Atlas Lexington wants to take a moment to shine a light on our incredible and inspiring Human Resources Manager, Kelsey Sanders. Sanders has been with the company since January of 2019 and has inspired our team to reach greater heights each and every day.
Where are you from?
“I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but I grew up in a small town called Pleasureville.”
What childhood experiences were most influential in your life?
“I think for me one of the most influential experiences was just growing up in a small town on a farm where it wasn’t about money, technology, or any of the things that we all worry about today. It was just about living life and being a kid, and spending time with my family. It was the little things in life that made me appreciate everything I have been given in my life.”
How would your parents and peers describe you?
“I think my family and friends would describe me as loyal, dedicated, and genuine. There isn’t anything in this world more important to me than family and friends. They always come first and if at any time they needed help, they know they can come to me.”
Were you in any sports or extracurriculars?
“I was very involved as a kid! I participated in five different sports until I was about nine years old- cheerleading, softball, dancing, basketball, and soccer. I was also on the academic team for my school and involved in my church group. The only sport I continued was cheerleading until I graduated high school! In high school, I was also a part of Future Business Leaders of America, Beta Club, and Pep Club.”
How did that competitive environment help develop you?
“I think it helped me grow as a person and it helped me realize that you have to work hard to get what you want. I cheered for fourteen years and I learned so much from my coaches and teammates about what it means to be competitive without being overly-competitive. There is a balance that everyone has to find there, and I think cheerleading helped me do that. We lost a lot of competitions but that only made us work harder to win the next one. That all definitely carried over to my life now.”
What was your childhood dream job?
“Until I was in high school, I wanted to be a veterinarian! I am very passionate about animals. I think growing up on a farm really fueled that passion. I quickly realized that a part of that job was to euthanize animals and I just couldn’t do that.”
Did you have any idea you would end up in this field?
“Actually, yes a little! I graduated from college with a degree in psychology, so HR and recruiting was always a possibility for me.”
Tell us about your college experience.
“As a senior in high school, I applied to two schools – the University of Kentucky and Northern Kentucky University. Since I was little, I wanted to go to UK. I only applied to NKU in case I didn’t get into UK. Thankfully, I got in! The University of Kentucky, and just college in general, gave me so many opportunities that I never imagined possible. My major coming into college, was psychology. I was fascinated by the brain and how it worked. But, I was also passionate about politics and law, so my sophomore year of college, I picked up a minor in Political Science. After picking that up, I landed my first internship on a United States Senate Campaign. Through this internship, my passion for politics and wanting to make a change, grew. I started to become more involved in Student Government, where I served as the Civic Engagement Coordinator, and with Phi Alpha Delta, a Pre-Law Fraternity on campus. My junior year, I applied for a political leadership program in Washington D.C. I honestly didn’t think I would get accepted since it was very competitive, and I didn’t have much experience. After lots of interviews and essays, I got accepted! If there is one experience in college that changed my life for the better, it was this. I got the chance to get out of my comfort zone and try something completely new. I met some of my best friends and networked with some AMAZING people. I interned on Capitol Hill with a United States Representative and got to see and learn things most people don’t get the opportunity to. During my college experience, I had a total of four internships. Each of these helped shape who I was personally and professionally. College was hard but it was so worth it and I am forever thankful for the University of Kentucky for providing me with so much opportunity, my mentor, and favorite college professor, Bill Swinford, for believing in me and always being there for me, and to my family for all of the love and support.
Where did you work before joining our team?
“Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions. The summer after I graduated from college, I was awarded the opportunity to participate in a Development Apprentice Program through the State Policy Network. I worked here in Lexington, KY, at the Bluegrass Institute. The Bluegrass Institute is a political non-profit organization. I worked as a Development Associate, so I did fundraising, event planning, donor relations, etc.”
What is one life experience that you feel has shaped you?
“During my sophomore year of high school, my parents got a divorce. This was really hard on my little brother and me. Since I was the oldest, I kind of took it into my control to help my little brother understand and get through that situation. It helped me grow as a person because I quickly had to grow up and help my mom out more, as well as really step-up to be there for my brother. It was also through their divorce, that my brother and I found out that we had a half-sister who was 10 years old. This changed my entire life. It had only been me and my brother until that point, so we weren’t really sure on how to handle that situation. But, again, I felt like it was my responsibility to be there for my brother.”
What is something we might not know about you by just looking at you?
“A lot of people misjudge me. I have a serious ‘RBF,’ so when people see me, they think I am mean or judgmental, when in reality I am actually a genuinely nice person. I love helping people, giving advice, and being there whenever needed.”
What would you consider to be your greatest skill, quality, or asset?
“I would consider my greatest skill to be how the way I can create relationships with people. Having a degree in Psychology has fueled my curiosity and passion for learning about everyone I come in contact with. I love learning about people’s lives, what got them to where they are now, and where they want to go. That helps so much in this business because I genuinely care about everyone that walks through our doors and want to create authentic relationships with all of them.”
