Feed Industry Recruiter celebrates 20 years

Feed Industry Recruiter Don Hunter celebrates 20 years in headhunting.                                                                                                                   Don Hunter

August 2015, The Animal Science Monitor interviewed Don on what he has learned in his career as a headhunter.  Here’s the article on our feed industry recruiter.

“If you love what you do, then you’ll be successful . . . so do what you love.”  That, perhaps more than anything else, sums up what Don Hunter has learned during his career as an executive recruiter. Hunter certainly loves what he does: he’s been a recruiter now for 20 years, the last four with Dan Simmons at Continental Search & Outplacement, Inc.

One of the reasons that Don loves what he does is the opportunity to help job seekers connect with organizations that are seeking to fill their open positions with the best candidates possible. While with Continental Search, Don has helped fill a wide array of positions – entry-level sales jobs, senior sales management positions with major feed companies, high-level tech support positions, etc. You name it, Don has helped fill it.

However, Don almost wasn’t in this position, helping job seekers realize their career objectives. That’s because a few years ago, he decided to retire.

“I retired and it lasted all of three months,” Don said with a laugh. “Then Dan called and asked if I wanted just a segment of the responsibility, which was working with candidates. We’ve been doing this for four years now. and I’d like to keep doing it. I learn something new every day, and I’m doing exactly what I love to do.”  Don is one of the team’s feed industry recruiters.

As it turns out, doing what you love is just one piece of his own advice that Don Hunter takes to heart. Another important piece is “Always strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance.” Don certainly follows that advice, too.

“I still hunt pheasants with my dog, and I’m thinking about getting another one,” he said. That’s my hobby and what I like to do. I spend my off-time training my dog and working in the field. Some days I’ll spend eight hours in the office, and some days I won’t. It depends on what’s transpiring. It’s like the best of both worlds to me.

“Everybody defines retirement in a different way. Some people just quit work and go fishing. I get up every morning and decide exactly what I want to do. Sometimes it’s work and sometimes it’s play.”

Doing what you love and achieving a healthy work-life balance were among two of the topics that Don tackled when he wrote for the ASM before he “retired” the first time. Each month, Don would write articles specifically for job seekers, ranging from how to approach a face-to-face interview to how to resign and everything in between. He viewed the experience of writing for the newsletter as productive on a number of levels.

“It made me drill down into my experience,” Don said. “It made me reflect on what I’ve seen and what I know. I had to think about what I’ve learned about candidates and the industry,  really think about it, before I could incorporate those thoughts into an article.”

And what has Don learned during his 20 years as a recruiter? Not only has he learned what makes a successful candidate, but he’s also learned what he enjoys most about the profession – and it’s a long list of things.

“I like the ability and the opportunity to change people’s lives for the better,” he said. “An individual’s job is part of their identity and who they are, and we as recruiters can have a tremendous impact on people’s careers.

“That’s the best thing about recruiting. When you make a placement, not only have you enhanced the company, but you’ve also advanced the career of the candidate. About 12 things can happen during a placement, and 11 of them are bad, but when you’re successful, you’ve enriched people’s lives. It’s very rewarding.”

If there is a third piece of wisdom that Don has culled from his many years of being a recruiter, it’s this one: “Always maintain contact with co-workers and mentors.” You never know when that contact will turn into an opportunity. After all, it was a phone call from Dan Simmons that lured Don out of retirement and allowed him to enjoy the work (and the play) that he does now.

Although he’s a member of the Continental Search team, Don works remotely. He and his wife Maxine live in Acme, Michigan. Maxine is the Director of Surgical Services at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City. She wanted to be a nurse as far back as the second grade. Don and Maxine’s dog, Kasey, enjoys hunting pheasants and chasing rabbits.

So much like Don, Maxine and Kasey both appear to love what they do. You might say it’s a habit that runs in the family. As for how long he’ll continue to work, even if it’s not on a full-time basis, Don has not set a timetable.

“As long as I can remember my name and who I am, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing,” he said with a chuckle. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

If you’re a job seeker and have any career-related questions for Don, you can email him at donhunter@consearch.com. Don also encourages you to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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