Meet Chris Hoyt, 'Gadget Addict' & Dabbler; Associate Director of Talent Attraction at AT&T

"A useless life is early death." - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Chris Hoyt, Associate Director of Talent Attraction at AT&T - Dallas, TX
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Chris Hoyt is one of greatest cheerleaders, however in his day-to-day corporate leadership role, he will tell you he likes to 'dabble' in social media. He is being modest. He isn't merely discussing the social media as a phenomenon, but as someone who is leading its full scale integration within a corporate workforce strategy. At AT&T, Chris and his online personae, "RecruiterGuy" are pushing the boundaries of each aspect of the full-cycle model with a matured sourcing model that likewise integrates search engine marketing and optimization to his candidate development arsenal. He is one of a handful in corporate America who can speak with authority on the topic but here at the RBC Community he has always been that 'one in a million' who lives and breathes passing it forward and beyond for a profession he is passionate about.

On a personal level, he is passionate about a great many things, be it his 'dabbling' or his earnest advocacy for charitable causes such as "Bowl for Kids' Sake Event." AT&T managed to raise more than $30,000 to sponsor kids taking part in the Big Brother Big Sister program. In just under two weeks almost $1,600 was raised through using social networks and blog driven communications.

Introducing a Social X evangelist and self proclaimed "Gadget Addict" - someone we can all learn from and with ... our Community's friend and evangelist, Chris Hoyt. (Visualize a Kermit the Frog intro clap with Muppet Show Theme Song!)

Q&A with Chris Hoyt, aka: RecruiterGuy

Six Degrees: As the Associate Director of Talent Attraction at AT&T and a certified HR Professional, Chris I understand you have over a decade of recruiting and training & development experience. You lead the AT&T Talent Attraction teams with a focused concentration on Interactive Recruiting, Candidate Experience, and regionally based strategies. You are recognized as an expert at external recruitment of Occupational and Corporate Management candidates; e-Recruiting; Candidate screening and interviewing; Salary negotiations; Longstanding SHRM Member; HRCI PHR (Professional in Human Resources) Certification; and HTML, ASP, FLASH, Web Development. A lot of "Wow Effect", Chris - but today, we want to learn about what makes this "RecruiterGuy" tick. Chris its time we at RBC learn about your home world.

Chris: I’ve been married for almost 15 years. We met in Monterey, CA where she was on vacation with her mother and I happened to walk by a store where she was trying on shoes. I was immediately lost in her. I went into the store and struck up a conversation with that somehow resulted in my helping her shop for shoes for over an hour. When she finally asked me where the cashwrap was I had to confess to her that I didn’t work in the store but was in reality just wanting to take her to dinner. (I still feel like the sales person owes me some major commission!)

We were married 7 months later at Lover’s Point just blocks from where we met and now have two beautiful daughters ages 8 and 11.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that much of my spare time during the week is spent trying to keep up with the latest trends and technologies that touch our industry. Outside of trying to keep my finger on the pulse of our craft I'd have to say that I enjoy golfing, flying, river rafting - almost anything that is outdoors. At least once a year my family takes a vacation where we try and embark on some sort of outdoor adventure. These are typically wonderful times together but rarely go as planned. Our previous trip to Lake Tahoe was when the fires forced an evacuation of the camp grounds the day we arrived. We ended up spending a week on Pismo beach riding four wheelers instead. Even our last vacation as a family might have been hard for some to deal with as we were rained on nearly the entire week. Problem for us? Not at all... we had a terrific time. Honestly I think we'd be surprised if a single outing went according to plan... Surprised and maybe even a bit bored!

Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?

Chris: I’ve been doing recruiting or sales and recruitment training since 1994. It wasn’t really something that I’d planned on doing but was something that I found I was really passionate about and as a result of that passion, pretty good at what I was doing. Of course I think that's the way things are for most people... if you're really passionate about what you're doing, and hungry to always improve it - how can you go wrong?

Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?

Chris: It's funny... I've never met a recruiter that said they knew from a young age they wanted to be a recruiter. It just doesn't happen that way.
While at the time it seemed unconnected, I look back now and every career step to this date just makes sense. It started when I got out of the Army. I’m a veteran of the US Army – B Co. Rangers, 5/21 7th Infantry. My duty station was Fort Ord, CA and when my enlistment ended I had decided that I wanted to stay in California. I started school right away and took the first job offered to me – which was at a leather coat store. Within my first 7 months I’d sold over $1m in leather jackets and apparel so they quickly moved me into management – There's a Peter Principal joke in here somewhere.

