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Meet Sylvia Dahlby, at SmartSearchOnline “Helping Clients Maximize Their ROI”

Posted on March 25, 2010
Filed Under Interviews | Comments Off on Meet Sylvia Dahlby, at SmartSearchOnline “Helping Clients Maximize Their ROI”

By Dave Mendoza

Sylvia Dahlby, Rainmaker at SmartSearch
“Maximize Processes & Minimize Costs w/ Total Integration”
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Sylvia has been purveyor of talent acquisition, staffing management and recruiting business solutions for over 30 years. Sylvia has been a trusted partner to the HR/Staffing industry as chief Rain Maker at SmartSearch talent acquisition and staffing management software. The company is currently in its thirteenth release and serves more than 6,000 users worldwide. Advanced Personnel Systems, the makers of SmartSearch, has developed & deployed quality talent management and recruiting solutions since 1986. A pioneer in the field of resume-scanning and recruiting solutions, APS is a recognized industry leader in web-based technology and innovative approaches to data management & systems integration. She is one of those silent, yet indispensible, cogs in the wheel where integrity and partnership have helped forge successful solutions for the names you most often seen on the speaker listings at conferences and TA leaders alike. They most likely had someone like Sylvia get things running smoothly due to her valued advice.

Q&A with Sylvia Dahlby

“The most recent news about the Monster/HotJobs buy out directly impacts my customers since SmartSearch integrates with both boards; we’ll have to sort this out in order to ensure a smooth transition for our users. We’ve also just licensed the TalentHook search capability and are building that into the next Version release; since we have many mutual clients, this will also require some work to smooth the transition and better serve those customers … We’re seeing an increased use of SMS, cell phone text messaging, and my CTO is hard at work on a full-fledged mobile app”

Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.

Sylvia: I’m lucky to be married to my soul mate & high school sweetheart. We celebrated our 35th anniversary last Sept. We have no children, but have had many pets; currently two cats named Sox & Stripes. I have a couple of avocations that I’m know for:

I read tarot cards and used to have an after-hours gig with an entertainment company in Scottsdale, AZ that sent me out to private parties & corporate events. I consider myself an entertainer, not a psychic, so I don’t do private readings. I also dealt Blackjack at “casino night” fundraisers with the same company. Most recently I read tarot cards at the Hilo Rotary Club’s “Emblamer’s Ball” Halloween Party in 2009, which was a fundraiser for the Hilo Medical Center and other local charities, I expect I’ll do it again this year.

I’m an aspiring screenwriter, haven’t sold any features yet, but have had one produced as a role playing game (RPG) by my friend Nik Palmer at AIRS who is an avid gamester. The game made its debut at CarnageCon in 2007. One of my short scripts, based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe, is currently in production for Revenge Fest.

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

Sylvia: Since 1979. I’ve always worked as a vendor to the industry. And I haven’t needed a resume since the 80’s, so my LinkedIn Profile is pretty much it.

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

Sylvia: In the 80’s I took a job with Copley Press selling online recruitment advertising when they launched a BBS on a VAX called Computer Listings of Employment Opportunities (CLEO) — this predated the internet as we know it. CLEO was a little too far ahead of its time. But I just knew it was the future and start of a sea change in the industry.

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

Sylvia: My best friend is Gretchen Edwards, an RVP at TMP. I rely on her advice whenever I’m facing a difficult challenge – and sometimes ask myself “what would Gretchen do?” when I can’t make up my mind.

But the people I learned the most from and got my overall outlook from are Pat & Robert Howard, they ran the Los Angeles office of Bernard Hodes when I started my career – and their style of client service & commitment to building long-term relationships has stuck with me to this day.

Two other people that have been inspiring to me are Paul Burroughs & Fred Faltersack from the Westech Career Expo; Paul was a real industry visionary in the glory days of Silicon Valley and his partner Fred was a business genius. Both of them had extremely high standards for customer service.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your position at SmartSearch

Sylvia: Simple: 1) I sell SmartSearch talent acquisition & recruiting software; 2) I work on marketing initiatives at SmartSearch, for example go to industry events and promote the product; 3) I work with SmartSearch users on system optimization, developing best practices for system users, and helping our clients maximize their ROI.

