Staffing Expert Employs Tough Love With Local Job Seekers »

The trickle-down financial effects of the 2008 real estate market crash may have turned into a torrent, but don’t expect Lani Harless to throw a pity party for unemployed workers or budget-crunching businesses.

Harless runs Rapid Staffing, a Brandon-based company she launched in 2002. The Valrico resident makes it her business to pair unemployed people who are dedicated to getting back to work with employers who need qualified, committed hires to help them survive — and thrive — through the tough times.

While many former workers’ severance packages and unemployment benefits dwindle, Harless said, one of her major challenges is to convince people looking for jobs to be realistic and open-minded.

Clients often come to her expecting to find the same job they had before being laid off, at the same salary. That’s just not realistic, she said.

“Someone in a skilled trade like an electrician who was making $20 an hour when they got laid off, that’s not going to happen now,” she said. “Those jobs might pay $15 an hour now. You have to be willing to bite the bullet.”

Her strongest applicants are willing to get their foot in the door and show a hiring company what they can do.

Go ahead and mourn the job and the salary you lost, she said. Then, suck it up and move forward.

“Get your foot in the door and show a new employer what you can do. Stick with them through the rough times so you can come back as they come back.”

Call it tough love, but know that Harless walks the walk. When the stock market plummeted and the economy began to falter in 2002, the staffing company she worked for closed its doors.

“I looked at that as an opportunity to start my own company,” she said. “We kept things tight so we could get through the economy, and we started doing a lot of networking.”

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