Relationship Building as Career Building
Navigating a career in office management or administration can be rough—full of the pitfalls of open interviews, your resume falling into a sinkhole of paperwork, and the endless wandering through internet searches for the right role without end in sight. But what if someone had a compass? Or was even able to pave the way?
The bedrock of career-building is strong personal and professional relationships. In an increasingly digitized world, where a glance at a LinkedIn profile is all a hiring manager might see of you, staffing agencies can play a valuable role for those looking to forge a career in administrative, operations, or office management. Working and building a relationship with an recruiter gives you a personal intermediary who can vouch for you, help you create connections, burnish your reputation, and help forge a path to face-to-face interviews.
Brian Sommer is a Principal Account Manager for WinterWyman , a Boston-based staffing firm which serves New England, New York, and New Jersey and has offices in Boston, Waltham, and New York City. He sees his role as more than placing people in jobs - it’s about forging relationships with both job seekers and hiring companies. A graduate of Penn State University, he was recruited to to WinterWyman in 2007 and has spent his ten years there building relationships with the clients and candidates “in hopes of being able to identify not just any role, but the right role.” He explains, “We’re looking out for everyone’s best interests. We want to make sure we’re always finding the right match between the candidate and the hiring company.”
WinterWyman has been doing this matching for more than 48 years in the fields of accounting and finance, human resources, and technology. And while they work hard to make the process smooth, contract staffing and recruiting is a challenging sphere. But they are doing something right—WinterWyman boasts an average tenure of eight years for their employees, far higher than expected in the staffing world.
In order to better place candidates, and truly understand their clients’ hiring needs, WinterWyman makes getting to know their clients’ cultures a priority. For example, they work with companies such as Etsy, MIT, Spotify, and Ralph Lauren to understand their businesses so they can accurately recommend the right candidates. This approach means better, long lasting matches.
In this fast-moving job market, job seekers currently have their choice of roles. Sommer explains that for hiring companies, this means a change in mindset. “We try to educate our clients on the importance of flexibility and speed in this hiring process,” says Sommer. “Gone are the recession years of 2008 to 2012 where anything they wanted from a candidate they would get. That’s simply not the case anymore.”
This is good news for job seekers. In a candidate-driven hiring world, working with an agency like WinterWyman will help you find the best opportunities. They will help navigate the hiring landscape, find the right company culture, and will serve as a partner in your job search.
Best practices for best placement
On the candidate side, working with a company like WinterWyman can ease the hiring process. But the relationship isn’t a one-way street. Sommer makes it clear that it’s as much the candidate’s responsibility as the agency’s to keep the communication going.
It’s always easiest for a staffing agency to place a candidate they know well. Sommer’s goal isn’t about placing someone the moment they apply, but to ask careful, detailed questions and get to know a candidate over a period of time so that every placement is solid. Sommer says he expects candidates to keep an “open and honest line of communication” with the agency, and to always update their recruiter about any job search activities they perform on their own.
WinterWyman holds numerous candidate events and Sommer recommends attending whenever possible, as “a lot of times you could get two resumes that look very similar, but if you know one of the candidates from having them attend one of your social events it gives them a leg up.” Throughout the placement process a staffing agency and people like Sommer make it a priority to keep communication open, so those relationships can continue to strengthen and build. They even survey their their clients and placed candidates and stay in touch on a regular basis to both assess the fit and ensure they are ahead of any issues that arise.
Job seekers should also remember: not every job will be your dream job. Sommer’s own tenure with WinterWyman was the result of keeping his options open, so he’s quick to note that “I recommend being particularly flexible if you are an unemployed job seeker. It’s better to have a current job on your resume to keep your resume – and your skills – updated. A client looking for a permanent hire will be more interested in a candidate who is employed.” In addition, by working with a staffing agency, you’ll be able to move more easily from one opportunity to the next.
Building a better career
For those looking to build their careers in office management or administration, developing a relationship with a high-quality recruiter and keeping communication open increases your viability as a candidate outside of the world of endless digital resumes. No matter how much we rely on technology, it’s still the relationships we foster that create opportunities to move our careers forward.
Photography by Julia Robbs