Executive Recruiter Jennifer Tucker outlines the trajectory of her career, offering insider advice about the industry’s challenges and joys.
How did you get into staffing?
I fell into it just like anyone else. I posted my resume on Monster.com and my first boss found me for an on-site position. I jumped at the chance- it was my first real salary in the grown-up world. I was so impressed with the person who had found me. She contacted me in a positive way. You have to be engaging to make a difference in staffing.
So I worked on-site there. The company was being purchased and I was scared because I was the breadwinner for my family at the time; my husband was going to college full-time. We were right outside Kansas City. One of my former coworkers had found another staffing company that had opening for a sales person. I interviewed and thought it would be a great chance to get into sales so I took an opportunity there. The organization itself just wasn’t where I wanted to be. After 9 months I returned to my first job, back into a recruiting position. It was the office for a company called CORESTAFF. It was my first time recruiting for a branch and helping build a candidate pool. It was tons of fun. I started doing IT recruiting and had no idea what the positions were, but I had great mentorship and learned. My mentor taught me how to do extended job offers, interview candidates, the appropriate conversations to have with clients. She took me on tons of client visits which was invaluable- I couldn’t put a price on it. So I learned to talk to clients and talk about candidates and the interview process. I loved building that knowledge.
After 9/11 my husband re-enlisted in the military in the Air Force. We were stationed in San Antonio, where I able to transfer to their CORESTAFF office. There I was exposed to different lines of business, different markets. I was promoted to Branch Manager about a year after we transferred. I was having a blast building and managing our branch. We built the heck out of that branch.
Then my husband was transferred to Charleston, South Carolina. CORESTAFF did not have an office there. I had the opportunity to do internal recruiting for CORESTAFF remotely. So I started working from home recruiting regionally and eventually all over the country.
In 2012 CORESTAFF had a big restructure and all the internal recruiters lost their jobs. I had been with the company for 13 years. They had given me my career. Robin Mee called me up. I started talking to her and about 6 weeks later began working for her.
How have your years with Mee Derby developed your staffing expertise?
The great thing about Mee Derby is how I’ve been able to get exposure to multiple types of companies, multiple lines of staffing, true workforce solutions, MSP, statement of work business, project solutions, and different types of positions in the hierarchy of the industry. It has definitely broadened my experience. I have become familiar with major markets players in the industry. And just like going from any corporate recruiting to executive search, you go from 1 client to multiple clients. It’s fun because it offers more options for my candidates. It’s much more consultative. It’s about really getting to know your clients, and finding the candidate’s ideal next step. It offers more options for everyone. And everyone has a preference.
How have you seen the industry change over the years?
Social media has been the biggest change that has affected the staffing industry. There are so many tools now at a candidate’s fingertips to learn about a company, opportunities, company culture and to communicate their background. When I started in staffing, we were pulling resumes off Monster and Careerbuilder. I remember in the very beginning of 2006 I was recruiting for some jobs in San Francisco, for a sales rep. I asked my coworker what she did to network. She said LinkedIn. I remember writing it down on a sticky note with a question mark. That was my first introduction to social networking. Social media has really changed the way executive recruiters actively look up their passive candidates. Before that it was all cold-calling, a blind way of recruiting. With social media, executive recruiters have a huge advantage. As an executive recruiter, you want a passive candidate. Now we can handpick.
Do you have any advice for someone considering a career in staffing?
Make sure you can handle rejection, have a good sense of humor and be able to switch directions.
You also have to be able to work with different personalities and needs that candidates and clients will have. The challenge in our industry is that our commodity is unpredictable, unlike selling a product. If you’re going to order 1,000 paper clips from Office Depot, you’ll get that. In our industry, if you want a salesperson in NYC and we provide you with someone like that, there is a chance that our candidate can change their mind, they can take a counter-offer, they can stop calling you back. You have to be resilient to that, bounce back, and not take it too seriously.
It’s about building realistic expectations. Candidates have a mind of their own – you can’t predict or control what someone is going to decide. You have to accept their choices, whether or not you like it. Just as with any relationship you’re in, you have to set reasonable expectations.
What are your hobbies and passions?
We have a lot of fun with our kids and family. We love entertaining. I love sports and am a bit of an exercise nut.
I can do this! I say it while running.