Business and Sales Diversity Career Stories

Corporate recruiter began her career in a retail shoe department

In this interview with Keri, a corporate recruiter, she shares how she fell flat on her face out of college and wound up working in a shoe department for several years before a contact she had made years before helped her land her current job. She also admits that even the most experienced HR professionals don’t always have the answers to the hard interview questions job applicants dread, such as, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years.”

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?
I am a corporate recruiter in the banking Industry, and I have been doing this job for 7 years. I would describe myself as passionate, energetic, and dedicated

What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best? Do you speak another language, and has it been helpful in your career?
I am a Caucasian Female. I can’t say my gender or ethnicity has helped or hurt my career. I don’t speak another language, but took Spanish in high school, and the ‘comprehension’ has helped me several times as I recruit for several areas that have high Spanish speaking areas.

How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
I find talented candidates for Bank positions-I handle the preliminary interviews, the salary offers, and essentially from the point of offer to the moment the new hire steps into the branch-I handle everything. A misconception is that working in a corporate environment is easier than working at a staffing company, or that we are sitting around having other people do the job for us, etc’. HR people do not sit in ivory towers.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?
7. I don’t know-I feel like the peaks and valleys make the job worthwhile.

If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?
The job does move my heart! It jump starts it each morning!! I think because I see myself in everyone I interview, so I want to look out for their best interests wherever I can. I think about when I was first interviewing right out of college, and wished I knew then what I know now.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
I actually interviewed for a manager position at the company I now work for! I committed the ‘cardinal sin’ of interviewing for a position I wasn’t really interested in! But I made an impression on the person who interviewed me. She didn’t have a job available at the time, but referred me to my first real recruiting job. We kept in contact for several years, meeting up for lunch 2-3 times to catch up over the years. And then, 3 years later, emails, cards and lunches later, she called me when she had an opening and I was actively pursuing work. I was hired on the spot!

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I knew what I was doing wasn’t one of my passions. I took a leap and fell flat on my face! So, I took a retail job, just to pay the bills while I figured out what I wanted to do. In retail, my natural talents and passions bubbled up to the surface. It wasn’t glamorous-working in the shoe department at a high end department store, but because I LOVED shoes, I was good at selling them. And working on the commission sales has helped me since as I interview people with that same type of experience and I establish myself as someone they can trust with their job search.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?
I would say a lot of the misconceptions were ones I had too! I thought getting to a corporate recruiting job was as good as gets. It’s so much more involved than I expected it to be-banking regulations, difficult to swallow feedback, candidates you are crazy about who end up taking other jobs, etc. I’d say how I learned to handle it, I just had to dive right in. No job is perfect-and I realized, ‘I know people who have made crazy decisions about work before; this is nothing different!’

What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?
I had HORRIBLE SAT scores. In the grand scheme of things, I am good at my job, no one can take that from me. Even though I didn’t graduate from Harvard or Yale, I am someone people can rely on, and look to for advice and I can feel good about that.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
I interviewed a guy I went to college with. He was older than me though and didn’t remember me. I kept it completely professional though and never let on about the connection. I could have been vengeful but really, what was the point of that? I sent him to interview for a branch manager position, and he got it. He is still at the bank and he loves his job-he was just a resume before and now he is such a great representation of the bank. I found that to be one of my rewarding moments.

Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?
Ah-this makes me think of the movie ‘Rudy’! I do it for the little guy. I want to find the job for the person who was like me; I didn’t think I could get an HR job without an HR degree. Bankers come from so many fields-they aren’t all accountants.

What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?
Regulations are always changing. I would say anything that causes me delays makes me feel bad. Mostly because there is this impasse that I can’t get by. So a manager might have to work an extra weekend or night because of a new policy. That’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?
My job is pretty stressful. I think I have to ‘turn off’ to be able to have a normal life. I had a job previously that I was burned out from, and it’s really hard to come back from burnout. I think if I had taken more time for myself it wouldn’t have been as bad.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
I’d say depending on what your role is, the job could be anywhere from 30k-80k

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
I am a salaried employee-I get 3 weeks off per year. The vacation is enough-but when it’s time for vacation, it’s DEFINITELY time.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
Staffing company experience is invaluable in this role. I tool some HR classes in college, but they were really general and not helpful to me now. ‘Recruiting’ and ‘HR’ are two different things. Recruiting is much more like sales, you sell the candidate the position, sell the hiring manager on the candidate, etc. Sales and goal environments are good too.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
Corporate recruiting jobs in your realm of expertise are hard to come by. If you are really serious, take anything that helps you get your foot in the door-contract assignments, part time-whatever you can make work. Whenever we have had full time positions open, we always look at the contractors we have worked with first.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
So embarrassing-I still don’t know where I see myself with this job in 5 years, because I had always thought getting to be a corporate recruiter would be the peak of my career! I like what I do now-I hope I am doing something at this organization that gets me out of bed the way my job does now.