Meet Jeff Newman, Empathetic Eccentricity: Passion in Recruitment, Punjabi Cooking To History of Baltic Republics
Posted on January 21, 2009
Filed Under Interviews, Recruitingblogs.com | Comments Off on Meet Jeff Newman, Empathetic Eccentricity: Passion in Recruitment, Punjabi Cooking To History of Baltic Republics
We get hung up on more then we get to hear “AWESOME, I have been WAITING for someone to call me at work who I never heard of!”
“One of the ultimate relationship recruiters”
Authenticity. My friends, rarely has someone been so transparent in his quirks, been so effusive in his passion in our trade, and so in love with candy, wife and gaming … but within it all … a love for his fellow man. He identified the 9/11 perspective, one I share … a crisis which taught lessons. We found the inner core of what drives this business for not only successful people but also successful human beings. Jeff is one of those successful ‘human beings’ because he has been shaped, by circumstance, to view his own personal mortality. Even so … its also part of who Jeff truly is as a person to pull himself forward, look his client in the eyes, and be driven to know what he can do for his fellow man. He is the embodiment of the reality our friend Steve Levy often speaks of … the People skills 1.0 few people pay mind to, preferring a run from basics and onwards to all things 2.0 We know that without people skills 1.0 we have fads and gimmickry. In Jeff, we have someone who can count 1.0, 2.0 and so forth and having lived them before they were terms. A ‘people’ person in a people ‘industry’ – imagine that. Jeff reflects the conscience of Industry Leader, Don Ramer and his themes of bringing empathy, transparency and love to our passion for humanity and I am esteemed to have observed this in his own words. We have authenticity as a driving force in a veteran recruiter like Jeff, not for love of dollar alone, but for love of looking in his reflection and valuing what he represents. It matters to Jeff, it matters to me and it should matter to all of us. It isn’t a value that is fait accompli in this industry regretfully. I see talent in Jeff, his colleagues at the office do as well. but today my friends, it is important all of you see it as well which is why I take great pleasure in introducing a valued contributor to our community today.
Meet Our friend …. Jeff Newman.
Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.
Jeff: One of my strongest recruiting traits is that I really am not much of a game player. I am the same guy at home, as I am talking with a candidate, talking with a peer or making friends with someone in Human Resources. My essence, the core of Jeff Newman, is to take everything with a smile, good and bad, and remember that this too will pass. I do this at the office, at home and occasionally at the Gym (to know me is to hug me).
I am married 11 years as of January 18th. The key to my marriage is communication, being friends first, and nodding, leaning forward, and looking right in her eyes while saying “I agree”. It is kind of cool that that works in Sales relationships too, eh? Senda is my wife’s name and she is an MSW/CSW who specializes in HIV/AIDS. She works as a Senior Social Worker for St. Mary’s in Harlem http://www.stmarysharlem.com/jsp/. I figure that her good work might make up for some of the things I’ve done while, what’s the word the hardcore ethicists use now, “rusing”? When I started, we called it Pirating…kinda like the folks in Somalia but without the heavy weaponry.
Most important in my home life is the fact that Senda knows that recruiting often has lot more failure then success. We get hung up on more then we get to hear “AWESOME, I have been WAITING for someone to call me at work who I never heard of!” I had a boss once say to me that this is a Business of Failure. What do you call a baseball player who only succeeds three times out of ten? Very rich.
The trick is to try and take that home as little as possible. At least in NYC, non-corporate side recruiters (especially in IT) are looked at better than muggers but still worse than building contractors, in terms of social status. You can’t behave like that or you will start to believe you are that. Most of all, you cannot take the fact that out of 75 calls you made that day, 70 amounted to nothing. You take home the 5 that were successful and leave the negative ones in the office.
I also am the pet human of 2 of the coolest cats in the world. Cleo has had Senda and I for 11 years, she is all black and she has had us since she was still taking milk in the bottle. She likes to lie in our bed and she sleeps with us every night. Goofy, our tabby, is about 2 years old and he is chock full of energy. Senda taught him how to play fetch with toy mice and he can do this for hours on end. He and Cleo are not the best of friends, however.
