I’ve worked for a staffing agency for the last fourteen years, so I suppose you could consider me something of a lifer in this business. One of the things that keeps me in recruiting is the fact that the last 11 years of my career, I’ve managed to work remotely.
This opportunity has been a true blessing, given I live at least two hours from the nearest branch office; of course, when you live in Joplin, Missouri, you pretty much live at least two hours from everything.
Well, maybe you’re within two hours of the Precious Moments Museum & Chapel, Silver Dollar City or more fireworks stands than you’ve ever seen in your entire life, but somehow, it’s home – and has been since I moved here with my husband and 9 month old baby boy 11 years ago. I’ve been working as a remote recruiter ever since, and the rest, as they say. is history.
When you work from home for eleven years running, the reqs, candidates and war stories all start blending together, somehow.
The content might have changed over the years, but my context sure hasn’t. Home Sweet Home has more than lived up to its moniker, although the tradeoff is that there aren’t a whole lot of big moments in particular that stand out as truly significant.
Even fewer would qualify as “serendipitous,” a word that doesn’t really come into play all that much when you work remotely.
Life settles into a familiar routine, and somehow, the years fly by unabated, separated mostly by quarterly commission checks and school schedules.
My Passive Candidate Experience: An Existentialist Case Study.
That’s not saying serendipity never happened in those 11 years of remote recruiting, but I’ll save those stories for later. But a few weeks ago, I truly proved, once and for all, that the existentialists were right. Because what’s happened ever since that day a couple weeks back has been like experiencing existence as the protagonist in a Camus novel, candidly. It was in the middle of one of those slow times in the staffing season, where you just don’t have all that many jobs. Idle hands and agency recruiting just don’t mix. But I had a little more time than normal, which I used to try to make the most of the relatively few calls on my calendar.
One of the calls I had on there was with one of the offices I work with in Colorado. I figured I’d come into the meeting prepared with fresh ideas, new tactics, some new magic trick designed to get people in the door and into jobs. For this particular office, we were looking for entry level or unskilled temp labor almost exclusively. I know what you’re thinking – I can already hear you sigh and see you sitting there rolling your eyes, giving me the finger since I’m a temp agency recruiter by trade. I know.
But I also worked skilled positions, too; the, uh, non-exempt type roles I work on mostly for clients who are on big ramps and want (need) 40 hires by next week, and shit!!!!, we have maybe half a dozen people ready go to, at most. We’ll be lucky if we could convert a couple of candidates in Colorado, to be honest with you.
I mean, it’s menial labor. In Colorado. I shouldn’t have to really explain why finding this subset of part timer is anything but easy. Yeah. I’m referring to marijuana.
So, I can’t even tell you how the hell I landed at recruitingdaily.com or recruitingblogs.com, what I typed in or what pages I clicked through before arriving on one of those destinations. And, while I was there, for some reason, I happened to sign up for a subscription to their e-mail alerts.
Which I don’t normally do, but in this case, I must have figured, hey, what the hell – I’m a recruiter, so might as well get my learn on. I filled in the form and didn’t really think about it again. Why would I?
I subscribed to this newsletter on a Friday. That very next Monday, I was clearing out my inbox, which I’m a little OCD about. I prefer to keep it under 50 at all times – any more unopened messages in my inbox and I start freaking out a little bit. 75 emails makes me a little anxious. Anything over 100 – like any time you post an entry level job ad – makes me downright bitchy. So there I am, going through my inbox, deleting, moving, deleting, deleting, more deleting.
And then as I’m deleting, for whatever reason, I stop and see one of the e-mails is my recruiting email alert. I open it and quickly scan the contents. I saw a title that caught my eye, and made me click on a link, which in turn, made me click on another, and another, and I went from post to post to post ’til I ended up on Matt Charney’s post about hiring a writer. Bonus: I felt like a badass since my inbox was under 25. Told you I was OCD, and I get it’s a little weird, but it’s my thing, OK?
I read Matt’s post, and thought, what the hell. I’ll write him a “magnum opus,” and I will call it Opus X. For all of you cigar aficionados or upscale tobacconists out there, you already know that Opus X is one of the best stogies you can get, and I get them twice a year for my hubby. And since it’s such a premium cigar, anyone buying them is limited to buying five at a time from the place we normally pick up cigars. So, I travel two hours and purchase 5 more – it’s that special. So at this point, I’m going to name my sample after that bad boy.
Which leads me to here. And the fact that, yeah, I’m writing on Recruiting Daily. Is that not serendipity slapping me in the face? Life is crazy sometimes. Which is why fine cigars exist in the first place.
The Fruits of Passion: Why I Love Recruiting (And Why You Should, Too).
Which brings me back to recruiting, since it’s recruiting that ultimately brought me to here. All roads lead to recruiting, right? Or at least, all liberal arts degrees or professional Plan Bs, in my experience. Now, I’ve read the posts, the comments and the blogs in an attempt to introduce myself to you with this, my first post, and man. You all are one tough crowd. One “pundit” in particular – I won’t name names, but you know who you are – tends to leave a lot of comments that are a little pissy.
The basic premise here is that we’re all regurgitating the same ideas, the same thoughts, the same practices, processes and all that stuff. And yeah. I get it.
