Director of Business Development
International Executive Research (IIPE)
Recruiting Blogs Profile:
Meet my friend, Kristen Durkin, Director of Business Development at International Executive Research (IIPE), a firm which specializes in multilingual talent research, Name Generation, Prescreening/ Qualifying of candidates, and direct contact; i.e. cold-calling and email Campaigns.
Kristen is a member of my networking group, "Six Degrees from Dave"
, however it wasn't until last October during Shally's "Talent Researching in Latin America" session at the ERE Conference that we met. She sat across the aisle with avid interest and providing her own perspectives on staffing challenges and opportunities in Mexico. After the session, shaking hands I realized the familiar name was indeed an RBC regular and conistent networker within SixDegrees. I smiled, knowing that this was yet one more example of many that our group members come face to face within the industry - not a coincidence that its members are most active within it.
The handshake began a day to evening to day after conference buddy-thon with Kristen supplying the wry wit and us delivering the laughter. One thing was certain, I would know Kristen for years to come - she is a walking best practices manual on Latin America and a good friend to have, not least of which is the quality of her friendship offered, but likewise knowledge gained. This is one smart, talented industry player with much to offer. I trust all of our community can embrace her with networking holiday wishes!
Q&A with Kristen Durkin
Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.
I currently live between Mexico, but I travel a lot back to NYC where my family is and throughout the U.S.A for conferences. Basically, my “home” life is usually packed in my brown and pink luggage. I am not married, nor do I have kids (My father hasn’t been able to buy enough cattle for barter to get me married, but I promise once that happens I will request a follow-up Q&A to release the big news).
I do have a greatly close immediate family; I am the middle child with an older brother, Jason who was recently featured on the History Channel; followed and documented as a NYC “Sandhog” and a younger sister, Maureen. My sister is a bilingual (Spanish/English) Speech pathologist. I have happily married parents named Mom and Dad, although some call them Andrea and Eddie, both of whom work in the medical field.
Before I moved to Mexico I participated in Big Brother Big Sisters of NYC for many years www.bigsnyc.org
. For those who are not familiar it is a mentoring program for inner-city youth.
I perform Spoken Word Poetry throughout New York; including the NuYoRican Poetry Café. I try to perform at least once with every return to NYC from Mexico. The most important fact to know about me is that I am a “salsaholic” I dance salsa whenever I have time to get out there. It’s in my blood, if there is salsa music playing, I’m dancing!
Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?
I have been in the industry for quite a few years, I first started when I was a freshman in High school.
Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?
I began interning while in H.S at an HR Recruiting firm based in Connecticut, K. Russo Associates, Inc. I started by filing paperwork (which I hated) and uploading resumes into Vurve. Slowly, they allowed me to answer the telephones. The position continued to gradually evolve. Karen (the president of K. Russo Associates) began to invite me into the interviews, where I was strictly instructed to take notes and shut-up. Following the interviews I would compare my notes with the notes of Karen or the other recruiter’s. Eventually, I began screening resumes, searching the database for internal candidates, researching passive leads on the internet, and interviewing new, junior leveled candidates.
After graduating High School I wanted to ensure I liked recruiting and not just K. Russo Associates. I took a position with a boutique consulting firm who places CPA’s. I had a mini office on 5th Ave. in NYC and thought I was going to move up quickly. After my first commission check, I swiftly discovered- I had much to learn; like negotiating! I learned a great deal from my “5th Ave” boss, but I decided to focus on school, graduate college and later I went back to work with K. Russo Associates again. Whew, that was a mouth full!
Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?
ONE single event? I remember answering the telephone while still interning and asking the candidate while I went to put him on hold: “Can I hold you for one moment?” The bullpen erupted in laughter and I was positive I would thereafter be banned from phone answering and sent back to the filing cabinets. Instead, I went on lunch, and returned to the whole office having added screensavers quoting my mistake; Karen thought it was hysterical and apologized for the “silly intern” who answered the phone. I know it’s a funny story, but as a newbie in the business it taught me everyone is human, when you make a mistake on the phone, laugh it off and keep on keepin’ on. For each mistake I’ve made on the phone I improved my future calls. Mistakes like this have impacted my career; when training other researchers I always emphasize that people like humans, not machines reading 100% off of a script, if you make a mistake learn and move on. If it was an innocently entertaining mistake, then laugh.
Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?
Here is where I look like a big schmoozer and all of my coworkers will make fun of me, but hands down my mentor in this industry has been my boss, Karen Russo. There is no “fluff” with Karen when you do something wrong, but when you do something right she will be the first to let you know. I remember at one point we were an office of only women and after one of the recruiters closed a deal, Karen would do a summersault or cartwheel (In a pant suit, of course!) to show her support and enthusiasm. She’s pretty hardcore.
Six Degrees: Detail your position, responsibilities, size of your staffing organization:
I am the Director of Business Development for IIPE- we are an executive research firm based in Mexico. HYPERLINK "http://www.iipe.net" www.iipe.net
I am usually found at Recruiting Conferences, either as a vendor selling the business, or as an attendee learning and bringing back new information taught in the sessions to our team in Mexico. I can still be found doing research and applying the new techniques learned in a conference session on a research assignment. We are continuing to build our team, right now we have a team of 5, but this is not including our back office support. I suppose I am different from the average bear interviewed by Dave, because I am on the research side of the business.
Six Degrees: (A) What other companies' recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?
As a researcher, I admire the great sourcers; Shally Steckerl and Glenn Gutmacher for all of their help in teaching some of the most effective ways to use Boolean search strings. In addition to them a shameless plug goes out to Dave Mendoza as well, he’s helped build my network on LinkedIn and long before I had the delight of meeting him I always forwarded his weekly e-mails of the “top 10” and found him to be a great link to power-networking!
(B) In what aspects are they superior?
A brief example: In October of 2008 I attended the ERE, fall meeting in Hollywood Beach, Florida. For anyone who knows me, they know I flew in from Mexico for the conference, I am an internet/phone sourcer and I happen to come from a Latin background. With that said attending Shally Steckerls “Sourcing for Latin America” was going to be exciting for me. I am not sure if I expected greatness from it, because I am so familiar with the topic , but I did in fact get greatness. Most of what was discussed is part of my everyday life, but Shally gave an excellent presentation, he was incredibly on point with his guidance as to how to approach a sourcing/cold-call and how it is culturally a different approach in Latin America. In addition I left the session and I was introduced to a few new websites, but for me- most important was that the topic of recruiting/sourcing in Latin America was brought to the table and was up for open discussion. It is, after all, an important part of the world!
As for Dave Mendoza, I always admired the magic he’s worked on my LinkedIn network with his weekly top10 and have you seen his amount of connections lately? Funny enough the first time I met Dave was in Shally’s session for sourcing in Latin America.
Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future? Why?
Outsourcing research has become a huge topic of conversation amongst recruiters. As a provider of outsourced research, this impacts my work and IIPE greatly. As a growing commodity we’re forced to stay ahead of the curve with cutting edge technology and new training. The education for our group never ends.
Six Degrees: Have you represented your company in the broader conference circuit?
I have represented IIPE at NEAPS, The Fordyce Forum, ERE, CAPS. For 2009 I am looking into the Kennedy Conference, NAPS and ASA in addition to the aforementioned, but we will see.
Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?
One goal is to contribute in breaking the stereotypes of outsourced research. Not every internationally based research firm is strictly tactical (although trust me that I know, a lot of them are!). Our researchers have been trained by recruiters; they have been in the office with recruiters and understand the corporate infrastructure of the U.S. I can only help break this stereotype by proving out-of-house research can produce great results too!
Six Degrees: What talent niche groups do you target and are these particular talent areas specialized under your review?
We have worked within specialized areas of talent such as IT, HR, PR, Biotech, Manufacturing, Security Cleared Professionals. This is just to name a few examples.
Six Degrees: What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?
Because we are located in Mexico, most of our training comes from webinars. Second to webinars comes in-house training from Karen and myself and our training never ends.
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?
