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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I pledge allegiance to The Force....

Some say it takes a certain kind of crazy to working in technology staffing (or any type of staffing/human trafficking ring, for that matter) and I absolutely agree. Not many people in my industry grew up wanting to be a recruiter. I know I didn’t. (We’ve already covered my wacky childhood ambitions in earlier posts….I had my sights on much cooler things…) When I started my sentence at Kforce I wasn’t sure what to expect. For all purposes, Kforce was my first real job and to say that I wasn’t intimidated by the massiveness of this company would be a HUGE lie. I assumed that everyone at The Force was assigned a little barcode on their first day and when the powers that be were done with you, the floor would open up and your fancy rolling chair would disappear into Kforce oblivion where you would then be turned into glue.

My first week at Kforce was interesting. I was assigned to our “Search” team (full desk, direct hire) and I didn’t know what in the world was going on. I knew nothing (seriously, NOTHING) about technology and I was put in a corner and told to recruit Java people. “Java???? What in the hell is Java?”, I thought. After a day or so of calling these mysterious Java people and sounding absolutely retarded, I decided that I was going to recruit .Net people instead. To my pea-sized woman brain (its science) this seemed the better route to go. Fortunately, I was right and I started to have more fun in my little cube. I actually met one of my best friends on my second .Net recruiting call. He took pity on me and took me under his dev wing. Slowly but surely, I was becoming less and less clueless. (Thank God for Luis.) In any event, after I got on the .Net train, I started to love my job more and more. The people I worked with weren’t half bad either. I was starting to bond with the other people on the tech team and I quickly saw what a great group of people I worked with. We were all in this crazy staffing thing together. But still, I thought, there was no way the entire company could be as cool as my immediate group of Kforcers. We all had a bond. We had matching barcode tattoos.

About a month or so after joined the staffing elite, my personal life hit the skids. I was getting a divorce. I tried to handle this as quietly (and quickly) as possible but at some point I had to be out of the office to deal with all of the fun and excitement that accompanies the big D. Being the newbie to the Orlando clan, I was very nervous about how my latest adventure would interfere with the staffing arts. Not only was I surprised with the support of local management, I also had quite a few cheerleaders at corporate. I was encouraged to take as much time as I needed to get things situated, to mourn (…or celebrate), and just to get my life squared away. I was assured that my fancy rolling chair would still be there waiting for me and that I would be granted a stay of execution. Little did I know, this was just a preview of how great Kforce is as an organization; apparently, the awesomeness was not limited to just the local Orlando office.

In the months to come, I was continually surprised with how great, supportive, and accommodating everyone at Kforce was. Whether I was in need of something small, some additional training and support, someone to vent to, or some major accommodations, my direct boss, along with my Market VP, National Champs, etc. were right there to help. A few months before my one year mark, my father, who had been ill with cancer for a few years, took a turn for the worse. As soon as I mentioned this to my boss, he immediately went to work getting me set up to work remotely and told me to go home to be with my dad. I didn’t have to ask permission and I didn’t have to worry about my job and what would become of it. Everyone assured me that I could take as much time as I needed and the important thing was to be home with my dad. He ended up passing away a couple of weeks later and I am forever grateful to The Force for their understanding and compassion. Now, in all fairness, I’m sure that most companies would allow their employee to go home and be with family during something like this. I get that. What I’m not certain about is that most companies would tell said employee to take off as much time before and after and really mean it. I received no guilt trips, no stressful conversations about my numbers (or lack thereof), and no whip cracking when I returned. And once again, my rolling chair was still there.

Two more years have passed and I am still impressed with The Force.

I am asked a lot why I love working for Kforce so much and for me that answer is pretty simple. Kforce is very big on taking care of their people and that message starts from the very top. Whether you be a Kforce internal employee or a contractor, we try to treat everyone like family. Crap happens, of course, but at then end of the day, Kforce is a company that (TRULY) cares and tries to do the right thing. Though we are a sales organization, we are not run by a heavy hand and we are encouraged to have a life outside of our jobs…just not during prime time. All in all, The Force is made up of people that really like what they do, the industries they represent, and transferring their passion to others with the staffing bug…and I’m so proud to be apart of that.

