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Friday, December 4, 2009

Introducing Kareforce Bear, the unknown Care Bear

That’s right, just like the Jonas Brothers, the Care Bears have an unknown, very rarely talked about additional member. Blogging world, please meet Kareforce Bear (or just plain Kareforce for short). Kareforce (Gaelic for: Provide exceptional service on a consistent basis) was first introduced to me on November 6th of 2006 when I first joined the Kforce family and has been a pretty big part of my life ever since. In addition to being known for being the best staffing firm in the universe (just ask Robert Half), Kforce is also known for its quick wit, creative way with words, and mind blowing ability to impose the letter “K” in front of every word or saying to make it part of the Kforce brand (ex: KDay, Kforce Khronicle, Kyou’re fired…and…wait for it…Kareforce.)

Kareforce or kareforcing is one of the most important responsibilities a Kforce recruiter has. Kareforcing focuses on building and maintaining a relationship with your consultants as you put them to work, once they are working, and ultimately, when it is time to redeploy them. This seems like a pretty easy concept (and it should be) but often times it is neglected after a consultant starts an assignment. In any event, the basis tenets of kareforcing are assist the candidate with on-boarding, interview walk-ons, first day walk-ons, hug and a brown bag lunch (kidding…kind of), first day check-in phone call, first week check-in call, (lather, rinse, repeat for a month), one month mark check-in call, lunch, “I know you hate your manager. I hate him, too.” check-in call, etc. You get the idea. Because I feel like I spend half of my life kareforcing, I thought it would only be fitting that I take this opportunity to kareforce myself and debrief about my first month with Kforce’s San Francisco office.

I’m not going to lie. My first day was kind of rough. Being new to San Francisco, I anticipated some first day hiccups…but I did not anticipate said hiccups to start as soon as I woke up. Waking up so early was a huge shock to the system. In Orlando, I’d wake up at 7:00am and be in the office around 8:00pm. Sometimes I’d hit snooze (and when I say “sometimes” I mean “more often than not”) but it took me an hour (tops) to walk the dog, eat breakfast, get ready, and drive to work. Not so much the case in San Francisco…not even close. I woke up at 5:00am (with the thought that it’d give me plenty of time to get everything done and still get to work early). As I rounded up our dog to take her out for a walk she decided she couldn’t hold it and proceeded to take a crap on the neighbor’s doorstep. Beautiful. After I got that cleaned up, I went about my routine.

Fast forward about an hour and a half to me standing at the bus stop. I have a two step commute: 1) take the EmeryGoRound to BART and 2) take the BART into the city and walk to work. Simple, right? Yeah, not so much. After standing on the corner (insert inappropriate joke here) for a few minutes, a bus rolled around. Assuming it was the EmeryGoRound, I got on, took a seat, and started to read my book. About 20 minutes into my bus ride, something started to bother me. The drive was taking way too long. A little freaked out, I decided to ask the bus driver how far away the BART station was….and that is when it happened. I was informed that my dumb self had gotten on the wrong bus. Fortunately, the sweet driver felt so bad for me that he drove me (and only me at this point) to the BART station so I could catch my train. (Ironically enough, the same thing happened to me on my first day of high school…except I went all the way to the wrong school before I realized I was on the wrong bus.)

It was only 7:30am. I still had ten more hours to go.

Fortunately my BART ride went smoothly and I arrived at work relatively unscathed. Right off the bat, we started to whiteboard. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love to whiteboard so my time in the office was off to a good start. Everything was pretty similar to Orlando…except that instead of recruiting on entirely technical positions, I would now be working on functional roles. After the whiteboard, we went into a conference room and had a huge brain dump on all of our clients. This was pretty intimidating because our clients out here are huge and no joke. There is a process for every process…and then another process. After the hour long client debrief, we got straight to work and started recruiting. My first position was some extremely rare skill set (and functional, to boot) and I spent the entire day leaving voicemail and voicemail, the occasional email…and more voicemails. I left at 6pm with absolutely nothing-not a candidate interview, not a submittal…hell, not even a returned phone call-to show for it. I was off to a great start.

