Lee Group executive search and staffing professional Sarah Fulton

“Businesses cannot grow without key people performing important work. Those businesses then can go on to create even more jobs in our community. It’s just the cycle that keeps on giving back.”

That, in a nutshell, is what motivates Sarah Fulton each day.

We sat down with Sarah, the Branch Manager of The Lee Group’s Chesapeake, Virginia office, to get a better idea of what motivates her, the best advice she’s ever received (and has given), and what she’s reading now. Enjoy!

What was your first job?

I was a lifeguard! I worked at the neighborhood pool. Those were the days!

What is the best job advice you ever received?

It’s really hard for me to answer this question because I’ve been so blessed to have so many incredible people influence my career over the years.

In the first management job I ever had, my boss taught me the lesson about assumptions in a business setting. You know that old saying, “You know what an assumption does? It makes an as* out of you and me.” That piece of advice has served me well for many, many years.  

Here at The Lee Group, I’ve learned the importance of good communication. I believe that 100 percent of all problems or conflicts start from a miscommunication of some kind. We work in a very transaction oriented environment so it’s very easy for once minor miscommunication to lead to a major problem.

I’ve been lucky enough to receive formal and informal training on those topics as it relates to the workplace, or my job, and so I’m confident that I’m able to really communicate with someone in a meaningful way, even if that means I have to change my technique or habit.

What is the best job advice you ever gave?

Have fun! Seriously! You can prepare, research a company, and Google all the odd ball questions that you might get in an interview, but if there isn’t some piece of you that can relax and enjoy your experience, even the worst of experiences, its just not worth it.

Remember to have fun in everything you do – the first interview, the first day, or even on the toughest day you might face in a job you’ve held for 20 years!

I typically don’t wish my candidates “good luck” before a big interview. I tell them “have fun!”

What motivated you to go into the staffing field?

It was pure luck. I was needed in an important role but from there fell in love with the business. I am so honored to play even a small part in the success of any business we work with that I’m constantly chasing that success. The feeling you get when your candidate loves a job and the employer loves the candidate is like nothing else! And then, right when we hit a finish line with one company we start running the race with another. There is never a dull moment and I often get to learn new things about different businesses and industries in our area.

What are the biggest challenges out there for people searching for jobs today?

One of the major challenges is the lack of ability to meet with a prospective employer, recruiter, or hiring manager in person, early on in the hiring process. Everything is digital so great candidates get overlooked because their resume might not be as strong or they didn’t fill out something properly because their computer skills aren’t great.

We meet them and hear stories about their challenges and it often boils down to the follow-up. They applied online to something, never heard back and just had no clue how to follow-up so the effort stopped as soon as it got started.

What are the biggest challenges out there for companies looking to hire great team members today?

People have such a hard time getting noticed that they’ve started to apply to EVERYTHING. So mining a job posting for the one or two qualified candidates is just too much. Also, the effort to start and stop a recruitment effort is much more than many companies can manage with some of the higher turnover positions. When you partner with a staffing agency you have a company that is hiring for you at all times. We never stop.

Can you recall a time where you saw the real impact a job, or having the right person working for a company, made in someone’s life?

I’ve had the privilege of helping place key employees in businesses that are growing.  To look back and see where those businesses are today, eight to 10 years later, is just incredible.

It’s cliché to say, but I know, with complete certainty, that businesses cannot grow without key people performing important work while the owners go out and do great things at the same time.

To know that these placements I made are still instrumental in pushing these businesses towards goals and growth is beyond meaningful to me.

Those businesses then can go on to create even more jobs in our community so it’s just the cycle that keeps on giving back.

What trends do you see in today’s job search and hiring world?

Digital dominance and the “pay to play” game is getting harder to navigate for a lot of businesses. With the internet serving as the primary job search vehicle, companies have to keep up with the rapidly changing rules of engagement. I can see where smaller businesses are struggling to find access to the best talent and likewise it makes it more difficult for employees to find them. You have to know exactly how to “optimize” your post and/or you have to employ or contract with someone that could help you maximize your reach when trying to “post” an important role. It’s a full time job just to stay on top of that.

So…when you aren’t helping companies find qualified people or helping people find good jobs, what do you do for fun?

My family is the center of my world. I have a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old and my husband and I are absolutely loving life with them right now. Their ages are so fun and we can entertain ourselves simply by focusing on being together. We love going to the movies, bowling, and we’ve been known to have some pretty epic house-wide Nerf gun battles as of recently! I am also currently addicted to working out at the Pure Barre studio in Chesapeake, Virginia!

What book are your reading right now?

A friend just recommended a book by James Robbins – Nine Minutes on Monday.

It’s an easy read and great practice in mindful leadership!

And a bonus – he’s got a great weekly newsletter and website for reinforcing the messages in the book.

His tactics have personal and professional application – and I’m all about personal growth that helps me as a leader in a work setting and in my other fulltime job of “Mom.”

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