When I began my career in the mid- nineties, I was ill prepared. I went to Ole Miss where everything was just a little slower. People talked slower, people walked slower, and people took their time doing things. You know what? That is not how the world works. In most cities in America, you are going to get run over if you aren’t on top of things. When I moved back to Austin to begin my career in recruiting, I did get run over. Thankfully, to an excellent mentor, I adapted. I changed my image, but not without work.

When I went on my first interview, I was scared to death. I dressed the part, and was polite, but my voice trembled and I had no confidence. I was thrown into the most competitive environment in America- a staffing agency. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into when I started at Aerotek. It turned out to be the best learning experience of my life.

I had been at Aerotek for six months when we all congregated for a “care-frontation” on a Sunday afternoon. A “care-frontation” basically was everyone telling you what you were doing wrong and what you can do to “fix” it. To put it nicely, I was given a lot of “care-frontation” advice. I felt like I was getting way too much. I was getting so much advice, that I contemplated quitting. My peers and parents encouraged me to stick it out and learn from the experience, and I did.

It was about a month later, when a leader in the office asked me to go to lunch with him. He asked me, “Do you want to work here?”  When I told him I did, he then asked, “Will you join my team?”.  I said “Absolutely”. He then said, “Okay, but you are going to have to change A LOT. You are also going to have to work your ass off. Are you willing to do that?”.  Again, I said “Absolutely”. My career started at that moment, not six months prior.

Matt Burke taught me many things, but 5 things he taught me that really helped me more than anything I have to share with you. These things changed my image at work and helped me become a successful recruiter. I am grateful for what I learned.

  1. Come Early, Stay Late, and Get the Job Done! As soon Matt told me this, I got it. I was always the first person in the office. I made the coffee, made my call sheet, and was prepared for the day. I Knew the day wasn’t done until my job was done. If I felt proud about my day, then I knew my work was finished. My image transformed almost overnight when I did this.
  2. Stay on Task Work is work. There was very little small talk when I got in the office. I went straight to work and did my job. People around me knew I was busy with the task at hand and soon people came to ME for advice. I didn’t talk about the weekend. I didn’t talk about last night. I just did what I was getting paid to do.
  3. Keep Your Head Up Chaos is in the workplace. Things do not always go the way you want them to go. It is easy to get down. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back at it. If you dwell on one negative thing, then you have lost the day. Time is precious. You can turn a negative into a positive.
  4. Be A Leader You know what you are supposed to be doing. Rally the troops. If you are part of a team, get a game plan together and execute. Teach others who don’t know how to do things and they will be forever grateful. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
  5. Be a Student As much as you think you know everything, you don’t. Listen. Ask questions. Practice until you get better. If cold calling is something you are bad at doing, roll play with someone until you get better. Read. Get different perspectives from different people.

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