Emily Costello, VP of Channel Relationships, Robert Half International
Years in Staffing: 19 years this June
Fun fact: Like many great leaders in staffing, Emily stumbled into staffing and has established herself as a Robert Half “lifer” since then. After starting her career in retail, she was intrigued by the emerging field of “IT” in the 1990s and wanted to get into this new space. After answering an ad (in the newspaper!) for Robert Half Consulting, which is now Robert Half Technology, she completed 11 interviews and didn’t get the job. However, she was offered what she considered a more exciting opportunity at the time. Although she didn’t immediately explore IT, she was asked to expand Robert Half’s OfficeTeam brand to Atlanta and eventually rolled out 5 offices in her first year and a half.
Since starting this blog, I continue to be impressed by the high caliber of women executives in staffing – and the support and network that exists between them. For example, Emily joined the women’s luncheon that ClearEdge hosted at SIA’s 2015 Executive Forum and forged a friendship with another industry leader that happened to be at her table (who I have also featured here)! Thank you to Kathy Greco for connecting us. I’m honored to share lessons from Emily’s successful career in staffing below.
What advice that you would give to your entry level self?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. When I started in staffing, I had an environment where it was safe to take risks. I was able to stumble and fall a few times to learn from my mistakes. These obstacles helped me discover the right process on a go forward basis. Now I look back on those times and it was a ton of fun. I should have enjoyed it more! When you’re in it, you think that you’re in the eye of the tornado. But really, it was a great moment – right place, right time with the right people. I think it’s a good reminder as you don’t always see how good you have it until you have tougher challenges and more time has passed.
Can you share one of the career moments that you’re most proud of?
I’ve been fortunate to have an entrepreneurial career within Robert Half which might be surprising to some considering the size of the organization. Our model and process works, and I’ve been able to approach some things differently within this proven approach. My current role was created out of necessity, but no one had the role before. I’ve been able to define it from the initial concept to then start implementing different best practices and findings. I’m also fortunate to work for and under individuals that have allowed this entrepreneurial approach throughout my career.
What keeps you excited about the staffing industry?
The ability to reinvent yourself time and time again as the market and landscape continues to evolve. This industry changes constantly. Half the acronyms we work with everyday didn’t exist when I started in this space – we were just dialing for dollars and trying to get candidates to work. This evolution keeps me engaged. You can’t ever say “I got this” as there is something new on the way, whether that be technology or embracing the millennial generation both internally and externally.
What does it take to be a great leader in this space?
There are many things which triggers thoughts of the folks that I’ve worked for over the years. One aspect is someone that promotes and allows for you to be creative, is willing to listen to ideas and allow for application of those ideas. Another skill is being very good at developing relationships and retaining those relationships. It’s still a relationship business internally and externally. There are so many obstacles that can hinder the ability to develop a relationship these days which makes a focus on building mutually beneficial relationships more critical.
What do you envision for yourself next in your career?
This is a tough question! I don’t have it defined which is what keeps it exciting for me. I like to think that the next opportunity isn’t even in my vision right now. The fun is the discovery of it. What I could be doing next might not be defined yet. I’m not title motivated – I’m more motivated by other aspects of my career. But I think my next role will be something cutting-edge and exciting, on the forefront of what’s going on in our industry.
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.