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!