Nicole Smartt: She’s Embracing the Boss Life

April 17 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Taking Your Career to the Next Level

Ladies, have you ever seen a tempting job listing but didn’t apply because you assumed the company would want a longtime local, someone with nonprofit or coding experience, and so on? Here’s a great lesson for all career-minded women: If you don’t meet every single qualification in a job posting, don’t dismiss the opportunity. Your assumption about what the hiring folks want could be totally off. And if there’s one thing every good company is searching for, it’s an employee who is excited to learn new things and jump headfirst into the position.

WOMEN IN NUMBERS: At Least 1.5 Times

According to a recent study, women tend to give up on applying for job openings after they’ve been turned down for similar positions. This situation happens all too often, and it’s affecting the number of women holding executive-level jobs throughout the world.

The Harvard Business Review found that women who have been rejected for a particular kind of job in the past are unlikely to apply for comparable positions in the future. This phenomenon even occurs at the senior-executive level. In fact, of the 10,000 senior executives studied, women were at least 1.5 times less likely than men to apply for positions like those they’d previously been rejected for.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Nicole Smartt, Co-owner of Star Staffing

When it comes to our careers, we all have to start somewhere. But don’t let starting at the bottom of the totem pole affect your confidence. If you have the right mindset, you could be running the whole dang show in no time.

Nicole Smartt is a perfect example of this. After high school, she started working as a receptionist at a staffing firm, as many of us do, and, within a short time, leapfrogged her way to the position of business services manager. The owners of the staffing agency noted her determination and commitment as the ideal candidate to pass the torch to when they were ready to sell the business. But Nicole doubted herself, worrying she was too young and too inexperienced to become a business owner. So, she declined the offer to buy the company. The owners sold to a larger staffing firm, where Nicole thrived in the sales department for a couple of years.

By then, Nicole began to feel more driven to the entrepreneurial life, so she decided to leave the business to start her own firm. That’s when the folks from Star Staffing approached her. A little more than a year after working for the company, Nicole took co-ownership of the business. Six years later, Nicole and her team have increased the company’s sales by an unreal 1,800 percent and profits by 2,500 percent. This successful bootstrapping experience led Nicole to share her journey in her 2016 book, From Receptionist to Boss, basically a blueprint for Nicole’s success, in which she provides practical advice for getting ahead in your career and offers insights on her own corporate ladder climb.

Despite her hard-won success, Nicole is still faced with societal stereotypes about women in charge, and is often surprised when men call her “too independent.” She has a few ideas about this repeated undermining of women's choices and how to normalize the concept of a successful, and yes, independent woman. First, ladies, know and do what you want! Follow your values, your heart and no one else’s. Then don’t bother trying to convince others about your decision. It’s your life, after all. Nicole notes it’s imperative to respect other women, even if their life and career perspectives are different than yours. Finally, she encourages career women to be role models for other women by sharing their experiences and lessons learned, especially with young women, so the next generation of job-focused ladies knows it’s perfectly OK to focus on their career first.


With Nicole Smartt’s success in mind, today’s quote comes from the CEO of GoodWorld, Dale Pfeifer. She said:

“Get up every day and do something. Do the next best thing that can move your company forward. Do it yourself.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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