Jacqueline (Jackie) Bozorgi has been surrounded by the recruitment industry her entire life, having established Executive Trackers ten years ago at the young age of twenty-two and reviving an idea once constructed by her parents. She focuses on a pay-for-results method that has been utilized by many different industries for thousands of years, including ancient Chinese medicine where doctors were paid to keep their patients healthy instead of only receiving money when they were ill. She is currently seeking ways to help revolutionize the traditionally painful aspects of the job search and recruitment process, in a world where things become more automated and the human element is slowly removed. Read our interview with the lovely Jacqueline below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I grew up shadowing my Mother, who had been in recruitment since I was a young child. Back then, she received resumes manually in her mailbox and I helped her file them into cabinets. I made my first business call at age twelve. I observed her place individuals in a variety of different industries, which provided insight for how different occupations work for different customer demographics. I learned that working smarter was more important than working harder, and the importance of focusing on quality. I also found that nothing was more important for the client, candidate and recruiter than saving time. It is one of the few things you can’t directly buy. I created processes that improved efficiency for her, which indirectly helped with this. I also realized that while Human Resources seems like a dull industry, it provides an exciting and valuable look into multiple capacities and how businesses are conducted differently. For entrepreneurship purposes, not only is it significant that I now know how to hire properly, I know how different organizations in several industries are run and interact with each other in order to thrive.
Tell us about your business.
We find people for our clients, companies that are hiring, utilizing a pay-for-results model which doesn’t charge the employer unless we find someone who is perfect for the job. We are able to continue this because we are good at recognizing matches, and it incentivizes the process beyond just the fulfillment aspects – although there is nothing better than hearing from someone how much they love their new job, or from our client how much the employee has helped grow their business. When we contact people, we really believe in them and are not just going through the motions. We do focus on retention though, so our clients come back to us in the future and continue to work with us.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
I am executing a referral program which will be launched in a couple of weeks. When it is, the information will be found at http://executivetrackers.com/referrals. We have received fantastic referrals from our network in the past, and would like to offer them at least a small monetary value next time as an act of gratitude.
My biggest accomplishments are assisting my clients’ in the growth of their business through hunting down stellar candidates, and helping people find jobs that not only improve their salary amount or work situation but their quality of life overall. At sixteen, I made a bold move to head to the east coast and attend college and learned about the importance of making changes even when they are uncomfortable, and walk people every day through similar decisions that aren’t always easy to make. I consider that an accomplishment, since it changes the lives of those that I work with. I was always incentive driven and consider education an ongoing lifelong process that should never be abandoned especially throughout one’s career. I take online courses for ‘fun’ at times, and am TSC (Technical Staffing Certified) and CSP (a Certified Staffing Professional) by the American Staffing Association.
Where is your business based?
While we are based out of the Bay Area of California in Los Gatos, we work remotely for companies that range from start-ups, to very large businesses. Many companies that we have worked with are well established in other countries and seeking to grow their presence in North America. Working remotely allows us to keep our operating costs lower and put more money into the systems we obtain the best candidates from and helps us maintain the contingency model, which saves our client’s money in the long run for the search process. In the end, it is our clients who make the final decisions. While we conduct the initial phone screening and work with all parties throughout the process to salary negotiation, we believe it is our client who should be meeting with our candidates in person as it is their corporate culture that the employee will be working with on a day-to-day level.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
While I had put together many of the processes and was once again working independently for my Mother after entry level stints in Retail, Finance, and Market Research, it was when I met my then partner, Babak, who was into website design that we decided to launch. We originally established a DBA in 2006 in Los Angeles. We took the name ‘Executive Trackers’ that my Father, a Physicist in Aerospace, originally came up with twenty-five or so years ago for my Mother then launched for a short period of time. While she hadn’t held the name for many years, she raced us to the courthouse in an attempt to get it back first. We won the race, and she now operates independently as 1st Recruiter. The name is a sort of inside joke within the family, since she did start recruiting first. I wrote much of the the website content and taught Babak about many of my experiences and observations, and he handled the site design and analytics, teaching me about search engine optimization processes including utilizing keyword structures for content creation. We dabbled with a couple of other side businesses including a limousine and recruitment directory, but it became our main focus.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Honestly, since we are a small family owned firm, we have never hired much of a sales staff to help us launch aside from recruitment itself being very much a sales process. Clients have always come to us, through referrals or online resources. They often come back to us as well. We are never pushy and spend time screening out our customers to ensure that we are working for an organization we feel strongly about or are excited to represent to our top candidates… the true customers in our game.