I’ve always enjoyed networking (translation: gift of gab) and it wasn’t long before the stores I was responsible for were staffed with the strongest sales persons and managers in the district. I soon found myself traveling from market to market to train recruiting and sales teams which later transitioned into self employment, speaking/training jobs and full-time contract recruiting. While I was a contract recruiter with a passion for process improvement it was obvious to me at that point that I wanted nothing more than to try and change the way most corporate or HR departments looked at the recruiting craft.

One job led to another and I was recruited to AT&T in 2000 to be a contract recruiter responsible for North Texas. After 7 fun and challenging years I'd worked my way from being responsible for Northern Texas to leading the strategic and tactical recruiting teams across the country.

Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?

Chris: My embracing the Internet. I’ve always been a huge fan of networking and making real life connections. But when I really started to use the Internet for sourcing in 1999 it was a breakthrough for me. It was when I managed to gain two hires from digging through a company’s round robin call list discovered Online that I got REALLY excited about how the Internet could be used to change what I was doing. The idea then was the same as it is for me today - the Internet continues to be a powerful tool that can be used to create introductions that otherwise might not occur. Of course the real connection and relationship is up to the recruiter to forge - a high speed modem doesn't build a relationship.

It's always really interesting to me how many recruiters or staffing people often miss that part of the puzzle and lately tend to treat the Internet and technology as though they are a complete solution. Being connected to the web doesn't mean you're connecting to your potential candidates.

Anyhow... I’ve been pushing as hard as I can in a direction that leverages technology and online initiatives for recruitment and hiring ever since.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your role and the staffing organization you oversee.

Chris: I’m the Associate Director of Talent Attraction at AT&T. I lead both strategic and interactive recruiting teams and sourcers and have responsibility for our Interactive Recruiting Strategies (SEO, SEM, Social, etc.) various Recruitment Marketing initiatives, our new award winning Career Portal (, and Job Board strategies. My teams are responsible for the sourcing and attraction of any job seekers for non-contracted external hiring efforts.

Six Degrees: (A) What other companies' recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?

Chris: There are some really good ones out there.... but two that come to mind I guess would be Best Buy and Microsoft...

I'm a fan of the Best Buy career site because I love the way they’ve embraced social media as a tool for recruitment with video, social bookmarking, and how it seems to be a pretty accurate reflection of their corporate culture. Of course if I'm not mistaken the career section of their site is driven by the Jobs2Web engine. So what I really love is the almost seamless integration of the SEO initiative into their brand. I'm big on SEO/SEM initiatives and think many employers are still too slow to embrace these powerful strategies.

I'm still a huge fan of Microsoft's "The Changing Face" site ( and it's because I think it's the absolute best job I've seen of pushing employee testimonials to active and passive job seekers. Microsoft is always a fun employer to watch when it comes to recruitment marketing online but I just feel they nailed it with the site - from the site navigation to the talking Polaroids to the direct contact forms... just awesome - top notch and something to keep in mind when reworking an employment site for sure.

"AT&T 'Day In The Life' of a Corporate Call Center employee. Jobs video production by: "

Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?

Chris: I feel that I'm in a place right now that has taken some hard work and dedication to achieve and where it's sometimes overwhelming to take a step back and really take in the scope it's impact. Leading recruiting teams at a FORTUNE 9 employer is as challenging as it is rewarding - and I'm thankful every day that I'm here and able to make a difference. But I'd be a liar if I told you that I'm not always working towards a next step... taking recruiting and employer brand to the next level is my primary focus here of late.

I know when people ask this question they often expect to hear a job title or scope of responsibility as the definitive career goal response. I don't think I've ever thought of my career planning in that way - for me it's been about setting an impact goal or evolutionary change to a process as a way to measure effort and success. In this case, I like to think I'm working towards the evolution of how large companies view the recruiting craft and the incredible impact that employment brand can have on various business initiatives outside of just talent attraction.


Six Degrees: How many applicants at your present employer do you estimate are hired from your corporate website as compared to how many are hired through referrals?

Chris: Employee referrals continue to be my favorite hiring source. We've seen our employee referrals account for nearly 90% of our hiring in some markets while on a national recruitment level see still impressive numbers of applicants within the 40% range. To be clear however - the real win with employee referrals for any company isn't typically just the volume received. If you ask various companies that have successful employee referral programs or processes in place why they love the programs, I think you'll get solid answers tied to reduced cost per hire and an awareness about the job or corporate culture that most referrals have BEFORE they even come in to apply.
Even during times when we weren't offering any rewards to our employee body for submitting referrals we continued to see incredible numbers of referrals in locations we were hiring. When you love where you work and you believe in your company's goals and vision I think you want to share that - and I think our continued success with our various referral channels proves just that.

