Kaylee Estes

Estes Group Founder Kaylee Estes

Kaylee EstesFounder

Today on Talk Talent To Me, we are joined by the founder and CEO of the Estes Group, Kaylee Estes to discuss something we rarely delve into, the agency side of recruiting.

Episode Transcript

Rob Stevenson 0:05
Welcome to talk talent to me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the front lines of modern recruitment.

Speaker 2 0:12
We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life, we want to understand how they make decisions where they’re willing to take risks and what it looks like when they

Rob Stevenson 0:21
fail, no holds barred completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment to VPs of global talent, CHR rows, and everyone in between.

Speaker 3 0:31
Once I went through the classes and the trainings and got the certifications through diversity inclusion, I still felt like something was missing.

Speaker 4 0:39
Talent Acquisition. It’s a fantastic career, you are trusted by the organization, you get to work with the C suite and the security at the front desk and everybody in between. And everybody knows you.

Rob Stevenson 0:52
I’m your host, Rob Stevenson. And you’re about to hear the best in the biz. talk down to me. Hello again, all of you. Wonderful darling recruiting a munchkins out there in podcast land. It is I rob Stevenson here with another certified banger of a podcast episode with an amazing guest I have lined up for you. And I’m going to do a little bit of front porch thing before I bring the guest in front porches explaining what you’re going to do and then doing it. But I’m sensitive to the fact that we always have in house recruiters on the show. And because their in house recruiters, they have chosen it over agency recruiting. And I feel like agency recruiting gets a bad rap on this show. But it’s not that agency recruiting is inherently bad or worse. It’s just that my guests have chosen in house because that’s what they’ve deemed is right for them. So I wanted to bring on more people from the agency side of things to tell that side of the story and explain under what circumstances it can be really great. And that’s part of why I’m excited to bring on today’s guest. She has had a ton of experience with both agency and in house, which she’s going to tell you about. Currently, she is the founder of her own talent agency, the Estes group, Kaylee Estes, welcome to the podcast. How are you today?

Kaylee Estes 2:01
Hey, I’m great. Thanks, Rob. Thanks for having me.

Rob Stevenson 2:04
Yeah, so please, you’re here and I kind of did a lightning sprint through your, through your CV there. Maybe we should pause that and share a little bit more about your background. Would you mind sharing about some of the stops along the way that led you to found this company?

Kaylee Estes 2:15
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I think similar to a lot of the people listening or people that you’ve had on the show fell into recruiting, I think if you ever ask a recruiter, like how did you get into it? That is what they will say nobody goes to college for recruiting. So I fell into it. I joined a staffing firm pretty soon after school. And I did all technical recruiting. So that was the intro to recruiting that I had when they told me that they’re gonna have me be a technical recruiter, I was like, No, I’ll do healthcare. They’re like, No, you’re gonna do tech and like, I can barely turn on a computer. But we’ll figure this out. So I did that for almost five years. And it was really great, super fun. Specially right out of college, you make really great friends. And it’s a really great way to start your career in recruiting because you get exposure to a lot of things you work on so many different types of roles, talk to so many people. And around the five year mark, I had been thinking, you know, what would it be like to be internal, and maybe joining a startup would be fun, you know, we supported startups all the time. And we talked about their culture and what made them special. And I thought, okay, maybe that’s my next step is to learn how to be an internal recruiter and help a startup grow. So I found a startup here in Atlanta, they were one of my clients. And so I knew they had great people and a good mission. So I joined them. And I was their first recruiting hire, they had just been acquired by VISTA equity partners. So they were about to enter a period of high growth. So they had done it on their own for quite a while, when I joined, they had a little bit less than 60 people. And we more than doubled the size of the company over the next two years. And we scaled the recruiting team to four, and the company ended up being acquired by their competitors. So it was definitely an exciting time. And then at that point, I was pregnant with my third and went out on maternity leave, and it just felt like it’d be a good time to transition. So there was another startup in Atlanta, that was kind of under the radar, but they were doing really well. They had a great customer following. I had a few contacts there. And so I joined them after my maternity leave with my third. And we had less than 100 people at that time and then scaled the company, you know, by 5x. So that was really great. And similar to the themes that we’re hearing with other companies right now. They experienced a lot of growth and it was really positive. It was Go Go Go and then this year hit and it was kind of like okay, what’s gonna happen this year, so they ended up doing a reduction in force in January. And while I was there, I had had an idea of what would I do after this and I had always known I want had to start a company. And so I used that as kind of my motivation and my opportunity, if you will to jump in, be my own boss and go after having my own business and starting something, you know, from the ground up. So that’s kind of how I got to where I am now.