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

Sylvia: I actually have many clients that I admire for the work they do. Seriously, I apologize to all the clients that are doing great work and too numerous to name here. But a couple recent examples are Monument Consulting, an RPO managed services provider, and the Humbert Group, a contract recruiting firm. I worked with them on the last two best practices webinars for SmartSearch users & both presentations were very well received.

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

Sylvia: Monument Consulting does a superior job of communicating with staffing agency vendors through the SmartSearch vendor management system, they are committed to make the process easy and “vendor neutral” so their agency partners appreciate the work they do. Humbert Group delivers an exceptionally high level of personal and dedicated service since they only work with one employer at a time; he’s delivered some amazing results at an amazingly low cost.

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

Sylvia: The most recent news about the Monster/HotJobs buy out directly impacts my customers since SmartSearch integrates with both boards; we’ll have to sort this out in order to ensure a smooth transition for our users. We’ve also just licensed the TalentHook search capability and are building that into the next Version release; since we have many mutual clients, this will also require some work to smooth the transition and better serve those customers.

As far a trends go, I see two strong trends that will impact our work and the recruiting industry in general. One is VIDEO; we’ve just integrated with a vendor of video interview technology and the more I learn about this and see how video is being used on recruiting web sites etc, the more I am convinced this is the next big game changer. I could make similar statements about MOBILE RECRUITING because we’re seeing an increased use of SMS, cell phone text messaging, and my CTO is hard at work on a full-fledged mobile app (we have mobile access, but the interface is pretty simple).

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)

Sylvia: Over the years, I have attended more conferences than I can remember and seen a lot of changes in that time. I was in Chicago at the Employment Management Association (EMA, now part of SHRM) when Monster launched.

Some of my favorite events are the SHRM conferences, ERE, HR Technology, and Staffing World. I also enjoy niche conferences like the Tech Serve Alliance (fka NACCB) and Texas Association of Personnel Consultants (TAPC).

I have spoken at a few conferences, none in recent years, because I no longer seek out those opportunities since I’ve become a pretty private, more of a supporting role kinda person. I am a founding member of the Arizona Professional Recruiters Association (fka the Az Technical Recruiters Assn) and for several years led the production of its annual Internet Recruiting Seminar. I’m particularly proud of this work, because even though it was a small event, we were able to attract top speakers like Shally Steckerl and Gerry Crispin, as well as get support from National Sponsors like Monster & CareerBuilder, the local Arizona newspapers and

“I find the most common tactical/strategic mishap is reluctance to adopt new technology. Just last week, I had the owner of a successful staffing firm tell me her spreadsheets were working just fine – and that may be true, but they won’t help take her business to the next level or give her a more competitive edge. Every search she does is pretty much started from scratch, and she doesn’t get why a database would help eliminate redundancy and jump-start a search. HR is guilty of this to some extent too, but the staffing agencies & third party recruiters should know better. I’m all for “old school” recruiting methods – a nail gun won’t make you a better carpenter than the guy with a hammer, but if you’re a good carpenter shouldn’t you be using the nail gun so you can build the house faster?”

Six Degrees: How the recession has affected your particular industry niche? Has it affected your job or that of your fellow team members within the organization – If so, to what extent? (If you have been laid off, tell us about the experience, when it happened)

Sylvia: Actually, I’ve been extremely fortunate through the recession for a number of reasons. This my third economic downturn, and I’m happy to say I’m surviving & thriving in spite of it.

