Not Your Average CEO

Midtown staffing agency delivers strategic, one-on-one career counseling: a letter from a recent candidate

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Standing at the front desk with my resume in his hand, Sean - Office Manager - glanced behind me and into the other room. I was scheduled to meet with a recruiter about marketing opportunities.

“You know what? Ariel is here. Let’s see if she’ll meet with you.”

Smiling politely, I thought, Ariel? The CEO?

Somewhat over-prepared by nature, I’d done my homework beforehand. Ariel had been in the recruiting world for more than 20 years. Considerably younger than most CEOs today - and a woman, she broke out of the midtown mold with ease, having developed a strong network and a personable, boutique strategy.

A small moment passed, and I was sitting across from Ariel Schur, sole founder and CEO of ABS Staffing Solutions. We shook hands and exchanged names. A seemingly typical beginning to what was in no way a conventional interview.

She looked carefully at my resume  - double major, student athlete, congressional intern on The Hill, agency writer - and lifted her eyes to meet mine.

“What kind of music do you like?”

As a smile crept onto my face, I said, “Uh, lately, it’s Arcade Fire. But that answer changes all the time.”

Examining my resume once more, ostensibly to absorb my response in light of my professional experience, she smiled at me with fierce attentiveness that I had never, until that point, received during an interview.

Looking back, it seems more suitable to refer to it as a conversation rather than an interview. Ariel was asking about me. My interests, my hobbies, what brought me to New York, can I bark like a dog (a story for a later time, friends).

“Was it hard starting your own business in Manhattan?” I asked. “Before I moved here, everyone told me how hard it’d be because this city is so competitive.”

“Running a business comes with many challenges,” she said. “Every day, I’m pulled in 100 different directions. But I focus on myself, not on other agencies. I started this company because other recruiting firms weren’t in line with my objectives. They weren’t running things in the ways that I would have. They weren’t getting to know their candidates. They treated resumes like paper rather than people. So, essentially, I’m competing with myself, not with people whose business values don’t align with mine.”

By the end of her remarks, my eyes had drifted to the window. The midtown skyline, as is typical for me, shook my bones with a combination of fear and excitement.

“My slate is completely blank. I’m in the greatest city in the world with no prior commitments. What should I do?” I asked.

Again, she smiled. This time, with an idea.

Ariel ushered me into a role as a Lead Writer and Marketing Strategist. It wasn’t a product of chance or fate. It started with a conversation, where Ariel assessed my skill set and my career goals, and it ended with a strategic, careful match between me and a job I never could have imagined. Although my search is over for the time being, I still hold on to the words Ariel shared that day: Never compromise on your passions. Only compromise on things you can live with in the short and long term.

So take it from someone who - no matter where you’ve been - has been there, too. If you’re looking for an agency committed to every aspect of yourself, even the dare-to-dream bits, then look no further.