Rob Stevenson 5:17
It sounds like through scaling various companies through being involved in acquisitions. Seems like you probably could have drummed up another full time role if you’d wanted to you were probably at like a director VP level at that point, but you chose his opportunity after the reduction in force to your own thing. So I’m curious, like, when you were when you were posed with that decision? Do I want to do director VP level talent stuff? Is it time to strike out on my own? How did you make that choice?

Speaker 5 5:48
That is a really good question. It’s definitely something that I’d be lying. If I said, I didn’t mull it over, there are a few sleepless nights there to figure out like, Am I really ready to do this? I have three kids. I’ve been, you know, working full time for 10 years. Like I know what I’m doing. And I think I can do a really good job. But like, Am I really ready to do this. And I actually went to lunch with a co founder of my old company. And I talked with him and I talked with every entrepreneur that I could get in touch with in my network and those early weeks just to hear about their experience starting their own company. And I knew like, I can do this, like, I am gonna go for it. I want to be my own boss, I went on a few interviews, and they went well. And I think I could have lined up another role. But so I knew I wanted to work for myself, I was being selfish about that. I wanted to be more in control of how I would do things, how I would set up the business who I would go after the services I would provide. And so at my previous role, the idea that I had was, if I went out on my own, I would start a talent strategy firm, I was very reluctant to stay staffing. And I think that kind of fits into the theme of what we’re going to talk about. I was super proud of the staffing work that I did, I worked on an excellent agency here in town. So I learned really great things. But I think once you move internal, you’re exposed to a lot more staffing firms. And sometimes you’re not having the most positive experience. And so I knew that if I went out and started something on my own, I was going to lean super heavy and to the internal recruiting experience that I had. And the first idea that I had was, well, what about really early stage startups that need help setting up the recruiting process and doing hiring on their own. And I do professional services work in that area. But what I found is that most of the clients, they just need to hire really good people. And so my goal is to help them, you know, make better hires and come in and like, sometimes I’ll work with them both on the process side, and the hiring side. But after a lot of conversations, I realized, yes, people need to know how to make hires. But at the end of the day, they just need to make good hires, and they need help with that. So I leaned more back into, okay, I’m a talent strategy and a staffing firm. And it’s great. And there’s a need for it, even in this crazy economy.

Rob Stevenson 8:14
Yeah, definitely this model of not just providing one service, but basically being like a department for hire. It’s like, look, I’m i Yes, I can hire Yes, I can staff. However, there’s more to the puzzle than that just one piece, even if it’s a big piece. So when you when you want it to not be staffing, was that because you kind of got the IQ from the term staffing, or was it because you’re like, look, that’s one function in a midst of a spectrum of important functions.

