Lockhart Selling Memphis as Adams Keegan Recruiter


Born in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Kristin Lockhart, vice president of recruiting at Adams Keegan, is no stranger to moving.

Her father was in the military, and the family eventually settled in Memphis. After college at Christian Brothers University, she packed her bags for Atlanta, then Florida, then on to Antigua in the West Indies before making her way back “home.”

Her vast travel experiences make her uniquely qualified for her position in staffing, as she truly knows what it means to be the new girl in a new city.

In order to move back to Memphis, Lockhart needed to find work that would provide for her daughter, plus a child on the way. Her resourceful thinking and go-getter attitude naturally led her to launch her own business.

“I just kind of started. I look back and think that was really kind of crazy, but that’s how I got started in recruiting,” she explains. “That was 15 years ago. Adams Keegan was one of my big clients, and just a few years ago Jay [Keegan Jr., president and CEO] called me and said they were going to get into the business. It was the only leg on the HR stool that they didn’t have at the time. So I could either work with them or compete against them.”

In the end, the opportunity was too good to pass up.

“I definitely specialize in Memphis; we do some [work] outside of Memphis, but my job is mainly local,” she says. “When we can put those pieces together – knowing the candidate, knowing the job, knowing the client – it makes people fit in when they get there.”

The biggest hurdle she often faces is the need for a recruiter in the first place.

“Some people don’t understand what we do,” she says. “A lot of companies seem to think they’re competing against their recruiter, but we’re here to help. That payment is made because we know your company, we know you, and we’re not going to waste everyone’s time by sending you 200 resumes when you only need three – those are the ones who are going to fit into your culture, meet your salary budget and be a good fit for the job. Clients have jobs, and this is what our job is. We can screen candidates a lot faster because it’s what we do all day.”

Over the years, Lockhart has become an expert at reading people and asking the right questions to ascertain what role and environment would potentially resonate with them. In her role she also gets to hype life in Memphis by helping to sell the city to both locals and newcomers alike, though through very different approaches.

“Memphis is such a great community. You see someone (you know) everywhere you go. If you can get a candidate in the stack of finalists who’s lived here before, they just want to come back. They have that appreciation for the city. Also, there is no rush hour here,” she says with a laugh. “I used to live 14 miles from my office in Atlanta and it would take me over an hour one-way.”

While she often finds that former Memphians are anxious to return, she says the biggest opportunity for potential newcomers is more positive media attention. Her hope would be to have so much positive media that out-of-towners see Memphis’ best foot forward when they’re trying to make a decision on where to live, work and raise a family.

“I really believe you can find a community here no matter who you are – any faith, kids of any age, married or single – we can find something for them,” she says enthusiastically. “We had one gentleman who really wanted to come to Memphis because his son was autistic and had read amazing things about the Bodine School. For another candidate, I shared about our cultural festivals and was able to translate that for someone who thought it was just a small, country town.

“We have so much good that if people do the right research, we can accommodate almost any need. There’s a place for you, no matter who you are, and I’m certain you’ll be comfortable.”

Kristin Lockhart is a graduate of New Memphis’ Leadership Development Intensive (LDI). Learn more at newmemphis.org.

*This story originally ran in The Memphis Daily News.