Street Level Influencer: Get to Know Kristy Freewalt
“A recruiter should be viewed as a business partner, someone who is critical to the success of the business.” – Mathew Caldwell
In a recent blog post, I wrote about the power of the Street Level Influencer. I argue that some of the most impactful people in our lives are right in front of us! We just need to remember to tap into those around us for their wisdom and influence.
So, I wanted to put the spotlight on some HR pros in my network who have provided me with life giving energy recently! My next few blog posts will be a series where I get to share stories of some amazing individuals that you should connect with!
I continue this series by introducing you to Kristy Freewalt. I first met Kristy a while back as I was exploring the possibility of making a career transition. She reached out to me and had me come in for a sit down. It my first time sitting with a recruiter, and she couldn’t have made the “interview” more comfortable! She is so warm and accommodating. I felt very good in her sphere of influence!
Kristy is an awesome recruiter! She truly cares about the people she works with. She wants to find candidates the best possible match. Some recruiters just want to place bodies, regardless of fit or match. This isn’t necessarily wrong, but this isn’t Kristy’s philosophy. She wants to place people in positions that make them happy and best fit with the organization for future success. That’s so admirable to me. In the end, she didn’t end up placing me, but I found a friend in the process. To me, that’s more important.
I asked Kristy some questions, and this is what she had to say!
Where do you currently work and what is your role?
I currently work at Ajilon. I am an Executive Recruiter for Human Resource and Office Mid- to Executive level roles.
What do you like about HR that keeps you in the profession?
I began my career in mental health because I wanted to help improve the lives of others. Immediately after college, I began working for DuPage County Health Department (suburbs of Chicago) as a caseworker for severely mentally ill adults. I would help my clients get the benefits they desperately needed (Medicaid, Social Security Disability, food pantry assistance, temporary housing etc). I eventually realized that the parts of my job that felt more like HR work, were the aspects that I enjoyed the most. Other areas of my role became stressful and at times dangerous. I chose to leave that field after a long maternity leave and transition to HR. After graduating from Northwestern in their HR program, I began interviewing potential undergrads for the Alumni Admissions Counsel. I absolutely loved it! I still do that part time and have transitioned to full time Executive Recruiting. I love working for Ajilon because they covet the long- term relationship with our candidates and clients. I’m thankful because I still feel like I can improve the lives of others but in a different way. It is extremely rewarding to help someone find a great new opportunity, leave a toxic job, or to help an HR department to find the perfect fit for their team so they aren’t as over worked or overstressed! My job is different every single day and every single day I get the opportunity to meet great people!
What was your biggest HR success? Why was it important to you?
My biggest HR success happened when I wasn’t technically in HR. While working for DuPage County, I had a client who was just 20 years old. He had recently gotten kicked out of a Division 1 school where he played a sport on scholarship. He had began having severe symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia and had been hospitalized. His parents were devastated and had no idea how to care for him after he left the hospital. He came to live at the group home that I managed at the time. I advocated for his care and linked him to the services he needed to regain his independence. We had to teach him how to navigate life as an adult with his mental illness. He was eventually able to return to college and has a successful career in finance. We touch base from time to time and he has thanked me for not giving up on him.
What was your greatest HR failure? What did it teach you?
My biggest failure in HR is anytime I am not successful in effectively representing my candidates to hiring managers. If there is something on their resume that may be a turnoff to potential employers such as too much movement between jobs, a big gap in employment, career changes etc. I need to advocate for my candidate and help the hiring manager see past that. I feel that resumes in general are so ineffective in portraying an individual’s potential. I know that some of my candidates would be such an asset to a company if they were just given a chance to meet them in person. As a society we are taught to not judge a book by its cover but making a 30 second decision to dismiss a person based on a 1- page piece of paper in my opinion is an even bigger injustice. I know that after a 16- year maternity leave, I didn’t look that great on paper either. I am grateful that someone took a chance on me. I feel like I fail every time I don’t earn that opportunity for my candidates.
Who’s one person in your network that readers should know about?
Someone in the HR world that I want everyone to know about is one of the candidates that I was thinking of when I wrote the answer to the previous question. Donna Eliades is a dedicated HR leader that spent over 12 years at one company and built the HR department from the ground up. She then moved to a smaller company and built another HR dept from scratch. After the structure of the dept was built, she felt that the company was so small, they didn’t truly need an HR person. She loves to work hard and a work a lot! She was recruited out of that company to a fast-paced role that she was looking for. At that time, she realized it was a toxic work environment and eventually left the company. I now present her resume for roles and hiring managers say “she’s too jumpy.” I feel that is absurd considering she spent 12+ years with one employer and had some bad luck after that. They just see the last two moves and make a split- second judgement on her despite the fact that she has excellent references, a successful established career and a phenomenal work ethic. So, if anyone out there in the HR world would like to meet Donna, let me know. 😊
How can people contact you?
I am always available to connect! I love talking and meeting anyone in the HR world and welcome a call/email/linked- in message, Anything! My LinkedIn profile is https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristy-freewalt-ba4794154/. Reach out and connect!