By Jen Copley, Rookie Recruiter, Q4B
“Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school” –Robert Fulghum.
I recently graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a Communication Studies and French degree (if you need some help ordering a good wine at your favorite French restaurant, call me). Like every fresh out grad, I spent the better part of my senior year writing resumes, looking at job opportunities on Career Builder and Monster and generally stressing about my chances of landing a job, any job in this economy.
A little over a month ago my mother (thanks Mom) introduced me to a friend of hers, Jennifer Brownell, a remarkable woman who had just become the Managing Director of an established managed recruiting services firm, Q4B. Jennifer was in the process of setting up operations in the Denver area, hiring staff and preparing to expand Q4B’s target markets and service offerings.
I am sure that my mother (thanks again, Mom) thought that perhaps Jennifer could use some help, any help in getting her office up and running, functioning on all cylinders. And it wouldn’t hurt to be working for a company that helps people find great careers.
So, I was hired on as a part-time intern, initially handling various office chores and making several daily runs to the local Starbucks.
I began working closely with Carmen Lapham, who was brought in by Jennifer to be the Director of Recruiting and Operations. Soon, within days, I was being asked to help Carmen and Jennifer with the work of recruiting. I was being taught the fine art of sourcing, screening, selecting and marketing by two very talented, dedicated women.
And it turns out that aside from feeling excited, challenged and rewarded for the work I was being asked to do, I felt prepared to do it, to take on the various tasks I was given. What prepared me for this job, what allowed me to feel that I could do it wasn’t the fact that I graduated from college, wasn’t my degree in Communication and French, wasn’t even my desire to always do my best, to be successful.
My preparation goes all the way back to my first experience in school. It turns out that all I needed to know about recruiting and working for Q4B, I learned in Kindergarten.
Robert Fulghum in his best selling book, All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten, lists 11 things that can be learned in Kindergarten and here is how I have seen them applied at Q4B.
• Share Everything – Communication is the key to success in any personal and professional setting, and perhaps even more so in the recruiting business. At Q4B, we have a great channel of communication internally and externally with other employees and customers, our clients and candidates. Making sure that the candidate has all the information about an opportunity; making sure that the client has all the information about the candidates; making sure that everyone involved in the recruiting process has all the information they need to do their jobs successfully, that is sharing everything.
• Play Fair – Jennifer Brownell and Carmen Lapham are the greatest authority figures to work under. They play fair. They work hard. They both fix problems tactfully and use positive reinforcement properly. They also play fair with Q4B’s clients when negotiating business and setting the fees for services. They also play fair when closing the candidates on a realistic salary range to consider for any job opportunity. But don’t challenge them to a game of Trivial Pursuit – that’s a whole other ball game!
• Don’t Hit People – I know we could get away with actually hitting people when we were in Kindergarten. None of us packed too much of a wallop. But there are other types of “hitting” that I have seen practiced in the adult world that are in many ways much more harmful than a right cross to the chin. I am referring to verbal “hitting” of employees, subordinates, clients, customers, vendors and candidates. It is not a good practice to hit any one and certainly doesn’t make any sense in the recruiting business, where everything hinges on the strength of the relationship that recruiters establish with their clients and candidates. We don’t hit.
• Put things back where you found them – Hard copy or digital it doesn’t matter. If you take something from somewhere always put it back. This includes resumes, files, job orders, notes, reference material, sourcing material, company info. Jennifer and Carmen are insistent upon this. Information is key in the recruiting business. Knowing that the information will always be accessible is equally important. Put it back is my motto, along with twenty (and counting) others so far.
• Clean up your own mess – This applies to just about everything that we do. Not just physical mess, like papers and files on a desk top or coffee cups and left over lunch around the work space. But the other messes that we sometimes find ourselves in, such as, not following up with a candidate as promised, not following up with a client, not checking references, not closing the candidate properly, promising more than can be delivered to either candidate or client, agreeing to do something and then not doing it. These are all messes and if they are yours then clean’em up! So far at Q4B, the messes if there were any have either been cleaned up by the messer or the cleaning crew. Oh, wait, we don’t have a cleaning crew!
• Don’t take things that are not yours – At Q4B I have been taught some basic things about ownership. Candidates are “owned” by the recruiter who sourced them, screened them and in many cases presented them to the client. Clients are “owned” by the recruiter/business development person who identified the account, presented the proposal and got the engagement agreement signed. And as long as those who “own” something have documented their “ownership” then there is no possibility of someone taking things that are not theirs. Honesty is our policy.
• Say you are sorry when you hurt someone – This applies to anything that might be said to candidates, clients, employees, peers, vendors, partners, contractors, consultants by any one, by any means. I have not seen any evidence of this at Q4B, not to say that it could never happen, which is why there is a social media policy being developed that will address what is being said by any one in the company through any SM channel. Luckily, the company has some good role models.
• Wash your hands before you eat – Or maybe it should be wash your hands before you greet. I have noticed that Jennifer and Carmen schedule a number of face to face meetings, mostly with potential clients. Those candidates who are local to the Denver area will also be interviewed face to face, by either one or both. I have had the opportunity to attend a few meetings and de-briefings. People always shake hands. My impression is that aside from the information on job opportunities, candidate’s qualifications, interest and availability, and establishing a profitable, long term relationship, Carmen and Jennifer want to leave a good impression. Not germs.
• Flush – This refers to the obvious, but also to other types of waste that need to be disposed of quickly and sometimes quietly (thanks Moen) or avoided all together. Working at Q4B and with Carmen and Jennifer, I have seen very little waste of time (candidate’s, client’s and our own), energy, resources, opportunities.
• Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you – And so is a good bottle of wine (French of course) and some cheese; a cold can of Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale or Mama’s Little Yella Pils and pizza; or just that first latte in the morning. Especially if there are others around (co-workers, bosses) to enjoy it with. All work and no play…..etc.
• Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some – I learn every minute of everyday working under these two women. I think about how successful they are and how I can reflect their actions into my own work and life. I draw connections between candidate and career/listen to Carmen paint an enticing picture of the job for the candidate, and the candidate for the client. And we all sing and dance at work when the perfect candidate is hired.
So this is what I was taught in Kindergarten, along with a few other things that I will discuss in future blogs.
And I will leave you with this one last thought which is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world and look for a job, it is best to hold hands with a good recruiter and stick together.
Thanks Jennifer and Carmen (and Mom)!