country, – how can you not admire Rob already? Then there is the issue of pertinence to all – he loves our industry and he finds himself making a difference even in his own small way if need be, one candidate at a time. Here is someone to watch because his candidates have already experienced his truisms in candidate experience and someday he will be on his own stage sharing what his friends and colleagues already know are his passions. He is one of the brightest among thousands of lights in our industry. He is a man with a genuine story to tell. In family alone he is a wealthy man, in his associations and in his passions we are all the richer.

Q&A with Rob Dromgoole

Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.

ROB: I have been married to Elizabeth Anne Dromgoole since 2000, but we’ve known each other since 1996. During the 1996 time frame a book was released titled the Celestine Prophecy. The premise of the novel was that there was no such thing as coincidence and everything is connected. Lizzy posted a comment, reviewing the book on a web site. I replied. We started a thread and eventually exchanged phone numbers and the rest is history. So we met online, but not a dating site, we met discussing a book that posits there’s no such thing as coincidence … coincidentally? I always found that amusing. She was going to school at Linfield at the time, and I was finishing up at University of Washington.


We have 2 dogs, Reggie & Shelby, both pug/Chihuahua mixes. If any reader would like to adopt them, we’ll pay shipping. Hint, one wears a diaper full time inside. We lost the marking battle and declared a truce with Huggies size 3. So if you want a Chihuaha that wears size 3 diapers …. I have a great dog for you. Liam Blake Dromgoole, born Oct. 7, 2007 is our son. We have one on the way, little James Austin Dromgoole, expected to be born Sep. 20th, 2010. Liam is already an avid reader and loves to catch bugs and LOVES animals. He’s been to the zoo almost 10 times, and he’s not even 3, so maybe his mother loves animals more than him. He loves his trains, cars and pressing buttons. In addition, he somehow managed to order an MMA event which Charter Cable charged us for on his own.

Six Degrees: What is a Dromgoole past time in the day in the life?

ROB: Family is #1. I love the NFL, especially the Seattle Seahawks. I’m still angry at the referees during the 2006 Superbowl. I’m a huge University of Washington Huskies fan being a former season ticket holder. Our 1991 National Championship was an awesome moment. I am an avid Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel reader. Besides the Lord of the Rings, I love Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind etc. However, Stephen King I argue is the most influential author of our time. In addition, I have a strange fascination with sci-fi movies and novels related to asteroids. I don’t why, but I just loved Lucifer’s Hammer, both the crazy meteor movies. So if you know of a great asteroid novel, shoot me the title. I love Sid Meier’s Civilization and during my lifetime have wasted countless hours in world domination since its creation in the 80s. In addition, military strategy games I’ve always enjoyed, like Axis & Allies, Risk, Conquest. Our family & friends enjoy our PS3, and Rockband/Guitar Hero. I enjoy playing competitive Spades when I can. An old habit from the Army. We would constantly play cards in the hours awaiting deployment. Ask any long time soldier and there are many hours where you have to find something to do—for me it was Spades and it stuck.

Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?

ROB: I began staffing in Dec. 1996 immediately after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree. 14 years.

Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?

ROB: I was a temp. I graduated with an under graduate degree in English and Philosophy with no job prospects and no connections. I landed at a retained search firm specializing in high-tech and telecommunications. I started doing reference checks and quickly began to make cold calls to candidates. I still remember my first script and the task to call 100-200 people making a pitch. It was 100% commission, and a lot of fun. We had to average 60 dials per day, and 3.5 hours of connect time to earn our draw. However, that activity produced billing. It created discipline, and taught me everything I needed to be a successful recruiter. All my success I’ve had is due to this start at ROI International. Marc Goyette the President of ROI I’m still connected with and I still send him the occasional thank you. Oh yeah, my first interview, I had to sell a pen to him face-to-face. “Sell me this pen.” “Marc, I want to discuss the fine features of this writing instrument that will enable your success in business ….” A time I like to call the good ‘ole days.

Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your recruiting career?


ROB: How do you define impact? Well, I would say when I was recruited away from ROI, I went to an internet startup called InterNap Network Services. I was offered a crazy sign on bonus, 10,000 shares of stock and a fantastic base salary. This was in Dec. 98/99. In fact, I’ve only recently passed what I was earning back then in base. My strike price was in the low 30s. Our stock at its peak rose to 125+ a share. I had $7-million in stock before age 30 … but wasn’t vested. I remember watching it turn to vapor and the company almost folding. The startup experience was fantastic. The highs were unbelievably high and the lows were low, but we learned a lot. I loved the passion and energy that organization offered and fondly look back on that experience. I made a vow that I wanted to surround myself with really impressive people and learn from them. This is one of the reasons why I work at a national lab today because of my startup experience. I encourage everyone to try a startup at least once in their career. If you want a cool placement story, I have plenty of those too.

