Executive Recruiter and Mee Derby Director Kim Whiteley shares her story, giving insight into the industry and the career path of executive search.
How did you get into staffing and where has it led you?
I started in search shortly after graduating from college with a focus on administrative and legal secretarial placements. I worked in DC for a small search firm and at the time there was a group of about four firms that met monthly to share requirements and do splits. Mee Derby was actually one of those firms. In ‘92, through one of the firms that we did splits with I was placed with Norrell, (now Randstad) in a branch role in their Baltimore office. I rose through the ranks, ran a branch, then multiple branches and national accounts. After seven years on the commercial staffing side, I transferred to the professional services division as a Sales Director for one of the largest branches in the company. I began with national accounts and moved to running a large market. By the time I left I was co- running a $44 million dollar market and had about ten people reporting to me.
I was very fortunate to have some amazing leaders, mainly women who offered great opportunities for promotion based on continuing to meet my sales and leadership goals. They revolved around not only staff retention, but also getting your staff to meet their sales and recruiting goals. I had a team of consistent top performers, who were as excited about each other’s success as they were their own.
When Robin first started Mee Derby, and I was in search in DC, our firms would do splits, sharing candidates and job orders. We connected and stayed in touch over the years and worked together for search when hiring. When I made the decision to leave my role after having my son, Mee Derby seemed like a great option as it offered the flexibility to work from home and no longer be tied to a branch or a lengthy commute.
In my eight years with Mee Derby we have seen tremendous growth and have developed a team that works remotely and very well together. Once again, I feel fortunate to work for a great woman leader in the Staffing industry.
Do you specialize in tech recruiting?
Coming from technology staffing in my last role at Spherion has made working with technology staffing firms a natural progression. My niche became search for privately held technology and creative staffing firms with a focus on helping them with senior leadership roles and expanding their geographic footprints.
How have you seen the staffing industry change over the years?
In my 20 years, the industry has changed mostly due to technology. A few decades ago, we weren’t using the web, email, or social media aggressively. We used the telephone and a fax machine. So technology has changed how we communicate with our clients and candidates. Social media has dramatically changed the way in which firms do business. Now, when considering clients we want to work with, we go directly to social media and look at ratings.
The industry has also changed in large client relationships- how clients manage their vendors. When we first came in we piloted what was then called a Master Staffing Provider which is now what most staffing agencies use as a tool. Software now manages a company’s contingent workforce programs. Many things we used to do manually are now automated.
What would you tell someone considering entering staffing?
It’s a fabulous industry full of unlimited growth potential, whether you come in as a recruiter, a sales person, or as an administrator. Staffing offers the opportunity to meet new people on a daily basis and be transformational in someone’s life — whether helping them find a new job or helping a client find the perfect hire.
What are your passions outside work?
Being outside, spending time with my husband and nine year old son, and staying active with my tennis team.
Do you have a personal mantra you can share?
Be thoughtful and kind to others at all times because you never know what someone is going through that day.