My company is small, profitable, and runs a pretty tight ship. We have not laid off anyone during the downturn. In 2009, we had one person retire who has not been replaced yet; and we put off hiring another sales person at the end of 2008 which turned out to be a good business decision. My CEO is extremely conservative businessman and has good instincts about trends in the market, I think that’s why we have no operating debt, and have never needed any VC money to keep us afloat. I used to get a little frustrated that SmartSearch does not spend more on marketing; in this recession I’ve come to appreciate the wisdom of doing more with less and the value of our unique position in the market.

On a personal note, I moved from Phoenix two years ago because I wanted to relocate back to Hawaii, which is where I grew up and where my immediate family all lives. I managed to sell my Phoenix house in 3 DAYS – and about 3 months before the bottom dropped right out of the real estate market – I could not have timed it better with a crystal ball. The downturn subsequently helped me get a great price on my new home in Hilo.

SmartSearch was also very supportive of the move. Now I just feel lucky to have a well paying job while so many others are unemployed. I especially feel grateful that my company HQ is in California and solvent, when so many small businesses in the islands are struggling to meet their payroll.

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 and job seeking prospects?

Sylvia: I’m not sure how to answer this question because I’ve always has a pretty strong “personal brand” before there was a catch phrase for it. I think one thing that helped broaden my opportunities is that I am a creative, unconventional thinker & utterly fearless about making a cold call or approaching a stranger in the business world. I have no problem taking initiative, improvising, and enlisting the aid & support of others to get something accomplished. I have long participated in newsgroups and online communities before it became fashionable to do so; lately I am finding Linked In particularly fruitful as I have explored more ways to leverage my contacts for information, leads & introductions.

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

Sylvia: Don’t always be about YOU. Look for ways that you can help people (beyond selling them your services) and give more than you take.

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

Sylvia: Actually, I’m pretty well advanced in my career and have gotten to a point where I’m very happy with my position, my product, my co-workers, and my work environment, which is now perfect. I’ve worked at home since 1990, you could say I’m a pioneer in telecommuting, and my current home office has a view of the ocean. For things to improve, I’d have to die and go to work in heaven selling ice cream.

Ironically, the recruiting industry is something I fell into by accident. I was in advertising & marketing, and worked briefly as a graphic artist before I landed a job at Hodes and moved into account service. It was never dull, and no two days were ever the same, which is really why I stuck with it. I also became enamored of high technology; many of my clients were in engineering, aerospace and information systems.

My career goals have always been simple & have never changed no matter what my job title: 1) Have fun. 2) Make money. 3) Help my clients reach THEIR GOALS.

For 2010, I’d like to develop a SmartSearch user forum or host a user conference which is something we’ve talked about for the last couple years and kept putting on a back burner. I’m thinking we might start with an online conference. What I need to get there is for SmartSearch to hire that new sales person so I can dedicate time & energy to it.

“Sylvia is a consumate professional. She is trustworthy, loyal and dedicated. I have worked with her on several capacities as her customer, peer and once even a potential employer. She is a clear communicator who says it like it is and works to truly understand a customer’s needs before making a recommendation.” February 24, 2004
Shally Steckerl

“Over the years, I have worked with Sylvia on a number of projects involving selecting ATS products or services for my clients. I have always known her to be the consummate professional and look forward to working closely with her in the years to come.” September 24, 2007
Mark E. Berger, Owner, Swat Recruiting

“Sylvia is the kind of person you want on your team. She was always ready to help with any need we had, always followed through to be sure we got what we needed and knows how to think outside the box. She is also an EXPERT with SmartSearch which I recommend to anyone trying to use a great candidate tracking tool at a very reasonable price.” February 24, 2010 Top qualities: Great Results, Personable, Expert
Jeff Beste

“It was my great pleasure to work with Sylvia on a recent proposal for MSP services using APS Vendor Management System software. She was incredibly responsive in providing vital assistance both during our proposal preparation and during our presentation preparation for down-select orals. A true professional, she always delivered exactly what we needed (even when I wasn’t entirely clear in what I was asking for…). Sylvia gets my highest recommendation for product knowledge, customer service, timely response and just plain pleasure to work with.” December 22, 2009
Doug Ness, V.P. Business Development, WestWind Engineering, Inc.

