Meet Richard Kenny, Talent Acquisition Consultant: "When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Recruiter"

Rich Quotables:

"Northwest offer me an opportunity to design their recruiting program and after the merger with Delta, I merged the two recruiting programs of two of the world’s largest airlines."

In college I knew I wanted to be in Recruiting. I went to the local bank and asked if ... I could work for free as long as they will allow me to learn about recruiting. Since I had a compelling argument why they should hire me, they said sure.

"I attended a two day training session that was put on by David Szary, founder of The Recruiter Academy. I still keep in contact with David today. He is one of the early influencers that energized me around recruiting and thankfully I still have that passion today"

• Richard (Rich) Kenny)
• Talent Acquisition Consultant
• Minneapolis, MN
• Community Volunteering: Habitat for Humanity
• Personal Causes: United Way
• Cell: 612-860-1116
• Business Website:
• Personal Website:

I had the pleasure of meeting Rich at ERE and shook his hand at the reception. It so happened that Rich sat behind me during several of the speaker events and we got to know one another and his passion for our industry expressed itself in earnest. As an accomplished talent acquisition professional with experience across multiple industries. we shared a deep appreciation for sourcing passive candidates, but as a modest individual, you dig deeper and you find that Rich merged the recruiting programs of two of the world’s largest airlines; not a small feat. He has earned a diverse resume of certifications:

• SPHR (Senior Professional Human Resources)
• AIRS (Advanced Internet Recruiting Strategy)
• CSSR (Certified Social Sourcing Recruiter)
• CIR (Certified Internet Recruiter), 2008
• CDR (Certified Diversity Recruiter), 2008
• ACIR (Advanced Certified Internet Recruiter), 2008
• DDI (Development Dimensions International)
• Targeted Selection: Interviewer, 2008

His experience has substance, his desire to enrich his capabilities to a worthy recruitment methodology is endless. The question remains, what makes Rich interesting aside from his resume credentials? My friends, this is one of the few people I have ever met in my career who KNEW they wanted to be a recruiter when they grew up. How he became a recruiter and what he offered to enter the industry says as much about his tenacity then as it does for his future success. He lays it on the line.

Q&A with Richard (Rich) Kenny

Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.

Richard: I am very close to my family. My parents have been married for 40 years. I have two older sisters, two nephews and two nieces. What I do have is a wonderful group of friends all around the country that I enjoy spending time with. For the last 10 years, I have been in talent acquisition roles where I traveled a majority of the time, allowing me the opportunity to meet great people around the country. I currently live in Minneapolis, MN, but previously lived in Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit and Toledo.

I am a passionate football fan. Specifically, I have been a Michigan football fan my entire life. I have traveled several times to watch them in bowl games and attended many games while living in Michigan. Reading is something I do avidly; I read on average a book a week. I try to rotate in a fun book, industry book and professional development books. Currently, I am reading Dan Brown’s book “The Lost Symbol”, while also reading a book by Clay Shirky, called of “Here Comes Everybody”. There is one TV show that I watch every week either on TV or on the internet and that is 24. I have been addicted to it since the very first episode. If I seriously think about it, I think I have watched the entire series at least two times. Philanthropically, I volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and I am a supporter of the United Way. While working on a Habitat for Humanity home I realized that I could give back to the community in so many ways. I still want to remain active with Habitat builds, but I also realized that I could gain and give others value by helping people in their career search. Recently, I started a networking group in Minneapolis for HR professionals that are in transition that meets every Tuesday. Also, I speak to college student groups on networking, dinner etiquette and the transition from college to corporate. Additionally, I developed and delivered a presentation in Orlando, FL to The Institute of Internal Auditors local chapter and at Right Management in Minneapolis, MN on how to use social media in the job search for candidates.

