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PART 2: Larry Gonzales, Two Decade Veteran Shares His Expertise

Posted on August 25, 2009
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• Personal Causes: Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Health Council
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“I never expected to go in to the recruiting. I had been working for AT&;T, designing and selling telecom systems for the transportation industry. I primarily handled air transportation to include airports, airlines, and airline sales offices. I was referred to a “headhunter” that was looking for someone with my background. When the opportunity did not materialize, my recruiter asked me if I would be interested working for her company. I told her that I would rather be a “pimp, than a headhunter”. Famous last words! Needless to say, the reputation garnered by headhunters in those days was less than respectable. She nurtured the relationship and had me meet with the owner of the firm, which was based out of Atlanta. I also meet with all (12) of her colleagues in the Dallas Office. I found myself drawn to the group and to the challenge the job represented. About 90 days later I ended up working for her firm.
Since then my experience has included agency, professional services, corporate, and RPO environments. I have held individual contributor, director, and managing partner roles. Regardless of title and responsibilities, I have always been a hands-on contributor.

I am a person that gets easily bored, so the ever changing world of technology has been my salvation. To be successful you have to stay abreast of technology trends, understand the industry and known how it applies to business. This requires research and a certain amount of trial and error. Typically, experience helps you shorten your ramp up time to production. You have to continually learn to excel.”


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?

Larry: My company places a high value on employee referrals. In most instances, employees will refer candidates that will fit in to your corporate culture with the necessary skill set. The quality is normally high because “the referral” is a direct reflection of the employee. I would estimate that 40% of our hires have come from employee referrals. 10% come from our corporate website.

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

Larry: The greatest source of candidates and hires comes directly from our passive staffing efforts.

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?

Larry: That would have to be employee referrals.

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

Larry: We primarily target the semiconductor, mobile device, and mobile TV industries.

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

Larry: Besides one on one training from my original employer in the staffing industry, I have taken AIRS Training. Periodically, I take training classes offered by Shally Steckerl. I have also decided to take staffing certifications offered by Cornell.

The point is, you need to take advantage of all resources available and you need to stay on top of your game.

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?

Larry: Besides accessing job boards, I use Linkedin, Xing, Big5Hire, Jigsaw and Google patent search when needed.

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

Larry: Everything was “old school” when I started. We had to rely on cold calls and referrals to build out our client and candidate fills. We used index cards for record keeping. There were some hard copy company employee lists available at about the same cost as some of the annual fees collected by Careerbuilder and HotJobs.

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?

Larry: This was and is a numbers game. In an agency environment you have to keep a lot of deals on the board and hope to close a certain percentage to be successful. You learn through trial and error and mentorship how to increase your success factor. Regardless, stuff happens, and you will lose some deals. You manage guarantee periods and candidate satisfaction. Then you ask for referrals.

In a corporate environment, you stay in contact until the candidate starts. Then during their first few weeks you make sure that everything is going well and ask for referrals. People think that our job is easy. They think that all we have to do is choose from a large pool of available candidates and match them to a job opening.

Six Degrees: Worst mistake, biggest goof, lousiest practice you thought would fly but didn’t…and how that was a learning experience?

Larry: This isn’t exactly a mistake but you have to be able to handle each client manager according to their personality and needs. Your best practices may be the most effective but you can’t always apply them to every situation.

I was having a particularly difficult time with a past VP because I was not coddling him. He needed to know what was happening on a daily basis. Because that was not my “normal style” we clashed. I listened to my wife’s advise, she said kill him with kindness, so I did. He ended up hiring one of the original candidates that I had submitted to him and spoke very highly of me after that transaction. He later contacted me to help him find a new opportunity when he was ready to leave his employer. I always told my employees that the customer is not always right, but he customer pays the bills.

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.

Larry: I don’t have aspirations to change our industry, only to represent it in the most professional manner I know how. I want the “candidate experience” to be best they ever had and set the bar against all future hiring processes. I want my client managers to view me as a professional and to know that they can always expect me to be thorough, proactive, and reliable.

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

Larry: I have always said that this job would be easy if you could take people out of the equation.

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

Larry: I think that complacency is the biggest malady affecting a lot of successful companies. That has a way of spreading itself across the whole organization. You need strong and decisive management across all disciplines to maintain your edge. At the very least, you need a strong involved CEO driving the companies efforts.

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?

Larry: I tell people that this is the most frustrating job, but most rewarding job you can have. Having people on both sides of the equation is Murphy’s Law ². Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, only exponentially compounded. Regardless of the frustrations, I love the art of deal. Helping a company to grow strategically and tactically and helping a candidate achieve their career goals.

Six Degrees: What one thing do you find most ideal given the opportunity to develop/ implementing/ invent professionally that has yet to be done.

Larry: Despite the current economic environment, this is an excellent time to start a business. There are always niches to penetrate and now is no exception. Companies always need talent, whether the source are FTEs or contractors. Recognizing this gap, I am expanding my company’s deliverables. There are also some other strategic moves that I am making but do not feel comfortable disclosing at this time. Needless to say opportunities have been presented and I fully intend to take advantage of them. Check back with me in 6-9 months and I will let you know how things are going.


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