The Thrill of the Hunt: 30 Years of Finding Great Talent

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    September 28, 2021

The Thrill of the Hunt: 30 Years of Finding Great Talent


LoriAnn Boyer, Wray Ward’s talent development director, reflects on three decades of recruiting and developing top talent at some of the world’s premier employers.

When I share with people that 2021 marks my 30th year in talent acquisition and talent development, the first question I inevitably get is, “What?! Were you 12 when you started working?” (Answer: No, I was slightly older.)

Flattery about my youthful persona aside, the thing people tend to be the most curious about is how the field of talent acquisition and development has changed over the past three decades. (Answer: There have been many significant changes, but fundamentally, a lot remains the same … I’ll explain.)

In 1991, when I started my first job as a recruiting coordinator at Accenture, access to the internet was just beginning to make its way into the corporate world. As a result, we had no LinkedIn, no Indeed, no, or any of the sourcing tools and technology of today. We took a “Glengarry Glen Ross” approach, using old-timey Rolodexes and cold calling. We pounded the pavement, networked and hosted career fairs.

Since those humble early days, the advent and adoption of LinkedIn and other modern tools have been game changers for talent acquisition professionals and job seekers, allowing both to reach a bigger, wider audience than ever before. But the core principles of procuring quality talent have not changed, which is a really interesting thing about this profession.

Specifically, a company’s culture remains critical to attracting top talent. If I don’t believe in or can’t get behind a company’s culture, there’s no way I can successfully sell that culture to candidates. The most common questions I get from candidates are about our company culture. They don’t just want to hear that Wray Ward has a strong culture; they challenge me for examples, and I love that they do, because we have an incredible story to tell.

Arming your employees with the right tools, technology and training is equally important to retaining that top talent once you get them in the building. So while a lot has changed in how we acquire and develop employees, for me, the thrill of the hunt for great talent remains the same.

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” –Aristotle

As wise as he was, even Aristotle couldn’t possibly have envisioned what the occupational landscape would be like in 2021. However, the core of his sentiment remains as relevant as ever. A company’s culture and how it values its employees, as well as its job seekers, will always be reflected in the quality of the work employees deliver back to the organization. If your employees feel valued and enjoy the work they are doing, they will want to exceed expectations and deliver high-performing results.

As a talent acquisition professional, I have a responsibility to safeguard Wray Ward’s culture by balancing the need to fill a job opening with ensuring I don’t hire someone who is a poor fit solely because we are in need of a critical resource. A bad cultural hire will do more to damage your organization than not having the right resource in place.

Once you marry the right talent with the right role, the talent development begins. That means providing ongoing training that allows employees to grow both personally and professionally, while arming them with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed.

A company’s greatest asset is its people, and by investing in your people, you are, in turn, investing in your clients and your company’s overall success.

In 2021, the tools and technology we have at our disposal provide more flexibility for working families, women in the workforce and single parents. The pandemic taught us how to go to work differently and accelerated the adoption of these virtual workforce tools. It also drove home the fact that to stay relevant, an organization must listen to what its employees are saying — and that now includes strong opinions about how and where they do their job.

The unprecedented nature of COVID-19 challenged our agency’s leadership to shift off of our financial goals and focus solely and deeply on the well-being of our people. We are all trained in our respective disciplines, but none of us had been trained on how to navigate a deadly pandemic. We were learning together and fast. Add to this the racial unrest and tensions during 2020, prompted by the tragic murder of George Floyd, and we had a perfect cocktail of anxiety, fear, pain and emotional and mental exhaustion. Leaning into our people and striving to provide a safe culture all while ensuring we were getting the work done was vital to our success.

That’s where a company’s culture shines (or doesn’t). At Wray Ward, our people were able to pivot to working remotely, staying safe and delivering some of their best work yet. And the company grew as a result.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” –Joseph Campbell

I love this quote from one of America’s preeminent educators and what it means for my work, both professionally and personally. To hire great talent takes bold choices, for the hiring manager and the candidate. You have to be willing to take risks and step into the unknown.

We need to look beyond the resume and stale job requirements, look beyond color and race, look beyond our own unconscious biases and make bolder hiring choices. And we need to look more at the person across the table and understand how their skills and experience can translate to the role we are looking to fill.

Hire people who will best represent the direction your company is heading and who are cutting-edge thinkers and creative problem solvers. Hire people smarter than you. Hire people who will challenge you to approach your business from a whole new paradigm. Hire the unicorn of an individual who is highly capable at getting the work done but also makes you scratch your head a little. They just might end up saving your company one day!

As a past job seeker myself, I’ve personally experienced all of these things. Applying those experiences to my role as a talent acquisition professional has made me better at my job and even challenged me in my career search.

Consider: Four years ago, I was presented with an opportunity to leave an established, comfortable life and career in Los Angeles, CA for a role in Charlotte, North Carolina — 3,000 miles away from everyone and everything I knew. I shed my fear and doubts, took a huge leap of faith and stepped into the unknown. I essentially entered the cave I had long feared to enter. In doing so, it eventually led me to Wray Ward, where I found my vocational treasure and what has become the most rewarding job of my career!

If you are interested in finding a job where you’ll be challenged, valued and inspired every day, I encourage you to check out Wray Ward’s open positions. You may just discover the treasure of a job you’ve been seeking.

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