A People Person Finds her Niche in IT Channel Recruitment

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Pat Martin, a national account manager at SmartSource, spends her days with her two dogs — her “big babies,” she calls them — developing business relationships for her company and recruiting IT staff from the comfort of her own home. Martin’s two-pronged role gives her plenty of satisfaction. She’s been at it for about three years now, after a mutual contact put her in touch with the owners of Illinois-based SmartSource Inc.

“It was just love,” Martin said. “Professional love; that is.”

Martin’s long and winding path to the IT channel earned her a wealth of professional experience along the way. Her experience has helped her excel at SmartSource, a company that provides long-term contingent, direct-hire and project-based staffing and recruitment for a wide range of IT companies. Founded in 1996, it evolved to focus on value-added resellers, providing IT staff for things like installations, deployments, large-scale migrations and technology audits.

In her business development role, Martin seeks out new client companies with job openings — open requisitions, they’re called — who want to hire SmartSource’s IT contractors. She also recruits and matches qualified candidates with positions, setting all walks of IT lives down exciting new career paths.

A Rambling Road to the IT Channel  

Based just outside Chicago, SmartSource interacts with recruiters, clients and candidates throughout the country. For short-term, specialized projects, SmartSource employs a regular pipeline of trusted techs. Martin’s role focuses more on long-term contingent and direct-hire staffing. She uses Internet resources to match candidates’ goals with her clients’ needs and vice versa.

“In a way,” said Martin, “I’ve always kind of been in sales, even when I used to be in the restaurant industry.”

Early in her career she moved from restaurants to a travel agency and then returned to college to pursue a psychology degree. She instead found a job in chemical sales and, despite having no science background, Martin quickly learned the ropes and excelled.

Her life took another turn when she moved from Athens, Ga., to Hilton Head, S.C., to help care for her ailing mother. She first took a job in collections and then a staffing job in the construction industry. There, she worked to find jobs for people who sometimes had great barriers to potential employment, from low-skilled workers to convicted felons. Her compelling people-skills worked in her favor, though, and she successfully matched people with not only jobs, but with jobs where they thrived.

She earned a promotion, moved back to Georgia and found a similar position staffing in the engineering industry. After six and a half years, she brought her wealth of experience and wisdom to SmartSource.

Martin’s role might not require hands-on, technical know-how, but she’s been IT-adjacent her whole life. “My mother, who would be in her 80s if she were still alive, she had a PC when no one had a PC,” Martin said. “It didn’t intimidate her.”

Martin followed suit, managing the T1 cable at her first company and handling internal user support when new software arrived. “I just wasn’t afraid of it,” she said.

Continuing Education

SmartSource, a longstanding CompTIA member, encouraged Martin to attend ChannelCon, CompTIA’s annual training and partnering event for the IT channel. At first, she didn’t see how the 2013 conference on Orlando would speak to her day-to-day responsibilities, but was happily surprised with her trip. Participating in various classes and sessions gave her both a clearer picture of how the sales chain fits together and a new perspective as a woman who has, while not always working directly in IT, had a longstanding comfort, familiarity and engagement with technology.

“I had a great time,” Martin said. “I learned a lot, not just about channel management, but about the industry as a whole.”

The conference also introduced her to CompTIA’s Advancing Women in the IT (AWIT) Community, an organization she’s now involved in. “I strongly believe in encouraging women to get into technology,” she said.

Through her varied career, salesmanship and technology have been consistent themes, and she’s clear about what drives her.

“What I do for a living is financially and psychologically rewarding. I love helping people, that’s why I do what I do. It’s all about people,” she said. “Don’t tell my boss, but the people come first. Then the money.”

Matthew Stern is a freelance writer based in Chicago.

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