Candidate Interview Series

Candidate Interview with Nichole Parrish – Network Earlier

Nichole completed her education at the University of Utah. She worked in JC Penney’s accounting department and a small accounting firm prior moving to Grant Thornton, LLP in 2005. Nichole began her time at Grant Thornton developing in depth IT audit skills before transitioning to a Senior Audit Associate and later an Audit Manager. In 2015, she moved to Instructure, where she worked in multiple senior manager roles. Nichole currently serves as the Director of SEC Reporting at Cornerstone OnDemand in Salt Lake City.

Tell us about your most recent job change. When did you know it was time to move on and how did you go about searching for the next position?

In late 2019, Danielle Helberg, a recruiter I knew from working at Grant Thornton, reached out looking for names I could recommend for an SEC reporting role. I gave her several names (none of which were mine) and one day we ended up talking about the role for me. Danielle encouraged me to talk to Pam Clawson – the recruiter for this position – to see if it was something I might be interested in.

I wasn’t actively looking for a new role, but I decided to talk to Pam to learn more. Pam was great; she knew a lot about the hiring manager and the dynamics at Cornerstone. She really painted a landscape of what they were looking for in this role and the culture of the organization. So, I decided it was worth talking to Cornerstone to see if the role and company were a fit.

When and how did you first engage with a recruitment agency?

Through LinkedIn I often receive emails from various recruiters reaching out about new roles. For example, earlier in my career a different recruiter reached out to me about a role at a company looking to go public. I had an interview, and later a job offer, but I ended up declining the offer. I realize that can be frustrating for a recruiting agency.

From that experience, it felt like the recruiter was disappointed with me and just wanted to get the commission. As such, I had a bit of hesitation moving forward with a recruiter in late 2019. Thankfully, my experience with Pam was very different from the previous recruiter.

When Danielle introduced me to the job and Pam introduced me to the company, there was no pressure. They said they wanted to make sure it was a good fit for Cornerstone, and a good fit for me. I knew that Pam was in my corner and had my best interests in mind.

What factors are important to you when working with a recruitment agency or just generally as a candidate working with a hiring manager?

I look for somebody who is really transparent and a good communicator. The interview process itself can be unnerving; there’s a lot of unknowns and it can be hard to gauge culture fit in an interview setting. A hiring manager or recruiter who has done their homework and is really clear with you is important. Somebody who is able to get back to you quickly is extremely helpful so that you know what to expect regarding timing and next steps. I always prefer a fast and honest answer, even if that answer is no.

What are some frustrations you’ve faced either working with a recruitment agency or in the hiring process in general?

When I turned down the job sourced from a recruiter earlier in my career, I had a really difficult time communicating that to the recruiter. The job I declined ticked all the boxes I asked for, but at the end of the day it wasn’t the right fit. It was hard for the recruiter to accept that.

It’s also painful if you don’t get a job that you really wanted. As a candidate you don’t necessarily have the whole picture of what the company is seeking. You may think you are a perfect match, when you aren’t. This is where a great recruiter makes a difference. Pam was helpful because she’s so grounded and levelheaded. She was a partner and mentor throughout the hiring process.

If you could go back in time and give yourself advice as a candidate, what would it be?

I would tell myself to network early and often. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to network with a recruiter when you aren’t actively looking for a job. Building that relationship early, however, pays dividends in the long run.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Pam and Danielle were great in connecting me to Cornerstone and were a huge resource throughout the process. The relationship was much more than just getting the offer letter signed and that was invaluable to me as a candidate.

Connect with Nichole Parrish on LinkedIn or learn how Gava Talent Solutions could help you find your next opportunity.