The system is broken. It was a mantra I’d repeat in my head over and over again throughout the years. It didn’t seem to matter where I worked, it was the same: money was king, playing the numbers was queen, and candidate care was a joke.
As a recruiter working in an agency environment, my job was to literally sell people and to sell them as fast as possible. That means every day, I was making 60-80 phone calls to hit my daily target and that was just my morning. I was in the business of people, but it seemed we had lost the people piece. I did this for years.
As I recited my mantra, I started to create a vision of what a business could look like. Of how things could be done differently, with passion and care. Slowly, the visions started to take shape: a small, boutique firm where candidate care came first, coaching and non-pressure sales were our key objectives and work-life balance wasn’t a mythical creature. We would understand the culture of our clients to really partner with them, and not just be a vendor. In that way, we would be able to place candidates who fit at a deeper level than just skillset. Soon the sound of the company in my mind was too good and too loud to be drowned out and then it hit me: I had a decision to make.
I always knew I could run my own business. It was the goal, the dream to work for myself and experience the highlife that is Freedom 55. I mean, I had the same self-doubt that plagues all entrepreneurs at some point: could I actually do this? Was I actually good enough? Will people trust me? Would I ruin my reputation? Could I exist outside of the machine? Would I succeed? Not only that, but I was in my 30s. It was too soon; I had a mortgage to pay and a kid who goes through iTunes cards like water, but once my vision took hold, it was hard to ignore. My time at my current employer was coming to a close and I was at a crossroads. I could go find another place to work and hope it was different (as so many of us do) or I could start investing my time and energy into myself, into my own project. The time had come, and I could make excuses or I could get out of my own way.
So what was the tipping point? I’d love to say it was a profound moment. Like wouldn’t that be great? “It was the day I met Brene Brown. She looked into my eyes and in that moment I knew, the time had come”. In reality, it was my husband. Slightly less glamorous, I know. But since I couldn’t speak to my peers or get any advice from those in the industry, it was my husband, my OG cheerleader who gave me the final push. He had seen me struggling and he practically insisted “you have to do this”. So, I did.
At first, I wasn’t sure exactly what I would need. I mean, at the end of the day, get me LinkedIn, a phone, a really big chocolate chip cookie and a glass of kombucha and I could close three roles by noon. In reality, the investment was a little bit more than just that. There was incorporating the business, lawyers, insurance and developing a website. While I was able to keep the initial investment manageable, the recruitment business isn’t a sell your product, see the margin kind of business. I had to consider and map the time it takes to build client relationships, source candidates, notice period, and then 30-day payment terms as the topper. The reality of it is, it can take months before any actual dollars come in despite a ton of work being completed. I did have one trick up my sleeve: I saved. Before I left my agency career, I saved six months of salary. Okay, by saved I mean I took out a line of credit to provide me with a cushion in case I needed it. But this also gave me a deadline, if I couldn’t make it in six months, I’d go back to the machine. I am a pretty self-motivated gal, but a tight timeline to really put the fire under me never hurt anyone.
Four years later, I can proudly say that my own job search never came to life and my resume is still collecting dust in a folder on my hard drive. Verve Recruitment Group has grown to a total of eight consultants and has helped countless clients and candidates along the way. Were there bumps? No, actually everything was perfect from day one. Kidding, obviously. There were definitely bumps along the way (*cough* COVID) and recruiting isn’t easy. But we’re selective on who our clients are and what type of work we take on. We treat candidates like the main event (which really, they are). We literally have changed people’s lives and I get to do that now, because guess what? I’m the boss.
My gratitude for this opportunity is overwhelming and I often spend time encouraging others to find a way to build a work life that allows you more empowerment the way mine has. The best advice I can give: find something you are passionate about, that you know in your bones could be different. Save some funds, understand your value, get out there networking and surround yourself with people who lift you up and cheer you on. Don’t wait until you are ready to start planning and dreaming. Future you will appreciate current you writing all those great ideas down.