Meet Heather Gardner - from $0 to $300k in Record Time

By Dave Mendoza,

Heather Gardner
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Meet my friend, Heather Gardner, Regional Professional Placement at Volt Services Group. She has successfully established Volt’s Professional Placement business within Scotts Valley, taking the local branch from $0 to over $300K in record time. She actively recruits qualified candidates for corporate in-house positions within a specific region, working directly with hiring managers to identify and qualify the "perfect" candidate.

Q & A with Heather Gardner

Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.

Heather: I have been happily married to my husband Jason for 9 years. We have two extremely spirited and energetic kids, Jackson 22 months and Claire 6 (she’s my budding sales & recruiting professional). With the mixture of type A personalities home life is nothing short of constant chaos. I refer to home can is also referred to as “the Santa Cruz zoo.” Ironically my husband and I met at a pre-IPO software company (RMKR). But within this chaos comes much productivity from my “virtual” recruiting office – many people are amazed at what happens here in the Gardner household.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your passions in work and in life Heather

Heather: I absolutely love networking and the recruiting business, even in my “off hours”. I am a recruiter 24/7. It’s not just a job for me, it’s a lifestyle choice. I am constantly networking… When I’m at a birthday party, I’m finding out what everyone does for a living, where they work, what their spouses do, who they know, etc. I’m all about networking 24/7 because it’s what I LOVE to do.

Aside from that, In my spare time I also have an online store called Lookyloo Designs ( I host an annual Trunk Show, generally at Halloween and invite other business women to “set up shop” for the event. It is always a fun time and great opportunity to network and meet new people.

Last year I decided to add a fund raising component to the event. This one was for a local family whose little 4 year old girl has cancer. The story broke my heart when I heard about it. The family’s father was laid off from his job the day before her cancer diagnosis. When I heard their story I felt compelled to do something to help out. Setting up a raffle during the annual trunk show and giving all the proceeds to this local family was a big help to them.

The American Cancer Society is another big cause I like to participate in. My role has been organizing Daffodil days at my last two employers, Rainmaker Systems and then again for the local Volt office in Santa Cruz county. This is something near to me because both my mother and mother-in-law are ovarian cancer survivors.

Six Degrees: How many years have you been a recruiter?

Heather: I started my recruiting career with Volt in 1999. After a little break to have two babies I’m back with again with Volt.

I remember sitting in a post partum mom’s group right after I had my daughter. Most of the mother’s were going around this circle crying because they had to go back to work… I was the only one crying because I wasn’t going back right away. Luckily for me, during my maternity leave, many of my business owner friends had me help them with various areas of recruitment which helped keep me networked. It’s what I enjoy doing.

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

Heather: When I think back to what really got me started as a recruiter, neither is actually recruiting related. I used to work for a Snowboard clothing company (Sessions) as a production assistant. My job was to source buttons, trims, ball caps, you name it I had to find it. This was back before the internet so I was armed with the phone and some garment industry publications. I just called everyone I could and networked my way into finding whatever I needed for our raw materials. I also negotiating various contracts with vendors to get the best possible pricing and/or terms. I didn’t realize this at the time, but this job really gave me great on the job training skills for recruiting.

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

Heather: I was still in the garment industry at the time, but it ultimately had the greatest impact on my recruiting career, before it even began. I had just relocated to the greater Seattle area for a design assistant position at a large sportswear company (Sun Sportswear). After six months into the position, the company was acquired and the entire design team was laid off. I’ve never seen such a mass exit of employees in my entire life and it was the first time I had ever been through a major layoff.

In a complete state of shock and new this rainy area, I took the company phone list with my box of belongings. I went home right away and started calling EVERYONE on that list and networking like never before. In less than a week, after making a zillion calls, I landed a job making substantially more money in the textile department at Eddie Bauer’s corporate headquarters. It was my first real taste at what business networking had the power to do. Sun Sportswear shut it’s doors completely soon after. … at the time I just had no idea how this terrible experience would ultimately help me define my own career path. I still keep in contact with my boss and a few other colleagues.

