Monday, September 09, 2013

Celebrating 22 Years In The Industry!

Twenty two years ago today I embarked on what would be the foundation of a long and rewarding career path in the HR and Recruitment industry. Knowing only how to spell the word recruiting, I was hired as a Data Entry Associate for Arthur Andersen and Andersen Consulting’s recruiting team in their Hartford office. I was responsible for tracking all candidate activity in the applicant tracking system, aptly named CRIS. To this date, I’m a stickler for 100% data integrity with any ATS I’m operating. At the time, I was unaware that public accounting would become my playground and that recruiting would be my passion.

As I worked with some of the best and brightest partners, hiring managers and team members, I began to learn the fundamentals of recruiting. When I was given the opportunity to start conducting my own interviews and owning a few requisitions I felt such a sense of fulfillment in my career. I found that I had a natural connection with my candidates. I enjoyed hearing about their work experiences and objectives. I got a thrill every time I made an offer and candidates accepted. I learned quickly that working in recruiting not only meant hiring people, but also gently letting go of those not qualified for a role. As tough of a task as this is, in the end, it’s always what’s best for the firm and ultimately the candidate.

I’ve seen recruiters young and old alike get caught up with the latest systems, buzzwords, Boolean searches, networking events and jockeying for the most LinkedIn recommendations and connections. Who’s in the President’s Club for the most hires and who’s writing articles for LI and other recruitment blogs. These components are not what makes a good recruiter. Most of these are simply the tools in your toolbox. You can learn to use them effectively, but they still don’t make you a good recruiter.

As the years progress and my experience deepened, I learned the most fundamental aspect of recruiting was not hiring people, but building strong business relationships with both my internal and external clients. In doing so, the candidates came and the hires were made. By building strong relationships with my hiring partners I was able to learn more about professional services from a business perspective. I’ve spent hours with my partners learning how they managed their teams, how to discern financial reports, what keeps them up at night, how our business is run, what pursuits they’re chasing and how I can add value in helping them achieve their goals. Each time I deliver the talent they need, I further build my credibility; which was beyond valuable. I can sit in their respective offices and tell them I can hire the candidates they’re looking for, but until that “butt is in the seat” (as we say in the recruiting industry), my words and promises mean nothing. I’ve also learned when to step up and let my partners know when a requisition is too difficult to fill. It takes a high level of trust and vulnerability to have this dialogue with your partners. In doing so, I’ve been surprisingly encouraged. This has often given opportunity to further brain storming with them, reviewing our processes, etc. When we finally do fill those roles, it’s that much sweeter for the victory.

I’ve also been deeply blessed to have worked with some of the most talented recruitment and HR professionals. There’s a kinship you develop with your natural work teams when you’re in the trenches day in and day out. You have this innate desire to watch them succeed and you’ll protect them fiercely if someone tries to undermine their efforts. You’re all sharing the same mission and cause. Hire and retain a world class workforce. I owe a lot to my early mentors who saw something in me and graciously gave of their time in teaching me the ins and outs of HR and recruiting and tolerated my inexperience. Many of their philosophies are what I use in my practices today.

I’ve often heard my colleagues say “We’re not saving lives here”. We’re technically not, but I know that I’m changing them. I could share many heartfelt stories of candidates whose lives were changed when I called and presented them with an offer. I made an offer to one candidate recently and he exclaimed, “You have no idea how much I needed this job. I was about to completely give up”. When I put my head on my pillow that night I was moved to know someone else was going to bed with a peace of mind about their future and that I had an integral hand in helping him get there. That’s beyond rewarding.

I’m not going to lie; my career has also had its many disappointments. No matter how hard I’ve tried, there will always be those team members or hiring managers I’m just not going to win over. I could give a kidney to save their kids lives and they’d still throw me under the bus. Despite the lack of reciprocal respect, I’ve made a personal vow to always remain professional, deliver and take the high road. The occasional thought of dabbling in voodoo dolls or running them down in the parking garage has brought momentary satisfaction, but in the end, I’ve thankfully resisted the urge.

I’ve had the opportunity to hire a few thousand people over my career. To this day, I still stay in touch with my very first hire. He’s the CEO of a thriving tech company. When I walk through the offices of my current firm, I see name plate after name plate of the people I’ve hired. It’s humbling and yet, so fulfilling to know this is the legacy I’m leaving on the workforce.

