“Recruitment Is Similar to Being a Matchmaker”: a Q&A With Marcie Pollack-MacMillan

"Recruitment has always been circular; it's either a client's market or talent's market. But during COVID, it's both."

Marcie Pollack-MacMillan is the self-professed “President of Chaos” behind Marketers on Demand. BMO’s Head of Canadian Business Banking, Mike Bonner, spoke with Marcie about her unique job title, career trajectory and why recruiting is similar to matchmaking.

What exactly does a President of Chaos do?

It’s more what don’t I do. I run a company that finds placements for marketing talent across all different industries. Plus, I’ve got four kids, a husband, a dog, a couple of bunnies and am a volunteer doula. There’s a lot going on in my life.

So what was your career trajectory to get there?

I started my career in advertising at J. Walter Thompson, but soon moved into recruiting for creative staffing. I ended up opening Marketers on Demand in 2008. Then the recession hit. When I did the original business model, it was 20% contract and 80% permanent, but that had to be reversed. All of a sudden, all permanent hires were frozen, and contract was the way to go. We had just established a relationship with BMO both as a customer and as a client, helping them build their marketing teams. BMO took a chance on MoD, providing us a loan and a line of credit to help us get through the recession. Eventually I grew the company from two people to 12 people. 

What would you say is the key to success in your field? 

It comes down to really understanding both the client’s and the talent’s needs, and making sure they are aligned in order to create a successful placement. Recruitment is similar to being a matchmaker; people come in to pour their hearts out and tell you their life story. 

How has recruiting changed during the pandemic?

We were in panic mode at the beginning because a lot of the contractors that we placed were being let go. But then we had some clients that were on a hiring spree because they were pivoting to e-commerce and needed marketing support. Even though a lot of candidates are looking for new opportunities, they are selective, and looking for flexibility and balance. The business has ended up balancing itself out in the end. 

How did banking with BMO ease your business through the pandemic?

BMO has been by our side for the past 13 years and helped us through the recession—and now through the pandemic, as well as being an ongoing client. The level of customer support they offer is so much higher than any other bank. I’ve always had a relationship manager that I can just pick up the phone to call.

What makes you optimistic for the future?

Recruitment has always been circular; it’s either a client’s market or talent’s market. But during COVID, it’s both. Over the past eight months, we’ve received a lot of new clients. I’m staying focused on what we do best, which is making sure we have the best possible candidates to send to our clients.