What were your first thoughts when starting with the company? What was something unique you noticed?
“My first thoughts were ‘Wow! Everyone is super welcoming and nice!’ I instantly felt like a part of the family. This business is a lot different than any other company anyone could work for. When you go into an office environment, you expect to see everyone being super professional and quiet. Which don’t get me wrong, we all know how to be professional here and it is necessary to be that way, but this office also likes to have fun! So, when you walk in, there is loud music playing, our guys are doing team-building exercises and playing games, and that is just not something you see at every office.”
How has this career changed you as a person?
“This career has made me a better communicator. I know how to be confident when talking to people on the phone and in-person.”
Give an example of a time you exercised leadership and drive.
“Through one of the programs I participated in during my time in college, I was invited to speak at a young adult’s leadership conference in California. Being 21 and talking to students who weren’t much younger than myself, was scary for me. It was the first time I ever realized I could actually make a difference in their lives by telling my story. I was excited to tell them all about how if you work hard and have that drive/passion, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.”
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
“This is a tough question for me. I have always been the type of person who plans everything and has a certain order to my life. But, since college, I have realized plans don’t always go the way we want them to. Law school is still definitely something I am considering. But, since being in this business, I have grown really fond of recruiting and I could see myself growing through this path. On the personal side, in 5 years, I hope to own a home, as well as start a family!”
How would you describe the culture to a prospective job candidate?
“I would describe us as a fun, close-knit family who embodies ‘work hard, play hard’. Every single person on our team works together to make sure we create a positive, upbeat environment. Company culture is super important to us here at Atlas because we want everyone to look forward to coming into work every morning.”
What qualities do you look for when recruiting?
“I look for enthusiasm, passion, and responsiveness. I think these are the top three qualities that are most important to me when recruiting. Enthusiasm is necessary in this company because we want our employees to be excited to go out and talk to customers and excited to come to work every day. Passion – because why would I want someone to work for us who isn’t passionate about what we do here? That would get us nowhere. I want someone to come in and be passionate about hitting their goals and growing within our company. Third, responsiveness is super important. Because, when I am calling applicants, if they aren’t responding or calling back, then they obviously don’t want to work here or they don’t know how to communicate, either way I don’t want them working for us.”
What resume advice do you have for candidates?
“The biggest thing for me is to make your resume just one page. I know this is difficult because I have struggled with it. But, just be simple and to-the-point with your resume. Put in the necessary stuff and then leave room to talk more in-depth during your interview.”
What’s one tip you wish more people knew when coming in to interview?
“Just be comfortable and confident. I know most people coming in for interviews are super nervous, but I promise that shows through during an interview and can actually hurt your chances at getting the job. What I mean by comfortable is not coming in to interview in sweatpants and a t-shirt, but making eye-contact with everyone you talk to, be prepared when you come in, and just relax because chances are, the recruiter/interviewer is experiencing some anxiety as well.”
What is something you’ve learned through your work you didn’t know before?
“I have learned how difficult it is to run a team/business. There is so much that goes into the everyday operations of running an office (payroll, team sheet, morning meetings, road trips, recruiting, talking to people every day, interviewing, in-house training. appealing orders). But, with all the difficulties, it seems very rewarding because you actually get to help people accomplish their goals.”
What are your goals with the company?
“Help our team grow and our leaders hit their goals. I would love to be ORC one day because I believe I could really help uplift other recruiters when they are feeling down or they are having a bad day. I also love structure and organization, so being able to provide that for other offices.”
How do you personally plan to contribute to the company’s growth?
“Just continuously help our guys out with whatever they need. Making sure that our new guys feel welcomed and appreciated as soon as they start. I want to see everyone in our business succeed, so it is my main priority to focus on recruiting so our guys can keep building their teams.”
Any business books or podcasts you recommend?
“‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. All of the recruiters in our org are actually reading this book right now. It is an awesome book that talks all about how to create relationships with people and how to influence people into doing something. Which applies so much to our business, and my job in particular.”
What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
“I have two dogs, so I love just being lazy with them and my boyfriend, I like to read, hang out with my friends and family, go to the movies, I love going to listen to live music. I am a huge Kentucky Wildcats fan so anytime there is a basketball or football game I’m either there, tailgating, or watching the game somewhere with friends!”
What has been your best memory with the company?
I have loved getting to know everyone and get closer with our guys. Recently I just attended my first leaders conference and it was awesome! I got to spend quality time with the top leaders in our office, as well as learn from some amazing people within our company.”
Since joining our team, Kelsey has proven to be such an incredible asset and friend. If you ask her, she has gained just as much from us as we have found in her. “I love helping and seeing people grow within our company,” says Sanders, “my favorite thing is to be the first person that everyone sees in the morning or when coming in for an interview. It gives me the opportunity to have an impact on that person and hopefully encourage them when they are unsure of what to do or where to go.”