When I Grow Up…#Recruiter

“…I SO want to be a recruiter.” So says my ten year old daughter Kelsey over lunch last week. Personally, I think she was slightly influenced by playing games at the Microsoft Visitors Center, walking through campus, and finally enjoying her grilled cheese sandwich with (free!) root beer. “Visit Mommy At Work” days always brings out the best in these kids. I realize Kelsey doesn’t really want to be a recruiter – she wants to work somewhere she can play and drink root beer all day, but hey a mom can dream.

It got me thinking about my own career plans as a young woman. I fell into recruiting in the late 90’s completely on accident, just like everyone else. There’s no degree for learning how to reject 99% of the people you pursue, although I’ve picked up a few tricks from a string of disastrous boyfriends. Going through photos from a recent ProLango career mixer where I sat on an employer panel, it hit me just when I realized I wanted to be a recruiter.

I wanted to be like Natalie from Office Team.

I was attending a local (now defunct) trade school that was supposed to teach us “Business Administration”. What this really meant was preparing us for how to use computers and get jobs as secretaries, administrative assistants, and receptionists. The 5 night a week, 9 month long program taught us everything from how to set tabs in Word to how to dress for an interview. I signed up for the course out of desperation – my marriage was falling apart and with two small children there was no way I was going to be able to make it on my preschool teacher turned nursing assistant salary. I had started college with the intention of going to nursing school but the clock was ticking and I needed a career NOW. I had never even heard of temp agencies, and all I knew about office workers is I wanted to be one – they said I could make as much as $10 an hour! Then Natalie from Office Team came to my school and changed everything.

Natalie was the Branch Manager for a local Office Team office. She had hired someone who graduated from the program the year before as her front desk coordinator, and came back to talk to future graduates about administrative opportunities. This was my first experience with a temp agency, and to be honest I didn’t much care about registering for short term jobs. I wanted something more, something I saw in Natalie as she stood at the front of the classroom talking to all of us. She came across as smart, successful, and knowledgeable. Even though she was only sharing with us what I now realize are common sense recruiting truths, I was in awe that she could get up in front of a group of strangers and talk so articulately. As she talked more about her job I kept thinking to myself “I could do that”.

And so I did. I ended up temping myself for Office Team, in Natalie’s office. The funny part is working as Natalie’s Office Coordinator actually made me NOT want to be a recruiter. Looking out over a roomful of applicants all vying for a limited number of temp jobs. Watching the Staffing Managers go home crying at night – no way. That’s not for me. Those fickle recruiting gods weren’t done with me yet. A couple more temp jobs landed me in advertising for Labor Ready – a temporary placement agency of course. I couldn’t get away. It was there I got the call – Steve, my Employment Guide rep, offered to introduce me to a recruiting manager for a boutique firm saying “You’d be a great recruiter”.

Here I am fifteen years later, thousands of placements under my belt, countless talks in front of college students, veterans, single moms and the long term unemployed. I hope I’ve inspired someone along the way to set a goal and go for it.

Who’s your “Natalie”?

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Amy Ala

Staffing Consultant at Microsoft by day, wine sipping kid-wrangler by night, Amy Ala has been in recruiting since the late 90s. She's convinced the #1 trait in successful recruiters is a sense of humor. Amy hopes to someday have time for real hobbies, ideally something that involves copious amounts of wine. Until then, she settles for feeding her reality show addiction while sipping Merlot. Connect with Amy.


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