Kelly Van Aken, Director of Recruiting Technology and Contractor Experience, Aerotek
Years in staffing: 16
Fun fact: Like many leaders in the staffing industry, Kelly entered the staffing industry by chance. She connected with an Aerotek recruiter at job fair and was drawn to the business model and culture. Throughout the interview process, her passion to start recruiting only grew and she hasn’t looked back since!
I was fortunate to hear Kelly speak at CareerBuilder’s Empower event last year and her continued passion for recruiting was evident. After nearly two decades in the staffing industry at one of the biggest firms in the world, I was excited to get a glimpse at the industry through her lens and learn about the commitment she places on continual improvement. I’m even more grateful she took a few moments to share additional perspective here as part of today’s #womenINstaffing Wednesday spotlight.
Think back to May 2000 when you started as a recruiter at Aerotek. What do you know now that you wish you would have known then?
I always think about Sheryl Sandberg’s point about how women tend to wait to take on higher positions until they feel they are fully qualified for it, whereas men will often take new opportunities even if they don’t feel 100 percent qualified for them. I wish I could have told myself not to sit back and wait, that even if I didn’t feel 100 percent ready for a new role or challenge that it was okay for me to reach for it and learn/grow along the way. Over the years, I’ve learned to take that initiative and advocate for myself. I have a great support structure here at Aerotek that has enabled me to champion my abilities so I can take advantage of the developmental opportunities available to me.
What is one of your proudest career moments so far?
When my entire team reached a company-wide goal only achieved by top sales people and recruiters. That’s when I fully realized the more I focused on putting the careers and success of my team first, that my success would naturally follow. This was a great lesson that helped me develop as a leader. I could actively see the hard work and time I invested in my team paying off and how it was making me more successful in the long run. It’s very important to remember that when you are on a team, your people are integral to every accomplishment you achieve.
What keeps you excited about your role? The staffing industry?
I focus on the experience of our contract employees which has recently become a large operational focus for our company – to deliver on the needs and wants of our customers. We want to be the industry leader who sets the standard for how customers should be treated. Our recent recognition in the Best of Staffing Talent and Client Awards validates our commitment to providing a high level of service to all of our customers.
Are you an industry veteran that’s excited to share your lessons with the next generation of staffing leaders? Share your insights as part of this #womenINstaffing Wednesday series. Contact me to learn more.
Confused on the hashtag (#) in the title of this series? Let me know if you’d like to join a virtual roundtable with a few other female staffing execs to discuss the power of Twitter to build your personal brand.