Today’s my birthday so I guess I’m feeling a little sentimental. I’ve been feeling it all week. The last few weeks, even. Thinking back on change, the evolution of my life. How I ended up hanging out in this industry for 10 years and starting a company. How that company is evolving to go back to my marketing roots… more on that after the sentimental stuff.
I was recruited into HR Tech in 2008. I was about a year out of college and working in for-profit education. My office was a strip mall tutoring center in McLean Virginia. It looked exactly like you’re picturing it. We shared our strip with a restaurant, a craft shop and a few other rotating store fronts. I always wanted to be a teacher but I wanted to make money, too, so this was my shot. I would sell reading packages and learn marketing running my own office.
It sucked. I worked a weird mid-day shift, made terrible money and had to balance running a business with giving kids attention. That’s a weird combo of priorities.That Tuesday – Saturday work week wasn’t great either. But I wanted to work and “use my degree” so I was taking that job.
Thankfully, it was more than a job. It was how I met Clint Heiden. He fundamentally changed my path. I was teaching his daughter to read and he came in for a sales chat. I was selling the next phase in her program. I went through my schtick. Then he says the words that changed my life.
“I like you. I don’t know what you’re going to do, but you have to work for me.”
VisualCV was basically a better looking LinkedIn – we just missed the networking component. I still kick myself for that one. I was really lucky to work with a brilliant team there. A woman with old school Silicon Valley marketing brilliance. A PR OG who knew everyone. A talented designer. Brilliant dev teams. I was brought into the marketing team because one of our venture capitalists was wandering the office asking who had the most Facebook friends. I won so I became the social media person. It was really that simple on our team. If you had the chops, you could try the work. You could fail.
We did fail.
I was laid off with no job in 2009. Bubble bust indeed. Thankfully, my lease was also up. I remember opening my laptop in the middle of so many boxes. I had no idea where I was taking those boxes at the time. So, as a true army brat would, I told myself I’d move wherever the work was. I opened Monster.com and typed “social media.”
Fast forward 2 months and I’m working at Monster.com. Irony. Boston won that Monster search, by the way. I was one of their first social media hires. A social media ninja (and yes, I have a business card to prove it.) Cringe as you may, this was when we didn’t know any better. Huge opportunities came with that job. I ran a social media campaign during a Super Bowl Ad. Did a partnership with the NFL and Alicia Keys. From there, more full spectrum marketing – direct mail, TV, eMail, inbound content, webinars, employer brand content. You name it, I’ve tried all of it. Looking at my resume, I know people have to be confused.
I’ve been extremely lucky to have one trend across all of these jobs – I’ve always worked with incredibly smart people. People who would test me and push me to learn to not just do what you should, but do what works. To do better. To pivot. Thankfully, those lessons never go away, no matter how annoying and hard they were to learn. If falling down and failing came with degrees, I’d have a few.
In the last few months, I’ve missed those marketing challenges and working with really smart entrepreneurs.
Which got me thinking. I do run my own business after all.
And that’s why we’re going to start working with HR technology vendors to offer marketing strategy.
But here’s the deal on services. We won’t be offering the “one size fits all” project. There’s no “package” to buy. Because we are going to start with listening, every project is part of a custom recommendation that outlines the best way to reach your audience. Not just any way to reach them.
It’s more like an outsourced marketing team than your typical “agency model.” Because we/I care about outcomes, not just paychecks.
Plus, there’s no better day than your birthday to make a commitment to the next step and take on the next evolution of your life.
Katrina (Kat) Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive, unbiased job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.