With that said, as I sit here near the close of my 22nd year, I lift my virtual glass in thanks to the years behind me and to many more wonderful years to ahead, hiring the best and brightest talent and working with some of the greatest leaders in my industry!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Cyclist

There are moments in life that abruptly, albeit, cruelly, stop us in our tracks and remind us once again how incredibly precious life is. Last night was one such moment for my son, Stephen, and me. We were on our way to dinner and a movie. While on route we witnessed a cyclist who had been hit by a car, thrown across the street into another car, only to land crumbled up on the sidewalk. My entire body froze as we saw this young cyclist lying lifeless, face down on the street, bloodied and mangled. A crowd of well meaning folks immediately ran to his rescue and called 911. I parked my car ahead, grabbed my sons arm and began to weep for the young man. I started whispering, in an almost mantra fashion, “Please God, let him live. Please let him pull through this. God, please let him be alright.” The police and rescue vehicles descended on the scene and we were motioned to vacate the area.

Where do you go when you’ve just witnessed such a horrific event? I was nauseated and shaken inside. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I couldn’t get the picture of him lying so deeply wounded on the side of the street out of my head. Would he make it? Did he make it? How bad were his injuries? I checked the internet repeatedly for any updates on his status, but nothing was posted. Then, when I awoke this morning I read an article that said “Pasadena Cyclist Struck and Killed”. I wept silently for him. A man I did not know, but who had impacted my life dramatically in the past 24 hours?

Who was this man? The paper said he was in his 30’s and was out cycling with another friend. Did he have a girlfriend or wife? Was he a father with a young family who’ve now been left fatherless? Did he have a dad who awoke to Father’s Day with the pain of having lost his son? Did he have a mother whose heart is now shattered to pieces at the loss of her child? Who were his friends and what pain they must be feeling at this unexpected, tragic loss? Who was he? He awoke yesterday morning and set out on his day, not knowing it would be his final.

Unless one is completely void of feeling and perspective, it would behoove you, after witnessing such an event to not take a moment and be ever so thankful for the very breath you’re breathing. It’s in moments like this that we are once again reminded of how incredibly precious life is. Tomorrow is never promised to us.  The end of today is not promised either. The petty issues that seemed so grand yesterday become no longer relevant now. I found myself going through my day with a profound sense of thankfulness. I desired a sense of peace in my current relationships, no matter how fractured they were. I wanted to hug my family members a little tighter and longer today. I prayed for God’s continued love and absolute protection over my son and that he grants him a wonderfully long life.

I do not know the name of this gentleman whose life I saw ebb from him last night. Until then, our paths never crossed, yet crossed they did. Sometimes in death, a person can have a deeper impact on their fellowman. Clearly is such the case. As haunted and grieved as I feel by witnessing his death, I feel a sense of tribute to him as well. I know I’ll never drive down Del Mar Boulevard again without being reminded of how fleeting life is and to make every day, every moment count. We get so caught up on the day to day rut and responsibilities of our lives that we sometimes fail to realize that each day is a gift. I know I’ll awaken tomorrow and not want to take anything for granted. I’ll be more aware of my actions and how they may affect others. I’ll have a heart of deeper gratitude. I’ll start acting on the dreams and goals I’ve kept on the shelf far too long. I’ll have a renewed desire to live every day; I’m privileged to have as if it were the last.

My heart and prayers go out to this young man and his family. A man and family I’ve never met and most likely never will. I thank him for the invaluable life lesson he brought to me in the time of his passing. May God’s peace and love comfort his family and friends and may they too, like me, be moved to live a better life.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Deleting Your Junk Male

Yes, I’ve spelled male correctly!

These last few months, I’ve been evolving to this wonderful place in my life where I’m truly coming into my own. Hurts of the past are long in the healing stage. Questions that have haunted me for almost 30 years are sowing their answers firmly in my heart. Dreams that have been locked in my soul far too long are starting to take form. I’m no longer sitting on the sidelines of my life. I’ve been sprinting straight toward a renewed sense of self worth, confidence and tremendous accomplishments. The latter has opened my eyes to unhealthy relationships and behaviors in my life, specifically as it relates to men.

After my divorce, almost 10 years ago, I found myself catapulted to into the rabbit hole of the dating world. The last time I had dated was in 1989. The rules of the game had dramatically changed, as had I. In an effort to be accepted and loved, and probably in a subconscious way of hiding the pain of my divorce, I fell into a pattern of accepting highly unacceptable behavior from the men I became involved with. I found myself tolerating actions and indiscretions that were deeply inappropriate, yet I was enabling them by not putting my foot down. I dated or became friends with men who would essentially take advantage of my kindness, talents, vulnerability, time and heart.

