Kevin Valliere, Sr Partner / Recruiter, GSICorp
GSI is a talent agency. Tell us how you got started
I started my career at a company called Real 3D back in 1994. We took military technology for 3D animations and adopted it for consumer usage. It was a talent war already back then. The internet was just becoming popular, and we needed to attract the best of the best to succeed. I discovered that I loved working with programmers. It felt good to connect with them deeply about their careers and shortly thereafter I had started my own talent agency, uniquely focused on technology.
In the late 1990’s we anticipated the upcoming slowdown of the tech boom and expanded our business to other sectors like pharma and financial services which became equally important and core parts of our business.
What makes someone an excellent recruiter?
First of all, you have keep your network fresh and meet people day in and day out. Your outreach has to be genuine. If you’re contacting a senior developer the chances are that they’ve had 30 people reach out to them already. You have to build trust to stand out. You need to view yourself as a true consultant, learn about the candidate and their desires and motivations. It’s not about selling.
Being a recruiter is definitely not a 9 to 5 job. People don’t always think about their careers and life decisions within normal working hours and you have to available for them.
How do you hire for your own company, GSI?
You have to have thick skin to succeed in my business, especially when you’re just starting out. The truth is, I’m looking for someone who’s comfortable having a low success rate. You have to be able to withstand that you won’t have quick successes.
I use a sports analogy since I’m a big fan of the Tampa Lightning hockey team. In hockey, you can get 35 shots at the goal and it doesn’t matter that they don’t go in. As long as you get one or two in you still win. In basketball however, every shot has a 65% hit rate. Recruiting is like hockey, it’s not like basketball.
I also look for good listeners. It’s important to grasp what the candidate is looking for to be able to provide information that actually adds value and isn’t just boilerplate.
What products do you use at work daily?
I’m going to sound old school, but honestly, I use the phone. If the human touch is there and you’re genuine the phone is going to be your best friend. A lot of new recruiters don’t use the phone and are stuck on social media. Don’t follow the hype. Do the opposite of what other people do. It’s the best way to be successful.
In terms of other tools I find a lot of talent agencies to be stuck in CRM and relational databases. We use Evernote for the same use cases. Salesforce might be useful but you’ll waste time in data entry. Search is so good now that we don’t always have to categorize everything anymore. For email I use Mixmax.
How has Mixmax been useful in your job?
Well, for starters, you can create a template on the fly and then bring it into another email instantly. Links turn into visual previews that engage recipients. Email tracking helps me gauge the level of interest of candidates. Overall, Mixmax reminds me of Evernote. You can put all kinds of content inside of email with Mixmax, similar to Evernote e.g., a PDF, a visual map etc. In regular Gmail that same content just doesn’t look professional.
It used to take a lot of effort to get a clean, polished and exciting look with email. Mixmax makes that effortless.
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What surprised you with Mixmax?
One of my favorite things is how tightly integrated it is with Gmail, it doesn’t feel like an add-on. Gmail has made some incremental improvements here and there over time but it’s still just email. With Mixmax, email feels novel and differentiated.