If you are in a technical field I am guessing you get at least 5 calls a week from the dreaded (Dun Dun Dunnnn) headhunter! No, not again!!
Well what if I told you we know one technical recruiter in Las Vegas who takes a different approach to his career, and is determined to teach new recruiters in the industry that it’s not about the money. He wants to show them that it has everything to do with a strong passion to help others and to represent the individual and not the paper.
Santi Suthisak is an entrepreneur in Las Vegas who is passionate about helping others advance their careers, and brings a passion and a love of people the tech recruitment industry that separates him and his team from what are normally labeled as “head hunters”. His background started on the education side, when he was the director of corporate sales for a few large franchises in computer training. He was then recruited out of that industry to another large national firm where he began his journey as a recruiter. He began his career on the cusp of the dot com boom, and he was able to see both ends of the spectrum, from those at the beginning of their career in tech to large corporations hiring those with extensive experience. He has an amazingly unique perspective from watching small startups turn to fortune 500 companies over the last 16 years, seeing how their hiring processes work, studying the tech market trends, watching the value of different positions fluctuate, and evaluating how all this relates to the current market. He is now the managing partner of his own recruiting company called True HCM.
Santi gave us some great insights that can benefit anyone from graduating tech student, to startup entrepreneur, to large corporation on how to find great talent, current trends in tech, and how to stay relevant and marketable as a tech employee.
How useful are resumes still, and do they hold the same value as they did 10 years ago?
Santi: “As a recruiter I look at resumes a little bit differently. Especially as a seasoned recruiter vs. a new recruiter. I represent the individual not the paper. so I try not to get caught up with titles. Once you do what I do this long, you realize people are perfect only 2 times in their life, at birth and when they write a resume. So you want to take everything with a grain of salt. A resume is only as valuable as its content. People put in a lot of buzz words, hoping that it’s enough to attract a potential employer. What they should really focus on is what’s being said on that piece of paper. This means, if I am looking at a resume, I want to see what I call a star format .”
Can you explain what you mean by a star format approach to your resume?
Santi: “You want to talk about what kind of situation you have been in work wise, what tasks/responsibilities have been given to you, what actions you have taken on those tasks, and what the results were. Make sure it’s quantified. For example, “Because of all my efforts, I saved this organization X amount of money, or made them X amount of dollars.” That is a little bit different than traditional resumes that state your address, hobbies, skills, and where you’ve worked. Traditional resumes are basic, and don’t tell you a whole lot about the individual. When you compare this kind of resume to the other 800 saying the same thing, it really doesn’t give you the necessary information to know the person’s abilities to be successful. Traditional resumes say “I have a foundation and you can only hope I can do the job.” The star format places stories into the resume, and tells the employer “I can do this, because I have done this in the past.
Schools really fail at helping their students understand this, and I try to help students understand that it is not about what information you have learned, but how are you going to present it in a way that says what you can do, and how you have applied it. Too many great people have missed out on great jobs simply because they don’t know how to present themselves appropriately on paper.”
What sourcing strategies do you use to find great talent?
Santi: “With today’s technology it’s good and bad, because you truly have an overall abundance of resources. Everyone is of course implementing social media strategies from Linkedin to Facebook to Twitter these days, so of course we use that. Referrals are also still going strong, and are an even better tool. Networking is a very crucial part of recruiting. because the job boards play a part, but they are quickly diminishing and being infiltrated. Those are the top ways to find the best resources.”
In Vegas, what kinds of trends are you noticing in the types of skillsets that are highly marketable?
Santi: “The biggest driver is obviously gaming. In the past, we’ve needed software engineers and network engineers to help build applications to keep track of gaming stats, or to keep the organization running. Times have changed, and technology has changed.
This brings me to the first trend: mobile. Everyone is trying to get involved with online gaming, and searching for talent that can work on defining analytics, mobile content, building applications, and building software. We’ve gone from PC, to laptops, to tablets, and now we have gone to mobile. All the gaming manufacturers and owners are in this space.
The second trend that is happening here, but also occurring nationwide is big data. Extracting all the information that you can in terms of analytics requires people that are good at building that particular type of software. This also creates a demand for graphic designers, because you want to make sure the software is presentable.
The last area of growth is a need for anything cloud based. These three areas are not only trending in Las Vegas, but across the country.”
Employers tend to say that there is no talent in Vegas. Is that true, or are they going about recruiting in the wrong way?
Santi: “Part of it is true, but it is not the lack of talent, it is the lack of experience. For a long time we did not have the industry or the technology that was conducive to cultivate that type of talent. Kids were graduating, and getting employed with a gaming operator or an organization in Nevada that was still working with older technology. Now that the trend has shifted to newer technology, some of the talented folks were never exposed to this, and can’t jump right into a new job because they lack experience in the newer technology. Our current situation, “lack of talent” in Vegas, is really derived from a lack of industry in the past.
Now, there’s a big shift in the industry in Nevada that we are seeing where more data centers are being created, and more financial and healthcare type operators are moving out here to diversify the technology a little bit. Again, those employers are having issues finding talent with the required immediate skillsets needed. As recruiters, they want us to find talent that doesn’t require training, and will jump right in. The talent is there, it’s simply just a lack of experience working with the newer technology. We have great people here that are super smart and talented, who we can cultivate, but employers want immediate gratification. It’s not the answer I would love to give, but it’s an honest one.”
How can a student fresh out of UNLV gain experience and make themselves marketable?
Santi: “It’s funny, I just had this conversation with a UNLV graduate about 3 hours ago! This is what I tell graduates all the time. I tell them they have to think in the terms of having an entrepreneurial spirit and mindset. They must invest in themselves before someone invests in them. It’s not always about education, as it is about application. As your learning and going through school, start applying what you have learned in projects, whether it’s working with a non-profit, a church, or for a friend’s small business. Create something so you can talk about what you have built, and don’t waste time on waiting until you graduate, and ask employers for a chance to learn on the job.
Get together with your friends and find organizations who need help, and simply ask them to let you build something for them for free. The non-profit sector benefits because they usually can’t afford it, which creates a win-win situation, where the college kids assist the organization, and at the same time they receive a reference, and something tangible to put on paper. They can proudly say they created an application, a database, a network, or whatever it may be. This tells an employer where they have been, and shows how they benefited the organization as a result of their efforts. What matters is that the student utilized their knowledge with a newer technology, and has experience from this.”
Culture fit is becoming increasingly more important in job satisfaction. How do you determine if an employer and employee are a mutual culture fit?
Santi: “That’s my job! I go into the potential employer’s environment, and ask the current staff, as well as conduct my own evaluation on what their environment is like. There is no difference between someone looking for a job and someone hiring, except timing. Sooner or later they are going to switch seats. If I am representing you, I want you to know that you are going to an interview to interview the employer as well. They need to be able to prove to you that they will provide a great environment that will enhance your skills and career.
I always tell employers that happy people don’t leave! Employee retention is a company’s responsibility. Don’t neglect your employees, keep your promises, and do what you say you are going to do. Keep it conducive for growth. I evaluate the environment and the individual. It’s all expectations from both the employee and employer. As an employer if you don’t know what to expect from your employee for the next 6 months, why would an employee want to work for you? That is the same as if you were interviewing an employee, and they didn’t know what they could provide to you for the next 6 months.
Lastly, the very best placements I make are more focused on the work life environment as opposed to anything else. An employee wants to know that they are at a company that is going to help them grow. You want to work for someone that appreciates your efforts, but many of organizations look at labor as just labor. Find a job where you will gain the best marketable skillsets and work for an employer that increases those.”