Six Degrees: Tell us about the after-hours version of Jeff Newman
Jeff: As anyone who has spent more then 10 minutes with me will tell you, I am quite unusual. If I was richer, they’d call me eccentric and I’d be on the front page of the NY Post. I feel that you can never have enough knowledge, learn enough things, and or try enough new things. I try to keep my span of knowledge broad, even if just to use as tidbits when forming a relationship. I genuinely am interested in everything from Punjabi cooking to the history of the Baltic republics.
One thing unusual in our house is that we don’t own a television. We watch DVDs through the PC and all the major networks post their shows through their websites so we don’t miss much. At then end of the day, I think we only watch Lost, Fringe and 30 Rock, anyway. We watched the Presidential Debates streamed live through MSNBC.com and Meet the Press on the treadmill at the Gym.
With the rest of the time, we talk, we read and we go out with friends. We’ll play board or card games together and PC Games alone. My wife is an Everquest addict, she has been playing since 1999. In fact, I’ll often call her by her EQ name. I’ll pick up a new PC game every so often, from Spore (which stunk) to anything by Paradox Entertainment.
Senda and I are also big Science Fiction fans, especially with Star Wars, but not limited to that. We go to I-Con every year and other Sci-Fi conventions when they hit NYC. As a Technical Recruiter, I have often made great connections through this world. Between us, I’d still be involved even if I was hunting for Admins. If that wasn’t enough, I am also a StumbleUpon fan. If you are unfamiliar with that, check out the site. Make sure you have a good block of free time and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
One more thing that I think really is important to understanding me is that I have Multiple Sclerosis. Go figure: I survived 9/11 yet was diagnosed shortly thereafter with MS. Nothing gives you greater focus and better understanding of whom you are that having a challenge of that nature. I usually don’t mention it, or make a big deal about it but in terms of recruiting it has been very helpful. I can empathize and understand much better the unique challenges that everyone faces, even if I have never walked in those shoes. And it really does make for great stories.
Every candidate has different and unique needs and helping them get through often means the difference between a placement and a turn down.
Six Degrees: How many years as a recruiter?
Jeff: I have been an Staffing Firm side recruiter for 10+ years. I have always done technical/IT staffing, through the good and bad times. I have never hesitated to place a different skill set if that was what the client wanted from me however. In recruiting you can specialize but you should never limit yourself.
Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?
Jeff: Ahh, I wish I could say I was embarrassed to admit it, but, another thing that people who know me will tell you is that Newman doesn’t really get embarrassed much. I graduated Columbia University http://www.columbia.edu/ in May 1998. I was married for 6 months and had spent the majority of my college career enjoying myself as opposed to studying. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up but I knew I needed a job. I sent out 200 plus resumes.
A Technical Recruiting firm, Recruit Dynamics, had called me in because I had JAVA on my resume. I had JAVA there, because I was pumping that resume as much as I could, and once I had read a book on JAVA. They had a 6 month contract in Rochester, Minnesota for an entry level programmer. I replied that I really wasn’t a developer I had applied for the recruiter role. You know, the one with no experience needed.
The lady who brought me in came out and said the boss would meet with me, but not until lunch. It was about 8:30 AM at the time… I said no worries and was it OK if I waited here. I waited 6+ hours, to finally interview with the President of the firm. After an hour or so, he said, “Jeff, you know nothing about recruiting, in fact you know nothing about business. I do like the persistence of someone who will wait hours for an interview. Let’s try it for 30 days and see what happens.”
The irony is what kept me in the office wasn’t truly persistence. It was the air-conditioning, free coffee and a bunch of magazines. I had no money and no place else I had to be. That’s why I stuck around. 10 years later. I think it was a good decision.
Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?
Jeff: For me, it was the Death of COBOL following Y2k. For the year leading up to Y2K, COBOL developers were naming their rates. People who had taken a class in COBOL in 1978 and had been driving a cab ever since, were getting high paying contracting gigs. Everyone needed COBOL/MAINFRAME experts, they were paying for them through the nose and you couldn’t find one not booked up to save your life. It was fun, the money was great, and I was very busy. Then came January 1st, 2000. The world didn’t end, the machines stayed A-OK and I had to fire 50+ contractors. Developers, who a year ago wouldn’t take your calls, were calling everyday. There was nothing we could do to help any of them.
