Amanda Thompson thought she was only going to spend three hours at oil and gas company Hilcorp, back in 2004. She signed on with a temp agency, and her first assignment was to work a half-day as a receptionist at the front desk. The job was so short and the commute so long that she almost skipped it.
But she didn't and, luckily, an order of plaques was screwed up. Every month, Hilcorp's CEO recognizes employees who've been with the company for a certain length of time. Those employees get plaques, but the day that Thompson was temping, the company that organizes the plaques was running late. That left HR recruiter Janis Parker (now Janis Sanders) waiting in the lobby for 45 minutes while Thompson took calls and spoke with employees. In those 45 minutes, Sanders noticed something special.
"The next day I'm running around Houston, and I get a call from Hillcorp asking if I could take a full-time position," Thomson says. "I was here just to cover the desk for a few hours and since then, it's been my career."
In its 16th year, Fortune's ranking of the best workplaces in corporate America welcomes five list debutantes, and what's more, 78 of them are looking to fill nearly 67,000 jobs.