Recruiting is an HR Function. Deal with It!

Y2K was a turning point for me.

Not because I feared the end of the world by way of technological meltdown, but because it was the year I took the first steps to what would become my career. As a 1998 graduate from the locally prestigious University of Richmond who double majored in Sociology and International Studies I could do just about anything…but find my dream job.

When I got invited to interview at a small staffing firm for a technical recruiter position, I had no clue what a technical recruiter actually did.  I received training that made me good at meeting quotas, cold-calling, knowing enough about technology to hold conversation with prospective clients and to know when a candidate wasn’t all that their resume implied, and exceeding my sales goals.  I could get to the “NO!” in record time.


In 10 short months, I was pretty awesome and was recruited out of that small firm into a new industry –government contracting.  I took with me a hunger for success even though monthly commissions weren’t the bulk of my income. I started to learn about security clearances, contracts, proposals, and even built an archaic Access database to house resumes … Despite the fact that “HR” was always giving “Recruiting” grief about the way we on-boarded, I was again, in the words of Charlie Sheen, WINNING!

After being laid off from my second job, where I was starting to learn about bothersome things like OFFCP compliance, I found work at another staffing company.  This time, I was responsible for going out and getting work and bringing it back to the recruiter. I had no choice but to lean on the sales skills that I had perfected along the way – and I stored any semblance of HR and order in a “break in case of emergency” box.

I grew bored quickly because I didn’t thrive where I wasn’t learning.  So I moved on to a mid-sized government contracting firm where I was the only recruiter and part of HR. With guidance from my manager and the understanding that recruiting isn’t rocket science, I decided to learn more about this HR thing.  I enrolled in a dual MS/MBA program and concentrated in Human Resource Management.

Somewhere in the midst of my studies I realized, accepted, and relentlessly testified, as if I had discovered the Lost City of Atlantis, that Recruiting is an HR Function.  SHOCKER!  Graduate school and an overwhelming propensity to be and force others to be perfect catapulted me to my next residence…Super Recruiterland.  I knew everything {{(insert sarcasm here}}  and was determined to be the expert at employee relations, compensation, benefits, OD&L, training, compliance, employment law, and any other textbook subject I had now mastered.  I was a metric collecting, report analyzing, meeting attending, human capital reviewing … pain in the butt! I thought my manager kept sending me away to conferences and lending me to work with teams aimed at harmonizing processes and procedures across the enterprise because I was THAT good … In my defense, it was part of the reason.

Failing the SPHR in 2007 (by 4 measly points mind you) sent me on a backward spiral to live in that ambiguous vortex where, unfortunately, many career recruiters reside.   That irresponsible land where “Butts in Seats” is the official motto – and HR law, compliance, and business processes are only nice places to visit, not live.  Thankfully, I was supporting a Vice President who genuinely cared about me, saw my potential, and recognized that I was living in the land of make-believe. In a monthly meeting of his direct reports, and various members of the support staff, like myself, he asked me for some metrics that at one time I was gladly collecting.  Well, I didn’t have them because I vowed to reject tasks that “weren’t my job” and keep my customers satisfied only when I felt like it or it didn’t interfere with my self-serving agenda. My response to his request was, “I’m not HR!  I’m RECRUITING!” (POW ! Take that!).  He calmly rebutted the excuse with, “Are you human?”.  I replied, “Yes.”, oblivious to where he was leading me with this line of questioning.  He continued the counter-attack with a follow-on question, “Are you a resource?”

This was clearly rhetorical and needless to say the embarrassment I suffered transported me from Queen of the Sales Recruiter to expatriate begging for entry back into “HR land”.

Repatriation came at a cost.  I was at the point where I wasn’t fulfilled, just recruiting. Sure, I got all warm and fuzzy when I hired someone and they showed more gratitude than a child receiving a coveted gift on Christmas, but I found myself yearning to connect to the function in its entirety.  I was literally recruiting in my sleep and it was painful for me and everyone around me.  I was given intermittent projects in Compensation to approve new job requisitions and level the Project/Program Manager job families. I delivered training on OFFCP and Conflicts of Interest.  As part of the leadership team I trained and mentored new recruiters, I developed and delivered a 3 module course that aligned our intricate recruiting process.  I shared with the recruiters what I had come to learn: sometimes you are a Comp Analyst, sometimes you are Benefits Analyst, sometimes you will be bringing to light certain employee relations issues.  It still wasn’t enough so when I was given the opportunity to become a member of the team that had once been my customer, I did so without hesitation.

Today, I don’t directly report within the HR Practice.  In this extremely complicated and difficult to summate role, I do my best to coordinate efforts between various HR partners and line management.  While I’m now an internal customer of those who were previously my direct peers , because I have “staffing” in my title I still operate in a fashion where I’m always available, customer conscious, and providing strategic solutions.

I believe that Human Resources is subject to constant change. So regardless of whether you want to relocate to an island called Talent Management, Talent Acquisition, Staffing, Recruiting, Headhunting, or Government Regulated People Trading – no matter what you call your subject matter expertise, it’s still Human Resources and, like me, it’s ever-evolving.


This post was written by Keirsten Greggs.  

Keirsten has a 12 year career in Recruiting and Staffing.  She has a BA from University of Richmond and an MS in Management with an HR concentration from University of Maryland, University College. For the past 8 years she has supported one of the largest Defense Contracting companies in the world.  Keirsten also worked supporting a portfolio of Defense, IC, and Federal Civilian contracts as well Executive hiring and for the past year has acted as the Operations Staffing Liaison. 

A native of NJ, she has called the DC Metro area home for 13 years. In her free time she indulges in various hobbies including reading, doing jigsaw and logic puzzles, shopping, cooking, party-planning, and scrap-booking.

Keirsten is also one of my oldest and dearest friends and my linesister in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. I could go on for days about her awesomness! Be sure to follow Keirsten on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn!






Thank you!

Your message has been sent. We'll contact you shortly

Contact Us

Follow us