Meet Gino Conti, RecruitingBlogs Activist, "Who said Corporate Meant Boring?"

• Gino, Conti, Employment Specialist, Nissan North America
• Location: Detroit, Michigan
• RecruitingBlogs Profile
248.488.4177 (Office)
248.894.8966 (Cell)

Read Gino's Blog Post Archives:
"Maybe those brainless single-celled blobs have it right after all..."
"Dignity in Downsizing"
"I won't blame them for their ignorance"
"Exit Interviews"
"The more I do my job the more I like it"


We continue with our series on Activists within the Community. This week we feature Gino Conti, an Employment Specialist at Nissan North America in Detroit, Michigan. Gino is an experienced, full cycle recruiter aligned with Nissan's major OEMS, Tier suppliers, and non-automotive companies nationally with a focus on the Midwest market and in Canada. He has developed his staffing industry niche almost entirely within the automotive industry on behalf of a wide array of functions ranging from business to technical. Currently, Gino is responsible for NTCNA for engineering, but also in support functions such as purchasing and communications within Nissan.

Q&A with Gino Conti

Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.

Gino: Outside of work I surround myself with friends and family in most of my free time. I occasionally like the solitude of a good book, but most of the time I’m spending time with my two younger brothers or old friends that have stayed close since high school and college.

I try to keep as busy as possible since I don’t like being bored. Outside of working full time I am also going to school full time for my MBA, training for a half marathon this fall (and hopefully a full in the spring), and fill any remaining time with reading, writing, and the very rare guilty pleasure of some video gaming to just zone out. I am still trying to find the time to get out and go skydiving again, as this is the first summer in a while that I haven’t been out. I have been involved in a variety of charities, and I have often said if I hit the lottery I would love to replace the time I spend at my day job now with volunteer time. I have worked with Adopt-a-family, area soup kitchens, and try to donate any gently used possessions to Purple Heart or Salvation Army instead of relegating them to the trash bin.

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

Gino: Recruiting is the only thing I’ve done since I graduated college in 2005. The first three years were spent working for a TPR, and I am now in a corporate role, so my duties blend into HR a little more now, but the main focus has always been recruiting.

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

Gino: I’ve spent just over 4 years in the recruiting seat doing mostly technical staffing. My initial responsibility was to recruit engineers for the automotive OEMs and suppliers in Southeast Michigan so despite a complete business-based education my focus was almost entirely engineering recruiting. Since coming onboard at Nissan my recruiting efforts have been more varied and I have branched into finance, purchasing, and sales and marketing.

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

Gino: The fist webinar I attended that was presented by Shally. I had been using LinkedIn for a short while at that point, but was not nearly as proficient as I wanted to be. After his webinar it was like I was a changed man in terms of recruiting – it truly opened my eyes to the creativity and open-mindedness required to really be an effective sourcer and recruiter.

Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?

Gino: There are a couple of people who come to mind, but one who is head and shoulders above the rest. Ian Caullay was a Senior Recruiter whose desk was adjacent to mine when I was first hired out of college. I knew precious little about recruiting (absolutely nothing to be honest) and he was more than happy to help. I remember trying to strategically plan my phone time to be opposite of his so I could listen to how he talked with candidates, asked probing question after probing question, closed them down on the opportunity and the salary, and built a tremendous rapport with each one. Although it was important to tweak his approach to fit my personality, the majority of my recruiting persona was influenced by Ian.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your position at Nissan

Gino: As a corporate recruiter for Nissan I am tied into several difference areas of the company. My role includes doing my own sourcing and recruiting, but also requires that I take a teaching/coaching role with managers in order to create job descriptions and conduct interviews. I also work very closely with HR and Talent Management to ensure that we are developing high potential employees and maintain a good range of diversity in our employee base. The recruiting team itself is relatively small, being only 6 people for the US and Canada, but overall HR and Talent Management is a much larger entity.

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

Gino: I really like some of the things being done at Nike, Google, Deloitte, and Microsoft to name a few, and what Adidas did to revamp their career page was quite an ambitious and impressive undertaking as well.

(B) In what aspects are they superior?

Gino: Despite the fact that most of the aforementioned companies have such strong brand recognition that they probably have candidates practically banging down their doors, they still remain progressive and active in recruiting. I love the idea of having viral job ads, a more interactive career page, and conducting webcasts to inform potential applicants what the company is truly about.

Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future? Why?

Gino: Although social media is not necessarily the newest thing around, this is the area in which my role will change the most. The recent push has been to avoid costs whenever and wherever possible, and as such the reigns have been loosened a little bit to utilize sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and potentially even YouTube in order to reach out to candidates instead of paying the big fees required to search on sites like CareerBuilder or Monster. I could not be happier to have this be the case, and am glad we’re not allowing ourselves to get too far behind!

Six Degrees: Tell us about your broader involvement within the staffing industry:

Gino: Unfortunately travel has been a bit tough to justify lately, so conference attendance is not something I’ve had the luxury to do, but I hope to make it out to some in the near future.

Six Degrees: Can you detail how the recession has affected your particular industry niche?

Gino: Unfortunately I was not able to fully elude the recession myself, but thankfully it did not have me down and out for too long! The TPR I was working for previously had 90% of their eggs in the automotive basket, specifically with GM and Chrysler. Once those two companies started cutting contract employees left and right I saw the writing on the wall and tried to make a move before it was too late. I started getting some bites, but the losses got so great that the board could not wait any longer to take action and the layoffs began. Thankfully when my time came I already had some irons in the fire and my period of unemployment only lasted a few weeks instead of months, but it was terrifying and nerve-wracking all the same.

Despite being gainfully employed, the recession has continued to affect my role. Budget is tighter than ever before, managers are pickier than they used to be, and candidates are typically a bit more persistent with requests for feedback. I can’t say that I blame anybody for taking the actions they have, but it has certainly required a slight adjustment to normal process!

Six Degrees: Aside from simply the generic term “Networking” what specific efforts have you made on your own behalf, or on behalf of colleagues to broaden your opportunities.

Gino: Instead of going strictly with online networking via groups on LinkedIn or the like, our recruiting team has made efforts to get our internal subject matter experts involved. We have been working much more closely with the hiring managers and top talent within our own four walls to go after known high performers within the industry.

Six Degrees: Given your own Trial and Error experiences as a Networker, what advice do you have for your peers on what NOT to do?

Gino: Although it has brought me some success in the past, I’m still not a huge fan of the true cold-call. I know there are some folks that have made a living out of it, but blindly calling into a company has not seemed to be the most productive, nor has it been well-received. While I have been able to connect with some great candidates by cold-calling, I found that most people were either upset to be contacted at work, or were too worried about getting caught to give me the time of day. Essentially I feel for the time sensitivity I need to keep in mind for my projects I need to do something with a lower failure rate than the cold call.

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

Gino: I have a couple of different ambitions within my profession. One option is to continue to learn and grow in recruiting in order to lead the recruiting team for Nissan, or branch out into one of our related organizations within HR or Talent Management and create a stronger connection and synergy with the recruitment team to make recruiting a more strategic part of the organization. Part of this goal is continuing to educate myself (thus the MBA), excel in my current role, and continue to stay abreast of what is cutting edge in order to move my team closer to becoming a world-class recruiting function.

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks Dave, Great to read more about you Gino! Goodluck mate
Thanks for the Deloitte kudos, Gino. Would love to know what impressed you the most?

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