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Rob Dromgoole, Battelle’s One Man Army Protecting America One Hire at a Time

Posted on June 27, 2010
Filed Under Interviews | Comments Off on Rob Dromgoole, Battelle’s One Man Army Protecting America One Hire at a Time

By Dave Mendoza

PART 2 of 2

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.

Community-wise I’ve recently brought together a collection of 60+ recruiters in our area. We’ll meet about 4 times per year to talk recruiting in an effort to uplift our function.


Rob Dromgoole
Executive Search Consultant,
Battelle Memorial Institute
Richland, Washington
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• Websites: www.pnl.gov

• Community Volunteering: 1,000 Recruiters of Light Project
• Office: 509-375-2441
Personal Email

Q&A with Rob Dromgoole

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?

ROB: About 50% of our hires are through referrals. About 20-25% are through other advertising means and the rest is through cold calling and outreach efforts.

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

ROB: Referrals is by far our #1 source.

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?

ROB: Referrals again. We have no formal program to speak of and offer no bonuses for referrals yet we get them. This costs us nothing but time.

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


ROB: Wow, I’m hard pressed to summarize due to the diversity of backgrounds required. In short–lots of PhDs. Physicists, chemists, chemical engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, biologists, computer scientists … just about every type of scientist if they have a PhD. In addition, most of my openings require a security clearance so candidates often must be a U.S. citizen.

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

ROB: I’ve had some formal sales training throughout my career. I would say my first job doing cold calling was like recruiter basic training. I have my CIR. In fact, I earned my first CIR with Lisa Stoker at AIRS back in 1997. I recently heard she’s still with AIRS/The Right Thing. I read ERE daily and talk to people like yourself, Dave. The MBA doesn’t hurt either in speaking the language of business.

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?

ROB: A caveat. No piece of software has ever closed a deal for me. My #1 tool is the phone. My #2 tool is the internet at large. If I had an office suite and my phone, I’d do fine. We offer Linked In Talent Advantage and we use AIRS Sourcepoint. I’m up for evaluating a robust CRM. Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce.com would be great, but we lack the budget. We use Monster.com and get some hits. We use Peoplesoft as an ATS, which I’m sad to say is awful. Again, software has never made a hire for me. I think we overemphasize the use of these tools and de-emphasize the important of the phone. In fact, I think if companies reduced some of their expenditures on software and spent more on sales training—they’d get better results. I have hired from overseas, and it has worked the same. I cold call, use my Lou Adler techniques to get them interested and close the deal. My software only comes in when they have to apply and when I have to get my background checks done.

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

ROB: I used a UNIX based CRM and I had a phone. It crashed once in 3 years. I think I’d take it today! I did Boolean searches on Mosaic but most of my success came through using Maureen Sharib-like techniques getting org charts. Who needs to dig too deep when you get an org chart? Then you call them. That’s recruiting.

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?


ROB: Well, keep in mind my first experience was at a retained search firm. I had a script and a list of 100 names, that’s all I knew. I loved it. The biggest challenge I have in educating people is more on the HR generalist side. My clients get it, because I deliver talent. The HR folks don’t quite know what do to do with a sales guy. We’re entirely different but great partners.

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

ROB: Many years ago, I went to the VP of HR’s office and suggested that the entire recruiting department move out of HR and be plugged somewhere else. As a piece of advice to recruiters out there—don’t do that. I was whack-a-moled and sent away packing. If that IS what you believe, make it THEIR idea through influence, don’t tell them their org chart and way of doing things sucks. That approach was—less than effective. But I learned. Direct communication has its place, but sometimes a less direct approach is the key to success.

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.

ROB: I expect to facilitate change by uplifting as many recruiters as I can. I’m at a point in my career where I need to pass along what I’ve learned to others. I want to continue to partner with my clients to set a recruiting strategy and meet their needs. Also, I would love to make converts out of every HR generalist out there. I’m in the process of expanding my circle of influence beyond that of recruiting to include other departments within HR. We are one HR and we can’t meet the needs of our customer unless we work together. My clients value our function and we are tied to their goals, but I want to bring the other parts of HR along. We won’t succeed unless we all succeed. Community-wise I’ve recently brought together a collection of 60+ recruiters in our area. We’ll meet about 4 times per year to talk recruiting in an effort to uplift our function.

Six Degrees: “Best practice” you are most proud of developing (now or in the past) in your recruiting career?

ROB: I’m not sure I have done anything too revolutionary. I was doing patent searches in the 90s to do name generation. I was the first at every company I’ve worked at in house to develop recruiter ‘blitzes’. This is time dedicated for the team to do outbound calling for their hard to fill jobs. It has always produced results. However, I didn’t invent the blitz, I learned it from someone out there. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve made an effort to inculcate passion, hard work and a sales focus to deliver great talent—and I’ve succeeded.

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


ROB: I hate the administrative aspects of my job (anything to do with completing a form). The more administrative/process centric tasks I’m working on, the less time I’m spending on the phone adding value. In addition, working at a quasi-government organization our speed can be very very slow. Our time to fill (which I don’t know off hand) has to be longer than private industry. That makes it difficult to work with urgency at times when candidates have to make quick decisions. It’s great for work life balance overall. Lack of a good CRM has slowed me down and made sharing information difficult. Is there some tool out there that combines a CRM/ATS/Outreach like AIRS? The holy grail of recruiting ….

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

ROB: Mishaps …. I think any time the balance of power goes out of whack with HR Generalists and Staffing professionals who are assigned to clients can cause problems or tension. A good team consists of partners who work together and are equal partners. When the balance tilts in one direction or another, there can be issues. Also, there needs to be clear definition of roles and responsibilities. One lesson I’ve learned is the Recruiting Assistant (HR Admin) is not a career step to recruiting by and large. As an administrative professional, the detail oriented requirements often collide with the sales skills in general most great recruiters possess. Recruiting is a skill, administrative duties are a skill and HR generalists have a skill. Use them together, you have a great team. Also, a common mishap at least with our organization has been the limitation in upgrading tools to make recruiters more successful. With limited budgets it is hard to argue for tools but we do what we can.

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?

ROB: One, the impact I’m having toward our strategic mission. If our team meets our goals, we move to complete our mission and ultimately we are making a difference. Scientists I have hired have done great and amazing things. I enable that success. In addition, I’m helping people achieve their personal career goals, which is highly satisfying. Also, I love helping people within the industry move up. Recently, I attended a graduation party where someone I had written a letter of recommendation for to get into graduate school had completed their Masters program. I had pushed for that person to enroll. It felt pretty good knowing I had in a tiny way contributed toward their success and nudged them in the right direction. I love to encourage professional development.

Six Degrees: What one thing do you ideally hope to accomplish this year?

ROB: What I would love to accomplish in the next 6 months is to implement social media at our organization from a recruiting stand point and also make our career site mobile phone enabled. In addition, I want to take some formal management training classes.

Six Degrees: Anything you want to plug?

ROB: The only reason I’m successful is the great team I work with. I have world class administrative support, great clients and a strong HR team. I want to plug them, because they are my secret ingredient. So Mary Ellen, Tina, Norma, Sorcha, Jessica, Jill THANK YOU!!!! I stand on the shoulders of giants …

Six Degrees: How Are You Going To Change The Recruitment Industry?

ROB: I would love to be considered a leader in recruiting who combines what Lou Adler offers with what Marvin Smith at MSFT is building. The recruiter of the future is one who masters the use of technology while mastering their sales skills. I want to bring the phone back to the forefront.

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