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

Richard: I recently consulted for C&S Wholesale Grocers and Compass Airlines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. I am actively looking for my next role in talent acquisition or to continue consulting for companies. I have been in the staffing industry for 12+ years, most recently with Delta Airlines and Northwest Airlines. I was recruited by Northwest Airlines after speaking at a client conference for Peoplescout in Chicago. Northwest offer me an opportunity to design their recruiting program and after the merger with Delta, I merged the two recruiting programs of two of the world’s largest airlines. Prior to Delta and Northwest, I lead the field recruiting program at 7-Eleven. We hired over 20,000 people every year for our stores, management and district management roles. My first role out of college ended up being with Comerica Bank thanks to that experience. I started as a Sourcing Specialist and I had to source candidates for our operations center without a budget. I actually was very successful finding candidates; it was an awesome role. After that I was involved in college recruiting with Comerica.

In college I knew I wanted to be in Recruiting. I went to the local bank and asked if I could work for the summer. They told me that they were not hiring. Since I am determined, I asked if I could work for free as long as they will allow me to learn about recruiting. Since I had a compelling argument why they should hire me, they said sure. After all, I was a very low cost employee. A few days after starting, the only recruiter they had resigned, this allowed me to jump in and learn about recruiting. I was still an unpaid intern but a great experience.

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

Richard: As a kid, I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps. He was in sales as a buyer and seller of metals—always building relationships, traveling occasionally and loving what he did. I see recruiting as the best sales job; you get to match people with companies and great opportunities. While I was in college, I knew I wanted to be in human resources, and while I looked at the other disciplines in HR, recruiting seemed to be the perfect fit for my personality and passion. After starting my first job out of college I attended a two day training session that was put on by David Szary, founder of The Recruiter Academy. I still keep in contact with David today. He is one of the early influencers that energized me around recruiting and thankfully I still have that passion today. His training, thought process, as well as his energy around this industry inspired me to make my mark in recruiting as well.

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

Richard: I think it was that I loved to learn new things and be involved and provide input to the recruiting processes within the companies I worked at. At 7-Eleven, I truly had my big break in the industry. I was involved with our corporate office on many projects and initiatives, so when the staffing leader in our headquarters made the decision to leave, it opened up an opportunity for me to move into that role. Since I was heavily involved in all the projects, contributing content, it made me an ideal candidate for that role. It also helped that I was willing to pack up my life and start over in a new city. If you are willing to relocate and start over, you will be presented with greater opportunities.

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

Richard: My father is my true mentor and the person that I look up to every day in my life. Aside from him, I have a couple mentors in my live. My first Mentor would be James Nyhan III. He was the first person to hire me at 14 - well actually the second. For my first job, I worked at a golf course picking up golf balls on the driving range. The owner gave me a bucket and a hard hat and asked me to pick up golf balls while all the golfers where trying to hit the kid with their best shot. I decided I needed a new job, so I ended up working for Jim at his family owned sports complex. It was a bowling center, volleyball facility and miniature golf course all in one. Jim inspired me to work hard and be the best that I could be and he definitely was the person that inspired me to have the work ethic that I have today. I consider the entire Nyhan family an extension of my own family and I still consult for the company today. Beyond that, in the recruiting profession, there are so many people that have inspired me, guided me, supported me and made me who I am today. It would be difficult to identify all of them now. So many people have given me the opportunity to succeed. I have gained knowledge, insight, and inspiration from so many people and I continue to build new relationships and grow existing ones. There are a lot of talented people in this industry, so I feel that having one mentor is not enough. You need to model your career off of everyone you come in contact with, because everyone has something to contribute; good, bad or indifferent. The key is that you have to take those learning and figure out how to apply them.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your latest gig

Richard: I recently consulted for C&S Wholesale Grocers, I implemented iCIMS – iRecruiter Talent Management Platform and worked on some process improvement for their volume hiring program. I also consulted for Compass Airlines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. I worked on re-implementing Taleo Talent Management Platform, sourcing strategy and redesigned their recruitment process for the entire organization.

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

Richard: I spent most of my time in the high volume hiring side of recruiting. I led efforts to hire hourly employees across multiple industries, retail managers and district managers. There are several companies that have great recruiting programs. For inspiration, I look at company like AT&T with Chris Hoyt, who built an application for mobile devices. I also look at companies like Sodexo that are trying the social media route and making a significant commitment to this avenue. There are so many other great companies and talent acquisition professionals out there. Too many to individually identify.

