Public Sector Recruiting: Interview with Syldy Tom

is Manager at Alliance Resource Consulting, a nationally recognized public sector executive recruiting firm in Long Beach, CA. Tom works on profile analysis, candidate recruitment, screening, and background checks. Her consulting work specializes in city manager recruitment, as well as information technology, community development, and utilities.

Previously, Tom worked for STAR Marquez, a nonprofit educational organization providing enrichment programs to kindergarten-aged children in public schools. During her time at STAR, she managed multiple enrichment programs. Tom also was the Citibank Summer Research Intern for United Way of Greater Los Angeles. She was responsible for researching the unbanked and under-banked population in Los Angeles for Citibank.

Tom has an MPA from the University of Southern California, and a BA from the University of California at Los Angeles. At USC, she was the Marketing and Fundraising Co-Chair for the Graduate Policy and Administration Community (GPAC).

NP: What is the nature of recruitment today? More specifically, in the age of digital and cloud based hiring apparatus, are tools such as social media, webcams and use of big data transforming the entire recruitment paradigm? What are the downstream effects of these changes on recruiting?

Tom: Executive level recruiting has always been about finding the best person for the client organization.  At the administrative level, digital and cloud based tools have streamlined the recruitment process for the employers and candidates. Our online application system allows us immediate access to the candidate pool and candidates can apply to a position anywhere in the world as long as they have access to the Internet. LinkedIn and Twitter have allowed recruiters to market a position and connect with a larger and more targeted audience because information such as a person’s professional background and whom they are connected to are part of a person’s online profile. Webcams have reduced the cost of meeting with clients and candidates because tools such as Skype and Face Time are free.  While such tools have made connecting with people easier and faster, they cannot replace in-person meetings. For example, a candidate’s sense of leadership, as indicated by their body language or the cadence of their speech, does not often easily translate via the two-dimensional realm of a video interview. Thus it is important to balance the use of online tools with more traditional forms of communication such as telephone calls and in-person meetings.

NP: If a person can be found on Facebook, twitter, websites and countless other forms of emerging social and news media where there is subjective material both positive and negative, is there a concern for the multidimensional effect or fracturing of the person that’s being reviewed for possible recruitment? How does that affect recruiting and how does the recruiter help the employer formulate the appropriate approach in hiring a person?

Tom: Social media has created an additional challenge in the recruiting process because websites such as Facebook can feature both personal and professional information. Many human resources directors and attorneys discourage the employer from reviewing the content of a candidate’s Facebook or personal blog in the event that the candidate challenges the recruitment process because of race, ethnicity, age, or gender discrimination. The best advice I can give an employer is to review how tactful the candidate is in using social media. One simple measure is whether the candidate uses privacy settings on websites such as Facebook. If the candidate does not use privacy settings, then perhaps they are not as savvy with social media as they should be.

NP: Once, the recruiter makes recommendations to the prospective employer, the employer generally makes the final decision in terms of both objective and subjective factors. Do you see changes in that model?

Tom: No, the model has remained the same. At the executive level, all candidates have met the minimum qualifications and skill set. The employer is looking for the right “fit” in a candidate and such an evaluation is both objective and subjective.

NP: As an aside, science fiction and reality are overlapping in the area of AI or artificial intelligence. With the corporate world exploring aspects of artificial intelligence and human-like android technologies and the probable employment of AI in the workplace in the future, is there any discussion on the potential role recruiters might consider with that type of emerging paradigm?

Tom: This is an interesting topic and in its infancy stages. I unfortunately do not have any experience so I cannot comment.