My eyes have been forced wide open of late. I started taking stock of the many male relationships I have/had and came to the sobering reality that I needed to do some housekeeping. I’ve been in the process of hitting the delete button on men who:

  • Worship at their own alter. Let’s face it; no one is as amazing as he is!
  • Flaunt their wealth.  Sorry, baby, but you're rich in the things that don't matter to me.
  • Are on the advisory board of the local narcissists chapter. 
  • Ask for a date but have been in a long standing “complicated” relationship with someone else.
  • Call solely for the purpose of a potential booty call. Immensely degrading and not going to happen!
  • Do nothing but talk and lament about their ex.
  • Think it's perfectly acceptable not to call for several days and then expect me to jump when they do.  Um... NO? 
  • Pay more attention to their cell phone and emails when we’re together.
  • Use my talents and energy for their own personal gain.
  • Think it’s alright to cheat on their significant other and want me to comply. As if!
  • Send dirty pics of themselves and expect me to be impressed.  GROSS!!!  If you want to impress me, show me a picture of your last 401K statement. 
  • Don’t make me feel like the talented, loving, beautiful, accomplished woman that I am.
  • Forget that I have a heart beating inside of me and that it hurts when you wound me; and, like any heart, it needs to feel loved and nurtured, not used!

It’s been deeply empowering to come to a place in my life where I can say no to several of the unhealthy relationships I’ve been holding on to. By saying no, I’m drawing a line in the sand that says I’m no longer going to enable you to treat me like this. You no longer have access to my talents and gifts. You no longer have the luxury and right to my kindness and compassion. You no longer have access to my mind, body or soul. If you want me, you need to earn me and I have to want you to earn me. It’s been a bold step to take and one met with resistance. In the end I’m finding healthier and happier relationships making their way into my life. Most importantly, my confidence and self worth have been restored. In essence, by hitting the delete button on my junk male, I’ve hit the enter button on a world of renewed possibilities as well as some new male!

Friday, May 10, 2013

You Know You're a Working Mom When...

  • Before hitting the office, you have already filled the role of chef, chauffeur, wardrobe consultant, tiny terrorist negotiator and detective (finding backpacks, shoes, homework, sports equipment for after school practice, shoes... again, even though they put them on their feet and investigating the odd smell under your kids bed). 
  • You stroke the side of your coffee mug and, like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, refer to is as "My Precious".
  • Your breakfast consists of a handful of Goldfish crackers and a fruit roll-up.
  • You sit through meetings with the theme songs from Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer looping in your head.
  • One of your co-workers kindly removes dried oatmeal from your hair; from the day before.
  • You frantically look at every call that comes in on your cell to see if it’s your kids calling; and pray to God it’s not the principal phoning… again.
  • You jump at any chance to lunch with co-workers simply to have one meal out where you don't get crayons and a coloring book with your menu.
  • You play referee on the phone while your kids are fighting over who gets the last Capri Sun.
  • You plan out dinner and your grocery list during conference calls.
  • You laugh at how silly you were to think you had time to pick up groceries or even make dinner.
  • You wonder if feeding your kids Pop Tarts and root beer for dinner will warrant a visit from DCF or guarantee you a place in the Bad Mom Hall of Fame.
  • You sometimes see the pictures of your kids on your desk and your heart smiles.
  • You sometimes see the pictures of your kids on your desk and your heart hurts.
  • You try to figure out how you and your kids can cleverly wear the same outfit tomorrow so you don’t have to do laundry when you get home.
  • You refer to the ladies room as “The Potty”.
  • You relish the uninterrupted time in the ladies room and call it “Me Time”.
  • You sometimes cry on your way to and from work.
  • Even though you know that once you get home the insanity will ensue, you still can’t wait to get there.
  • You close a deal from the bleachers of your child’s soccer game.
  • During homework you draw up a business plan to outlaw algebra.
  • You know all of the Dr. Suess books by heart.
  • You make 50 cupcakes at 9 p.m. because that’s when your child reminded you that they’re due tomorrow.
  • You get water three times, scare away the monsters, and answer odd last minute questions like "Do worms yawn", before your little cherubs finally fall asleep.
  • You hit your bed exhausted beyond words and feel you've either nailed the day or failed the day!
  • You whisper prayers of love and protection over your kids as they sleep, count your blessings and know you’d do it all over again if you had the choice!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Symphony

