Chronicles of a Successful, and Yet Unemployed Recruiter

By: Deborah Bubis

In three weeks, I’ll celebrate my birthday, unemployed. Again. A year ago, I was excited about a new opportunity that could jump-start my career in recruiting. I chose to make a career change after working in accounting and finance for 15 years. I am more of a people person than a numbers person, and genuinely love making new connections and networking.

I wanted to make a difference in the lives of those looking for work, and for many candidates I did. I didn't mind listening to their stories, offering advice, or rewriting their resumes at 10 PM when most people are watching Netflix. There is no way to describe the feeling when a recruiter places a candidate. It is complete euphoria. Knowing that I could change the life of a single mom, a college student, a father who was looking to support his family, a cancer survivor, or an immigrant looking for their first job in the U.S. is an amazing feeling that I will never let go.

I started the New Year with a mid-sized firm. In two and a half months, I generated a talent pool of close to 300 new talent and completed 15 interviews with clients. Then COVID hit, along with hiring freezes and layoffs. I watched as requisitions disappeared from my job board. I began the year with 10 to 12. I was laid off when the number dropped to two.

Just one week before I was laid off, I had a conversation with my manager. I distinctly remember her saying that she believed I would be successful in my industry, and we were going through tough times. My last request for her was a LinkedIn recommendation. I never received it, but I didn’t fret. I looked up every connection I had worked with and asked them to write me a recommendation. One of my Account Executives also offered to write one for me. They rallied together to help someone who had helped them, and I am forever grateful for their support.

Just when I was ready to file for unemployment, my Managing Partner from an RPO (where I helped place 37 candidates in 5 months) called me with a thank you present. The company received money from the Federal PPP loan and hired 10 of its most successful recruiters to develop business. I was thrilled. The contract was only for a few months, but I got to help build business and generate conversations for partnerships with my firm.

While I was working, I interviewed for potential roles. A federal contracting firm was extremely interested in me and my industry experience, but their hiring was frozen. My heart sank, but I refused to give up. I also interviewed with a staffing firm that would have required me to shift my industry. I heard that both the hiring manager and the company's representative believed I would be a great cultural fit. But they were also losing revenue due to COVID, and they stopped hiring.

I channeled my frustrations into my job and scheduled four conversations for potential business more than any other recruiter. After I sent the proposals, companies were slow in responding or chose to abstain from partnering with my firm because with COVID came uncertainty. My firm was a small boutique firm, and they didn’t have the revenue to keep us. My time was up.

So, in August, I filed for unemployment with the State of Michigan. I also received a mysterious card loaded with a large sum of money from the PA Unemployment Office. I experienced the aggravation that no one wants when they learn the card is fraudulent, and of course, I reported it as such. Not knowing the reporting process, I had to contact the Office of State Representatives for help.

Amid the mess with unemployment reporting, a connection messaged me about a possible contract with his staffing firm. He kept track of where I was through LinkedIn after I interviewed with him and his company in 2019. He remembered me for my industry background, my “never quit” work ethic, extensive network, and marketing capability on social media. There were innumerable messages exchanged for nearly a month before I received a message indicating that he had reviewed his P & L with his CEO. They did not have the revenue to hire a consultant. My frustration stretched my patience past all reasonable limits, but it also pushed me not to give up.

All of these employers saw something in me. Someone else is going to as well. Throughout this time, I learned to keep the faith. I realized that I am not alone. I learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined. I learned that I have an amazing support system.

Every day I am on LinkedIn, posting about my experience as a candidate, a recruiter, and a hiring manager. My LinkedIn following has increased to almost 15K, and I receive messages from connections who remind me that I am making a difference every day. I don't receive money to share my feelings online. Instead, I have met hundreds of amazing people.

I’ve met them through my posts, through LinkedIn’s Career Advice Hub, through content searches for recruiter/sourcer roles that I respond to, through referrals from other connections, and through personal InMails. My job search is my job, and that’s OK. One day when I am back in the recruiter seat, I will remember this experience. It will amplify my willingness to help others, and the thanks you’s that I receive will remind me why I chose to work in this industry.

If you would like to reach out to Deborah Bubis, please contact her here!