Interview by Brooke Lazar
Jennifer Selden, regional recruiting director at Randstad Technologies, has become a pro at adapting to her surroundings. Her goal is to build relationships with a myriad of people: from internal offices, to IT clients. She takes a few moments to share her story.
BL: What sparked your interest in recruiting, specifically in the technology field?
After college, I started my career in the staffing industry working for a staffing company doing light industrial and clerical staffing. From there I went into HR for a while and then worked for a company that is well known for training recruiters. I met Alisia Genzler, an executive vice president at Randstad Technologies. She asked if I would be interested in joining Randstad, and I said absolutely. Alisia sparked my interest with her love of the field. She made me feel like working for them was something that I wanted to be part of. I did not know much about technology at the time, but I caught on quickly.
BL: What obstacles did you face while pursuing this career?
The people I sold to were all different. I had to be adaptable to situations; I knew that in order to be successful I would need to step out of my comfort zone, and a close friend told me to become a chameleon. I took that to heart and worked on understanding my audience. In one instance I could be talking to an HR person who doesn't have a strong in depth knowledge of IT, and in the next breath sitting in front of an application development lead that is fluent in whatever technology they are working on. It's crucial to be understanding and versatile.
BL: Your job involves building relationships through recruitment and staffing; can you go in depth about that?
When I was a recruiting director it was important for me to build relationships internally with my team and externally with candidates and customers. Internally, your customer is the sales team or company. Externally, they are the applicants we work with. It's important to be a people person at all times. You have to show that you care about people and desire to provide them with the best opportunities. That's why I strive to connect with the people I work with. I say "personal first, business second." That's how I've gone about my career.
BL: Do you find it difficult to build relationships?
I am a people person. I work hard to find commonality with a person, no matter what it is. There are things you can draw out of a resume or a conversation. You just have to listen. Many times in our business, people see it as transactional, but there's nothing transactional about what we do. If you listen to a person and ask the right questions, you can find commonality with them. I tell recruiters to find one bit of commonality, and it can open many doors. It's an art; you have to work at it. If you master it, you can be successful in this business and form genuine relationships
It's also important to have a good memory. Remember what clients and candidates tell you because that will differentiate you from other people. That's applicable to anyone in anything they do.
BL: What has been your biggest challenge working in a traditionally male-dominated field?
I haven't looked at my job from that perspective. I have been fortunate since coming to Randstad. I work in an environment that is evenly split between men and women.
When the opportunity to take on this recruiting leadership role occurred, I looked at the people I was going to work with. I was excited by the expertise that each of us brought to the table. I respect the people I work with tremendously and learn from them every day. I have been fortunate that they also have respected me.
BL: What do you enjoy most about your job?
What I enjoy most is when we create a happy marriage for a client and a candidate who applied for a position, and everyone walks away satisfied. Nothing makes me happier. We do it every day, throughout all our regions.
BL: From a recruiting standpoint, what skills have you found most important for someone to have in the technology field?
You need to be able to listen and multitask. You also need to be able to understand technology, as well as learn it, in order to speak to candidates who are experts in their field. Technology is always changing, so it's crucial to learn on the fly. We rely on our candidates to educate us, so we have to develop the skills to understand.
We strive to keep up with the latest and greatest, so we also go to classes and read articles. It's not like I'm going to wake up tomorrow and be an expert on the newest technologies out there. But we do have to be agile enough to understand technology and have the listening skills to hear what our clients and candidates are telling us.
BL: Why is being part of a network such as WITI important for women in technology?
It offers a forum for women to come together. Women want to advocate for the same causes, and they advocate the same way for things. In some cases, they advocate differently than men would. Last year I was able to partake in a woman in technology event. I was in different cities, and they were intimate happy hours. We had women looking for new opportunities and women looking to engage Randstad. The conversations were more fluid in those relaxed settings.
BL: What advice would you give other women in this field?
Don't overthink things; be you. The best way to build and maintain relationships is by being yourself. People will respond to you better and connect with you on a deeper level. Don't try to be someone that you're not in this field because it won't work. If you don't know something, admit that you don't know it, and allow someone to help you. You can find a lot of success that way.
Jennifer Selden is the regional recruiting director of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions for Randstad Technologies. Jennifer's key objective in this role is to work with her teams to build long-lasting relationships, while driving recruiting excellence and collaborative success. Throughout the past seven years at Randstad Technologies, Jennifer has demonstrated success in many roles including managing director, recruiting director, and account executive. Her perspective on what tech talent wants in a future employer and what hiring managers look for in potential team members has been quoted in several IDG publications including CIO, Network World, CSO, and InfoWorld. Jennifer holds a bachelors in business administration from Elizabethtown College.
Brooke Lazar is WITI's content manager and digital editor. She has a BA in professional and technical writing from Youngstown State University.
Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.
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