Selling Without Being in Sales: Life as a Creative Recruiting Associate

Should You Start Your Career
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“Let’s just move,” Shana Tsukiyama said to her boyfriend one day.

Two weeks later they got in their car, drove across the country, and moved in with her mother (who had just made the move to the East Coast herself).

After graduating, they’d moved from Seattle to San Francisco. But, though there were jobs available, they found the market to be too competitive.

“We could definitely get jobs in New York City,” she tells me reflecting on her decision, “think about how many jobs are created every day.”

It turns out, that move was the right one. Now she works with The McIntyre Group as a Recruiting Associate at cre8buzz and is loving it! Shana took some time to talk with us about her job search, what it’s like being a creative recruiter, and what students/recent graduates should know about finding a job after college.

How did Shana become a creative recruiting associate?

Shana didn’t really know what she wanted to do after college. She’d graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a B.A. in Business/Commerce as well as a B.A. in Japanese Language and Literature, but wasn’t sure what to do with that in the “real world.” She was interested in marketing and social media, but wasn’t quite sure how to narrow that down to a job title.

[Editor’s note: This is a problem we see a lot of students and recent graduates dealing with and one that we’ve been working to fix with machine learning.]

After making the move to the East Coast, she started looking on different job boards and found The McIntyre Group’s jobs posted on Indeed.com. There were a lot of recruiting agencies posting on this job board, but after doing a bit of research (reading Google Reviews and Glassdoor.com reviews), Shana discovered that people tended to give really great feedback about working with the recruiters at The McIntyre Group.

Shana met with a creative recruiter and got a job freelancing as a social media coordinator.

It wasn’t until some months later that Shana attended a jewelry buying networking event at The McIntyre Group’s building. Her recruiter was at the networking event and she introduced Shana to the CEO of the creative division.

The CEO saw how people-oriented Shana was, how genuinely interested she was in hearing people’s stories—how they got where they were and what they wanted to do with their majors and lives.

Her interest in helping others as well as her background in social media made it clear that she would be a good fit within the creative division of recruiting.

What does a creative recruiting associate do?

There’s a lot of reporting—running metrics on recruiters and seeing how they’ve been performing.

The McIntyre Group does all types of corporate recruiting from finance to IT. The creative division is focused on creative professions such as social media specialists and marketers.

A large part of Shana’s day is going over the people who have applied to the positions cre8buzz is looking to fill. The McIntyre Group posts these positions on different job sites like Indeed and Monster. Then Shana will perform “pre-screens,” which means she calls the applicants and asks some standard questions to make sure that she and her company are going to be able to be a useful resource for them.

Shana is also very active on LinkedIn sourcing job candidates.

“Building your LinkedIn profile is HUGE,” she explains, referring to students and recent graduates looking for a job, “it can be the difference of whether or not I contact you.”

The rest of her days are spent doing candidate management and extra projects like writing for the blog and doing the social media for her company.

Shana is actually in charge of all of the social media for cre8buzz. There are about three to four posts on each platform every day.

When she first took over this responsibility, Shana sat with the digital marketing manager and went over the types of content that should be shared. All of it relates to either staffing or the creative industries that cre8buzz is working with. This means that one week she’ll be searching for and sharing content about copywriters and the next it could be about art directors. It’s great because while it’s all within the same general theme, she has quite a bit of freedom to design different campaigns.

Where do sales come in?

Shana describes a good portion of her job as “selling without being in sales.” Shana knows a lot of recent graduates who say “I don’t want to go into sales, period.” But she thinks it’s important to have an open mind.

As a recruiter, you do make cold calls, but Shana points out that you’re selling a service—not just a product. She’s found that people are a lot more receptive to this type of offer. Sure, sometimes people will still say, “Oh, we’re not hiring” or “We are hiring but we don’t want to use recruiters,” but in general people are more open to the calls because it’s something they can benefit from.

Also, The McIntyre Group has been around for 28 years. They have a lot of existing connections that can take some of the pressure off.

But that doesn’t mean you’re totally off the hook. You are still required to do your research, have an understanding of the environment and culture of the companies you work with, and know how your services can best benefit them. That requires an intimate knowledge of your brand and an understanding of how to market it.

When Shana first started, she did a lot of job shadowing. There’s an open seating plan and she would observe her coworkers, listen to what they said, and absorb as much as she could about the cre8buzz/McIntyre brand.

“Two years later, I know all about it [The McIntyre Group] and could talk you through it in my sleep, but there was definitely a learning curve.”

What are some essential skills students or recent graduates need to work in recruiting?

You definitely have to be organized. You’ll be wearing many different hats and doing whatever it takes. There are a lot of pieces that go into recruiting, from administrative support to writing for the blog.

You have to be able to step outside your comfort zone and accept every task for what it is. Nothing is too big or too small.

During her time with The McIntyre Group, Shana has been confronted daily with tasks and skills that she isn’t familiar with.

“You spend your whole life getting the As and learning academically,” she explains, “then you get into this business environment and there’s a whole other piece that you have to learn about being professional and communicating with teammates as well as other people at the company—learning to run things and speaking up when you need to.”

She admits that certain people who are extremely introverted may not want to go into a recruiting role because it requires you to have some sales-type interactions. But, for the most part, she thinks that taking yourself outside of your comfort zone and learning to do those cold calls will help you in any role you take afterwards.

Shana herself is somewhat introverted, but this job has really pushed her to confront a lot of her insecurities and address them head on.

“I’m really shy,” she explains, “I’ve always hated networking events and career fairs. Like, I would break out in hives when I went to networking events, but I’m really good at it now because I’ve been forced to be.”

What should students and recent graduates interested in recruiting know about getting into the industry?

You’re going to be working with people a lot in this industry. Because of that, it’s important to be very people-oriented. Recruiting firms want to hire people who are entrepreneurial and can network well.

“Do something different,” Shana recommends, “email and say something like, ‘I’m passionate about recruiting.’ We don’t hear that very often. I don’t think people graduate and say, ‘I dream of being a recruiter.’”

Internships are also crucial. Try to get an internship in the Human Resources industry. Being in this industry gives you a better idea for the staffing industry and hiring in general.

Another appealing addition to your résumé is a management training program. A lot of the people who work with Shana went through the Enterprise training program and then transitioned to the recruiting position.

Homework time! Interested in becoming a recruiter? Shana suggests reaching out to a firm directly and expressing your interest. She also mentions the importance of internships or doing a management program. Work to get one on your résumé.

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