My Juno Journey

My journey with Juno has not always been an easy one, but it has been lots of fun. Let’s start from the beginning….

When Juno was in its infancy, Mikal Harden and I got connected through Facebook. To give you some background, Mikal and I both grew up in small-town Kutztown and have known each other for many years. Mikal actually worked for my mom at a local golf course and we became friends when my mom had to reprimand her for being rude to a customer - but that’s a story for another day. Anyway, I was just about to graduate from college in beautiful Charlotte, NC and had made a comment on one of Mikal’s post that recruiting sounded fun. Next thing I knew, Mikal was messaging me about working at Juno. Being a desperate soon-to-be college graduate, I would’ve taken any job that came my way. So, Mikal and I get to talking about Juno and what it’s like to be a recruiter. At the time, it all sounded great to me – a salary, a 9-5 job, a stable life…so I told Mikal I was interested.

Before I really knew what was happening, I was phone screening with Vicki Sack and then doing a follow up Skype interview. The whole interview process was awkward - I had never really interviewed before except for the occasional restaurant job where I once had to sing the happy birthday song during an interview - but still Mikal and Vicki decided to give me a chance. Within weeks I had packed up my UHaul and longtime boyfriend and set on my way to the city of brotherly love. I graduated from college on May 21st and my first day at Juno was May 23rd.

When I started at Juno it was just the three of us in an incredibly small office space that was actually once the janitors closet that was demo’d into an office for us – I wish I was kidding. Vicki actually had to practically climb over her desk to get behind it. We had used, too-large-for-our-small-space, office furniture from a nearby by law office and no air conditioning. Keep in mind I started in May, so no air conditioning was really, really awful. In Charlotte, I was working as a bartender at a great local restaurant with all of my friends – staying out late every night and sleeping in every morning. I moved to Philadelphia to live the “American Dream” in a very small, very hot office with two women almost twice my age. To say my first week at Juno was a culture shock is an understatement. I had no idea what I had just gotten in to.

Mikal and Vicki had worked very hard to get Juno off the ground and didn’t want their hard work to go to waste, so they were pretty tough on me in the beginning – after all I was their first employee and I was representing their brand. I once left the office at 4:57 to catch a 5:12 train and got reprimanded for leaving before 5:00. If anyone reading this knows anything about recruiting, you probably know that it’s pretty tough getting started. It takes a while to build up your candidate pipeline and your book of business – you have to talk to hundreds of people a day and hope that some of them will remember your name. I was new to the area, didn’t know the companies in the Philadelphia area, I was new to the corporate world, and didn’t understand HR, so the learning curve was steep. But I was up for the challenge.

I was required to start cold-calling companies starting promptly at 8:30 am and could not stop until noon, then from 1-5 pm I had to call and interview candidates. Sourcing was to be done at home at night and resumes were to be printed and ready to call for the next day. I was also required to be out of the office one day a week to “canvas”.

If any of you know what canvassing is, you know it’s probably the.worst.thing.ever. Canvassing is when you sneak your way into office buildings, hope you don’t get caught, and try to drop off company information, or better yet, get an on the spot meeting with the hiring manager. It felt slimy and I was even occasionally asked to leave the office buildings before I was carried out.

Needless to say, I didn’t enjoy it. This wasn’t who I was. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t try to sell the Juno brand in a more genuine way. I’m friendly, why is this the way I have to get job orders? Why couldn’t I just build relationships by getting to know my clients on a deeper level – not just by begging for job orders? I started at Juno in 2012, so this was right after the big economic crash and there still weren’t many jobs out there, so the competition was steep – we had to operate this way. We were competing with every other staffing firm in Philadelphia, and beyond, so we thought we had to get creative with our sales techniques. Mikal and Vicki both previously came from other staffing firms and that was how they were taught to do sales, so why would it be any different at Juno?

It only took about 3 months of this before I quit for the first time. I went home every night and cried to Jake (my now husband). I didn’t understand why I was being forced to do these things – cold calling and canvassing. It just felt wrong to me – it felt gross. Luckily, when I told Mikal that I wanted to quit, she was understanding. She felt horrible – after all I had just packed up my whole life and moved it to Philadelphia for this job that I ended up hating. She felt responsible. However, I spent the whole night thinking everything over and I decided I wasn’t ready to give up yet. I was working too hard and finally starting to make some traction and I didn’t want to give up before my hard work paid off. I was just about to start getting commission and people were finally starting to remember me. So I stayed.

The next few months weren’t much better – I was still cold calling, still getting hung up on. But I had uprooted my and my boyfriends life and I wasn’t just going to give up. Finally, we hired another recruiter for the team and I finally felt like I wasn’t alone. Someone else understood what I was going through, and misery loves company, am i right?

After about a year at Juno, things started to get easier. We moved into a bigger office with real desks, air conditioning, windows…we got a real refrigerator, even a fooseball table to blow off some steam throughout the day, and we were starting to realize that we didn’t have to operate the same way that all the other staffing firms operated. We realized that hiring managers didn’t want to be cold-called all day – they just wanted to be treated like real people. So we tailored our approach to sales. Hiring managers and candidates liked us when we weren’t trying to sell to them all day long. Don’t get me wrong – we were always focused on relationships, but we stopped being so aggressive. We started focusing on fostering relationships and making life long friendships with our clients and candidates. We genuinely care – we want to find the right people for the right jobs and we want to improve lives. We aren’t focused on the money and it’s not about the fee. We are dedicated to finding the right fit – no matter what it takes. We want people to know that when they come to Juno to find talent or to find a job, that we have their best interests at heart. This was the type of company I could get behind. From that point on, something inside me clicked and my entire outlook about recruiting changed.

Don’t get me wrong - recruiting is still hard. I tried to quit a few more times, but Mikal and Vicki never gave up on me. You have to be incredibly resilient if you want to be a recruiter, but if you can stick it out, it’s so much fun. Every day is different and it is a rollercoaster of ups and downs, but if you are doing it with the right team and the right company, it will be an extremely rewarding career.

Juno has come a very long way in 6 years – we have since moved into a larger office with more games, have a staff of about 20 full-time recruiters, allow for a flexible work environment, have a ton of fun, and we all love coming to work every day. My Juno team is my family and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.

Tori Mitchell