So, Dave Dunkel, if you are reading this…(or your assistant…or your assistant’s assistant), hats off to you for growing such a great company and placing an emphasis on values that really matter. I always say that I will never leave this place unless someone packs my desk up for me…so…please…stay away…and leave me and my rolling chair in peace. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Booyakasha! Today we's goin' to talk about interviewin'

Job interviews can be a lot like being on Da Ali G Show. You think you know what you are getting into and then the interviewer throws something in about drug-sniffing dogs and WMD and completely messes you up. Next thing you know, you are tripping all over yourself and your interview ends…and you do not have a job.

Ok, so maybe the drug and WMD talk is a bit of a stretch but you know what I’m getting at. Job interviews have a tendency to be stressful anyway (even when you think you are prepared) but can quickly go downhill if you aren’t acquainted with the ABC’s of interviewing.

There is no earthly reason why KForce should have hired me; I bombed not only one interview, but both of them. To be honest, I stumbled upon KForce on accident. I had just finished school and was working as a paralegal (for my ex-husband’s friend so I’m not even sure it counts as a j-o-b…) and I was beyond bored and didn’t really know what I wanted to with myself. I was a Forensic Science major in college (following my dream to be a deer when I grew up, I decided to be a medical examiner) but eventually decided that I did not want to work with dead people and bugs. I don’t think I am too high maintenance but that was still a little too gross for me at the end of the day. My buddy, Thomas (now in our Denver office), worked at KForce and for some reason, thought I’d be a good fit so he floated my resume over to the Director of the Tech team, where they had a few openings. Sounded good to me, I thought, though I really had no idea what KForce was and what the entire staffing industry was about. In fact, other than Thomas, the only other person I met in staffing was wildly obnoxious and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work with his “kind”. Besides, I was already obnoxious enough; I didn’t need any help in that department. A few days after Thomas gave my resume to my now old boss, I got a call from the KForce internal recruiter, Sean. Apparently, they were interested enough to interview me and we set a time for the following day.

I’d like to say that I rocked the phone screen, but that’d be a lie. I’m pretty sure I bored the living hell out of Sean. We talked about running for a few minutes (good job getting me to warm up to you, Sean) and then he asked me, “So why do you want to get into staffing?”

“Ummmmmmm….” Why can’t you phone a friend on questions like this???? I thought to myself, “Because I want a job…” but I had enough sense (thank God for small miracles) not to say that. Instead I said something super lame and we chatted for a few more minutes and hung up. I was pretty sure KForce was going to shred my resume and I’d never be invited to join the world of the staffing elite.

And then, I got a second interview request and this time it was a face to face request with the two managers in the local Orlando office. I was as excited as a clueless 23 year old could be and started to do the natural thing…plan my outfit (not a suit, by the way, mistake number one…). The day of the interview rolled around and I did a little research, put on my most professional looking getup, and made the mistake of letting my ex-husband drive me to the interview…at the Bank of America building. He let me out on the curb (such a gentleman) at the BOA building and I quickly realized that KForce was nowhere to be found. My first thought was, “Boiler room, I knew it!!” and was quickly followed by, “Megan, you’re an idiot. You wrote down the wrong info.” I called The Force and realized that KForce was actually in the AmSouth building a couple of blocks down the road. Naturally, this would not have been the end of the world but…I was already five minutes late and it was insanely hot so I was guaranteed to show up sweaty and gross. Not so awesome. In any event, I hoofed it down the road, arrived 15 minutes late, visibly flustered.

Things did not get better. I was off my game (What game??? Who am I kidding???) and I had nothing to contribute. I had no questions to ask, I was horribly timid, and I didn’t know jack about technology. I thought I was almost done with the interview and I could go lick my wounds privately and then I was put to “the question”….