Speaker 5 8:39
I was trying to think about, okay, this might be a saturated market, there are a ton of staffing firms out there, it’s hot, there’s a ton of people that do it themselves, there are a bunch of large ones. And so I think I was worried about branding myself as okay, I’m just another staffing firm here in Atlanta. And my skill set doesn’t just lean towards hiring, you know, I’m really good at building process and helping companies be really efficient with their hiring. And so I wanted to be able to leverage both of those skills and sometimes a traditional staffing firm, there’s not much opportunity past the, okay, we’re going to intake this job and help you find this Java developer, there’s not a lot of like, hey, we don’t know how to interview these people. Or we don’t know how to scope this job the right way, you don’t get that opportunity a lot. So I wanted to make sure that with the business that I could offer that because I am really good at that. I love that work. And then on the recruiting side, I think this is the beauty of doing your own business is you can be more creative than what everybody else is doing. You can try new things. And so I don’t just offer contingent staffing, because although that is a very lucrative business, right now I think companies need maybe different options, maybe they need help on talent strategy, maybe they need an embedded recruiter and their team that can scale up and down with the needs of the company. Or maybe contingent really is their best option. So I’m bringing kind of all of those services to the table. And the response has been really positive.

Rob Stevenson 10:19
Can I have you speak a little bit more about not wanting to work for someone else again? Yeah. Because this whole, like, Be Your Own Boss thing. It’s very seductive. But it’s also been co opted by multilevel marketing schemes. But it’s the ducted because it’s like, oh, I want to be able to make my own hours, I want flexibility. I want to be able to choose the strategy, I want to be able to work on the things that I want to work on. That’s what appealed to it. For me personally, I’ve had really good bosses. And even that my best ones, I would get really resentful when they like, hey, just checking in on the thing that I told you. Like I hated being nagged. I hated going to meetings, etc. Anyway. So I wanted to ask you to explain why that was important to you. Particular to the talent side of things. Why were you like, you know, what, I don’t want to have a boss anymore.

Speaker 5 11:03
Yeah, well, it could be my phase of life, you know, I have three kids. So I think for me the idea of jumping into another company and being a working mom, and you immediately have like, the credibility build up, right. And maybe I shouldn’t say that on a podcast. But it’s true. Like, I think any working mom kind of feels that when they’re interviewing. And so that was maybe like, part of the hesitation of jumping in and going to work for somebody else. But I think in January, when I really decided to go for this, I was feeling really creative. I was super motivated. And I was kind of like, why not? Like, yes, I can make my own schedule. And yes, I can have the flexibility with my kids. And I can work as much as I need to work or don’t need to work. But for me, it was more like, I want the experience of building a business, I want to learn how to do this. Nobody tells you how to start a business. And I learned that very quickly. You cannot just Google, go create a staffing firm. And when I was talking to entrepreneurs and founders in my network, I realized I have a lot in common with them. Like I’m a builder, I love to build things. I like to take risk and challenges. And I was just feeling very creative. And I had had this idea had been keeping me up for a while. And I think if you are in a position where you can take a chance on yourself, and you can do that I understand not everybody has that flexibility? I think you should. And I’ve talked to a lot of people now that I’ve started the business that have asked like, where did you start? Can I do this? Like, is it impossible to do this? And it’s definitely not, especially in staffing, I think the barrier of entry is quite low if you have a good network, and if you’re good at what you do. So for me working at another agency, I definitely wouldn’t do that. If I’m going to work in an agency environment, it’s going to be for my agency. And we’re going to do things in a way that I think me and my team think are best. On the internal side. I don’t know that I would ever go back in house. I mean, this is working out really well. So I think this is it. But you know, never say never.

Rob Stevenson 13:19
Kaylee, I want to scroll back a little bit to the thing you said a minute ago, which, as an interviewer always makes my ears perk up when someone says I don’t know if I should talk about this on a podcast? And I’m like, yes, good to talk about it, you were referring to the pressures you may feel as a new mother or as a mother with young children in an interview process or as a new employee? If you wouldn’t mind, I would love to hear you share that, because I think that will probably resonate with folks. Is there this sense that you will be under extra scrutiny? Or that you will be viewed as less trustworthy as a candidate or as an employee? Who has young children?

