Long Start

Try, Try Again

I never said, “I want to be a recruiter when I grow up”. I have been a tech head for quite some time. I went to get a job and realized I was speaking to a recruiter at a IT staffing firm. The firm never placed me, but the recruiter called me one day to let me know he was leaving the company. He went on to ask if I had ever consider doing technical recruiting. I answered, “no, but I also don’t have a job.”

I remember going through seven interviews. The branch manager informed me that there were two positions and three candidates in consideration. Good odds. I later found out that they only had one position and that they were going with another person. I was disappointed, but I had an offer that I begrudgingly had to accept. After all, I wasn’t working! The manager from the agency said they may have a second position open up later and to check back in a few months.

I took the tech job working on point of sale systems. It was a job. I remember one day. I was mopping the floor of the place, there weren’t any support calls to tend to at the time so gave that staffing firm a call.¬† “We need to talk”, was the response from the branch manager. I later found out the person they originally chose over me lasted a whole two weeks and was hired on a temporary basis. The short of it was that he simply didn’t get it.

My career in recruiting started in October 2006.

Going Corporate

I eventually left recruiting when the great recession hit us here in the US. I pursued something else, but it wasn’t long before I got pulled back into doing technical recruiting. A colleague of mine that worked in another division when I started in staffing landed a job as the head of recruiting for a 4000 person organization here in Madison. She needed a technical recruiter and she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I did something I never thought i’d do, I became a member of human resources.¬† I was assigned to cover all positions that fell under the CIO. The departments would change, but at one time I covered all of IT (400+ full-time staff), PMO (50 FTE’s), Business Continuous Improvement (less than 10), Facilities and Physical Security – I actually staffed an HVAC person, and the Vendor Management Office. I had a large chunk of the organization all to myself.

The corporate world was quite a bit different than staffing. The company I joined, the information technology staff-level positions were union, as in bargaining unit, as in represented. Hey, I’ve been in a union before, but having IT professionals belong to a union is unheard of in the private sector. Add that component to the resume! It’s not as hard as one may think. Just know the rules outlined in the contract and everything will be ok. I was never once brought into a grievance or hearing¬† in my 4 years of recruiting people into those positions.

I would end up working at one more company in Madison that needed someone with technical recruiting experience, again, to help their information technology area find and hire talent. I would not only take on IT, but also some higher level roles to include the CFO.

I want to touch on the recruiting of the CFO. Here is the story behind that. I came back from lunch and was bombarded with “hey did so-and-so get a hold of you? You’re supposed to meet with the CEO at 1:30pm”. The gist was that the current CFO was going to retire and I was going to work with the COO and CEO to find his replacement. I headed over to the CEO’s office. It was the first time I really met COO and CEO of the company that I had been with for about 8 months. We had some dialog. I went on to say, “in full transparency, I’m not a finance and accounting recruiter, my expertise is tech”.

“Let me ask you something,” the CEO said, “if you were in the cockpit of a plane, and the pilot just died, would you go back and tell the passengers?”

I grinned. “Hey, i get the adage ‘fake it until you make it’, but I don’t want to BS the head of a billion dollar organization.”

The meeting took place late in the year, around the holiday season. They wanted to get a Chief Financial Officer in place by March. They wanted me to find someone in 3 months, and this was on top of the 20+ other positions I had to field. I explained to them that it could be done in a month if they moved things along. In other words, if they put the person through five rounds of interviews, days and weeks to gather feedback, it wasn’t going to be possible to hit that desired timeline. Streamline that process and you could get an offer out in a month! I missed it by two weeks. As a team, it was pretty impressive. We had 6 people that were considered. I had the COO say that I made it too tough for them because the top two candidates could both do the job. “You’re welcome”, was my reply. Full disclosure, we had some great referrals. If it had not been for two leaders in my reporting chain, it would have taken twice as long.

It’s not common for internal recruiting to field a ‘C’ level position. Many go out to executive search firms, often incurring a cost of several thousands of dollars. This placement would have cost the company approximately $90000. Most of these executive search agencies operate as a retained model which means the company would have had to pay much of that fee whether the chosen hire came from the agency or not.

And Back Again

I appreciated my experience within corporate recruiting. I learned a lot and met a ton of good people over the 6+ years, but someone suggested I come back to staffing.

update to come…