We have all been told ad nauseam how important first impressions are, and that’s because first impressions are lasting impressions. But how much do we think about creating those lasting impressions on behalf of the companies we represent?
“The first impression we get of a company is often through a recruiter,” stated Amy Langer, co-founder of a trio of staffing, HR and search firms, to an audience of over 200 people at last week’s Minnesota Recruiters Conference. “Every company has a unique culture and DNA and we view that through recruiters or HR.”
Although today Langer spends most of her time simply helping to run a trio of businesses with over 250 employees, she says she still loves to this day “getting to know companies and understanding what people do with their talents and strengths.”
Recruited by KPMG out of college, Langer eventually became national business development director for a high profile global professional placement firm. The longer she said she worked in professional services delivery, the more she realized everyone had the same business model, the same business cards, the same marketing messages and on and on. “But the people part of it seemed to be missing."
So she and business partner John Folkestad set about to create an enterprise that serves two sets of clients. The first is candidates with their own career objectives and personal goals looking for project work, and secondly, companies that need to fill critical interim staffing positions. Out of that original goal and business model emerged three successful companies; SALO, Oberon and NumberWorks,.
“I was pregnant for 18 months out of the first 36 months of our business, and had three kids under the age of two while we went from start-up to 21 million dollars in revenue,” recounts Langer with a wide smile. “It required me personally, and us as a business, to constantly adapt and change, and as recruiters, we always have to be on the front end of that.”
Langer said she feels her companies have been successful because of three main reasons:
1) They are always passionate about process reengineering so they can get to some desired future state.
2) They find value in connecting people.
3) They demonstrate professionalism in all they do.
Like lots of entrepreneurs, she said the true test or marker isn’t when things are going well, but rather specifically, when they aren’t.
“In the past 12 months Oberon alone has added 30 new clients. We’re working hard at that. You can’t fish in the same hole if there aren’t any fish there, so we have gone to new markets. Further, finding out what you’re made of, and what your company is made of, is an important exercise. What is your real mission?”
As for parting professional advice for those working in the staffing and search industries, a space challenged by the ongoing “jobless recovery?”
“Understanding people and how to change and adapt is critical. If you can pick up a skill, or do something or understand something such as social media just a little better than the next person, you can succeed where other’s don’t.”