Speaker 5 13:51
Yeah, this is a great question. Also say that I talked to working moms, like all day, every day, just in what I do. And so I think, you know, I don’t want to speak too much to their experience, necessarily, but I think it’s like a shared experience among working women who have children, I think women who have children, when they’re interviewing, there’s the sense that, alright, I’m going to start a new job, and I have to prove myself, like, I’m gonna have to show that like, even though I have kids at home, don’t worry, I’m available, I am on it. I’m gonna be great. And you kind of have to build that credibility with your new manager. And I think there’s a lot of pressure that goes along with that. I’ve done this at three different companies. And I’ve had the blessing of really good managers. But a great example is when I did go interview as I was kind of thinking through like starting the business and things like that. I did take an interview because I had somebody in my network reach out and I was excited to meet with this company. I literally had to move the interview date because my youngest, I got a call from daycare and they were sick. And to me that was like such a sign like healing. What are you doing? Go for your own business, like, do it. You don’t need to work for somebody else right now. And that was actually like a pretty defining moment, I did end up finishing my interview with them, and it went well. And they were so gracious and so kind about rescheduling. But I had to reschedule a final round interview, because my youngest was sick, and they were so kind, but at the same time, you feel like, oh, gosh, I can’t believe I’m having to do this. Like, of course, I’m having to do this. And you have to explain, are they going to believe me, you know, things like that. So I definitely think being a mom factored a lot into my decision to start a business. And it was definitely not going to be a barrier to starting a business, it was my motivating factor. And I have two daughters and a son, especially for my girls. Like, I want them to see mom do this. And, you know, my oldest is 13. And we’ve talked about it, like, I took my youngest with me to get my business license. And I took a picture outside of the Sandy Springs City Hall. And it’s definitely like a core memory. So I’m glad that my kids are getting to see me do this. And you know, I would encourage any mom out there to feel like they can or just to feel okay, knowing like things come up. And more than likely the people on the other side of your interview or your manager are going to understand, but I know that it’s a hesitation that we feel.

Rob Stevenson 16:25
Yeah, yeah, totally. And the the appeal of having your own business, there is so much more flexibility, you can kind of work as much or as little as you want. Or you can also just schedule things in such a way that you can’t, when it’s like, oh, our weekly team meeting is at this time slot. So you know, tough luck, that’s when the meeting is or your this meeting is when your boss’s boss can do it, that kind of thing. And even if your company says all the right things, and they make you feel like oh, they’re totally understanding about reschedule as with the fact that I have kids, that’s great, but you can never really know how that’s viewed. And maybe that is a limiting thing in their eyes. Maybe they’re going to look at someone else for a promotion, just because you’ve had to reschedule more, and it’s like a stupid reason. But those are that’s what an unconscious bias is. It’s a stupid, unfounded reason, right,

Speaker 5 17:08
for sure. And then recruiting, I see it all the time. On the internal side, you know, I think it’s so important to have a good interview process because of those biases that jump in. And I just think for me personally, although having the responsibility of having a business that I am 100%, and it is, do or die by me, my success is from me and the people around me that are working on it, the freedom that comes with it, I think, like, I’ll take all of the responsibility to have just like the sense of freedom that like I know, I’m putting my name on this, I’m doing a good job, I’m going to do my best. But I don’t necessarily have to answer to other people, I can focus on really what I want to focus on. So again, it might be like, viewed selfish for why I started my own business. I think most entrepreneurs would say that. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I think we all kind of want to be our own boss. So and there’s benefits to that for sure. There’s risk, but there’s, I think more benefit.

Rob Stevenson 18:12
Totally, I mean, most decisions are selfish, like any decision you make, you’re also choosing that over any other decision, you can make any other use of your time. Like if you take a full time role, because it’s a little more compensation, like that’s selfish, even if you’re going to use that compensation on someone else, you know, it’s like work is self interest, right? In most people’s cases, even if you do have other like dependents and that kind of thing.

