Welcome back to #WeAreGreenKey, where we shine a spotlight on our powerhouse recruiting team.  

This week, we sat down with Judy Holt, Partner at Green Key leading the Professional Services division in Rockville, Maryland. This July marks ten years since Judy first formed her team in Maryland. While the last decade has flown by, Judy has since maintained many faithful clients, taken on many new team members, and become an admired leader at Green Key.  

What is the benefit of being on the business development side at a firm like Green Key? 

We truly care about getting to know our clients and their culture. Clients notice how we take the time to understand their needs because if you don’t do that, it’s a lot harder to find the right people who have the chance to be there for the long haul. Understanding a client’s culture is also vital – we need to know about culture from both the client’s and candidate’s perspectives. This sort of cultural fit – are they laid back or more driven, more flexible or more structured, and so on – is really important in finding a long-term match.

Congrats on ten years in Rockville! How does it feel? 

It feels like we started this team yesterday. We opened the office in July 2013 with three of us, now we’re around eighteen team members. We are so proud to still have clients who have been with us since the beginning. Even when individuals move on for their next opportunity, they take us with them because they know we care, and that we will always strive to match our clients with the best available candidates to meet their needs and budgets.

Of course, this is only possible because of the very tight team we’ve built. We have built a very supportive culture with an open-door policy where we help each other learn, overcome challenges, and develop new relationships with new companies and candidates. This commitment to motivating and supporting each other is essential to our success, and to creating and maintaining our team culture.

Are there any trends you’ve been noticing recently in Professional Services? 

Hiring has started off a little quieter compared to 2022, but there is still an ongoing talent shortage. Work-life balance continues to be important to workers across all industries, and the demand for remote and hybrid work remains strong. We are seeing a lot of companies either reevaluating their budgets or being more conservative due to over-hiring during the pandemic. Equity has also come into question this year because of aggressive competition for the best candidates over the past couple of years.

Candidates are more nervous this year to make moves or changes due to uncertainty about the economy and worry about job security in pursuing new positions. It’s not just about the position and the compensation anymore – while those remain important, candidates want to know where a company is headed, and what is their strategy to achieve both growth and stability. Part of our job is to educate candidates about a client’s strategy and stability and to share relevant industry information to put the client in a broader context.

We’re also learning that we really need to tell a candidate’s story. Companies like seeing tenured candidates and people who have long track records in their fields. But the pandemic prompted layoffs, relocations, and illnesses, and some highly qualified candidates had to take time to care for children stuck at home or loved ones experiencing illness. We must be able to explain gaps in resumes in constructive ways and tell each person’s unique story. We must also teach some companies to look differently at employment gaps than they may have in the past; it is far more common for qualified professionals to have unusual career journeys and varied sets of experiences than was once considered the norm.

Are there any challenges you’re seeing your clients go through this year? 

As has always been the case, the number one challenge is retaining the best talent. But now, employees may look to make a move for greater flexibility with remote work, more comprehensive benefits, and increased PTO. Basically, improving quality of life is now as important as higher pay. Most candidates want to work remotely even while seeking more compensation – and there are some positions that allow for that. But we regularly educate candidates about the way the market is shifting to more hybrid work and even returning to full-time, on-site positions in some industries.

Candidates who want to build careers in certain industries may need to rethink their ideal of a full-time remote position if the industry, company, or position they desire does not offer this. Part of what we do at Green Key is help clients and candidates meet each other halfway and find the right balance between what is good for both the company and the individual.

How does your team maintain culture and connection?  

We have an amazing team – I know lots of people say that, but it’s really true for Green Key Rockville! We hold regular team calls, weekly lunch & learns, virtual games, and team events in the evening or on weekends, including some with our families. Our industry is very demanding and is definitely not a 9-to-5 job, so creating a supportive culture has been a huge part of building our incredibly successful team. Our success is measured in more than the bottom line, however.

First, of course, it’s our shared standard of excellent client service – we all celebrate every placement because it is incredibly impactful to connect companies with great people and to help those people find meaningful work. Second, and perhaps more surprising, are the deep personal relationships we have built both within the team and with many clients over the years. We have shared many personal life milestones, as well as supporting each other through losses and challenges. We nurture a culture of caring for each other, and that leads to a culture of caring for our clients and candidates too.

This is the biggest reason why I am confident and optimistic about the future. Because I know that through the natural ups and downs and up again of our business, the quality of our relationships – with clients, candidates, and each other – gives us a strength that exceeds anywhere I have worked in my more than thirty years in this business!

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