This taught me two very important lessons. First, it said don’t focus your recruiting in one area or skill set. Diversity is the spice of life and to spread out as much as possible. The second thing it taught me was to keep your skills cutting edge or you could wake up one day and find yourself as obsolete as a Blacksmith after the invention of the personal automobile.
A close runner up is the .Com bubble. The lesson I learned there was do not take commission payments in stock. Speaking of which, if anyone is interested in shares of Flooz, I have PLENTY!
Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?
Jeff: I cannot name one specific person who I model myself on, but I have taken many different pieces from people over the years. The Big Boss at APS-Botal was a guy name Steve Sayetta. He had arranged for me to attend an 8 hour NYATS seminar. I complained as it was really focused on Admin recruiters and I only did IT. He said, “Newman, if you learn one thing, it will have been worth the time you spend.” I really believe that and have applied it to my recruiting career. I have worked with some amazing people over the years. TK Sheridan, Tom Sheridan and Paul Sheridan at E-Claro taught me the basics of the industry, from how to calculate a bill rate to the best way to close off a call without hurting someone’s feelings. Peter Elia, from APS-BOTAL (now Infinity Staffing), got me to better appreciate the importance of details. Peter is also one of the best relationship managers out there. He was also the best boss I ever had, because he had served “in the trenches” and knew what it was all about. Darren Greif, the IT Staffing Director from the Bachrach Group, is the best closer you have ever seen. He could see all the problems in a deal that would need to be gotten over before anyone else. As a manager, his policy of helping you to do better without interfering with what was working was amazing.
Lately, I have been introduced and begun working with Steve Levy. I had read his blog, seen his comments on recruitingblogs.com, his blog and ERE and then I got to meet him in person. At first I was a bit star struck. But then I got to work with him and I thought, “And I got all veklempt of this?” Kids may admire and want to emulate sports heroes and guitar wizards, but since I started reading their works, for me it has been guys like Glenn Gutmacher, Shally Steckerl and Steve. What I have learned from him has just been fantastic.
I try to learn as much from everyone I work with as I can get. Your talents can only get better through knowledge and practice. [I had other things to say about Steve but he knows where I live and work]
Six Degrees: Tell us about your day in the life at the office
Jeff: Well, right now I am with Genesis10. Genesis10 is one of the largest privately held business and IT staffing firms in the nation. The company was started in 1999, and has grown, on average, at a rate of 44%. One of the main reasons I chose to join Genesis10 is founder/CEO Harley Lippman. His bio really impressed me. Every company is a sailing ship and much can be told about how it will travel if you know her captain.
Personally, I am a senior recruiter on a team dedicated to supporting one client in midtown NYC. The client has an awe inspiring need for excellent developers, especially in C++/UNIX. The process is one of the most difficult hurdles I have ever seen candidates need to get through, including two technical screens, a code review and then a final interview. It does ensure that our client is only getting the crème de le crème of the industry.
This was the first time in about 6 years that I have ever been just recruiting, as opposed to a full desk. It is also the first time since the start of my career that I have been just supporting one client. With Genesis10’s depth of resources and it’s commitment to providing the best people, both technically and personality wise, I feel very comfortable in this role. It was an adjustment for a bit however.
Six Degrees: (A) What other companies’ recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?
Jeff: I am mainly acquainted with the firms in NYC. Our business, especially in IT, all seems to be 6 degrees of one another. I have heard buzz about many of the firms in our sphere, good and bad. Recruiters and sales people tend to gossip. Based on my second sentence in this paragraph, I will go with discretion being the better part of valor.
Six Degrees: What recent general news story or industry trend do you feel will have an impact on your work in the future? Why?
Jeff: The way you can wake up and have the market give you a surprise, I’d be uncomfortable guessing anything at this point. I don’t just think our industry will change, I think the United States is changing. I couldn’t even hazard a guess as to where we will be in a year. To quote myself from above, all you can do is “take everything with a smile, good and bad, and remember that this too will pass.”
Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?
Jeff: While at the Bachrach Group I helped to train a number of Junior recruiters. This was one of the most satisfying experiences of my career. It was a talent I didn’t know I had and I really enjoyed it. At some point, I’d really like to be able to that again. Past that, I’d like to retire at 50 but if you look at my 401k…. To get there, you just need to work hard and get lucky.