Six Degrees: What is the source of your "LOWEST COST OF HIRES" - (least amount of invested resources for the easiest hires, regardless of quality) at your present employer?

Chris: Employee referrals are always an awesome source for any recruiting initiatives to compete with. I'd have to tell you though that outside of employee referrals any company would be hard pressed to prove to me that they aren't showing an amazing amount of reduced cost per applicant through Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization efforts - if done well, of course. While we continue to see trends that show job seekers starting their job searches in search engines and social or professional networks it only makes sense to move initiatives in the right direction. Smart recruiting is like playing hockey in that your goal is to skate where the puck is going as opposed to it's current location. Wayne Gretzky was the person that originally said that about hockey, by the way. As a hockey fan I just love to fit it in whenever I can.

Six Degrees: What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?

Chris: Our recruiters and sourcers are always on the lookout for new and innovative sourcing and recruitment strategies and tools. Various webinars are attended and as a rule each recruiter typically attends job board and applicant tracking software training courses as refreshers almost quarterly. I think that many of our teams take full advantage of blogs and newsletters from respected sources in our industry to try and stay on top of their game. Of course any chance to attend conferences with classes or sessions hosted by people like Susan Burns of Talent Synchronicity, Michael Marlatt for innovative recruiting trends, or Craig Silverman are always a bonus. It's great when a recruiter comes back from a session or webinar that really carried a powerful lesson or message and see how they share it with their teams.

Six Degrees: 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?

Chris: There's a basic answer to this that might be what most would be looking for as a response... Just naming our Applicant Tracking System and any applications we use to aid in search, right? It's no secret that by visiting the AT&T career portal you'll see that we've quite a few of our jobs posted in Taleo. It's also no mystery if you're a reader of my blog or have followed me on Twitter for any amount of time that I'm a fan of AIRS Sourcepoint for some of our sourcing initiatives.
These are great... and yes, they're software tools - but they're really not where the true power strokes come from for some of our more impressive recruitment and sourcing. Want to know what the big hitters in our arsenal are? I'll tell you - and you might be surprised.

The Yahoo! and Google search engines are powerful when we're rolling up our sleeves and sourcing tough titles. Mobile marketing initiatives like the AT&T Talent Network and our mobile shortcodes are showing really impressive results across the board. But when it comes to asking me what tools we use that really make a difference and if they're making a difference for recruiting regardless of where or who we're searching for... I'd say it's our use of our recruiter's professional networks hands down. We know that relationships and trust are the power behind any good network and we leverage that knowledge daily.

Six Degrees: What tools (technology or old school file folder, for example) did you first encounter early in your recruitment career?

Chris: My first filing technology was Franklin... A huge Franklin organizer with a smaller one to accompany me when I was "mobile" recruiting. Of course back then "mobile" recruiting was recruiting on the road or simply from office to office. From that I advanced to using a word processor and email - and upon the discovery of how to use email folders online I've been in love with the "cloud" based file folders ever since.

The strongest tools I had in my toolkit when starting was a handshake, a business card, and the ability or willingness to listen to people in order to find out exactly what they were really looking for or where they might be a great fit elsewhere. When the internet really started to become part of my everyday recruiting activity it was Snap (will anyone remember that?) Webcrawler and Yahoo! although I'll admit that while I knew these would be huge in our industry I wasn't really sure how at first. Of course initially the content just wasn't there to source from like it is today.

Six Degrees: How do you personally expect to facilitate change within our industry, and/or at your place of work? If you started that process, outline the problem, your solutions, and the vision.

Chris:I'm not sure that I expect to individually change our industry at all. I feel like I'm more interested in helping truly engaged recruiters and sourcers to simply think bigger about what we do and the tools we use to get our jobs done. If I can think of a way that a tool like customizable search engines or simple newsreaders can be used to make recruiters more efficient or mobile or collaborative - and share that - I know that it will be expanded upon. There are so many really smart people doing what we do that if given a solid idea or direction we can hope they'll run with it and as a result advance our industry. We see things advance from a good idea into a great practice for many.

I think the biggest challenge is encouraging recruiters to find their 'voice' and share those thoughts and steps forward. I get 3-4 emails for every comment found on my blogs. It's fascinating to me how many great ideas or insightful items of feedback I receive that just don't get pushed to me publicly but instead come in via direct email. Think of your favorite social network and how many members it has versus how many truly contribute to the open content found there. Imagine how much faster our passions would develop - how much more efficient we might be - if just 20% more of each network's population chimed in and publicly contributed.

