From AmeriCorps to Talent Acquisition Partner: How My Openness to Learning Led Me to My Dream Job

Sponsored by UKG

Haylee H.

Photo courtesy of UKG.

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April 17, 2024 at 10:35PM UTC

“Sometimes it takes turning left to realize you should have gone right,” shares Haylee H., a talent acquisition partner at UKG, a company that provides HR, payroll, and workforce management solutions. You shouldn’t feel limited by your previous professional experiences when looking to the future, she adds. Instead, be open to continuing to learn and have the courage to try new things and find out what you really want. 

While Haylee admits to taking many “left-turn detours” in her own career, she’s managed to learn something new at each stage. Her journey started when she was a sophomore in college. At that time, she was working as a cashier, when her mom was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. As a result, Haylee decided to drop out of school and move back home to be with mom. During that time, she accepted a role as an HR Clerk, where she began recruiting, hiring, and onboarding candidates.

Later, as her mom improved, Haylee took another career pivot and joined AmeriCorps, where she spent three years “finding myself by losing myself in service.” During that time, Haylee worked alongside the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help families recover from disasters, built homes with Habitat for Humanity, and served as a team leader to foster the development of other AmeriCorps members. 

After she finished her third year with AmeriCorps, she used the education stipend and returned to school to pursue a B.S. in Criminal Justice. Upon graduation, Haylee decided to take her career in her own hands. “After meeting with a career coach, reviewing my experience, and discussing my passions,” she says, “it didn’t take me long to realize that my purpose has always been people.

Finding your purpose is key to getting on the correct career path that’s right for you. And, for Haylee, UKG — with its tagline of “Our purpose is people” — was the right turn for her. Using her past customer service experience, Haylee applied for and got a role as a Customer Service Specialist at the company.

However, this isn’t the end of her journey. “During the interview process, my recruiter was so encouraging, supportive, informative, and helpful — I knew right then that I wanted a role like hers, and that talent and recruiting was the path for me,” states Haylee. 

And, thanks to her hard work, her encouraging manager, and a company culture of kindness and support, Haylee achieved her goal of starting a career in talent and recruiting. “All the skills and growth I obtained ultimately helped me reach my true destination,” she says. To learn more about how Haylee made this leap, and her best advice for your own journey, keep reading!

How did you make your career switch, and how did UKG support you in this process?

The UKG culture is one of unity, kindness, and growth. Because of this, I felt completely comfortable discussing my career change with my manager and asking her for help. She was overwhelmingly supportive and immediately worked with me to create a plan on how I could get from my current job to my dream career. She began searching for peers in Talent/HR that I could meet, shadow, and network with. In the meantime, since I had no direct experience, she looked for ways that I could gain transferable skills in my current role through training, internal projects, and helping my peers. During our biweekly one-on-ones, she’d check in to see how my network meetings and trainings were going and inquired if there was anything else she could do to assist me. 

Our peers in Talent/HR also welcomed me with open arms. I got the opportunity to not just network, but also build relationships with senior recruiters, managers, and even directors. I wholeheartedly credit my career shift to the support of my manager, the resources UKG provided, and the willingness for interdepartmental collaboration with my peers. 

I’ve been in my current role as a Talent Acquisition Partner for seven months and have recently taken on the responsibilities of project manager over our non-traditional sourcing partners. 

How have you benefited from the skills/experience you’ve gained in your career journey? 

When you’re shifting careers, especially if you lack direct experience, you feel like you must work twice as hard to prove yourself. Even though I knew I could do it, I still had some self-doubt on whether I made the right choice. As I began to gain the skills and experience necessary for the role, I also gained self-confidence. I realized that I always had what it took to be successful, and the only person I needed to prove it to was myself. With this newfound confidence, I’ve quickly gone from the new girl with no experience to a trusted advisor and contributor to my team. 

What is your best piece of advice for other women who are thinking about making a career pivot?

Know before you go. Know that it isn’t always going to be easy. Know that it isn’t going to happen overnight. Know that others might not agree with you. But, also know that it is likely a risk worth taking. I would do it all over again for the joy and peace I have found.

What is your favorite thing about working at UKG? 

Knowing that, when UKG says “Our purpose is people,” that doesn’t just mean taking care of our amazing customers or ensuring that our culture is one of inclusiveness and belonging. That means taking action against pay gaps and other workplace disparities. That means standing up against the racial and social injustices happening in our communities. I get to be part of a selfless company with a passion for people that doesn’t stop when the last employee clocks out — that’s my favorite part about UKG.  

Is there anything else that you’d like to mention? 

I got my start at UKG through an internal upskilling program that does not require a degree or direct experience. It’s built to attract non-traditional talent (veterans, career shifters, returners, underserved communities, etc.). You are hired as a full-time employee from the start, and then we train and equip you with all the product knowledge, tools, and resources needed to perform your job. I highly recommend this one-of-a-kind training program to anyone.

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