“Smart, passionate and indomitable… anyone would want Sylvia on their team. I’m lucky that Sylvia was here to help me figure out which way was up when I got here. I can call Sylvia for any kind of help and she has a solution! You should call her too – you can be sure she’ll be able to help.” August 3, 2009
Paul Smith, National Accounts Manager, SmartSearch Online

“When Sylvia first told us she was moving from Arizona to Hawaii, after the envy wore off, panic set in. Her importance to our company is paramount. It was only after she confirmed her intent to remain a SmartSearch Lifer, we started to breathe easy. To sum her up professionally is to say she gets the job done 100% of the time, with efficiency and competence. She is great to work with, and a driving force in our company. When she visits our corporate offices, I always enjoy listening in on her client and sales calls, as she operates on a different level than most. She is at ease in any situation, and her commanding knowledge of the HR industry is a resource to anyone lucky enough to listen. She is also a very talented writer and inventor. Ask to see some of her screenplays. In short, she is a great colleague and friend and has my highest recommendation for anything endeavor she chooses to pursue.” July 16, 2009
Lj Morris, CTO, SmartSearch

“Sylvia is more than knowledgable in our business. She is experienced at providing leads for candidates at the same time she provides ATS solutions. She is perceptive and does not forget who you are. She believes in networking using all of the tools excluding nothing that makes sense. Sylvia is a professional who one wants to continue a relationship with.” January 13, 2009
Jerry Kinder, Sr Recruiter, Prodata – Best Consulting

“Sylvia is professional in every way. Her product knowledge is deep. I have recommended her software to many of my clients over the years; I find it to be one of the best ATS systems offered. I can tell you that she provides the highest levels of service…isn’t too pushy, and will have your best interests in mind at all times. I highly recommend her.” November 22, 2008
Frank Scarpelli, Managing Partner, Hunter Global LLC

“”APS – Smart Search is a valued vendor-partner and fully integrated with Data Facts’ background screening system. Once the integration was completed, Sylvia and I worked together to create marketing materials and also to bring on board several clients. I found her to be a great pleasure to deal with, smart and responsive, also highly personable and a real team player. We recommend both APS – Smart Search, an excellent applicant tracking system that gets high marks from our clients, and I recommend Sylvia personally as a professional business partner.”” October 31, 2008
Lisa May, Sales Manager, Data Facts Inc.

“Sylvia is truly a Rainmaker! She is such a positive force and a pleasure to deal with. Sylvia is someone who raises the bar when it comes to ‘Service’. Anyone doing business with Ms. Dahlby will get it instantly!” February 28, 2008
Ron Nash, President, The Nash Group, LLC.

“I have known Sylvia since 1979 and had the pleasure of working with her at Bernard Hodes Advertising. I have always found her to be one of my most trusted associates as well as a personal friend. She is a consumate professional who can put herself on the other side of the table and articulate based on the audience. Sylvia brings a sincere interest and a depth of knowledge into any given situation. I value my relationship and highly recommend her.” November 21, 2007
Todd Markowitz, Executive Recruiter, The McCandlish Group

“I have worked with Sylvia through APRA and whenever I had questions, she was always prompt in her responses and had great follow through She is always very helpful and friendly as well.” October 2, 2007
Liza Williams, CIR, Recruiting Consultant, Baxter Healthcare

“Sylvia has continually provided top-notch consultative support and advise relative to the use, implementation and upgrades of the ATS tool, SmartSearch Online. She possesses in depth knowledge of recruitment strategies and the ability to council clients utilizing SmartSearch Online to maximize their experience. By the way, Sylvia is just a great person, thoughtful and respectful. She is truely a gem.” October 1, 2007 Top qualities: Great Results, Personable, High Integrity
Yvonne Tagge