The majority of my first week went by just like this until about Thursday when I started to make some traction. By Friday, I had submitted a few people and by that following Monday, I had an interview request from a pretty big client. (And when I say pretty big, I mean huge. We are one of 60 vendors fighting for the same one or two spots every single time.) The interview was set for that Thursday and I was stoked. As soon as I got home, I shared the good news with my boyfriend, Kevin, and we celebrated with some wine. Things were looking up. I actually was good at my job.

The interview request was cancelled the next day.

And so it went for the next few weeks…so many near misses. I thought about pitching myself out of our 18th floor window but then I quickly decided against it. After all, what would Kevin do if I was no longer around? What about our dog, Lexi? What about Dave Dunkel?

Though my recruiting efforts were an epic fail, I did manage to make some friends in the office pretty quickly. I already had my best buddy Alysia sitting across from me (reunited and it feels so good…) and I actually really liked everyone on my team. I quickly found my geek recruiter soul mate in the form of tiny Aileen (but you can call her Baby Einstein), my almost-as-weird-as-me-but-not-quite BART buddy, Jessica, and super successful recruiter by day, super domestic homemaker by night, Eva. AnneMarie left pretty quickly for maternity leave but I liked her already and my boss/Account Manager, Lindsay is a riot and pretty much runs the Technology Healthcare market in San Francisco.

I also met Jack. And his piranha. In my pocket.

One Friday, (I believe it was my second week), I was hanging out at the BART station with Aileen waiting for our train. It had been a long week and we both just wanted to go home. The train was running a little late (shocker!) and it was beyond cold. My hands were freezing. I stuck them in my coat pocket with hopes of warming them. My cold, nearly numb hands touched something…something strange. I looked in my pocket and saw something resembling rawhide hanging out of my pocket. I was beyond grossed out because if it was rawhide it had been in my pocket for a year, as this was the first time since last winter that I wore this coat. Freaking disgusting.

Fortunately, it wasn’t rawhide. It was something must worse. It was a petrified piranha body, dried fish eyes and all. The scream that escaped from my mouth would have made Hitchcock proud. I was terrified. How in the hell did a dead fish end up in my pocket??? Aileen, who stood witness to the entire thing, immediately recognized it as Jack’s piranha and told me that it is a joke that he plays on all of the girls in the office. Apparently, that fish had made appearances in bars, on airplanes…and now, on BART, in my pocket. Because it was Friday, I had the great pleasure of riding all the way home with the fish, now in my purse, and spending the weekend with it.

I took the weekend (as did the fish) to think about what kind of relationship I wanted to have with Jack? Would I hate him? Would I smile at him and curse him behind his back? Or, would we work past our issues and be friends?

My answer was loud and clear on Monday morning when Jack walked in wearing an argyle sweater…to match mine. It was then decided that I could not hate Jack and we would be friends. Our relationship has progressed since then to sharing the occasional elevator ride, talking about Brooks Brothers, sharing sideways glances during recess (or not), picking out the name for his soon-to-be-born baby, and the occasional conversation when he cube-hops over to my “office”.

But anyway, I’m running off on a tangent…

To summarize, there are so many things about this office that differ from Orlando and I am still getting used to the change.

I do miss my coworkers in Orlando and all of the fun we used to have. The environment here is very different and often times I have to remind myself to take it down a notch and be a little more politically correct. If you’ve met me (and definitely worked with me!) you know this is not an easy task. I miss my user groups and having a developer community that felt like family. Rebuilding that part of my life is not easy but I’m optimistic. I miss recruiting on highly technical positions but I know I’m gaining so much more experience here. (Fortunately, I get my fill of “techie talk” from the mister when I come home every night so I’m not completely out of the loop.)

Inspite of everything, I think this was a very good move for me (even though I have to wake up early). I know that while the ramp up might be slow at first, I’m going to flourish professionally. I’m fortunate enough to have the chance to work with some of the best in our company. (Intimidating, yes. Inspiring, absolutely.) Being reunited with my former Account Manager and best friend, Alysia is a HUGE perk and starting a new chapter in my life with Kevin in the most amazing city in the world was pretty appealing, too.

Day one started off rocky. Week one was questionable at best. Week two was a little better with a few notes of disappointment and lots of stress. I’m at the one month mark now and I’m starting to see things come together. Even though starting over from scratch is beyond scary and nerve-wracking, I think, honestly and truly, I’m going to be OK.