“So, Forensic Science?? What prompted that?”

Ok, how do I answer this and not sound like a complete freak????? Ah, I know.

“I wanted to be a coroner and I love crime scenes….”

WTF? Yeah, I really said that. There was a dead silence and then it got worse.

My interview eventually ended and I went home to fasten my noose. Then, I got a phone call and they wanted to hire me! Apparently, KForce was looking for a 23 year old flake that had not-so-secret dreams of working with dead people and I was the answer to their prayers. Never mind the fact that I was late, not in a suit, had nothing to contribute, didn’t engage the interviewer, was extremely boring, and had the communication skills of a four year old. They wanted to hire me!!!!

I accepted and rode off into the KForce sunset and for some reason, they have kept me around.

I lucked out BIG TIME (partially because I was an internal referral and partially because I was young and blonde) and they took a chance on me even though I sucked. Thank goodness they did because I can’t imagine doing anything else (and I’m not just saying that because “Big Brother” might be reading this). I will never leave this place unless my desk is packed up for me (please do not get any ideas, boss man) and during the course of my KForce dog years, I have learned a thing or two about interviewing.

Here is my top ten list of interviewing tips for a successful (or at the very least, less crappy) interview:

1)Don’t dress like a fool. Suits, suits, suits. I know some of you might disagree with me, but for an interview, wearing a suit is a must. You can wear your short shorts and flip flops when you have the job and they say it is ok…and not until then. And when I say “suit”, I mean a dark suit. Everyone wants to express themselves and get creative, but an interview is not the time.
2)Research the company. Know what they do. Be prepared to talk about what they do and why it appeals to you. Also know a little about the people that will be interviewing you.
3)Have a list of questions prepared for the interviewer. Even though “Ummmm” and “I don’t know” worked for me, it probably won’t work for you. Hell, it barely worked for me…and I’m a cute girl.
4)Write down a list of questions you think they will ask you and practice your answers beforehand…so when they ask about WMD you’ll be ready for it.
5)Be engaging. Don’t yawn. Don’t act disinterested. At the same time, don’t get overly emotional. Stay cool, calm, and collected always.
6)If you want the job, say so. If they say, “No”, storm out. Kidding.
7)Be on time. No, scratch that. Be a little early….but leave the tent and sleeping bag at home.
8)Do a drive-by the night before. Know where you are going so you aren’t cursing the day MapQuest was born the day of your interview.
9)If you are asked to provide work samples, make sure they are good. Framed pictures of unicorns need not apply. (And yes, the unicorn really happened…and no, the guy did not get the job.)
10)Say, "I don't know." If you are asked a question you do not know the answer to, admit that instead of beating around the bush…but be prepared to talk about what you would do to find the answer.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


“Can you use that in a sentence, please?”

“Yes. Megan will be speaking at Jacksonville Code Camp on August 29th and will try her best not to faint out of nerves.”

Faint, you ask? Yes, people, true freaking story coming right up!

Let me take you back…way, WAY back to ninth grade. OrlandoTechNuts had just started a new school (performing arts!) and she was THRILLED to be among her “kind” finally. For years, Mama and Papa Nuts made little TechNuts go to a stuffy private school and she hated it…seriously HATED IT. Everyone was catty and overly concerned with having the latest and greatest (thanks mom and dad for raising me in Palm Beach…ick) and we had to wear uniforms. Uniforms, in theory are a great idea, but when you have an overly creative child (me), it is never a great idea to force a crappy polyester uniform on them. Not to mention, I was chubby and those damned uniforms were constricting. In any event, I hated that place. All I wanted to do was go to art class and creative writing, but instead, because it was the “HOT” school to blow your money on, I had to sit in Latin. I sucked at Latin. I failed every test and sucked so much that my teacher actually made an appearance at my house and asked my parents if I, nerdy, chubby, 11 year old TechNuts, was doing drugs (designer, of course) or having sex. What???? For the record, when I was 11 years old, my grand dream was to become a deer when I was older. I’d come home from school (I can’t believe I’m revealing this to the blogging world), watch Sailor Moon in my room with a snack (I did mention I was chubby), and then go outside and think about what it would be like to be a deer and how I could make that happen. I always was a dreamer. If Napoleon Dynamite had a younger, stranger sister, I fit the bill.