“When we were searching for an Applicant Tracking System, Sylvia was very knowledgeable about what the software could do for us. We looked at several vendors, and chose Sylvia’s software because we knew we were getting the best available. She made sure that our implementation went very smoothly and always makes sure that we are receiving value from our purchase. She has a very high knowledge about the industry and is great to work with!” September 26, 2007 Top qualities: Expert, On Time, High Integrity
Cyndi Peterson Hash

“Sylvia and I worked very closely together with APRA and she was the Program Director. Sylvia is very motivated, driven and resourceful and goes the extra mile to make sure that our organization has key speakers in the recruiting/sourcing field for our monthly meetings and annual seminars. I call on Sylvia for her expertise in the recruiting and advertising field frequently and would highly recommend her.” September 26, 2007
Derek Johnson, Regional Recruiter, Southwest Ambulance

“Sylvia’s golden. Her creativity and flair, combined with sincerity and a willingness to help others makes her a MUST KNOW in recruiting/staffing technology. If you think of your best contact as a “rock star” Sylvia would be Chrissie Hynde, Debbie Harry, and Grace Slick combined. It’s a pleasure having Sylvia as a trusted member of my LinkedIn Network.” September 24, 2007
Mike Tischer, Partner / Sr. Sales Representative, Broadlook Technologies

“Sylvia introduced my company to SmartSearch, a tool that has become an integral part of our company’s operations. She knows her technology and also introduces us to new capabilities as they are released.” September 24, 2007. Top qualities: Personable, Expert, Good Value
Anita Zalewski

“Sylvia worked remotely at Westech. I helped manage the remote employees. I also worked with Sylvia as a technical product resource. Through this experience I found Sylvia to be articulate, patient, knowledgeable, and engaging. Please contact me for more detailed recommendation.” September 21, 2007
Nik Palmer, Senior Sales Representative, Westech (Brassring)

“Sylvia is a consummate professional. She has thorough and practical knowledge of Applicant Tracking Systems industry wide. Throughout the years, I have been extremely impressed with her impeccable follow-up and dedication to her product and clients. I highly recommend Sylvia as a business partner; she is top notch.” September 21, 2007. Top qualities: Great Results, Expert, High Integrity
Kimberli Durfield

“I know Sylvia through APRA. She is a joy to work with and has a great energy!” September 21, 2007
Sonia Bradley, National Digital Media Account Executive,, & The Arizona Republic

“I have worked with Sylvia for 10 years. There are few people who are more customer focused than Sylvia. It was a result of her integrity and customer focus that I decided to purchase SmartSearch from Sylvia for my recruitment consultancy. If you see her at an ERE or SHRM show watch how her clients treat her – always happy to see Sylvia. She is a great vendor and a better friend.” June 12, 2007
Bill Humbert, RecruiterGuy, Owner, The Humbert Group LLC

“While I was at Adecco E&T, Sylvia represented the company that we used for our sales and recruitment database, SmartSearch. While the product was in place and working great, Sylvia was always in touch with us. She is the networker’s dream always providing you with unique ideas and putting you in touch with the people you need.” December 27, 2006 Top qualities: Personable, Expert, High Integrity
Andy Davis

“I’ve known Sylvia for over 4 years now as a customer of SmartSearch Online. Sylvia has been great to work with and knows the industry very well. Very knowledgeable of ATS. She has been very helpful over the years and she is true to her word.” November 23, 2005
Jose Carbia

“Sylvia worked for Westech ExpoCorp remotely – no easy job given the fast paced, information rich, and ever-changing culture of the recruitment industry in the 1990’s. She handled the situation expertly and with great professionalism, and did a great job selling our Virtual Job Fair product. She sourced and pursued new business, provided excellent customer service to her ever-growing list of regular clients and always had time to source resources that enhanced our business in Arizona. Working remotely did not keep Sylvia from being a great team player with an ever-present upbeat and positive attitude, repected by her teammates.” September 21, 2009
Jim Stoch, VP of Sales&Marketing/Owner, Westech ExpoCorp


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