Speaker 5 18:35
I totally agree. I, you know, your job is where you spend more time than anything else. And that, you know, I think later we’ll probably talk about like, why am I different or like the approach that I’m taking that’s different, but that thought right there of, okay, this person’s job decision is one of the biggest life decisions they make. I’ve never lost sight of that. And recruiting, I think it can be pretty easy to lose sight of that. But respecting the fact that like people are going to make this big life decision. You know, they have multiple other things going on in the world companies have multiple candidates to consider, but you only have one job most of the time. So it’s a really big decision. And you know, that’s kind of the Northstar that I have around what I’m doing is like honoring that and knowing that I’m not going to apply pressure and things like that.

Rob Stevenson 19:27
I’m glad you said that because I definitely wanted to get into how you differentiate. When you said a moment ago, you didn’t want to just be another staffing firm. There’s a million staffing firms for you when you think about your agency versus other ones you’ve seen or worked at. What are the things that you’re like when I have my own company? I’ll never do that right? What are the ways that you’re you plan to differentiate or are you differentiating?

Speaker 5 19:47
Yeah, that’s a great question. So for me the thought of okay this candidate they have one job you know, when a candidates at those final stages and they have to decide between three companies, you If we’re talking about a software engineer, they may have like five or six job offers on the table, I do not want to be the reason that a candidate picks their final company like, yes, I want to help them, I want to help educate them on why they should join the client, or why it’s a good offer. But at the end of the day, I want the candidate to make that decision for themselves. And so the pressure cooker environment that happens around staffing is one thing that I promise, every company that I work with, they’re not going to get candidates from me because I convinced that candidate to take the job. And if that’s the style that they need, I’m definitely not the recruiter that they should hire. Because I’m not going to do that I will help educate, I will help candidates understand why it’s a competitive offer, remind them of why they were excited about it, and all of that and help work through the situation. But I kind of want to coach them more to the right place. So that’s one big difference. I don’t anticipate being a high volume, like we’re going to send you 20 resumes. And you know, you’re going to shortlist out of 20 resumes, we’re going to send you people that are actually really good fits with your company, you’re going to talk to me more than you talk to other staffing firms, you know, I hope to have like true relationships with the hiring managers that I work with. And so far, that has been the case and it works really well as much say like, we’ll have one to two, like 15 minute check ins a week to talk about the job talk about how it’s going. That’s where I think the internal recruiting experience that I have is really playing into the staffing side of what I’m doing. So I’m trying to bring that perspective to partnering with hiring managers and their companies. So those are probably the two biggest differences. And then the other big one is just the difference in services that I’m offering. I think that not every company needs a contingent firm. Some companies need more of a fractional recruiter that sits as a member of their team. And maybe they’re in a period of large growth, but they know in six months, it’s going to taper back. So they don’t want to hire somebody full time. But they don’t want to spend all of their money on agency fees, bring in an embedded recruiter or a fractional recruiter to sit with your team. They operate like an internal recruiter, you save a lot of money, but you get really good results. I think that is an offering that I have that kind of sets me apart from a lot of the other agencies that I know. And again, it’s leaning more into that internal mindset of recruiting that I have. So what is the fractional recruiter? Yeah, so fractional recruiter is basically I think the term used to be RPO. So recruiting process outsourcing, I do not view it as outsourcing necessarily, I guess you could, but I don’t. Basically, it’s a part time recruiter that sits as your internal recruiter on your team. So I think this is where a lot of talent acquisition teams are probably going to go. I think on our original chat, we talked about how maybe the staffing industry or the talent acquisition industry is changing. I think companies are going to be less likely to hire full time internal recruiters and they’re going to have to rely more on kind of an augmented staffing model, like how do we hire who we need to hire, but plan for the unknown. Like, what if we’re doing great for these six months, but next year, we only need to hire half the amount of people don’t go build a big talent acquisition team and have those people and full time jobs and then you don’t have work for them. So I think a fractional recruiter is great, because they can sit with your team a certain number of hours a week, they work with you. They’re like a member of your team, they’re in your Slack channel, they have an email address, they represent your company. If you need them for more, they could scale up, if you need them for less, they can scale down and you don’t have to worry about removing a full time hire from your team. So that’s maybe a more cost effective solution for like, you know, a six month period of high growth. And then contingent is a great option. When you have the challenging role on your plate. You just don’t have the bandwidth for a few positions. I would say if you have like 10 or more positions you need filled, you probably shouldn’t use a recruiting firm because you’re going to be spending a lot of money on fees. And I think that’s why the fractional model this year with my clients has been really they’ve been very responsive to that type of hiring.

