Nicki Sanders: From Hiring Manager to Career Strategist


‘Bad bosses stifle your learning.

Good bosses develop your skills.

Great bosses develop your career.

Bad bosses tell you what to do.

Good bosses ask how you’re doing.

Great bosses ask how you want to make a difference.’ 

-Adam Grant

According to Adam Grant, I am a great boss, LOL. In addition to being a great boss, I have always been an advocate for the underdog, and an independent thinker, entrepreneurial employee, and doer. These traits led me to career coaching. 

I have a Master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration in Management and Community Organization and a specialization in Social Action and Community Development. I enrolled in graduate school with the intention of becoming a human services administrator and macro social worker.  Macro social work is a broad but fairly unknown part of the field that entails changing, negating or repairing large scale systemic issues that affect large groups of people or entire communities and cultures. I believe that my social work education and experience makes me a better career coach. 

I love people. I love helping people reach their goals, I love teaching and training. My least favorite thing to do as a manager is hiring. Why? Because reviewing thousands of resumes and cover letters and conducting hundreds of interviews over the phone and in person showcases the inequities in education, connections, experience, and career readiness. When I see the same unresolved issues repeatedly, it causes me anxiety not to be able to address them…so I addressed them.

I am not embarrassed to admit that I have invited candidates to meet with me in person who I knew I would not hire so that I could help them. I am the hiring manager that asked leading questions to help candidates share their accomplishments in a clearer and more purposeful manner. I am the hiring manager that offered tips and strategies to candidates during the interview to help them improve their job search process and interviewing skills. This was not a viable long-term solution. The macro social worker in me was frustrated and hiring manager Nicki did not have the time to help everyone in need. I had to do something different because I had passed frustration and moved to sadness. I needed to be able to help more people and address the large scale problems. I addressed the career readiness problems holistically by:

  • Documenting the strategies I used in my own career and those offered to help friends and family build solid career
  • Researching human resources, management, and career readiness including attending classes and trainings
  • Incorporating workforce development into school-based program curricula
  • Developing an internship program
  • Developing a college course that included a focus on career readiness
  • Becoming a mentor
  • Making professional development a priority for my staff
  • Launching a business to provide life skills training to youth and provide workforce development to emerging professionals 
  • Transitioning that business to Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting to serve more professional in a more intentional manner

How did you decide to pursue your current career path?

Nicki Sanders, MSW, CEO, is a travel and cupcake lover with an aptitude for authentic connection and career design. She has an extensive background in developing and managing successful programs and leading high-functioning multi-disciplinary teams. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has merged her Master of Social Work degree and over 20 years of diverse work experience into a thriving business.  Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting helps businesses recruit and retain the best employees and helps women in mid-level management design the careers of their dreams.

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