Six Degrees: What are some of the frustrating aspects/obstacles to your day to day as a staffing professional and in general?

Chris: The most frustrating thing I've ever run into within our industry is when a person or group of people has the unwillingness to think bigger. I want to be clear that I don't fault anyone that truly doesn't have it in them to try and think or operate outside of the box. What challenges me is when I meet a recruiter or manager that could do so much more or collaborate so much more effectively if they'd allow themselves to let go of that old "if it ain't broke" mentality. If we all thought that way nothing would ever change or advance and I'd still be lugging around a giant binder to scribble down names of people I meet.

I'd probably venture to say that unwillingness to change or the lack of passion to drive change are probably the most common themes of strategic and/or tactical mishaps involving HR and Staffing organizations everywhere.

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?

Chris: When I run into people that are as passionate about our craft as I am. I'm inspired when I meet people that aren't so hung up on finding new technology as much as taking advantage of existing technology in different ways. It's not often that you run into an Amitai Givertz who can see what today's tools mean for tomorrow's recruiters - and facilitate that in a way that almost anyone can follow. Seeing someone like Jason Davis create a powerhouse social network as large as because he saw a need and ran with it... These are the things that inspire me to keep thinking and moving forward. We need more of these guys - not just more of the great thinkers but the great do'ers.

Six Degrees: Anything you want to plug?

Chris: I suppose I'd plug the new AT&T Talent Network ( where people that sign up receive mobile and email updates about employment news and opportunities with AT&T as well as monthly prizes like Guitar Hero, a Flip Video Camera and mobile devices. VERY cool new program that's in it's second month.

I'd also love if people would stop in at my personal blog,, and take part in the conversations or just connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn. I love feedback on everything we do and never turn down the chance to connect with someone whenever possible.

Six Degrees: How Are You Going To Change The Recruitment Industry?

Chris: With the help of everyone else... and one idea at a time.

"Dennis Smith from stops in on RecruiterGuy for a quick chat about"

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Replies to This Discussion

Now I know more about you.
Good stuff Chris, looking forward to our chat this week.
Chris is someone I respect and have fun with whenever our paths cross. I can't speak highly enough of his knowledge and dedication.

Thanks Dave, great profile.
I haven't even read the whole thing and I'm blown away by the way he just saw his wife in a store and went in and introduced himself to her. It's not clear if he actually pretended to be a sales rep or if he didn't correct her assumption.

How he could sell shoes for an hour without getting her a pair of shoes to try on and not being exposed by a real sales rep is a question left unanswered.

Still, seeing someone you don't know and going up and making the approach struck me immediately as a sign that this guy is a ballsy recruiter.

Curious to know if this struck anyone else as significant or if it's just par for the course. I once interviewed an engineer from Poland who told me that people in Poland communicate more actively with strangers in the street than we do here in Toronto.
Great Post, cool idea Dave!
Sorry, my comment was not aligned with the others. And I've been chastened as everyone knows. I'll try again.

Way to go, Chris. You da man!
I have a question. Why would a terrific sales person like you, Chris, go to work for someone else rather than become an independent recruiter?

Bill Vick just interviewed Nadia Gruzd who sez that she billed over 700K in 2002. Surely based on what you've said here you were good for at least 300K (or more).
Ha ha ha !!! Too funny. It is who we are out of the office that does determine who we are in the office.

Recruiting Animal said:
I haven't even read the whole thing and I'm blown away by the way he just saw his wife in a store and went in and introduced himself to her. It's not clear if he actually pretended to be a sales rep or if he didn't correct her assumption.

How he could sell shoes for an hour without getting her a pair of shoes to try on and not being exposed by a real sales rep is a question left unanswered.

Still, seeing someone you don't know and going up and making the approach struck me immediately as a sign that this guy is a ballsy recruiter.

Curious to know if this struck anyone else as significant or if it's just par for the course. I once interviewed an engineer from Poland who told me that people in Poland communicate more actively with strangers in the street than we do here in Toronto.
Way to go, Chris. You da man! (that one's for Animal).

Now....holy smokes, he was destined for recruiting from birth - it just took him a while to figure it out!

Seriously, way to go >> on the shoe-store-date-proposal. This is the stuff Dave Perry is made of.

Doza - nice post. Thanks for bringing us a bit of scoop on the Hoytster.
Way to go Boss... Blew me away - as always :-)
It's your turn Josh!

Joshua Kahn said:
Good stuff Chris, looking forward to our chat this week.

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