Why do I do what I do?

focus boy small

It was Summer and this poor college kid needed a job. Bad.  I walked into the Fargo, ND branch of Manpower to get going and quickly realized I didn’t have the first clue what I was doing. After seemingly endless (and useless) testing for dexterity, arithmetic, and organization, Jeff the manager said “we really don’t have anything for you, but have you ever considered recruiting”?   Really?   Are you kidding me?   Dude… I don’t know the first thing about any of this stuff.   I can’t find a job – so you want to hire me to help other people find one? Ok…

Two weeks and two interviews later and I was starring down the barrel of my very first offer letter with a hefty $23,500.00 salary. The extra $500 was a special exception from corporate. They must have spotted potential.

And so I entered the great world of contingent labor having no idea what that meant.   My first week consisted of training, training, and more training. “Graduation day” arrived and I was off to a social/professional happy hour gathering with prospective clients. We were young recruits armed with fancy looking business cards ready to do some serious damage. How could we lose?   We had training, drive, and… did I mention business cards??

I hated every minute of it.

It was scripted and intrusive. Why would these savvy professionals want to talk with a young marginally trained stranger? It was awkward and I was thankful for the two drink allotment and 7:30pm cut off time.

I struggled along for a time. It was a job – no passion, no excitement.   Time to relo to Minneapolis which would undoubtedly be better. Manpower gave me a base – now it was time to flex my muscle. So I started my days in the high-powered Search industry. Better money and more opportunity. It was exciting stuff but I still had not bought in to my career choice. I just didn’t get it. Our industry was considered the ambulance chasers of hiring. Big fees, questionable service, too much shoddy competition – clients needed us and hated us all at the same time.

My days were spent trolling job boards, assembling worthless call metrics, and wondering how I could game the system to maximize my commission. One day – I actually got to recruit.   I mean literally pull someone out of a job they were perfectly secure in. He was not looking to leave and definitely not interested in taking a new risk.   Now this was a challenge. Short story – I did it.   Pretty exciting stuff and pretty big commission, but that’s not where the light bulb went on for me. Don’t get me wrong – the money was great.   I just was not passionate about this stuff yet.   2 months passed and I got a call from this guy I hired. He wanted to have lunch.   My first thought was “oh crap” he wants out.   Lunch came and he shared with me how happy he was. Not just with his job, but in his personal life as well.   He was fine where he was but he was just going through the motions. Quarter after quarter, and year after year.   His malaise was spilling over into his marriage and home life. Basically, he was bored with life.   This new company, responsibility, and focus reinvigorated every part of his being and it all started because I made a phone call. Actually it was 3 phone calls – He didn’t return my first two.

My passion for this industry started during that lunch. I had made a difference in someone’s life. I get to do something everyday that’s profoundly impactful to people.   Changing peoples lives for the better, one person at a time. Empowering people to better their career hits on almost every level of Maslow’s Hierarchy. It’s rewarding and exciting and it’s why I do what I do.

Fast forward through more years, more jobs, and here I sit. Helping people find work, but more importantly helping put people in a position where they feel valued and energized.

Everyone has a story of how they came to do what they do and almost all are fascinating to me. This is mine.

So this is the start to the Insitu Search blog.   In the coming months I’ll share more about my myself, my company, and my industry.  I hope you find it valuable, and as I like to say:   “More to come”!

2 replies
  1. Nancy Dall
    Nancy Dall says:

    Great post Jeff, I totally understand the feeling about changing people’s lives…precisely the reason I stay in the recruiting world…kudos to you for recognizing what it is all about.


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