One such story: Director Bioproducts & Engineering Laboratory. I cold called the leading scientist for biomass in Denmark and introduced our Director opportunity at PNNL. We were partnering with Washington State University at the time, so I was working with the President of a University, a large search committee, Washington State and an international relocation. It was a great recruiting experience. The high bay facility is now build and working. When my candidate was at the ribbon cutting ceremony on May 8, 2008, that was a great experience. But every placement is like the story above. We make a difference one placement at a time.

Six Degrees: Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?

ROB: Lou Adler, Gerry Crispin, Mark Mehler and the entire ERE community.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your role at Battelle, Rob :

ROB: Well, I have multiple roles. Battelle consists of 21,000 employees in 157 locations around the world. I am occasionally called upon to fill executive roles (like an in house Korn Ferry etc.) That accounts for about 10-20% of my time depending on the amount of positions I’m assigned. I’ve had the good fortune to work on positions for Brookhaven National Lab, Oak Ridge National Lab, Idaho National Lab and Battelle Corporate.
Another of my responsibilities is to work on hard-to-fill strategic positions for our Energy & Environment Directorate. I’m mentoring some recruiters on roles focused on Energy Storage (Batteries), Carbon Capture & Storage and Energy Economics & Policy. The opportunity provides me the chance to network with energy leaders around the world. Our organization is at the forefront in reducing our dependency on oil and reducing environmental effects of energy use. We are making a difference.


The bulk of my responsibility is staffing for a 1,200+ division which focuses on National Security. Our mission is related to nuclear nonproliferation and counter terrorism. There are 2 other recruiters on my team here and we filled about 125 positions last year and are on track for another great year. Our lab is the world leader in radiation detection and explosives detection. It’s fun to be a part of. We hire physicists, chemists, biologists, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, but also counter intelligence types, project managers, polygraph experts and computer scientists. It is diverse and it’s awesome. We have so many challenges, but I really look forward to coming to work each day.

Six Degrees: (A) What other companies’ recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?

ROB: Microsoft & Starbucks for their social media approach and use of tools. I also envy Bank of America with their integrated use of a CRM that ties to their ATS. I want to learn more about Sodexho because they seem to sweep the ERE awards each year. Sodhexo, can I visit?

Six Degrees: (B) In what aspects are they superior?

ROB: Microsoft: Talent Communities and the use of technology to create them. Marvin Smith is the brain child here. Mr. Balmer, give Marvin a raise because that guy is money. He’s a world leader in the use of technology to find and attract talent. If I could have half of a Marvin he’d be better than the top 5% of most recruiters.

Starbucks: 8-million Facebook fans and growing and a progressive approach to use social media to promote their brand and attract talent. Kat Drum has done an amazing job.

Bank of America: Again, their use of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Their recruiters have a great CRM tool to cold call talent which ties to Taleo.

Sodexho: Let me read their ERE award packets in detail—I just want to be able to implement what they do. It would be great to be on stage someday and get recognized by ERE.

Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future? Why?


ROB: Locally, I think there will be a massive decrease in government spending. I feel R&D is a worthy expenditure of tax payer dollars when its focus is to protect our country from attack and to reduce our dependence on oil. However, we are quickly approaching a time where we have to make tough choices in budgets. I foresee the demise of a good portion of the national labs and am scared of what that means. I wouldn’t be surprised in the years ahead if that $23-billion budget for DOE is greatly reduced.

Industry wide: what will separate the great recruiters from the hoard are sales skills. I highly recommend Lou Adler’s Recruiter Boot Camp. Learn how to use the phone, use the technology and you’ll be in the top 5%.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your broader involvement within the staffing industry: (Do you attend conferences? Which ones? List/detail speaking events, awards, publications, where you have you represented your company)

ROB: I have been to about 10 ERE events it seems both East & West over the years. Most recently I attended the #socialrecruiting event in Minneapolis which offered great insight into social media implementation. I highly recommend watching Josh Ingalls and Andy Drish: http://socialrecruitingsummit.com/mn2010/agenda/session-descriptions/

In addition, Jenny DeVaughn did fantastic. She’s the Director of Social Strategy for Bernard Hodes and was incredible. If you find her blog, she has a good deck to read. I had the honor of speaking at the recent ERE in San Diego. I really got deep on how to use the phone and overcome objections and close deals. I’ve written a few ERE pieces. Many years ago I was part of the Board for the Northwest Recruiter Association. We’re looking at combing our local recruiting community with the NWRA. Local for me is Tri-Cities, WA. We have 60+ recruiters in the community. We had an event where Marvin Smith spoke recently on June 10, 2010. The readers are more than welcome to attend, come one come all to Tri-Cities, WA.