If I listed every recruitment tool we use I would bore any reader from enjoying Dave’s Q&A’s ever again. We use SugarCRM everyday and Broadlook Technologies, our fingers for typing the necessary search strings and our mouths for getting past the gatekeepers.
Six Degrees: What tools (technology or old school file folder, for example) did you first encounter early in your recruitment career?
KRISTEN: I did do a lot of old school filing with a “Sort-All” (This tool is a yard-stick long list of the alphabet with slots so for placing the resumes in the correct order to thereafter be filed alphabetically). As for technology I used RecruitMax (Vurve), then of course excel, the internet and the telephone.
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?
KRISTEN: I am not sure I ever had expectations of being a recruiter, in fact I was going through the process of for law school when I moved to Mexico and decided to stay focused within the industry. However, I did expect to be intimidated on my first cold-call, but it turned out to be an absolute high. Everyone always talks about the initial fear, it rarely bothered me. With that said, when I began as the Director of Business Development, I remember walking into my first conference alone and being MORTIFIED. I was worried I was going to spend every meal, of every day, at a table by myself (which as most of you know, is impossible at a conference full of outgoing recruiters). In my opinion I would say the biggest assumption about my job is that people think because I live in Mexico – life’s a beach. Not so much! I try to get to the beach a few times a month.
Six Degrees: Worst mistake, biggest goof, lousiest practice you thought would fly but didn’t…and how that was a learning experience?
KRISTEN: Oh! Really, just one? Well… When I first started to attend business meetings and conferences – I thought it was important to get as many business cards as you can and just network, network, network. Truth be told- that’s a LOUSY practice to have. At the end of an event you have 500 business cards and about 30 seconds of conversation from each person, there’s no relationship develop. Even if you take notes on the back of your cards there is no way you can remember enough detail to make a non-generic e-mail for each of the business cards you snagged. My learning experience has been, develop relationships not just “contacts” in the Outlook address book. When you come back from a forum and you don’t have 3 good leads or candidate or contacts (whatever your goal is) it’s because you weren’t focused on developing the relationship!
Six Degrees: “Best practice” you are most proud of developing (now or in the past) in your recruiting career?
I don’t think this is the miracle “best practice” you’re all looking to read about, but what about good ol’ fashioned honesty being a best practice? I maintain honesty with my boss, our researchers and our clients. Honesty is my saving grace!
Six Degrees: What are some of the frustrating aspects/obstacles to your day to day as a staffing professional and in general?
Certainly, being asked how many names IIPE will generate per hour is frustrating. We do have such numbers because of metrics measures our in-house hours worked and naturally we can approximate the amount of leads developed in an hour. Nevertheless, it really depends on the research assignment. I have asked many researchers how many leads they will generate per hour and received a flat number in response, I’ve also I’ve asked others who are on my level and won’t lower standards to meet a lead per hour quota. It should be about quality vs. quantity.
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?
KRISTEN: I am thrilled when research has a result. On our side of the business the result is not always glorified or as immediate as a recruiter, but when a placement occurs off a list we produce it’s exciting news!
Six Degrees: What one thing do you ideally hope to accomplish in 2008?
KRISTEN: Professionally, I would like to increase IIPE business by 60% (or more) with at least half of our clients on retainer. A personal goal is to start a successful and sometimes read blog. For those who know me… know I like to talk. It would be a great outlet and prevent me from bothering everyone in my office with info they’ve heard from me100 times before. Look out for my blog… Coming To Audiences Soon!
Six Degrees: Anything you want to plug?
KRISTEN: Both of the below blogs are usually very funny, entertaining blogs which are most of the time geared toward our industry or sales. Try reading these:
If you’re interested in Behavioral Assessment Tools contact: Cynthia Rogers on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/cynthiarogers
Six Degrees: How Are You Going To Change The Recruitment Industry?
KRISTEN: There is a core group of people who always attend the recruiting conferences. On the last day of the ERE conference this past October one of the vendors asked me “How are you always so smiley, even in the morning?” When I am at a conference, learning how to improve our industry it’s motivating. I hope to change the industry by staying passionate about what I do and getting plenty of rest to stay alert! (see photo)