Rob Stevenson 24:26
That makes sense. Thank you for walking me through that. Yeah, very strategic too. I’m all over the place in this interview Kelly but it’s because you keep just dropping gems that I want to follow up on and then revisit etc. But I love how you said that you never wanted to be the reason why someone takes a job. And that is fascinating because isn’t a recruiter the whole reason anyone takes the job, right?

Speaker 5 24:48
I know. I think it probably goes against what a lot of people expect a recruiter to say.

Rob Stevenson 24:53
You get what you mean. It’s like when you think about persuasion. I don’t know persuasion has like this low All buzzing to me of like non consent, right? It’s like, they didn’t want to do this thing. And they talked to me. And now they do want to do this thing. And it’s like, okay, you talked them into it a little bit, right? And maybe they they had these values, these things that they expressed, that you were like, let me address that objection, let me tell you why you were wrong to feel in a certain way. And that’s one way of looking at persuasion. But I think there is that possibility, especially because whether your agency or in house, you’re incentivized to get people across the finish line a little bit, right. Like if someone becomes a great hire, and they stay at the company for five years, and they get promoted three times, the best hire we ever made, you’re not compensated an extra dime at all for that like that, when is registered for you when the hire is made, because you like made a hire in a particular quarter, like you hit like a quarterly or yearly or monthly goal or something, you know, so you’re not incentivized for these long term hires. But that is what’s so important. And like, that’s why people take pride in the role of recruiting is putting someone in a job they love that they can do for a long time and succeed. So it’s curious that like, the value, a lot of people I speak with, and I think good recruiters writ large get from this role is when that happens when you make that hire. And it’s really, really perfect for the individual. However, they’re not incentivized that way. So I’m glad to hear that you’re like, Look, I’m not going to talk you into it, like you’re going to get figured out if this is a good fit for someone and not push them across the finish line, which that is a common criticism levied against agency, but it happens in house all the time, too.

Speaker 5 26:28
Does. I mean it’s human nature, you want the person that you’re selling to, to take what you’re selling, you know, like, I think that’s a very natural thing. And I think most recruiters that start out at a staffing firm, they’re taught like, don’t take no for an answer. Like there’s a way we can work around this, like, what are they asking for? Let’s call the client. Let’s do this. Let’s do that. And yeah, of course, some of that makes sense. You know, you want to help make sure that there’s a good fit on both sides, and like the candidate is asking for something, can the client do it? I think it’s just the approach that you take, and the reason why you are encouraging a candidate to take the job, you know, I think it is tough, like an agency recruiting, your compensation is directly tied towards a candidate accepting a position and staying there for a certain amount of time. On the internal side, some companies do give bonuses to recruiters based on the number of placements they make. I am personally like adamantly against that I think it incentivizes all of the wrong behavior. My view, on the internal side was always that recruiters should be bar razors, they should be telling hiring managers do not make this hire. This is actually like we’ve liked this candidate to this point. But nope, I know, it’s the end of the quarter, I know we’ve been working on this job, you’re desperate, I get it, don’t make this hire. Like we need to go find somebody different. on the agency side, it is harder to do that naturally, because you make money if a person gets a job. But I think if you have the right intention behind it, if you’re good at what you do, if you come from more of a relationship base, sure, you might not get this one placement now. But later on, when that candidate calls you with a referral, because they had such a great experience working with you, that is a fit for your client. Like that, to me is worth more than the one placement fee I’m gonna get right now. And same thing on the client experience. You know, we didn’t talk about this. But when I got my first client, it was from very close relationship that I had in my network, she knew I would do a good job. And she knew that like the ethics behind what I was doing, and why I wanted to start the business made sense for her team. And I’m her contingent recruiter, and we did a placement within like 25 days, I think it was like, we had almost immediate success, and it was a great fit. And it kind of like, you know, showed me out that I could do this. And you know, when I called her the first call I had was just hey, I think I’m gonna start this thing. What do you think? How do you feel about me saying I’m starting another staffing firm here in Atlanta, and she was so supportive, because she knew that I would approach it differently. And so I think that if you just approach those situations from like, a more genuine place, and yeah, you have to like be a little persuasive. But you should never convince somebody to take the job, the candidate should convince themselves, you know, like, I don’t know, I personally would never want to take a job because somebody convinced me to do it. I want to take a job that I know is a good fit for me. And a good recruiter can help them see that without, like, forcing it on them. You know?