Six Degrees: Can you detail how the recession has affected your particular industry niche?

ROB: What recession? Government expenditures as many realize have only gone up. For me, the recession has been something I witnessed on the news, in headlines and through the stories of fellow recruiters who were laid off. But hiring at my organization has only gone up. It has cut our turnover in half the past couple years. Recently, since the economy begins to shift we’ve had more difficulty hiring computational scientists. I’ve lost a few candidates to private industry. We’ve had the good fortune of being able to hire a great recruiter in Jill Schroeder from Mentor Graphics. She’s doing great things for our team. I don’t think we would have been able to attract her without the recession.

Six Degrees: Compassionate HR’s Margo Rose has spotlighted the “1,000 Recruiters of Light” effort you have helped spearhead. Can you tell us about it?


ROB: Recently, Steve Levy & I started the 1,000 Recruiters of Light project. You can find the piece on ERE.net. However, the organization’s premise is to connect one recruiter with one veteran one hour per week to help veterans find jobs in the civilian world. The charity is in its inception, but we have 150+ fans on Facebook and numerous members in our Linked In group. The work is just starting, but I’m excited to be able to take my talent and time to help others. There was a story I read/heard about Mother Theresa once that has always stuck with me. During a tour of the U.S. she went on a radio station and was interviewing with a DJ. The DJ was excited and wanted to reach out to his audience to raise money for her orphanage and the poor children in India. However, Mother Theresa turned down his request. Instead, she really emphasized that charity had to be one-on-one. That personal transformation came from one-on-one engagement. Raising money is fantastic, but to truly help and to truly give, you have to make that personal connection. The DJ claimed that that day, that moment changed his life forever for the better. He didn’t raise money, but he donated his time to homeless people in his city. I like to think that the recruiters who participate may experience that same type of visceral connection to reach out, help someone who has dedicated their life to defend freedom and protect our country. We owe these veterans so much and the recruiting community has a lot to offer. So I encourage recruiters to participate. Find us on Facebook/LI or e-mail Steve & direct.

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.

ROB: To broaden my opportunities? I’ve made a more conscious effort to become engaged in the industry outside my organization. Through my connections with organizations like CareerXRoads and ERE, I’ve learned from great talent. What I’ve learned has gained me credibility internally. With colleagues? I do what I can to share best practices and mentor daily. There isn’t a day which goes by during the week where I’m not on the phone with a recruiter—internally or externally—and trying to help them in some ways. Sometimes it’s political issues they are struggling with, other times it’s a tough search, either way I try to uplift others any way I can. I highly recommend Gerry Crispin’s and Mark Mehler’s CareerXRoads and also encourage recruiters to find the funding to attend ERE events.

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? Be specific

ROB: Well, if someone is taking action to reach out, that’s better than not doing anything. I guess one piece of advice is to not post anything on someone’s Facebook wall. Some people really make an effort to keep work separated from their FB account and a visible post can violate their personal space. Send them an e-mail or call them. I also encourage a networker to offer something instead of just demanding something. Give back. Most people you want to network with are busy. Respect their time, respect their success and be patient.

Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?

ROB: I’ve had the opportunity to lead many small teams in my career, but my next step is to lead a staffing function for a great organization. As much as I love cold calling and closing deals, I’ve been feeling the call to work more strategically. I want to find a position that allows me to set the strategic staffing vision of a company with senior executives. I want to enable the success of a larger recruiting team and help budget for tools, work with executives and execute on strategy. The company has to be high-tech and I would have to have P&L (a budget/hiring authority etc.). I would like to get more formal manager training. If government spending does get lower, I may have the opportunity to rejoin the private work force in the months ahead. So if you readers know of a great manager or Director role, keep me in mind.

Staffing Industry Recommendations

“Rob Dromgoole is one of the very few staffing leaders who walks the talk when it comes to candidate experience. His firm offers a promise to candidates…how they can expect to be treated if they pursue a job. Not rocket science but it sure is in short supply.”
Gerry Crispin, Careerxroads.com

“I would like to tell you about Rob. I found him to be a passionate and talented recruiting professional. He brings a bit of “old school high touch” into this technological age that is constantly changing. I appreciate Rob’s dedication to providing assistance to our military that are in transition; he truly wants to pay it forward. We need more Rob’s in recruiting and staffing.”
Marvin Smith, Talent Community Evangelist, Microsoft Entertainment & Devices

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