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Aside from constantly juggling a harmonic work-life balance, (I had to send an email from the hospital bed after my second c-section and don’t really get a break) it has been hands down, the recession and the fluctuating economy. Our industry is not as resilient as some when the economy is hurt and the job market begins to falter. During the ‘Great Recession’, many people fled the Staffing Industry and many firms collapsed. It was difficult to hear stories from people who lost their houses and jobs, and companies that were falling apart, also affecting by the dire circumstances. Some companies only wanted to hire people who were employed, which became fewer and fewer and it was like fishing for piranhas in an ocean of sharks.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I reduced my fee to help conform to the current market as well as cost of living. I spent a lot of time putting together materials that I later used for training, and writing marketing materials that eventually helped clients find us when the market picked up. I gave advice and wrote articles to help those that were unemployed become more employable. Many had what we call ‘Unemployed Syndrome’. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but sometimes when an individual remains unemployed for too long, it is difficult to get back into the job market and understand what companies are looking for. I did my best to help people bridge that gap.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
I studied economics and paid attention to the stock market a little on my free time, and learned that recessions are not only cyclical but they can be healthy and/or necessary for the economy. I spent more time preparing for the future as opposed to focusing on the present, and focused on attracting international clients that had the chance to expand in the US market since they were not necessarily effected at the same time, albeit it being a world economy. Many of our clients today have headquarters elsewhere, which I have found increases the excitement of the potential candidates I reach out to. Especially during the recession, branching out into operating with the world as opposed to just one country was – and still is – enticing.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
One word: Quality. We don’t accept every client and have a very specific set of criteria provided to us that the organizations we work with are looking for.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
You will always miss a shot that you don’t take. It was a very bold leap of faith that encouraged me to leave everything I knew at age sixteen to move across the country and attend college, and was not easy at that age. I work with candidate’s making similar moves on a daily basis whether it is in regards to location or the company. It isn’t always easy to make a change, but a well thought out change is almost something one never regrets.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to take risks, but be diligent and make sure they are well calculated. Don’t take advice too literally, because one size never fits all in business. If someone tells you to grow quickly and dive in head first but you prefer to take careful steps in the business there is less of a chance of a crash and burn. As someone who did not ever receive any sort of venture capital funding and has ‘bootstrapped’, growing my business slowly, it forced me to negotiate prices on vendors or systems I use and only utilize the absolute best and most necessary services or systems in order to keep costs down for my clients.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
Google has probably become my favorite resource. Many of the services are free including advice, cloud based document creation and organizing, analytics training, and of course search resources. Lowering costs with business expenditures are important to me, because it affects everyone in the long run, and I have found many systems within what many think of as just a search engine as not only an incredibly valuable resource but a near infinite one that sometimes trumps the paid options.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Facebook Page http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Executive-Trackers-LLC/104041826298812
Hashtags #womensupportingwomen #executivetrackers
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
That is a difficult question, because I am always reading articles on different subjects. I love to stay updated on the latest scientific news when I have time, but become incredibly annoyed when I notice my ad algorithm’s start to think I am a male (hence the types of ads) when I do so. Apparently algorithms can be biased too. While I certainly don’t agree with all of the very controversial ideas, I hold the old classic ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand as one of my favorite pieces of persuasive literature and feels it is well written and often misunderstood. For lighter reads, I am a Vonnegut fan and began reading crime thrillers such as Grisham’s works at the early age of nine. I don’t often have time to read these days, but it is probably my favorite thing to do when I am able to have a chance to get into a good book.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
While I often hire for more skilled roles for her clients, I prefer to work with candidates who may be a little more entry level or from a different industry when hiring for my own company in an effort to identify strong points in individuals not already set in their methodologies from another firm. I am always open to out-of-the-box business relationships, regardless of the industry or location and like to identify how the interaction may work from a more creative standpoint. Equity is always an option as growth becomes initiated, and empowering people especially in minority groups is something I feel is important not for the sake of forced equalization or altruism but rather producing better outcomes due to thought diversity.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
The staffing industry has been changing, and so has Executive Trackers. I am likely going to take some aspects of the business and start others entirely over. I have been considering bringing new partners on as my current partner has been contemplating new industries, but nothing is firm yet. Hiring someone with the intention of growth to a partner level is not out of question either. I am looking to revolutionize the recruitment industry to bring back some of the ‘old school’ empowerment that job seekers once had, as systems today in the industry become more automated. Abolishing hierarchies in the hiring process is something I feel may benefit the future of the staffing industry in the long run, and I have a few ideas of what I would like to do but nothing set in stone as of yet.