The Dream Chaser

Chasing Dreams

I was just as shocked as all of you. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I finally got mad enough to walk out of that comfy-corner-office-HR-Director job… with no notice.

Who does that?

Mad HR people. That’s who.

Eight years doing HR at a car dealership can wear a girl out, to the point of breaking. I totally broke. I couldn’t tell anyone else they were fired. I couldn’t do another investigation. I couldn’t look at another person and tell them our insurance didn’t cover this or that. And by-golly, I was sick to death of auditing our self-funded insurance plan to meet Healthcare Reform guidelines.

Being the sole HR practitioner meant I had worked on every family vacation we had every taken. I answered emails at 10pm on the smart phone, while lying in bed, just to keep afloat, and I got calls from employees who had this complaint or that around the clock. My marriage was in shambles. I was staring at divorce because I had become a work-a-holic, a people pleaser, and someone who could never say “no.”

I was quickly pushed to the point of no return in the form of an email from our CEO telling me he hires people for a reason and to just fix it. It wasn’t a nice email. I opened that email on a Tuesday morning, and I called my husband sobbing.

ME: I want to quit my job. Like, now. I have no other job. But I want to leave this instant. I just realized it’s this place. It’s this place that’s destroying us.

SHAUN: About time. Leave now. Don’t look back.

I had broken, and my husband saw it coming.

In hindsight, it wasn’t my classiest moment. There was this raw moment of having a nervous breakdown on my kitchen over what I had done, but now I know it had to be this way. I had to get that mad, or I never would

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have left. If I never would have left, I never would have said to myself, “I’ll just hide out and sell cars for a little bit.”

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If I hadn’t said, “I’ll just hide out and sell cars for a little bit,” I never would have come to this point.

I’m happy again.

LLC

I had spent eight years in HR at a large car dealership, being told by car salesmen, “Sales is really hard. You have to be driven to do this. Most people cannot do this.”

Well guess what? I can do this.

In six short months I have leveraged my personal and social media network—the one developed while working in HR, blogging, and speaking about recruiting at your conferences—into becoming the top Sales Consultant at the Thayer Chevrolet Toyota Scion.

I now have the confidence I need to follow a dream I’ve had for the past four years. On March 14, 2014, I officially became the owner of 424 Degrees, LLC.

I had continued to do some headhunting on the side for some friends, but a couple weeks ago, a giant job order came in to find Diesel Service Technicians for a large semi truck dealership. I almost turned down the request, but on second thought, I launched my agency.

Why wouldn’t I do this now? Everything I had done up until this point led me to my dream! I am so good at finding hard-to-find people! It’s what I know! It’s my favorite part of HR! And selling all of these cars has given me the confidence to know that selling this service won’t be an issue. As a matter of fact, I now have three big clients and I’ve had to bring on someone to help me fill these job orders.

When I was in Human Resources, headhunters and staffing agencies would come to me all the time. They wanted me to sign up for temp-to-hire or contract employment services. There was always some sort of extra dollar amount per hour I had to pay for the temps, and any headhunter who came through my door wanted a percentage of first years’ income. The other option was always to have them working as a contractor for my company.

First of all, who knows what someone is going to earn their first in any environment? You may give them a raise. Maybe they work on commissions or get a big year-end bonus. The percentage of income number is impossible to figure out.

And as for temp-to-hire positions… what the heck? All this does is force down what I’m willing to pay an hourly employee. You know, and I know, that’s how it works when you pay a temporary agency. I would pay this person $12.00 an hour. But since you want $3.00 an hour to have them on your payroll at the agency, I am now forced to pay them $9.00 an hour, and all I get is crappy candidates in return. The good candidates need to be making $12.00 an hour to start. You may be rolling your eyes right now, but you have done this. Admit it to yourself. You short change the candidate and the candidate pool.

Contract employees work in certain situations, but as a contractor for most companies, it gets a little hairy. Who is directing your work? Is this even legal from a wage and hour perspective? Maybe. Maybe not. It also sucks for the HR person, because you have to look at this person you love and tell them they can’t have your awesome benefits because they are contracted. “Talk to your agency. See what they can do for you.”

That’s all a little difficult for you and the candidate, right?

The agency is straight forward. We headhunt for you. If you hire our person, you get a 30-day-trial period, and then you pay us the FLAT FEE we agreed upon before we began seeking talent.

That’s it.

Ultimately, I’ve created the flat fee, 30-day-trial system because I know it is lacking in the world of recruiting. I feel like recruiters spend all of their time recruiting, but don’t really understand what is happening at the desk of the HR person. HR is YOUR CUSTOMER. Serve your customer better!

I understand the customer. I used to be that stressed out, overworked, HR gal.

This hasn’t been an easy two weeks. You’ll notice that my website looks just like a blog. That’s because I only know how to create blogs, and until these 30-day-trial periods pay out, I am the web designer.

Naming the agency was probably the hardest part. I was just going to name my agency “Meredith Soleau and Associates”… but that’s so lame. I asked Tim Sackett what he thought about “The Job Queen”… he thought that was hokey and possibly like something you’d find on the internet soliciting other things. So finally I decided to name is 424 Degrees, which is the temperature in which paper spontaneously combusts. You know, because my candidates are so hot they’ll light your hands on fire! Okay, maybe that’s cheesy, too. But I like it.

So far I am just over $2,000 in the hole from getting contracts made, setting up the LLC, and buying some hosting for my blog website. I can’t wait to start getting paid for my placements (which won’t happen for about 30 more days). So in the meantime, I continue to sell cars.

So that’s what I’ve been up to these past six months away from all of you Fistful of Talent’ers. I’ve got to tell you—it feels good to be back!

What do you think? Is it cool that I quit my job, found myself selling cars, and started an agency? Do you like the straight forwardness of how I’m getting paid? Or have I officially lost my marbles?

FOT Background Check

Meredith Soleau
Meredith Soleau was supposed to be a famous country singer, but her parents made her go to college and major in something “real.” She graduated with a B.S. in Business from the University of Toledo, and landed a gig as a Human Resources Director at a large car dealership in Ohio. After eight years of HR at a car dealership, she burned out, decided to sell cars herself, and has since launched her agency, where she specializes in finding blue-collar workers. Clearly she has plenty of stories. But the best stories are probably about Meredith, herself. Read them on her personal blog, meredithsoleau.com, where she holds nothing back. Follow Meredith on Twitter. Become her friend on Facebook. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

5 Comments

  1. Keri says:

    That is the most solid non-plan plan I have ever heard! And marbles are overrated anyhow.

    Reply
  2. This is *officially* cool! Congratulations from another envious reader!!

    Reply
  3. Erika says:

    I don’t know how I stumbled upon you but your the reason I became a fan of FOT. I have barely started my career and I find you to be such an inspiration! You have not lost your marbles! I think staying somewhere where you’re miserable just because its the safe thing to do should be considered “losing your marbles.” So I am personally excited to see you back and to hear that you have started your own agency!

    Reply
  4. Paul Hebert says:

    Ray Bradbury would argue that 424 number – his famous novel Farenheit 451 was titled after the autoignition tempurature paper as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fahrenheit_451

    I know it’s a range but…

    Reply

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