Robin Clayton

Senior Human Resources Recruiter, UCLA Health System

What characteristics do you need for your job?
Communicating and interacting with people are the most important parts of my job as a recruiter at UCLA. You need to have a true fervor to want to help people. I've always enjoyed listening to people talk about their skills and passions for their careers. I love being able to place individuals in jobs that I know will fit them well and where they will shine.

What do you do as a volunteer?
Hal Bookbinder, assistant director for Data Center Services, told me about his volunteer work at the Midnight Mission for Men in downtown Los Angeles, where men are helped to reenter society from homelessness through work. As a native of California, raised in Santa Monica, I wanted to give back to the community the best way I knew how, by teaching these men how to write an effective resumé and how to interview successfully for desired jobs

I've volunteered at the Midnight Mission for the last three years and conduct mock interviews with the program participants, giving them positive feedback and critiques. Once they are employed, they are required by the program to use a certain percentage of their salary toward utilities and a small apartment in the mission. The mission saves the money in an account for them, and after completion of the program, they give their savings back to the men to use as a down payment for an apartment of their own and to reenter society.

Recently, I conducted a job skills program, called Job Success Series, teaching a six-week course on job skills and job placement for women in the Family Housing Facility in Inglewood. This facility houses women and children, and sometimes their husbands, who need housing assistance and want to find a job or obtain a better one.

How does your current job at UCLA help you with your volunteer work?
I wouldn't have been able to teach without being a recruiter. I interview people every day and am able to use the skills I've gained from my daily responsibilities to teach others what to say in an interview, how to answer difficult questions, what not to say, how to dress, how to be on time, and how to follow up after an interview. What I do every day is what I've meant to do in my life.

What personal attributes are important to finding the perfect candidate for a job?
Strong communication skills, the ability to read between the lines, a strong work ethic, and being passionate about your work.

What is the most rewarding part of volunteering?
I love interacting with a diversity of people and knowing that I can give each of these individuals a chance to improve their lives. That is worth it all. I've been able to witness the transformation of gloomy faces during the first class to their smiling faces at the end of the program. They are so grateful for the useful information and simple skills they've learned from class that will help them regain their lives again.

What is the most challenging part of volunteering?
I believe in and enjoy working with this group, so the extra hours are well worth it. But it's a little tough when I can't interact with them on a weekly basis after the course has completed, to make sure they are putting into practice everything that was taught to them, working through their insecurities and going out to find better jobs for themselves and their families. But I have managed to connect through brief e-mails and phone calls every so often.

Has there been a memorable experience you would like to share?
I have actually been able to place someone from the Family Housing Facility at UCLA, and I am working with her spouse on a possible position here. They were newly homeless, with a 3-month-old baby and a 5-year-old daughter. I remember teaching one night and looking at the mom taking diligent notes, while feeding the baby and making sure the daughter was finishing her homework. The husband came every week after a long commute from work and participated in class. They were such great students and were working so hard to better their lives for their family. Now they can provide them with medical benefits and a bright future, and I've been blessed to have had the opportunity to impact their lives.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy having family time with my husband of 19 years, who is a teacher at the Juvenile Hall and a marriage/family therapist, and our three children: 16-year-old son, 12-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. I enjoy photography— especially taking pictures of my kids!