7 Questions with Talent Acquisition Lead Matt Grimes

“When one door closes, another one opens” is more than just an old adage. For U.Group Talent Acquisition Lead Matt Grimes, it has a ring of truth. If it weren’t for a non-compete agreement with a former employer, he may not have discovered his passion for talent acquisition. Now, he works every day to open doors for other folks going through career transitions. Learn more about how Matt uses his talent acquisition skills to help friends and family, why his favorite place in the world is a cabin without modern amenities, and more below:  

Describe what you do at U.Group in 3 words or less. 

MG: Build meaningful relationships. 

How did you discover your passion for talent acquisition? 

MG: When I moved to DC in 2011, I had a pretty restrictive non-compete in place, so I needed to do something unrelated to healthcare technology for a year. Fortunately, I was introduced to a small boutique search firm in Tyson’s and was thrown into the deep-end of recruiting. 

I quickly realized how much I loved it and how much I wanted to make it better. Talent acquisition is about building meaningful, lasting relationships. It’s not throwing candidates at a slew of open positions and hoping something sticks. There’s a nuance and strategy to the work as well as a tremendous reward.  

What I love about it is I have an opportunity to advise and guide people in one of the most impactful decisions of their life. It’s also a field where transparency and empathy go a long way. Every day I get a chance to ease the anxiety of the job search, help people identify new opportunities, and change lives. I was hooked and have been ever since. 

Do your talent acquisition skills trickle into other aspects of your life, besides work? 

MG: Sure they do! One of the most rewarding things in my personal life is being able to advise, coach, and assist friends and family in career transitions and their job search. Talent acquisition also requires a lot of networking and that absolutely trickles into my personal life. I’m always striking up conversations and love meeting new people.  

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen or read lately? 

MG: The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix. It was absolutely captivating! I’m not a big chess player, but that’s the point. This show does a tremendous job at entertaining and engaging you in a sport that you may have no interest in or knowledge of. It’s a simultaneously heartwarming and gut-wrenching underdog story that inspires dedication and commitment to your craft. It’s also a good reminder that sometimes you need to trust your instincts. 

Before working at U.Group, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? 

MG: Those are two separate questions for me. The most unusual job I’ve had was working as a remodeling/demolition worker in Poulsbo, WA during high school. I got paid to climb up on roofs and smash slate tile roofs. Word of advice: watch your step—slate tiles like to slip off pretty easily!  

The most interesting job was at WhyHotel, a DC-based startup, where I ran their talent acquisition team. It was fast paced, constantly changing, and WhyHotel is trying to do something that hasn’t been done before—so it was interesting to explain their model to candidates every day. 

What is something few people know about you? 

MG: I’m obsessed with woodworking. More and more people are starting to know that about me, but it’s a hobby/lifestyle that I really enjoy. I’ve converted our unfinished half basement into a fully functional (albeit hodgepodge) workshop where I build furniture, cutting boards, coasters, and really anything I want to challenge myself with. Next up, I’m going to be making walnut countertops for our kitchen. 

Where is your favorite place in the world, and why? 

 MG: Pleasant Island on Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada. My great-grandfather and his siblings bought some small parcels of land on Lake Huron in the 1950s. They built a few small cabins by hand, and it’s been relatively the same ever since. My family and I have gone up there almost every year of my life and it’s the closest place that I can call home. No running water, no electricity, beautiful scenery, and water all around you for miles. 

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