What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

I would wager that it wasn’t a recruiter.  This was a question I used to jokingly ask my potential candidates to break the ice, get them relaxed and open up.  Usually they would say something like “I’ll let you know when I decide to grow up” or “retired” or simply “employed”.   Funny, they all seem to hold true, even today.  I don’t ask that question anymore but the “retired” answer seems to be more and more attractive to me now.  If not retired, then maybe ready for my next stage of life that allows me to work part time from a remote tropical location and do what I love.  That could include recruiting or something to do with social media… maybe I’ll be like Bethenny Frankel and have an online empire and fabulously successful blog… WHAT… it could happen!

My friend, Dennis Smith, recently posted an Infographic on his blog jobgeeks.com of the most popular jobs since 1970.  His comment was that he didn’t see “recruiting” anywhere on the list.  This made me smile and reminded me that when I graduated college with a BFA in Advertising Art, the world of recruiting was as unknown to me as outer space.  After all, I was going to be an advertising executive for the Richards Group working on incredibly creative campaigns like Chick-Fil-A and winning CLIO awards that I would display in my super chic, urban loft. 

Two years later I was still tending bar (a lucrative skill I picked up while working my way through college) and doing small projects for friends and customers like designing logos, signs, flyers, etc.  Not exactly the career I had mapped out.  But I was getting by and had a flexible schedule, no bills to speak of and kept a bag packed in the trunk of my car in case a spur of the moment trip materialized (which they often did, usually scuba diving over the weekend in Cozumel).  One day a friend of mine (who had been trying to recruit me to work for her at a Personnel Agency for months) came into the restaurant and pointed to a 40 something waitress working there and said that was going to be me in 20 years.  Suddenly I was considering a career transition…

After all Patty pointed out that I would be a natural recruiter… I had the perfect combination of sales, smarts, savvy, and storytelling (another skill I picked up bartending).  Hey maybe I should trademark that as the 4 S’s of successful recruiting – that could launch my online empire.  Stay tuned for my next blog…   

The next week I was working in an office in the Galleria Tower I for $800 a month draw vs. commission.  Somehow this seemed like a step back but not one to wimp out, I persevered and was given a desk, a marketing script and the yellow pages and told to start “dialing for dollars”.   This was my introduction into the world of recruiting… I was now a Full Desk Recruiter!  Turns out I was a recruiting natural and indeed have become moderately successful in this unplanned career.  Even though at times the path has been rocky (2002 was a really, really rough year) it’s always been interesting and I have lots of wonderful stories to tell.  Case in point – let’s revisit an earlier blog posting. 

Of all the recruiters I know, only a handful actually planned for this career.  Most like me, stumbled upon it and found success and an aptitude.  It’s not for everyone, but neither is blogging or social media which is the turn my recruiting career is taking me at the moment.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I hadn’t made that decision 20 years ago.  

I’ve told you mine, now you tell me yours… what is your story… how did you become a recruiter? 

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Comment by Nate Fischer on January 5, 2012 at 12:28pm

My future ideal career goals aside, I've always said I wanted to be an Air Traffic Controller, as it would probably be less stressful than my current job. . . 

Comment by Suresh on January 5, 2012 at 1:37pm

Leslie, interesting story. I love this Picasso quote:

If you know exactly what you're going to do, what's the good in doing it?

It applies to my career so far as well. Went to school for engineering, worked at some major automotive companies, did some radio (old media) in college, got bit by the internet bug, realised I was getting drawn to the New Media and Recruiting. So am in it..

Comment by Leslie Mason on January 5, 2012 at 2:15pm

Nate, you are speaking my language. :-) Suresh, wonderful quote - thanks for sharing. Denise, sounds like you are in recruiter mode... flexible and ready to turn on a dime.  

Thanks for all the comments!  Isn't it interesting that so many of us come from an arts background?  Maybe recruiting is an art form all to itself?  


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