Today’s Career Profile features Danielle Leach, an executive recruiter at Search Solution Group. As an executive recruiter, Danielle coaches job candidates through the hiring process for the companies that work with Search Solution Group. Danielle was previously a Teach For America corps member and currently works with six former students to help them through the college application process. She is also a lifestyle blogger at Elle Paige & Henry and the mom of a very handsome yellow lab named Henry.
I was nearing the end of my two year commitment to Teach For America when I started to look for new opportunities in Charlotte. My mom is a Division President for a recruitment firm in Jacksonville, FL (my hometown), and I sort of followed her career path by joining Search Solution Group. I knew I wanted to go into recruiting, so I spent time interviewing and researching firms in Charlotte before deciding on Search Solution Group.
What are your roles and responsibilities?
As a recruiter, I am responsible for headhunting candidates for our clients. They reach out to us when they have a need, provide us with the specifics qualifications and personality characteristics they are looking for, and I find candidates for the job. I use a variety of sources, including job boards, LinkedIn, and referrals. From there, I coach, counsel, and prepare candidates throughout the interview process.
What is a typical work day like for you?
So far, there has yet to be a typical day, which is what makes the role fun! Typically I spend some time in the morning cleaning out my inbox and responding to messages from overnight. Most days our office has a quick morning meeting to discuss our plans for the day and make sure we are all on the same page. Then I spend most of my day on the phone — looking for new candidates, prepping candidates for interviews, delivering offers, etc.
What is your favorite thing about working at Search Solution Group? What has been your favorite moment so far?
I love the people at Search Solution Group. They have really become my family over the past eighteen months, and I am so fortunate to work with them each day.
It’s hard to pick just one! We do a lot of celebrating — birthdays, “workiversaries,” successful days — so the celebrations may be my favorite part of SSG!
What is your favorite thing about working in recruiting?
I really enjoy connecting with people in various positions, at all levels, across the country. I’ve spoken with people who I would not have ordinarily been in contact with, and I am so fortunate for all the connections I have been able to make.
You previously worked for Teach for America. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience and what you learned?
I could write a novel on all that I learned from doing Teach For America. I taught high school math (Algebra I and Algebra II) in Charlotte. It was definitely the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Having attended private school, the experience opened my eyes to a world beyond the one I had always known. I saw first hand the disparity in the education system and developed a passionate for instilling change in students’ lives.
It’s very difficult to be accepted to Teach for America; what advice do you have for people who want to work there?
Be yourself. It is a competitive process, but if you are truly passionate about joining the educational movement, that will show in the application process. I also recommend connecting with a current corps members and spending a full day in their classroom before accepting.
In addition to Search Solution Group you also created a college advising program for your students from TFA. Could you please tell me a little bit about your program and the most rewarding moment so far?
I developed the program for six of my former students. We spent one year reviewing educational information on the application process (financial aid, public vs private, campus size, writing workshops, etc.) and then spent the second year providing one on one counseling during the application process and touring college campuses. This past fall, I took one student on a trip to tour Harvard, Brown, and Yale. Each moment of that experience made every night of late essay editing worth it.
You have a full time job, your college advising program, and the lifestyle blog Ellie Paige & Henry. Do you have any tips for time management?
Schedule. I schedule every moment of my day from my 5:30 A.M. runs to which TV show I want to watch that night. It can be daunting to some, but I love it. Those few days where I simply come home at the end of the day, I don’t know what to do with myself.
What tips do you have for someone who wants to start a blog?
Just do it. I pondered the idea for much longer than I should have. I love blogging and have had the opportunity to connect with so many people. I think sometimes people struggle with being themselves when starting a blog and try to emulate what they see in other blogs. It’s important to remain authentic to yourself. Be yourself and the following will organically grow.
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out your career?
It’s okay to fail. It may sound cliche, but I was too afraid to fail and let too many opportunities pass me by. While you’re starting your career, it’s okay to have a few hiccups.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I have no idea. These next five years will be the most intriguing because I feel like for the first time the road maps start to look differently than my peers. Some of my friends are married. Some have babies. Some are in grad school. Some live in Europe. For the first time, we are all at different stages and it’s a beautiful yet daunting thing. I wish I had an idea of where I wanted to be in five years, but I honestly have no idea.
What advice would you give to someone who is in the first five years of their career?
Don’t underestimate the value in connections. Take the time to build professional relationships and learn from your mentors. I felt like I had to do everything on my own and did not utilize those who had already been successful around me enough.
How would you define your professional style? What are a few staples?
I like to think of my professional style as classic yet comfortable. Fortunately, I work in a laid-back work environment where I don’t have to dress up every day. My entire closet is navy, so I have a few staples that include a navy dress, navy skirts, and navy tops. I also believe in investing in a few good pair of shoes. I have a pair of nude pumps, black patent heels, and navy flats that are necessary to my wardrobe.
Where do you turn for inspiration?
The Everygirl. Whether is a career profile, financial advice, style tips, or planning a trip, The Everygirl has everything that I need.
Who is your mentor?
I’m not sure if I have a specific mentor. Professionally, I turn to my mom for a lot of advice since has more experience in the industry. I’ve also learned a lot from Carly, The College Prepster, who has assisted me with starting my blog. In terms of admiration, I really look up to Tory Burch and how she established a brand while staying authentic to herself.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
You don’t get unless you ask. I’ve always been taught to ask for exactly what I wanted and because of that, I am able to articulate myself really well.
What is a fun fact about you?
I once ran two miles of a 5k cross country race with a broken leg.
What advice do you have for other young professional women?
Be yourself. At this time in our life, it’s so easy to compare yourself to other young women and feel inadequate. You are on your own path at your own pace. Be happy with your experience, and if you aren’t happy, make a change.
What is your favorite quote?
It changes regularly, but right now it’s: “Be a fountain, not a drain.”
Thank you, Danielle!