A Cautionary Tale Of Being A Recruiter

I've had my ups and downs throughout my career, particularly as a recruiter. I have been wrong about which companies to work for, what clients to work with and candidates to present. But, more often than not my instincts have been right. I have been lucky enough to help people find their dream jobs, help recent graduates get their first job, met some of my heroes and transitioned people from a lay-off into a full-time position. 

As the age old saying goes, often, a door closing opens several more doors. We don't always see them, because we are still staring at the one particular door that had just closed.  Look up, look around!  The best thing an employer did for me was fire me. I was working really hard but I was, frankly, really bad at my job. Without a job or a paycheck, I took a risk and started recruiting again. That was over 2 years ago and I have never regretted it. Thank you, Anthony, for doing the right thing for your company and for me. 

I've met some great people, I've been burned, I've made a lot of companies a lot of money, I've made money.

The best part is the people you meet along the way.  I am lucky enough to call many of the candidates I have placed new-found friends, former bosses have becomes clients and I am getting ready to go overseas for the first time in over years.  In a few weeks, I will be taking my first actual vacation in a while.

Lessons learned along this bumpy road:

1. Get everything in writing and have an attorney review it.

2. Use your family and friends as sounding boards, but ultimately make your own decisions.  No one else knows what you want or what is best for you, more than you.  And no one is going to be as disappointed as you will be if those things don't come to fruition.  So fight like hell to be able to live a life you've imagined.

3. It's not always about money. Benefits, company culture, educational opportunities and scope of work are also important. Being happy to go to work most days is something you can not put a dollar amount on.

4. "Bad" news isn't necessarily bad, it's an unexpected opportunity. Didn't get your dream job? It just keeps you open to something better.               

5. You don't have to take a job you don't want. People are always hiring, there are always opportunities.  Don't be a martyr in your own life.

6. It never hurts to ask.  Be open and honest about your intentions and most often people will be receptive.  I am constantly surprised by the yes's I get on a daily basis. Opportunities to go to conferences I could not afford to go to on my own, dinners with or phone calls with mentors I never thought would give me the time of day.

7. Give yourself to others. You never know what someone else is going through and what ways simple acts of kindness can be returned.

8. Understand how, when and why you will get paid. There recoverable draws, non-recoverable draws, commissions, residuals. Know the difference and understand the risks. (I'll repeat number 1- get everything in writing and have an attorney review it.  Don't rely on the integrity of others, do your due diligence.)  Have money in your savings account at all times in case the worst happens. 

9. Don't burn bridges. The world is smaller than you realize.  Holding onto anger, as my friend Beth says, serves no purpose. It will stew inside of you, and in no way affects the other person.  You're only fostering negative energy in your own life.

10. Hand-written notes and thoughtful gifts mean more than you think. When is the last time you sent a letter or postcard? Some of my most treasured possessions are cards, handmade gifts and thoughtful words.

11. Constantly learn. Don't understand something? Ask someone, google it, read a book, take a class. I know how to code in Python and Swift now because I thought it might be fun. I'm not an expert, but I get the basics.  I've developed a basic iOS app just to see if I could. It has helped me better understand the positions I am sourcing for, the candidates I am helping place and how to help companies properly staff. 

These are just a few thoughts formed from my 10 years in recruiting. What have you learned personally and professionally that has shaped you?  What advice would you share?

Stacy SmithComment