“You love the legal world and are an incredibly talented recruiter. Combine these passions and follow your dreams. You can fly!’ These inspirational words of encouragement came from my mother, in a moment of clarity just before she passed away,” explains Nicole “Nikki” Green, founder and owner of Ave Staffing LLC, a progressive and highly successful recruitment and staffing firm specializing in placing legal professionals.
Scarcely able to contain the swell of emotions as she shares this poignant memory, Green, always the consummate professional suddenly flashes her signature smile illuminating the whole room.
“My mother loved birds,” Green explains. “She even had a rather large collection of peacock feathers. It was my mother who gave me that final push to follow my heart so, naming my company felt like a natural extension. I could almost feel her approval when I christened it Ave, which means bird in Spanish.”
Launching Ave Staffing in 2016, Green didn’t just “take flight” but jettisoned right through the proverbial glass ceiling while simultaneously shattering the somewhat staid, impersonal face and function of the professional legal staffing industry. Her corporate recruiting career at this juncture spanned several years but, as her expertise grew so did her disillusionment. Green had become frustrated, not by the work itself (which she loves) but rather by what she describes as “the robotic, detached handling” of candidates and clients.
“I consider myself a legal matchmaker,” she says. “Just as with a love match, the only way to make a successful pairing, is to truly know both parties. We refer to this philosophy as people-centric. This takes time, it’s a long process. Essentially, we are investing our time and resources to making and sustaining relationships, with both clients and career candidates. I find it fascinating, but unfortunately in the corporate arena from which I came, this is considered a waste of valuable time.
“Their formula has more to do with making money – quickly – than finding the optimum match. When I decided to take that leap of faith and open my own firm, I had a very clear vision of what it would look like and how we would operate. I knew we would be unique; client/candidate centered and a focus on building and nurturing relationships.”
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
As a self-described legal matchmaker, it’s not surprising that Green likens the process of becoming acquainted with candidates to dating. “We interview candidates so many times because it takes a while to really get to know someone. That’s why I compare it to dating. If you think about it, virtually everyone looks good on a first date. We are putting our best selves forward, or at least the best version of ourselves. But that ‘best self ’ cannot be sustained over a long period. A few warts and wrinkles are certain to appear.
“On the second date, people are a little more relaxed, not trying as hard to impress,” she continues. “By the third and fourth dates, walls begin to come down. Perfection is gradually replaced with more of the ‘real’ person. Remember, we’re not just looking for the right skill set, but also the right personality for a particular culture of any given firm.”
Likewise, they have a “Right Fit” program that digs just as deeply and diligently into the “personality” of the hiring clients. “We learn about the organization’s culture and skill requirements for each open position so that we can be sure to present only the best candidates for that firm.”
Because of this thorough process, Ave Staffing can offer a money back guarantee with complete confidence.
“Naturally what we want is to get the right match the first time,” says Green, “and we usually do. But, for whatever the reason, if it doesn’t work out, we will either fill that position (at no additional) charge with another well-vetted client or offer your money back.”
Based on the volume of return clients and glowing testimonials, this is not something that occurs with any frequency.
A PASSION AND A PURPOSE
Growing up in Chile, Green was always ambitious. Realizing that education was her path to success, she imbibed greedily. She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and technology and attended law school right out of high school. At the time her dream was to become a lawyer. But life has a funny way of altering our path with detours, delays, unexpected stops and even the occasional roadblock.
“I was always drawn to the law,” she says. “Initially, it seemed that my life was going to unfold exactly as I’d expected. I was in law school, exactly as I had always imagined. It was my passion and I was really doing well. Then … ”
She trails off with a small smile and a shrug of her shoulders. “Life happens.”
She began working for a well-known staffing firm providing topnotch candidates to corporate clients. She not only excelled here as well, but also discovered another passion.
“I love helping people and although it’s not where I expected to find my ideal career, I absolutely couldn’t be happier,” says Green. “This gives me the opportunity to truly blend my two passions and have the bonus of that incredible feeling when you know you’ve really had a positive impact on someone’s life.”
PROUD AS A PEACOCK
Even before implementing all her creative ideas thereby setting Ave Staffing so decisively apart from the rest, Green enjoyed a singularly unique status as the only female proprietor of such a business within the region. When asked if her gender has been the source of any great challenges she responds, “No, not really. If anything, it just makes me work harder.”
There can be no question as to the tremendous success the firm has achieved in a relatively short time not just in North Carolina, but throughout the United States. Yet, shrewd businesswoman that she is, Green has managed to continue to grow the roster of clients while maintaining a relatively small, but efficient staff. This in turn, helps to keeps costs down for clients.
Green often recalls the words that set all of this in motion and the woman who had so much faith in her. “If my mother were alive today, I’m sure she’d be very proud but not really surprised. She always told me I could achieve whatever I wanted to and taught me to believe in myself.”