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending my ex-husband’s first symphony, promptly titled Symphony No. 1. I also had the privilege of watching our son fulfill a vital role in the day’s events. My son is an avid filmmaker. He eats, sleeps and drinks all things cinematic. Name pretty much any film and he can tell you who directed it, who the cinematographer was, why they chose certain shots, lighting or scenery; as well as who the actors were, and what awards the film won. I’ve watched my son progress from filming amateur movies in our backyard to developing his craft to a level where his works are now being accepted at film festivals across the country. I’ve often said that Stephen didn’t choose filmmaking but rather, filmmaking chose him. Stephen will humbly tell you that he simply loves the art of telling stories to the world.

As I sat in the Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, CA I was filled with a myriad of emotions. Stephen’s father, Peter, asked him to film the performance. Peter poured over a year of his life into writing this symphony. He was also given the privilege of being asked to conduct it. Anyone in the musical world will know that for a resident conductor to surrender their podium and orchestra to a guest conductor is quite an honor. Peter knew all too well how momentous this occasion would be and wanted to capture every moment of it. For that, he not only turned to his son to do so, but had tremendous faith in his talents that he would deliver and not disappoint.

Stephen, on the other hand, knew all too well how painstakingly hard his father worked on each and every note. He watched his dad labor through bone crushing exhaustion, personal crisis, fevers and other illnesses, as well as having to meet his many day to day obligations. Yet, he persevered, keeping his eye on the finish line and delivered a masterpiece! In doing so, Peter provided to his son an unquestionable example of fortitude and resolve. For that, Stephen wanted nothing more than to make his father proud by ensuring a quality video product.

Stephen spent hours in his dad’s rehearsals taking notes on where and how to shoot the performance, all the while, being inconspicuous to the orchestra and audience. This was no small feat. He was holed up in a small alcove on the side of the auditorium, about 20 feet above the orchestra. He was dressed all in black, or as he would say, like a Ninja, and took his proper place at the camera. When Peter stepped out to center stage and onto the conductor’s podium, his son was standing close by ready to capture every moment. It was then that I was struck with such pride in watching father and son collectively bring their talents to the forefront.

The father, son dance is a delicate one. A good father strives to impart love, acceptance, principles, values and an honorable legacy to their offspring. The son on the other hand looks to make his father proud and wants nothing more than to know he will be there for him, no matter what. In a world where so many father, son relationships are fractured, broken or non-existent, I’ve come to count my blessings for the relationship my son has with his father. Despite his dad and I having been divorced for almost ten years, we are one of the fortunate in that we’ve maintained a harmonious relationship. This has been primarily due to having shared custody of our son and, because we wanted to maintain a pleasant equilibrium for all three of us to exist in. We’ve not been perfect and we’ve certainly had our moments, but we always know how to bring it back into focus. It takes a lot of maturity and letting go of silly issues to achieve this, but the rewards are so worth the efforts.

By the time Stephen was five, he had memorized every note of his father’s music. So much so that if he heard even a whiff of a melody that sounded like something his father wrote in another composers piece, he would immediately inform his dad that he needed to get his attorney because that composer had “copyright infringed” his works. Clearly they hadn’t done so, but it was sweet that he had his father’s back nonetheless. Stephen would sit through concert after concert hearing his dad’s compositions played by some of the best orchestras around. He would watch his father stand before crowds of thousands to take his well earned bow. Everything came full circle yesterday as I watched Peter now take pride in Stephen’s filming talents and as he entrusted him with this monumental occasion.

As I sat there yesterday, hearing each note beautiful come to life and my son capturing every frame of the experience I was not only filled with pride but also fulfillment. Watching my son and his dad collaborate their mutual talents, culminating in a perfect performance by both is more than any mother could hope for. Peter was highly thankful and dutiful in acknowledging his son’s filming efforts and Stephen was bursting with pride at his father’s symphonic premiere.

The word symphony is derived from the Greek word (symphonia), meaning "agreement or concord of sound", "concert of vocal or instrumental music", "harmonious”. How ironic to see Peter’s first symphonic work as the genesis to both working together. I’m sure this is the first of many father and son partnerships. I look forward to future endeavors whether it’s in the concert hall or collaborating together on a film. Either way, the bond, friendship and mutual collegial respect shared by both is heartwarming. To that I give a heartfelt standing ovation. Bravo to you both for a job well done!