I’ve known Krystin McDermott since high school and have been so impressed over the last few years specifically with the way she’s risen through the ranks in the industry of recruiting. She has nearly 10 years of recruiting experience and acts more of a matchmaker than anything else as she pairs candidate’s personalities and skill sets with her colleagues and open requisitions. She loves hearing people’s professional and personal stories and uses her experience to create a seamless process for job seekers. She is constantly striving to find opportunities to improve the candidate experience and that’s what makes her such a fantastic recruiter.
Today, Krystin is an Assistant Director of Talent Acquisition at Capgemini where she leads a team of over 10 full time and contract recruiters across the United States. Read our interview below to find out more about Krystin and her journey as a recruiter.
KN: Krystin, excited to have you be a part of the series! Can you share your story and how you got started in recruiting?
Krystin McDermott: As a young girl, my father used to tie a balloon around my wrist at parties because networking was my favorite thing to do! Of course, back then, I just thought that talking to people was a ton of fun.
In college, I was in a sorority and was in charge of our recruitment efforts. After graduation (and as most recruiters will tell you), I landed in recruiting. I worked at a staffing firm doing recruitment for advertising & PR firms. I left and transitioned into an admissions role at a digital media arts college called Tribeca Flashpoint. I then moved into career services where we placed students into roles at both corporate clients and agencies. I was let go from TFA, along with other colleagues, and found a role at Manifest 10 days later. Manifest was my introduction into in-house recruiting and specifically in the experience design space.
I wanted to learn more about processes, compliance and about working in a large organization, so I made the leap to Fjord which is a design & innovation firm within Accenture. I stayed there nearly four years and then decided to join Capgemini where I’m currently leading a recruitment team.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without having the experience I had at each place listed above and countless incredible mentors.
KN: I think it’s so important to acknowledge how far you’ve come and what it’s taken to get where you are today! What excites you most about your job? What do you find the most challenging?
KM: Capgemini is going through a time of transformation within the talent acquisition team. It’s exciting because we get to see how our transformation is disrupting the business (in a good way) and is inspiring change across the organization.
The most challenging piece of my job is managing candidate expectations and our business stakeholders’ expectations. We want to ensure that candidates have a seamless and high-touch experience, yet there are often times where the business slows down and we need to wait to hire candidates. It’s the nature of consulting, so managing expectations is something that can be challenging, but it’s also an opportunity to build your relationship with candidates and keep them posted week over week.
KN: That’s really great perspective. I’m curious – what really impresses you about a potential candidate either when reviewing their resume or screening them on a phone call? What is an immediate red flag?
KM: What impresses me with candidates is when they cater their resume to the job they’re applying for, when they input data that supports their successes and when their resume has a unique ‘flair.’ It helps show me a candidate’s personality. Concurrently, speaking with candidates over the phone and finding a way we can connect on a personal level always makes the conversation more enjoyable for both parties. I’m a very transparent recruiter and I always ask my candidates for the same in return. This helps us form and build a relationship through the candidate experience.
An immediate red flag is when a candidate is applying for a role that is not in the realm of what their background is in. Along the same lines, if I’m screening a candidate and I know their background isn’t a fit, I usually provide feedback on the call and share my concerns. When candidates are unwilling to take feedback, then it is a red flag for me.
KN: Good to know! I’m glad you mentioned that you like to see a candidate’s personality in their resumes and in interviews. Now I want to get back to you – what has been your best career decision and what has been the toughest?
KM: I made a strategic move to transition from a smaller design firm called Manifest, to a design firm (Fjord) that was a part of Accenture. It was one of the best moves that I have made in my career. I knew that I lacked process improvement and optimization, yet, I sought a role that would help me grow that skillset in addition to others.
The toughest move I have made was coming to Capgemini. I didn’t want to leave Fjord, but it was an opportunity of a lifetime and a major growth role for me. While timing in my personal life made it challenging, I persevered and sought guidance and mentorship throughout.
KN: I love those. It sounds like you’ve definitely gotten out of your comfort zone a bit and really taken advantage of opportunities that came your way. What would you credit your success to?
KM: I credit my success to the amazing mentors I’ve had over the years – whether they were a part of talent acquisition, HR or even a business stakeholder. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the people who have invested time into me.
KN: That’s amazing. And how do you balance life and work responsibilities?
KM: I come from the belief that you work to live, not the other way around. Of course, there will be times where work may take precedence, but it’s important to be mindful of the time you spend at work vs. with friends, family and loved ones.
It’s also critical to be aware of your mental health. With a billion ways that people can reach you (phone, text, email, Skype, etc.), you need to make sure that you’re actually stepping away and not constantly checking in unless things are urgent. We all need a mental ‘vacation’ from work, so be mindful and check yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Maybe you need a mental vacation!
KN: Gahh, so true! I myself really need to make more time for that balance. Getting a bit more personal, has there been a challenge in your career or in your life and if so, how did you push through it?
KM: Last year, I went through an incredibly difficult time in my life. My Nonna (my grandma) was in and out of nursing homes and hospital beds. All I wanted was to be there for her. I talked with my managers and made sure that my work was complete, but asked for flexibility to go see her a few times immediately after work each week or I would work from the nursing home/hospital.
People realize that life happens and we work to live, not live to work. I had nothing but support from my leadership and team, so I didn’t regret anything when she did pass. My advice is to be open about what is going on in your life with your management. They generally will understand and if you’re truly struggling, make sure you go to HR.
KN: I think that’s fantastic advice. What keeps you motivated day to day?
KM: I’m most motivated when I am surrounded by people who believe in me. That doesn’t always mean within my company – it can be mentors that I constantly keep in touch with. Additionally, matching candidates with the perfect job is incredibly rewarding and I love seeing the impact I’m making both within my company and in someone’s life.
KN: Aww, that’s great. I love that. And who has inspired you over the years?
KM: The most inspirational people in my professional life are the mentors I’ve had. However, the most inspirational person in my life would have to have been my Nonna. She was one of the kindest and most patient and loving people I have ever met. People loved her for who she was and everything she did for others. I strive every day to make her proud.
KN: So sweet, Krystin. She sounded like an incredible woman. If you had one piece of advice for fellow career women, what would it be?
KM: Networking is absolutely critical. Not only inside your organization, but also outside. Go to meet-ups, attend speaking events and start talking! I recommend keeping in touch with your mentors throughout the years, meeting them for coffee, texting, etc. You never know what may happen in your career and you may need your network to help you (or vice versa).
KN: Beyond true! This is the end of the interview, so I want to ask if you have any parting thoughts?
KM: Never lose who you are throughout your professional career. BE YOURSELF. And even more importantly, be kind. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~Plato
Such an impactful quote that I think we most definitely should all live! Thank you, Krystin! To get in touch or follow along with Krystin, you can find her contact info below:
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Role Strategy and Employee Engagement Manager at Salesforce and has over 12 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.