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Q&A with VP of Recruiting and IT Operations

Our recruiters are an integral part of HEPCO’s operations, as they are responsible for finding our highly qualified candidates and placing them with the right client. HEPCO’s Vice-President of Recruiting and IT Operations, Tom Lee, has been with HEPCO for 30 years. Responsible for placing candidates throughout all HEPCO’s specialties, he has a particular focus on engineering.  

Today as we highlight Tom and his 30 years of dedication to HEPCO, he will give us a look into the job of a recruiter and shine some light on what it takes to be successful in his role.  

Tom’s advice is perfect for anyone considering becoming a recruiter, wanting to improve their skills, or simply learning more about the field.   

Check out what Tom has to say below!   

Q: 1. What are two skills you need to be a recruiter?  

A: 1. Listening:  

They say you learn more by listening than talking. This is true for recruiters. Besides listening to the companies in order to truly understand what they’re hiring for; recruiters need to listen to applicants to find out what is most important to a potential applicant. Believe it or not, money is not always the top motivation. Understanding your candidates’ motivations is crucial towards placing them in a position that suits them and the employer.  

2. Multitasking/Organization:

These skills often go hand in hand and certainly are not unique to recruiters, but they are critical. Hiring is a lengthy process, and there’s quite a lot between getting a requisition, sourcing candidates, posting a job ad, and screening and interviewing potential candidates. Once you have identified a candidate, a recruiter must put together a job offer (which may involve a certain amount of back-and-forth negotiation), run background checks, and much more. Not to mention, but a recruiter often works on many job openings at one time, making these skills even more vital. Of course, modern technology such as ATS (applicant Tracking Systems) has made this easier, but there still is a lot to track.  

Q: 2. What are some of the challenges of being a recruiter?  

A: There are too many to mention, but most recruiters will say the single most challenging thing is finding the right candidate for the right job at the right time. Good candidates are hard to find even in a down market, as most companies will retain their most valuable employees. Often a recruiter will find a candidate with the right qualifications on paper, but for some reason it turns out not to be a “fit.” This could be because of the company’s culture, compensation, location, or other reasons.  

Q: 3. What do you enjoy about being a recruiter?  

A: For me personally, I like to interact with people from all walks of life. Also, I like that there is something different every day, and there are no “daily grinds” or routines!  

Q: 4. What is it like looking for a job for yourself as a recruiter?  

A: It has its advantages because I am intimately familiar with the process and know what to expect as a recruiter.  

Q: 5. Can you share with us your thoughts and experiences about how the recruiting industry has changed throughout your time with HEPCO?   

A: Technology has been the biggest change in the staffing industry and how we communicate with our candidates. Years ago, when I started in the business, the only way to reach candidates was through referrals and many phone calls to build a book of contacts. Today, with all the websites, job boards, and social media platforms available, making contacts and reaching candidates is a much easier and faster process.   

This is particularly true when trying to reach “younger” candidates. Unlike years past, today, phone calls are almost an afterthought as emails and text messages are more prevalent. Although, closing the deal with the candidate still requires a personal touch, which in my opinion is still best done over the phone. The biggest difference between a recruiter and a great recruiter is knowing how to communicate with a particular candidate. It is all about the art of knowing what to ask, when to ask and how to ask questions.  

Q:6. What advice do you give to those looking to become a recruiter?  

A: My advice for anyone looking to be a recruiter is to be patient and develop a layer of “thick skin.” After all, a recruiter is essentially a sales job, as you are selling a job to a candidate. Remember that you will get rejections more often than not, and to not take them personally. You must also learn to balance representing your client and advocating for your candidate. As a recruiter, your main goal is to put the right candidate into the right job.    


Thank you to Tom for your time today and, most importantly, your dedication to ensuring HEPCO’s success.