Q & A with NANA Employees

A Conversation with Jennifer Paul, Senior Director of Recruiting for NANA Development Corporation

This is part of a series of interviews to learn more about our diverse employees throughout the NANA family.

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Jennifer Paul, known as JP, is the senior director of recruiting. She believes there’s a job for everyone. That is, if they’re willing to do their part. Photo by Craig Billingsley.

 

Where are you from?

I was born in Anchorage and grew up in Peters Creek, north of here off the Old Glenn Highway. My kid sister and brother and I played outside all the time, in all kinds of weather—exploring, building forts, riding bikes, home run derby (batting), and sledding.

Now, I’m not much of a winter person. I’m more into glamping in our RV.

What was your first job?       

One of my first jobs was at TCBY in Eagle River.

TCBY?

“Can’t believe it’s yogurt”—or something like that. [laughing]

“The country’s best yogurt.” I just googled it.

It was a happening place, before the other fast food joints and retail shops opened up. I was a cake decorator and waffle cone maker. I loved it, but I just loved working.

Once I was old enough, I was determined to work, often two jobs at a time. Before I was officially old enough to join the payroll, I worked for my dad.

For your dad?

I loved working for him. Dad’s the hardest working man I know. He came up to Alaska from Minnesota in the 70s with nothing, just his car and a handful of personal items. He came for the adventure, met my mom at Koot’s (Chilkoot Charlie’s, a popular hangout), and the rest is history.

In those early days, he worked a lot of odd jobs—sweeping parking lots, general labor, testing soil. Then he became a successful business owner. I worked in his shop and around the gravel pit. I learned a lot from him.

Did your dad inspire you?

Absolutely! He always said, you don’t have to be the smartest one in the room. You have to be likeable and hardworking. I would say, he’s the best example of a good work ethic.

That’s good advice. So, tell us about recruiting.

It’s like Match.com, but for careers. You need to know your client (the company and the hiring manager) and what they need. You put yourself in their shoes. It’s about finding the right fit, the best match. It’s rewarding, finding the top applicant and seeing them accept the job offer.

I tell my recruiters you don’t have to be the expert, but you have to be good at researching and validating the applicants’ expertise.  

Where did you go to school?

Chugiak High School. After that, I went to Central Washington University to get a business degree in administrative management with an emphasis on human resources.

I loved college, so many great memories. I loved that place in my life—a wonderful time to grow and explore and see what the world has to offer.

What was your first job in recruiting?

Right after graduation, I moved back to Alaska. I allowed myself one weekend to enjoy being a college graduate. Then I hit the agency circuit, introducing myself to Anchorage recruiting firms. I was hired as an entry-level employment counselor; I staffed day laborers and short-term clerical workers. I worked my way up to an account manager and then executive search. In my 11 years at that agency, I eventually managed both the Anchorage and Fairbanks offices.

In 2011, I took a year off before going back to work in HR/recruiting for an oil and gas logistics company. That’s where I was when I was recruited for a job at NMS.

You were on the flipside, the subject of a search.

When the timing was right, in 2014, I took the job at NMS. After the re-org a couple years ago, I became a NANA employee, on the commercial group’s HR team. We provide HR and recruiting support services to NANA companies: NMS, Tuuq Drilling, NDC, NRC, NANA Construction, and NANA WorleyParsons.

You’ve seen a lot of change.

When I started, there were only two of us on the recruiting team. Within a year, our department grew to six.

Four years ago, the economy was different. We averaged 180-200 hires per month. Now, we average 125 to 150 hires a month, receiving over 2,000 applications. We place janitors, CDL (commercial) drivers, engineers, executives, and everything in between. It takes all kinds of people to make the machine work. We’re full-service.

What do you like best about your job?

I’ve got a great team. It’s a cliché, but I believe you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. I’m very proud of the people I have working in recruiting. They always go above and beyond.

What other lessons have you learned?

There’s a job for everybody, but it might not be here. Maybe they need a recommendation or a referral. They need to be willing to do their part.

We have to be creative in our recruiting. We have to keep up with the times. This new generation might not respond to phone messages, but they’ll text right back.

Kids today. What advice do you have?

I have a list.

 

  • Keep your LinkedIn profile and your resume up-to-date. A resume is a sales pitch, a summary of who you are and what you have to offer an employer.
  • Write cover letters and, after the interview, send hand-written thank-you notes.
  • Keep in touch with your references; you never know when you’ll need them.
  • Network with people in and out of your profession and industry.
  • Find a way to stand out in the crowd, at any level.
  • Our workplaces are drug-free, even in those states that have legalized marijuana. If an offer is extended, the prospective employee still needs to pass a drug test. You choose, you lose.
  • Stay humble and kind.
  • Oh, and have fun with what you do for work.

Thanks, JP.

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Jennifer Paul was interviewed by Carol Richards, Director of Brand Communications for NANA Development Corporation.