With a Master’s degree in Sports Management from Florida State University, Anna Apple figured she’d pursue a job that combined sports and hospitality, hopefully in her hometown of Jacksonville.
Just one problem with that plan: Anna graduated during the pandemic of 2020.
There was no hospitality. There were no crowds at professional (or any) sporting events. In fact, many companies were hunkered down, and thousands of workers were being laid off or furloughed. Anna is one of a generation of graduates whose career plans were completely disrupted by the pandemic lockdowns of 2020 and early 2021. But today, Anna says she couldn’t be happier about the detour her career took.
Anna is working for ProCare Therapy, a staffing company that places medical and educational professionals in school systems. She started in May of 2021 as an account executive, the first hire in Jacksonville as the Atlanta-based company started up its office in Northeast Florida. Less than two years later, she’s the department manager of the Education branch, leading a team of eleven recruiters working to place special education teachers with school systems around the country.
Recruiting wasn’t really on Anna’s radar until she connected for an exploratory conversation with XPG Recruit. When she considered the idea of staffing, she found that it checked a lot of boxes on her ideal career list. She’s an extrovert with high energy who loves working with a team. She’s also had experience with great recruiters and not-so-great recruiters and looked forward to the challenge of getting it right.
“When I was in graduate school, I connected with a recruiter in my field of choice,” she says. “He was terrific – warm and welcoming, and very responsive. I couldn’t take a job while still in school, but after I graduated, I reached out to the same company. My experience that time was completely different. The second recruiter never followed up. I called and emailed and tried hard to express my interest in a position that seemed like a great fit for me, but I got no response. I learned firsthand what not to do when you’re trying to attract talent.”
That experience helped Anna decide how she would approach both the schools she worked with and the educators she was trying to place. She says the ProCare staff who came down to open the Jacksonville office were especially supportive as she learned a new skill set and a new industry, and eventually moved into management. One of the strong motivators for her in her role is knowing that every educator she places is going on to provide critical classroom support for students with developmental delays and learning problems. “The work I do is fast-paced, exciting, and rewarding” she says. “It’s also meaningful. I could be successful at selling anything from PC support plans to season tickets to cars. But I’m selling services that change lives.”
When asked what qualities make great recruiters, Anna lists accountability as the most important. She says reliability, doing what you say you’ll do, is the key to building relationships and giving both clients and candidates confidence that you’ll make the right match. ProCare Therapy believes that accountability is essential to success; the Jacksonville team read Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, and Anna says it was very inspiring. From it, she learned ownership is the cornerstones of accountability.
“The best teams anywhere, like the SEAL Teams, are constantly looking to improve, add capability, and push the standards higher. It starts with the individual and spreads to each of the team members until this becomes the culture, the new standard.” – Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win