As director of the HR Search division at StevenDouglas, what are your responsibilities?
Companies reach out to us to find HR talent. We go out and find what they’re looking for, so my responsibilities are twofold.
One, getting out into the community to partner with companies that either could use our services now or may need to in the future. Two, building relationships with potential candidates.
Generally speaking, it really means just being involved with the HR community, getting to know all the people, all the players, what they do and the companies that they work for.
It really is about building long-term relationships. Because our business is one where you don’t necessarily need our services today. You’re not always looking for a new job. It’s about meeting people today so that two, three, four, five years down the road when they are looking for their next role as an HR leader, we’re the ones that they go to.
What is the advantage for companies that choose to work with a human resources business partner such as StevenDouglas?
Having expertise in the market is going to help you identify the best candidates, and typically, the best candidates aren’t going to be applying to jobs. If you’re one of the best human resources executives, you’re worried about your company and the day-to-day issues that you’re dealing with. You’re not on job boards or posting your resume.
It goes back to those relationships and knowing what the top talent is looking for. When a company reaches out to us and says we’re looking for X,Y and Z, we reach out to someone we met four or five years ago, because we know that’s the type of person who’s going to be able to fill that role.
And sometimes it’s better to have an outside firm deal with some of the confidential aspects that come along with an HR search.
Tell me a little bit about the company itself.
Our company handles executive searches across the board. My specific qualifications are in HR recruitment. All I do is look for top HR talent.
We have other divisions that specialize in finance and accounting searches, sales, marketing and operations searches and more. It does work cross-functionally, too, where sometimes the head of HR reaches out to me and says, “Our company’s looking for a new director of finance; can you help us?”
So, I refer them over to our finance and accounting search team. They do the same thing over there that I do in HR.
Are there any high points or successes in your career that you would like to emphasize?
When I moved here just over five years ago, I was the first person in Jacksonville for our firm to help build out the practice here.
Now we have over six people here in Jacksonville with StevenDouglas, and we’ve really started to do a lot more work in the area. Being here has given our firm the ability to build these relationships with the companies here, the communities here. Being able to do more business here, ultimately.
As the community grows, are you seeing an increase in demand for the quality candidates that you refer?
Absolutely. In general, we’ve seen the Florida market, especially since COVID, really take off. We’ve seen that a lot in Jacksonville, as well. With companies coming to the area and the talent pool growing as well we get people — HR executives included — from other markets moving to Jacksonville.
So, over the past two to three years, we’ve been able to increase the amount of placings and the amount of business we’ve done every year. It’s partially due to the Jacksonville market growing.
Tell me about your background, your education and the career path that led you to the position you have today.
I went to Florida International University, originally studied communications and wanted to be in broadcasting. My first job out of school actually was with an ESPN radio affiliate in South Florida. I worked mostly as a reporter and a producer.
That was around the time of the 2008 financial crisis. Hours were being cut and things were changing. So, I wanted to look for another career, and a friend referred me to a recruiting firm to help me find my next job.
I went for an interview there, and they said, “Have you ever thought about being a recruiter?”
I thought it was something my skills might translate well into, so I gave it a shot. And I really liked it.
I really liked the challenge of putting some of the pieces together, as you find that one person that they’re looking for, that needle in the haystack.
I started with a staffing firm doing high-volume recruiting. Then as my career progressed, I came over to StevenDouglas about seven years ago and started doing more executive search work, specifically on the HR side.
I really enjoy working in that kind of business and also I like working with HR professionals. It’s an interesting industry that’s really growing.
Do you have some advice for young people discerning their career paths?
The one thing I always tell young people is to always look at where you want to be, and reverse-engineering your career or resume is the best thing to do.
If you want to be a CFO, go online, go on LinkedIn and take a look at profiles of people who are CFOs. See how they got to where they are. Did they start off as an accountant at XYZ company? Did they start off as a financial analyst at a different company? What did they go to school for?
I think that the more that you do that, you can find out what the path is. You can even go online and look at people’s resumes. I think that gives you a good idea of how to format a resume, how to look at your career.
What do you like best about what you do?
Working with people and their careers that are so important to them.
On the opposite side, finding a company that really needs to find the right talent. When you make that perfect match, you help solve a problem for a company that had a need. Now they can take that next step. It’s great to see the evolution of a company you’ve worked with that had 100 people and five years later has grown exponentially and now has 2,000 people.
And the HR person we found for that role was the person that helped grow that company and get them to where they needed to be.
Equally as important on the other side is talking to someone who is not happy in their current role, not happy in their career. And finding them something that’s a better fit, makes them more money, gives them an opportunity to spend more time with their family, challenges them, gives them an opportunity to advance their career.
That’s really fulfilling. It’s tough for people to look for jobs. They don’t know where to look. A lot of times they don’t have the time to do it. So being someone who can step in, find that for them, guide them through that process and then ultimately get them to the point where they’re taking a new job that’s fulfilling is the best part.
What do you like best about living here?
I grew up in New Jersey, but I’ve lived in South Florida, as well. And I think Jacksonville is the perfect combination of both.
I like to golf. We like to go to the beach. We like to take hikes. Just like to be in the outdoors in general. Jacksonville’s a place where you can be outside 12 months out of the year, but you also have seasons. It’s not like South Florida where it’s just brutally hot all the time.
Beyond that, it’s a great place to raise a family. It’s also at an interesting stage where it’s big enough that it has everything that you want but it doesn’t feel overcrowded.
We love it here.
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