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

Heather: I am fortunate to have several professional mentors, Pat Cronin and Mally Gardiner. Pat Cronin, Director of Professional Placement for Volt, is my recruiting mentor. He taught me how to recruit when I first started in 1999. Pat is the person who inspired me to success in recruiting. I still recruit for him today and call upon him when I need some creative ideas. Mally Gardiner, is currently a Sr. Program Manager at Adobe. She hired me at Rainmaker Systems when they were a pre-IPO software services company, exposes me to the world of high tech. I was on the client integration team responsible for managing mini start up business units within the company. I was exposed to everything from IT, Marketing, Inside Sales… everything it takes to make a software services business unit run. I wouldn’t be the same professional without Mally’s leadership and career development. Plus she is so incredibly networked in the high tech world. I still call upon her for professional guidance.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your job at Volt:

Heather: Volt is a large Fortune 1000 staffing company. I started my recruiting career there in 1999 at as an Account Manager then quickly moved to the Professional Placement Recruiter role. Now after a maternity leave absence, I am fortunate to be contracting back as a Regional Professional Placement Recruiter. I recruit for branch managers, account managers, Professional Search Recruiters and branch recruiters. My territory includes Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Newark and my home town Santa Cruz. I also help source for candidates for the branches direct hire orders and give an occasional training.

Six Degrees: Tell us about your networking efforts within the industry:

Heather: I try to attend as many face to face networking events as I can in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. There are so many great opportunities to network face to face in this area and they often over lap. One that I never like to miss is the Monthly Silicon Valley Recruiters luncheon
– the recruiting talent in attendance is always AMAZING and networking is plentiful.

I’ve been trying to participate as much as possible in online publications. Most recently I was honored to be interviewed by Jason Alba of JibberJobber for his blog. It’s called “Interview with a Volt Recruiter.”

Part 1
Part 2

Views: 176

Comment by Ryan Leary on May 19, 2008 at 9:21am
Great feature! I agree 100%. Networking is a life style and those who feel otherwise have already failed.
Comment by Jason Alba on May 19, 2008 at 9:35am
I met Heather in Silicon Valley and was able to spend a few hours with her, at her office and at lunch with some friends. Heather has a certain kind of magic that would make her successful in anything. Two characteristics that jump out right away are her excitement and her genuine nature. Combine those with her determination to succeed... this is the type of person who I'd love to have work with/for me!!
Comment by Syed Arshad on May 19, 2008 at 2:27pm
Heather Rocks!
Comment by Melanie Schleif on May 20, 2008 at 1:28am
Heather is great! I had the opportunitiy to speak with her last year. She is one of the most compassionately driven recruiters I've met. Plus, she has a geniune concern for her fellow recruiters' success! I highly recommend spending a few moments with her if given the opportunity. You will walk away encouraged and refreshed!
Comment by Karen Swim on May 20, 2008 at 7:20pm
I have had the pleasure of getting to know Heather. She is by far one of the most wonderful people you could hope to meet. She is a top notch professional with the combination of expertise and phenomenal people skills. She is genuine and smart and raises the bar in this profession.
Comment by Recruiting Animal on May 26, 2008 at 3:16pm
She's A-okay, but that husband of hers.... That's another story.
Comment by Karen Swim on May 29, 2008 at 5:37pm
Mr. Miller, I believe you have taken Heather's statement in the wrong way. Engaging people, getting to know them and their interests is networking. The true spirit of networking is a two way endeavor and I can assure you that Heather is a giver. She is not shoving her business card in anyone's face trying to get business rather she is seeking ways she can help them. She never misses an opportunity to open doors for others or make introductions to people who can help you. I believe what she is saying is that she is interested people and never misses an opportunity to engage them by learning more about them.


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