Four years ago, I felt stuck. I had worked in retail for five years and did not see any other option for me. Then, a friend suggested I try getting work through a staffing firm — and I’m so glad I did.

Since then, I have worked with several staffing firms, all of which were good experiences. But there’s one that really stands out — a relationship, a person, who made the difference.

Legendary college football coach Lou Holtz said players would judge a new coach based on three questions: “Can I trust you? Are you committed? Do you care about me?” It is those same three questions that determined the experience I have had in my various work experiences. For me, it was not the owner of the company or the company but the recruiter — actually, the one who helped me find my current placement. By the end of our process, and even as I began my new job with her help, her actions continued to answer those questions.

Building trust. Not once did my recruiter ever leave me feeling like I was just a chore that needed to be finished — or a stepping stone in her career path. Rather, I felt as though her agenda was truly to help me. She started to establish trust and friendship as soon as we met. I was welcomed warmly, as though she had been waiting for a friend she hadn’t seen for some time, and as we sat down at her office, she made time for us to get acquainted with one another. Most importantly, she seemed sincere. The tone she created helped me feel at ease and comfortable enough to share freely.

Exhibit commitment. My recruiter proved this by the way she seemed to want my success as much as I wanted it for myself. Not only did she follow through on the things she said she would do, but she went above and beyond to exceed expectations by equipping me to succeed. For example, she helped me prepare before each interview by going over the job requirements with me, and if there was an area I was not competent in, she provided me with the information I needed to become so. And she continually followed up. In all my prior experiences with job agencies, she was the first to follow up with me even weeks after being hired for a job. She continually checked in with me to see if the position I filled was, in fact, a good fit or if it was time to go back to the office and reassess.

Show you care. I was already beginning to believe my recruiter actually cares about me when she began to ask questions to help her understand what my goals and dreams in life were. These weren’t just questions to see my aspirations on a surface level; no, she asked until she understood why I was pursuing what I was pursuing. I have people who know what I do and how I go about doing things, but very few have taken the time to really ask why I decided to do what I do. She took a genuine interest at that level — that is, having an interest in who I am. And as a byproduct of knowing that, she was able to filter exactly what type of opportunities to look for on my behalf. There were multiple jobs we were considering but when she understood more about me, the type of jobs that she started to show me began to change to be more aligned with the path that I envisioned.

I believe many companies are not far apart in terms of what they have to offer and how they may go about doing what they do. The difference maker, I believe, is going to be who is representing that company. When I walk into a local store, nearby restaurant or mall — either as an employee or a customer — the opportunity I have isn’t necessarily as a part of a certain company, but it will be based on who is guiding me through that journey.