Isn't it true that often times the best things come in small packages? So it is true with empires too. I recently had the opportunity to meet with a powerhouse entrepreneur who has built a massive employment staffing empire by keeping it small. You are about to meet Rosemary Farina. She's a tiny, unassuming, fashionista and she's the brains behind Signature Staffing Inc., a boutique agency based in historic Faneuil Hall in Boston. Her clients are some of the most prestigious companies in Boston and around the world. Now, fifteen years old, her business has survived market variations, economic downturns, and competition from firms much larger. What's her secret? Let's find out.
Here are 4 lessons to running a signature style business the Rosemary Farina way:
Read Between the Lines: Rose says that the number one skill that she and her employees demonstrate is an ability to read between the lines. She explains that it is her business to sort and sift through employment candidates for her corporate clients and what she's always looking for is what is NOT on the resume. Many of the huge employment agencies out there treat the hiring process as a numbers game. Rose says that it's anything but a numbers game. It's about matching up people and personalities as much as it's about finding someone with the skills for the job. Rose says that when you read between the lines on a resume, it raises important questions like: Does the applicant do volunteer work? Was their last career move lateral or for growth? Is there a career change pattern? Rose says, never assume that the resume is the whole story. It's just a small introduction to the real story.
Client Selection: What makes Signature Staffing Inc. so unique and special is that it has retained the boutique atmosphere. There are certainly many huge staffing agencies that go after every single corporate client but this is not the modus operandi of Signature Staffing. Every client of Signature Staffing is hand-picked and most are referred by other clients. It takes time to really understand a company, explains Rose. She elaborates that every company has a very unique culture and it is virtually impossible to hire the right candidates for that firm until you really dissect and understand that culture. Rose says that Signature Staffing will never take on more clients than they can handle because it would be a disservice to all of the other companies she works with. She says she owes it to each firm to really study their corporate identity, study their signature if you will, so that she can create a one of a kind hiring experience for each client.
I'd Rather Send Nobody: Rose and her team spend most of their time vetting employment candidates for corporate clients. She will never send an unqualified employment candidate to a client, even if it means she sends nobody for a week or two at a time. Most of the companies that work with Rose have been with her for years and they understand that she will not waste time. This goes back to the value proposition of her firm. They are not about churning employment candidates through the doors. The employers could do that on their own by sticking ads in every online employment search engine. Rose says it's the job of Signature Staffing to cull down the candidates to the few who demonstrate both the job qualifications and the qualities to fit the company culture. Sometimes the culling down process leaves the team with zero prospects, and Rose says she'd rather send nobody then send a bad match.
New Talent: Sometimes the best talent out there are the recent graduates. Rose says that this is why it's important to never just rely on a resume. Some of the resumes she sees have very little work history so the only way to learn about the candidate is to bring him or her in for an interview. She explains that there is a lot you can learn by sitting one on one with candidates like their disposition, philosophies, and work ethic. Signature Staffing Inc. has been matching employees and employers for 15 years and when a recent graduate reaches out to her to find out about employment opportunities, Rose says that it demonstrates to her that the person has got the drive and ambition that many of her employers are seeking. Rose says there's an abundance of new talent graduating every year and most of her corporate clients are open to working with them because they trust Rose and Signature Staffing all the way.
Rosemary Farina and Signature Staffing Inc. are proof positive that big empires sometimes come in small packages.