Rob Stevenson 29:49
Yes, yeah, exactly. You’re playing the long game. Right? And maybe the longer you spend in recruiting the longer you realize that doing right by someone pays dividends over time. I’ll give you a counter example to that someone not playing the long game. I had two conversations probably 16 months apart with this company that specializes in placing, like audio and producers and you know, people with my skill set. And the first time we met, like, they were very gracious, we had a great half hour conversation, and then I never hear from them again. And I’m like, Okay, well, you know, that was time, not well spent. And then they email me again, sometime later. I’m like, alright, well, I’ll do this again, like, it’s logical to cultivate options, I want to hear what they have to say. So we do it again. And then I get one job, like, basically job description they send to me, and it’s completely not what I would be interested in. And it was the kind of thing I told them on the call that I would not be interested in. So they should have known better. And guess what happened the next time they emailed me, like, I didn’t even bother, although I wanted to writing a SAS email being like, Hey, I’ve spent an hour with you. And after one half hour, I got nothing. And after another half hour, I got something irrelevant. Like, I’m never spending time with you, again, you’ve completely burned my trust. If that had changed a little bit, if after the first one, they had written me an email being like, Hey, Rob, based on our conversation, I’m sorry to say, we don’t have anything for you, the last thing I want to do is send you a thing that you’re probably not going to be interested in. But thanks for the time. And then if they had done that, again, the second time, you know, basic customer service essentially based like then I would have be more likely to indulge that conversation. But as it stands, they were playing a short game, and I and it’s not worth my time. So it’s so just to switch that perspective to be thinking, okay, maybe I can’t get Rob in this role in the next 30 day window. But what if I can hire him for a really great job and, you know, winter 2024 Different approach,

Speaker 5 31:39
every recruiter that I talked to that’s kind of early in their career. And I learned this from one of my mentors very early on as you build a relationship list. And that becomes like your focus, as a recruiter, it’s relationships, you have to be relationship focused, and you can be transactional. And I think you asked me like, around like the ick factor of staffing, like not wanting to use that maybe it’s because when I hear that, historically, I’ve always thought like, Oh, this is so transactional, you know, and I think that’s one thing that I do different, I’m not transactional, I don’t want to be transactional. Like if we can’t work together now. Because you can’t, like this is just not the right time for your business. That’s okay. You’ll hear from me in a few months, we’ll catch up. And so I think that’s also what I’m doing kind of on the business development side is playing the long game, because it just yields better results, I think over time. And, you know, sure, there are recruiters out there that have super successful careers from a volume standpoint of placements. And maybe they’re placing contractors and things like that. It’s just such a different approach to what I want to do and who I enjoyed working with as an internal recruiter. And I think for me, that’s like my bar, like, would I have liked this as a Director of Talent Acquisition? Would this have sat with me? Is this agency going to represent us well, to candidates? You know, I think that’s another question that talent acquisition leaders ask themselves when they’re vetting agencies like, Okay, if I put you in front of a candidate, are you going to represent my company? Well,

Rob Stevenson 33:18
how do you do that? How do you make sure you’re representing companies? Well,

