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The Resilient Recruiter

Dec 29, 2023

The recruitment process is inherently human-centric, involving evaluating soft skills, cultural fit, and personal interactions. While AI can streamline specific tasks, it may struggle to assess these qualitative aspects effectively. As a recruitment business owner, how do you marry automation and artificial intelligence with a personal human touch?


My special guest, Christina Stroud, shares her insights and perspective about this subject. She has a unique approach to engaging with her clients and candidates while leveraging automation with a personalized human touch.


Christina is the founder and CEO of Group928. She’s a seasoned Human Resources professional with over 30 years of experience specializing in start-ups, acquisitions, and exits in private equity environments. The company has grown by 400% in just three short years from $125,000 in the first year to over $500,000 in 2023. This showcases her ability to build a client base from scratch, and design and implement sales and marketing strategies while continuing to exceed her client’s expectations.


Episode Outline and Highlights


  • [01:57] Chrstina’s Transition from an HR professional to a recruitment business owner. Insights on how her HR experience played a role in her current success.

  • [07:49] Nobody said it was easy - overcoming a challenging first year of entrepreneurial leap.

  • [12:41] Growing the company to 400% - discussing two critical success factors. 

  • [18:18] The importance of stepping out of your comfort zone

  • [28:13] Leveraging AI & automation while applying a personal touch.

  • [40:33] Launching her podcast and engaging with thought leaders.

  • [48:01] The most significant challenges that Christina had to navigate

  • [58:49] What is next for Christina and Group 928? 


An Entrepreneurial Leap is No Walk in the Park, But Undeniably Achievable


For many reasons, shifting from a recruiter to a business owner can be difficult. The risk and uncertainty, working long hours, and lack of security and benefits can deter many from the entrepreneurship journey. Overcoming these roadblocks is achievable - and Christina proved it is. This is how she described the first year of her entrepreneurial journey:


“It was hard. I, you know, that first year, it was hard for me emotionally. I had never stepped away from a regular paycheck. And so to go into owning my own business, not having a steady income or a check that gets directly deposited every other Friday was very nerve-wracking for me… It hurt my ego a little bit when I went two months without getting, uh, a paycheck, but then once I got my company started, uh, I was glad that I did and it made sense, but that transition, uh, is very hard for a lot of people and it was also hard because I had never done any type of sales or marketing or bringing in new clients.”


It was not a walk in the park, but Christina’s mindset and belief system helped her figure things out and pull things together. She revealed two critical factors that significantly contributed to her success.


Christina’s Two Critical Success Factors 


In three years, Christina grew her company by 400% from $125,000 in the first year to over $500,000 in 2023. This is an astonishing achievement, as companies usually plateau after reaching their first six digits. Christian shared two critical success factors:


  1. Getting out of her comfort zone: “I had to take every little thing that needed to be done as a challenge. I did all the work myself. I was, you know, doing sourcing and interviewing and all the emails and communication. And that taught me a lot of new skills and things that I had to try and push myself to do that I hadn't done in a very, very long time”.  Christina shared how she had to learn technology and AI, start her podcast, and other new skills.


  1. Leveraging automation for sales and marketing - this was also not easy for Christina because technology is also not her cup of tea. “Those people who know me know I have a technology dark cloud that follows me. It is a struggle wherever I go for whatever reason. And so to think that I would be using this as one of my main tools to try and find clients and at least start that initial relationship was very daunting.” 


Many can relate to the subject of automation and AI as it is a hot topic when it comes to balancing it with personalization and ingraining a human touch. Christina shares her best practices.


Utilizing AI and Automation with a Personalized Approach


Christina’s approach to personalization is her unique value proposition. She shared her process:


Research “And so when I went into my own business, I knew that's what I had specific target companies that I knew I wanted to work with. I had researched them. I had figured out where they were location-wise, and what the size of the company was. I started researching the CEOs and the head of HR and make sure they had the type of career and background of people that would be interested in working with recruiters whom they had a relationship with”


Personalized Communication “My communications were very personal. It wasn't, hey, here's what we do, here's what we can offer you, here's how I'm gonna change your life. It was a lot more of, here's what my other clients are seeing. You know, here's what I know about the market if it makes sense for us to have those conversations help you in the future, that would be great”


Going above and beyond  “We've also done gifts. So we went kind of old school. Remember at Christmas you used to get lots of plates of cookies and treats and stuff from vendors or at least I know HR folks do. I used to have a desk full of boxes of things from folks who wanted to work with our company. So now as a recruiter, I do that as well, but I don't do it at Christmas time.”


Leveraging AI and automation is indeed an effective way to market and engage with clients if infused with a personal human touch.


Our Sponsor


This podcast is proudly sponsored by i-intro 


i-intro® is an end-to-end retained recruitment platform. Their technology and methodology allow recruiters to differentiate themselves from the competition, win more retained business, bigger fees, and increase their billings. Their software combined with world-class training enables you to transition from transactional, contingency recruiter to consultative, retained recruiter. Instead of being perceived as a “me too” vendor, you’ll be positioned as a “me only” solutions provider. Be sure to mention Mark Whitby or The Resilient Recruiter. Book your free, no-obligation consultation here:


Christina Stroud and Contact Info


Christina is the Owner and Co-Founder of Group928. She started her career at BMW Manufacturing where she progressed through multiple leadership positions across the Human Resources organization throughout her 14-year tenure with the company. The scope of her BMW experience spans US and International operations and includes positions in Recruiting, HR Operations, Change Management, and work as an HR Business Partner. Christina’s first exposure to a start-up business was with Venture Capital-backed Proterra, a high-growth green-industry manufacturer of vehicle power and charging solutions. At Proterra, Christina built and led the HR team and hired and developed the company's Executive team. From Proterra, Christina joined Day & Zimmerman, a $2.4 billion family-owned global construction company. While there she led an HR function responsible for four business units and instilled focus on making people strategy a competitive business advantage. Christina was recruited to Private Equity-owned Multi-Pack Solutions, a contract packaging company for medical devices, as head of the national Human Resources function. In 2017 Christina joined the 35-person executive recruiting firm Westport Intl as a Managing Director, the last position she held before co-founding Group928.


 Christina holds a bachelor's degree in Financial Management from the College of Business & Behavioral Science at Clemson University and a master's degree in Human Resources from Clemson University. She lives with her family just outside of Greenville, SC.


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