Private school hell continued until one day I heard about this performing arts school down the road…on the other side of the tracks (read: with the normal people in Palm Beach County). I begged my parents to let me audition for the Visual Arts department, one thing let to another, and Voila! I was in! I was already beyond elated that I didn’t have to wear a uniform and I could proudly sport my AC/DC shirt (courtesy of my dad) but I was even more excited that I could pick my classes. No more Latin…instead, hours of painting and creative writing lay ahead and I couldn’t have been more excited. On my first day in my creative writing class, I walked in to Mr. Johnston’s room (one of the best teachers I’ve ever had) and he announced that our first assignment was to do an introductory speech, no more than five minutes in length, talking about, well, ourselves. No big deal, I thought.

Yeah, no big deal until I mentioned the assignment to my crazy, creative, over the top mom. Immediately, she started brainstorming wild ideas (now you all know where I get it) and came up with something great…in her mind. I was fully prepared to get up and talk off the cuff about me, my hobbies, etc. No, No. By time my mom was done with me, my speech began with, “Single, white female: In search of self.” (Yes, I was so traumatized, I still remember it.)

The “BIG DAY” rolled around and I felt like I was going to vomit when I walked in the room. I did not want to make my big appearance in class as the weird girl that talked about herself in terms of a personal ad. A few kids went before me and, shocker, their presentations were all normal. They were beyond normal…and the teacher liked them. I then decided to do something normal, too. No point in standing out now…until freaking Luke Wiley got up before me (Luke now is a principal dancer with a huge ballet company in NYC), did a perfect fouetté rond de jambe en tournant (for those of you not in the dance know, look it up), and blew everyone out of the water. Shit. I guess I was going with the personal ad after all. I’ve always been competitive and wasn’t going to let this guy do better than me. I also got that from my mom.

It was my turn. I was sweating bullets. I felt like I had cotton balls in my mouth. I instantly wanted to be back in Ms. Lovell’s Latin class. I opened my mouth and spoke. I got, “Single, white…” out and then…well, and then the room went dark. Man down! That’s right. I fainted. But I couldn’t even do that gracefully (damn you, Luke Wiley and your perfect ballet ways!). On my way down, I clipped my head on the side of a desk, requiring several stitches. Great first impression speech.

After this incident, public speaking has never been high on my list. In fact, I avoided it at all costs. I even put the required speech class off in college until it was the very last class I had to take to graduate. I hated it and I was terrified I’d have a repeat of Mr. Johnston’s ninth grade trauma all over again. Fortunately, I had a wonderful teacher in college that helped me get over that so now I like to talk in public…perhaps a little too much.

With that said, OrlandoTechNuts, in all of my glory will be speaking at Jacksonville Code Camp on August 29th. My session is Why and How to Partner With a Staffing Firm and I’m hoping it is well received and doesn’t bore the living crap out of everyone in the room. I’m also hoping that I have more than 3 people in the room. That’d suck, too. In any event, my Code Camp speaking debut will go down at 11:00am…and hopefully I don’t go down (a la ninth grade) with it. I’m really excited about this opportunity and I think from my (dog) years at KForce I have a lot of insight to bring to the table. (If you disagree, nod your head anyway and stop trying to crush my dreams. My ego needs to be at least partly intact on August 29th.)

For more information on Jacksonville Code Camp, click here! Please be sure to check out all of the other speakers and sessions. Code Camps always make me excited but this one is going to be freakin’ awesome and all money goes to a great cause: Wolfson Children’s Hospital!

Hope to see everyone there!