When you’re looking for that magic “Easy” button like on those Staples ads (I still think those are kind of brilliant), and you can’t find it, and slowly, you realize that there is no “Easy” button to fix what’s broken in your world of work as a recruiting or sourcing practitioner. I understand why some readers might feel the need to vent their frustrations at their futile search for a silver bullet.
But here’s the thing. Recruiting isn’t easy. Finding candidates takes hard work, not magic. Placing them takes a pretty high threshold for pain – and there’s nothing that’s going to be a quick fix for problems that are just kind of a fact of life in the life of a recruiter.
I have learned, however, that there is one thing, one single factor, that really seems to be the biggest differentiator between successful recruiters and those who have to pay back their draw on their way out the revolving door. I know I’m going to get shit for this. But that one thing that really dictates success in staffing. It’s passion.
Yes. I know. Go ahead and roll your eyes dramatically, and I’ll tell you why it’s all about the passion plays in recruiting – and try to keep it as cogent and cliche free as possible.
And yes, I’m that girl who’s passionate about passion. I’m happy to own my happiness – and for some sick reason, I really love recruiting. Probably because I’m pretty good at it, thank you very much.
I don’t know how that happened, but I do know it wouldn’t be possible without passion – the one thing you will never, ever learn via content marketing, conferences or professional certification. You can’t buy passion. You can’t download it.
But if you really care about recruiting – if you love the work of helping other people find work – then that passion makes success almost inevitable. When you place real people, you just can’t fake passion. There’s no better asset for a recruiter to have than legitimately caring and finding meaning in this business.
If recruiters aren’t passionate, if we don’t love it, if we don’t feel it, we sure as hell can’t sell it. And when I say sell it, I mean close candidates or convince clients to trust us with their talent. Every time we make a placement, we change a life. I really don’t know how anyone can be blase about this business with those sorts of stakes.
OK, we’re not surgeons or stock brokers, but dammit, we work as hard as we need to beat the odds and come out on top. We want that placement, we live for the rush of an accepted offer and the thrill of a closed deal. We want that feel good moment, that happy ending – hey, get your minds out of the gutter, people. I’m being serious.
No matter if you’re working to place a software engineer who’s just putting his foot in the water to a welder who’s been out of work three months because of plummeting fuel prices, or if you’re placing entry level cake decorators and giving jobs to people who desperately need them, maybe you should stop and take a step back. Maybe, just maybe, go a little bit deeper and truly realize what it is we do as recruiters. It’s pretty incredible, actually.
We match up people and jobs, and while it pays pretty well, in the end, we’re happy when the people we place are happy. We win when we make a connection with a candidate, and we feel that same sense of victory they do after getting them that job we both worked our asses off to get them into.
Every recruiter has stories. We all remember our first placement (yay!); or the one that made us count our blessings before we went to bed, because we knew that as badly as recruiting sometimes sucks, many of our candidates have it way worse.
We take a lot of stuff for granted, but sometimes we forget how lucky we are to do what we do or having what we have, because at least it’s a decent living – and one that lets you work from home, as an added bonus. Most people on most busses could only dream of such a blessed existence. But it’s my reality, even if I am just a recruiter.
We also remember the candidates who got away – those close calls that still haunt us, even if they’ve probably long forgotten the pain they caused you after you busted your ass for nothing. Or they blew something silly like a final interview you’d prepped them for because they choked up – and you were this close to placing them in the job they needed or wanted. In recruiting, it’s not always a happy ending.
We don’t get to place everyone. We have to say no. It sucks. But at the end of the day, if we tried, that’s about all we can do. If we cared, even better.
If you have passion, you have what it takes to be a great recruiter. If you just don’t care about people, but kind of like the power and paycheck, you can try to fake it – but do us all a favor and don’t. No one likes a phony. Forget your candidates. It’s time for you to find yourself another gig if you’re just a butt in a seat, dialing for dollars and hustling for any placement that will pay out without too much effort.
Recruiters, you might fool candidates, but you can’t bullshit bullshit artists, and we know when you’re phoning it in. You’re not fooling anyone, and while you might get a nice little commission check, you certainly won’t get the security and stability that comes with real success. Other recruiters can smell you from a mile away, and know that they’ll screw you over however they can just to make a quick buck or a bullshit placement.
If your fellow recruiters can’t trust you, man, you have some serious issues. Those of us who have been around for a bit are still here because we see recruiting as more than what we do for a living, but instead, as a big part of our lives. It has to be when you work contingency. If you’re not always on call, someone else will get the commission. It’s really that simple.
Which leads me back to that whole happy ending thing. Whether you’re reading this for inspiration, whether you’re searching for cool headlines or just clicking around, you care enough to care about becoming a better recruiter. That alone means you’re probably already a step or two ahead of the competition, which makes actually learning something from recruiting-related blogs really just the icing on the cake. But for some of us, this B2B content can change the course of our very lives.
Call it serendipity.
About the Author: Bahar Studdard has been an agency recruiter for over 14 years, working in the transportation, manufacturing and logistics fields in staffing. She works remotely, supporting 12 offices in 4 states (Colorado, Albuquerque, Oklahoma & Wyoming).
She directly supports the Regional Vice President by working with her offices on their recruiting challenges and needs and works directly with 2 clients in Longmont for their skilled placements. She has also owned her own business, and enjoys writing.