(B) In what aspects are they superior?

Richard: Everyone is saying that recruiting has changed and social media and mobile devices are the future and in some cases have already taken over. I agree that they are the future but what they really are is an extension of what recruiting was and is today. It is still about relationships, networking, picking up the phone and talking to someone, meeting someone for coffee, shaking someone’s hand. Social media just allows us to do it more efficiently. I think these companies are superior because they are embracing social media and mobile recruiting. There is no manual on how to do it, they are trying, retooling, rethinking, and making it work. If you are not willing to try new things, and old things that maybe did not even work the last time, you will not expand your recruiting toolkit.

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

Richard: While I think social media and mobile devices are important, you really need to have a great employment brand, career website, applicant tracking system and the ability to manage your candidate pool through a talent community. Without these things, nothing else matters. You have to have the basics right first.

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

Richard: I attended several conferences a year. I normally attend the Staffing Management conference, SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) conference and ERE Expo. I have also attended NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) and some of the regional conferences as well. I have spoken at several conferences around the country, as well as client conferences, organizations, and on college campuses. My focus is typically on social media in the job search, high volume hiring strategies, technology in recruiting, successful college recruiting programs and relationships with student groups, including networking topics, dinner etiquette and transition from college to corporate. I personally have received several awards for my efforts in college recruiting. In addition, my recruiting teams have received several awards for our contributions to the organizations successes related to recruiting efforts.

Six Degrees: How has the recession effected your particular industry niche?

Richard: The recession has impacted so many great people. I have many colleagues in the airline industry that have been impacted by the recession, fuel prices and mergers. Recently, I decided not to move to Atlanta after the merger between Northwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines, but I did spend nine months in Atlanta leading the program and merging the two processes. Several members of my team that followed me to Atlanta had their positions recently eliminated due to the economy. Due to this recession so many great people will change industries, some will change functions, some may retire and others may do other things. I think that all professionals need to pay it forward and try to help all of our colleagues find that next great thing. If we all just help one person, think of the difference we can make.

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. Are there specific groups, both online and in-person that have proved fruitful in extending your personal brand and job seeking prospects?

Richard: Networking is important, but there are so many other things that are important too. Be a sponge. Read as much as you can (online, print, books, blogs, etc.) and not just about your industry, but world events and leadership too. Share your knowledge with others and listen to others, because they have great things to say. If you are not employed, attend conferences, renew your memberships, gain certifications, be active. There are so many things you can do to stay connected. I recently attended the ERE Expo in Hollywood, FL. At this event, I connected with so many great people, thought leaders and people passionate about recruiting. I also landed an opportunity for a short term consulting project, which I recently finished. It is also important to attend vendor presentations. Not only to stay up on what is going on, but also to network. People that have jobs in our profession are attending these types of events. I have spent a considerable amount of time working on my personal online brand, website, and I am also planning on starting blogging as well.

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?

Richard: The biggest thing you can do would be pick up the phone and call someone, meet for coffee and communicate regularly. As your network grows, it gets harder and harder to keep up with people. If you could just send an email on someone’s birthday, if you know that someone is getting married, etc. Try to find reasons to connect with people. Personalize everything! Make sure that you respond to every message, follow-up on what you say you will do. Take virtual connections to real life when possible. If someone sends you an invitation to connect, you should also thank them for the connection and offer to help them in some way.

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

Richard: I am looking at a couple career options. I am looking for that next leadership role in talent acquisition or to continue to be an independent consultant. Most of my background has been in high volume hourly and salary hiring. I also have significant background in system implementations (Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), applicant tracking systems (ATS), etc.). I have been heavily involved in sourcing, internet strategy, website design, branding, process management and improvement. I am also looking at some opportunities on the vendor side with ATS and RPO providers.

I am doing so many things to find my next opportunity but also the right opportunity. I have been attending conferences, vendor meetings, speaking on recruiting, helping others with their search, reading, networking and applying for opportunities.

This profile is one in a series titled Monday Member Showcase. It was originally published on, a recruiting and HR community, where I am a featured contributor. To read the whole series please click here.

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