Speaker 5 33:21
I just try to be honest and be real. And I never start a conversation with a candidate, telling them about the job that I have, because quite honestly, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fit what the candidate is looking for. And like your experience, you know, I probably would end the conversation without trying to pitch the company, you know, and that’s not a waste of time, that conversation, you know, what they’re looking for, you can keep them in mind down the road, and good recruiters genuinely do that. So that’s one thing. And then with the clients that I’ve brought on this year, you know, it’s such a strange time in tech, but companies are still hiring, they still need a good partner to help them. I try to be very sincere and honest with what is going on. I think another hesitation that people have on the internal side about staffing firms comes at the end of the conversation with offers, like, Okay, our budget is 120. We’ve been talking about this the whole time. You have a candidate now, that was 120. But now they’re wanting 130 to accept the offer and you’re calling me in the 11th hour like are you trying to get a higher fee? I think that’s a very often a common concern that I had and that I hear from clients and with them, okay, well, if that’s the worry, then let’s try a flat feet. Let’s just give it a try. And we’ll see how it goes. And I’m not going to do that. If I’m calling you because the candidates asking for 130 Call the candidate and talk to them about it. They’re asking for what 30 You know, they’ve got have multiple offers on the table or, you know, they can command a higher salary now. So I just tried to be very honest, sincere and transparent with the hiring managers that I’m working with. And I treat them as if you know, I’m working right there with them at their company.

Rob Stevenson 35:14
Kaylee, I want to ask you to share some wisdom to the folks out there in podcast land for those who may be in a situation that you found yourself in about a year ago, which is that you are at a crossroads, you know, you have this skill set, you’ve seen agencies you’ve seen in house, you could probably go out there and get either job. But when you consider Hold on, what if I just did it myself? What advice would you give to someone who’s exploring that option?

Speaker 5 35:39
Yeah, you know, get a whiteboard, step one, get a whiteboard. So you can start brainstorming all of the ideas that you have seek counsel, you know, like seek people in the industry that have done this before, and try and learn from them. If you know, people in your network, like, one of the best conversations that I had was a mom at my daughter’s school. She’s a part owner of a staffing firm here in Atlanta. And so she was one of my first calls, and she sat down with me, and she’s like, Alright, here’s the deal, you’re going to need an attorney, you’re going to need to think about occupational Do you have an occupational business license with the city of Sandy Springs, I was like, what is that I have a license with Georgia, she’s like, You need that, you’re gonna need a banker, you’re gonna need all of these things. And she was so helpful. Because again, there’s no checklist for starting your own company. So I think it’s first narrow in on the idea, but be open to changing, you can’t just be like, I’m going to do this. And it’s not going to change. Like, I think your first idea, you end up with a version of it, I don’t think you end up with the exact first thing you go after. So be flexible. And start with one decision of Okay, today, I’m going to file for my LLC. And then that decision is going to lead you to your next decision like okay, well, how do I get a bank account? Well, you need an EIN to get a bank account. So then you go get your EIN, then you get your bank account. And then you’re like, well, I need an attorney to help write a contract. So then you call your friend who has an attorney, and you just start going through it that way. And I think each day, you kind of just chip away at it. And before you know it, you have a business and now you have to go get your first client, or you’ve been working on that kind of in tandem. So I don’t know if that’s exactly what you wanted to hear. But that’s the advice I would give and you know if you can do it, I think if it’s something that you really want to go after, and you have the means to give it a try. I think you should

Rob Stevenson 37:32
Kaley, that is fantastic advice and inspiring advice too. I couldn’t agree more. Do it brick by brick. Don’t be intimidated. I’m so pleased that you joined me because I love your story. And I think more people should be doing the kind of thing that you did I think it is this just this path to flexibility to freedom, happiness, etc. So thank you for being here and sharing your journey with us on the show.

Rob Stevenson 37:54
I’ve really loved chatting with you today.

Kaylee Estes 37:55
Thanks, Rob.

Rob Stevenson 37:59
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