The local blog The YoPro Know sets out to share the stories of Upstate Young Professionals with the hope that everyone can benefit from their professional and personal stories.
Job: Founder, PlaceMeant LLC
Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Tell us a bit about yourself and give us some background.
I grew up in the Boston, Massachusetts area and went to high school up in New Hampshire at the boarding school, Phillips Exeter Academy. I played water polo there and went on to play at Cornell University, where I studied Industrial and Labor Relations with a minor in Near Eastern Studies. Thinking I would combine my language skills with some of the government courses I took, I thought I’d go into government. However, as I learned more about some of those job opportunities, I realized they weren’t for me.
Once I figured out this path wasn’t for me, I was back to square one. I had taken a course earlier in the year focused on HR, so I started applying for internships for the summer after my junior year. I heard back immediately from General Electric (GE) and after thinking it over, I decided to accept a co-op position for the following semester. After I took the internship, I found out they were sending me to Greenville, South Carolina, which I had never heard of before.
What was that first internship like?
When I moved here originally, I really liked what I was doing at work, but I didn’t see myself in this city past the internship. However, I started seeing a new side of Greenville once I met more interns and people my own age. I actually met my wife that first summer, who still works for GE in that program. The job was an overall great experience and I held a variety of roles in HR, making it a true generalist internship.
Overall, I made many connections and gained experience in this field. Unexpectantly, I went back to Cornell my senior year thinking I would be heading back down to the south after graduation. Unfortunately, they did not have any job openings at the time, so I took another position with Air Products in Allentown, Pennsylvania, with their Career Development Program. After being there around two and a half years, they sent me out to Phoenix, Arizona in December of 2015, where I would support 15 or so plants out there regularly. I traveled about three to four days almost every week, and I got to see so many new places, so it was a great role for me at the time. I was still dating Whitney at the time, who was still in Greenville, and I wanted to move closer to her. Knowing this, I found an opportunity as a plant HR manager at Benteler Group, an automotive supplier to BMW. There’s no denying that I didn’t know much about that role beforehand, but it was a true learning experience and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
At this point, you were on your third full-time position. Where did you see yourself going next?
I just couldn’t see myself at this company anymore for several reasons and I had been tossing some ideas in my head about starting my own recruiting company while I was working there. I already worked heavily in recruiting as an internal company recruiter, so what I really needed to do was change my perspective. When I was hiring for positions at Benteler, I thought clients worked too much to please me, the recruiter, as opposed to really getting to know their candidates for the job. Thus, I decided to do the latter with my own candidates and really get to know them. That’s how PlaceMeant started.
How did you go about forming your own LLC?
Fortunately, at this time, I had the financial flexibility to do this, so I formulated my plan the summer of 2018. I started with a business plan, came up with the design, name, and the whole works. I did not get as much traction as I anticipated right at the beginning, so I switched gears and focused on what I wanted to provide my clients, which was a model that is cost effective and one that shows them what I provide to them upfront. I didn’t want to refer anyone that I connected with just through LinkedIn once; I set out with the intent to refer people once I established a relationship with them. It is important to note that the candidates I work with in this company are young professionals, so everyone has around zero to 15 years work experience. When I developed PlaceMeant’s branding and its website, I wanted to give it a young and fun vibe. It’s not your typical recruiting feel because there’s no office, no corporate structure, and no quotas of jobs we are filling. By eliminating all of that overhead, I’m actually able to price myself very competitively.
What does your day-to-day look like?
Right now, I’m actively working with about 13 people, all at different levels. I want to keep it to about 15 to 20 max because I want to continue to provide that individualized attention. Additionally, not everyone necessarily is at the same level of urgency either.
So far, I have received a lot of good feedback. I think my candidates are refreshed by my business model because a lot of people around our age have very negative impressions of recruiters (i.e., spamming your inbox). Many recruiting firms have a sales force mentality, which is what I think is very broken about the industry. As a result, they are selling the job like it’s a commodity, but peoples’ careers are not meant to be played around with like that. I try to keep this in mind as I run my business.
What makes PlaceMeant different?
Based on my experience in the HR world, I know what employers are looking for. I know how you can stand out on a resume and a cover letter. If you’re a young professional, you’re naturally going to have that one strike against you compared to someone with years of experience. That’s always something hiring managers look at and you’re going to have to stand out despite that. That part is tough, but I’m here to help.
What have you learned about yourself from starting your own company?
I definitely have a different view on a lot of things. I’ve learned that the road isn’t easy. You have to put the time and effort into getting yourself out there and being persistent when hearing no. I think one of my big takeaways is that it’s not easy to find a job and it is not something that you necessarily have to do on your own. I think it’s worthwhile for any young professional to look at partnering with someone like me who can help you out with this because I am someone who’s in the same generation.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and what’s the worst?
Be cordial and nice to every everyone you encounter because they are worth your time. It’s very easy to get frustrated with someone, but you have to stay positive in this industry. As for the worst piece of advice, people in the HR world think that there’s some sort of playbook and you have to follow the rules. I’ve had people tell me to get specific certifications because they will push me farther along in my career, but there is not one recipe or formulaic way to do things.
You need to stay true to yourself when it comes to your career. I don’t let anyone dictate what resume experience and what kind of career achievements I will have. I know that I would not be where I am today if I had personally listened to everyone who told me what to do with my career. I viewed the first five years of my career as pretty successful, but I’m definitely taking a big pivot now and know it is because of the moves I have made in my career. Personally, I think it’s kind of fun not to play by the rules and carve your own path.
Any last comments?
One of the cool things my company is doing is working with a Charleston-based company to work on hiring analytics. In this study, the first thing I ask employers is whether they have ever had trouble hiring and retaining young professionals. I’m sure you can guess what their answer is! With my company, we strive to use predictive analytics on candidates to create a customer-facing model to determine who the best contacts are for the client and who matches that company culturally.
How can people use your services at PlaceMeant LLC?
You can go onto our site and register with one click, so it’s pretty easy. It takes two minutes to add some basic information, your resume, and that’s it. Initially, I’ll read your registration and then reach out to you. If it’s not a fit after that, I’ll be honest and forthright with you. Then, if there is a potential there and we may be able to work together, we’ll set up an in-person meeting and start to develop a real plan for your career search. That’s pretty much how it goes.
You can search PlaceMeant here: https://www.placemeantllc.com/.