HR in the Hot Seat: Lynnette Edmonds, talent director, Edelman

Lynette talks to HC about the similarities between recruitment, unicorn-hunting and jigsaw puzzles.

HR in the Hot Seat: Lynnette Edmonds, talent director, Edelman

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?  
Many years ago a boss of mine – who was quite intimidating in many ways but a very impressive operator – told me never to compare myself to others and get distracted by what they were doing and how they were performing.  She empowered me – at a young age - to be myself and trust my instincts.  I found her much less intimidating after that!

What challenges do you think Talent acquisition will face over the next 10 years? 
As the years progress I’ve noticed that people have become more fickle with the recruitment process and corners are being cut consistently.  This affects the process considerably and therefore also affects the end result.  The application process is now a one click operation which removes significant layers which I feel are still crucial to effective talent acquisition.  People’s commitment to the process has changed considerably and I fear that over the next decade talent acquisition will purely be an online process as opposed to a people process. 

What is the favourite part of your job? And which part of your role has proven the most challenging?  
Getting the perfect person for the job is an amazing feeling. Like putting in the final piece of a really hard jigsaw puzzle!  But of course this can also be the most challenging.  That and dealing with the ever changing (and unreliable) nature of people.  They are full of surprises.  You never know quite what’s around the corner!  Predicting the unpredictable is a big part of the job.

What do you feel is your biggest professional achievement to date? 
A few years ago I was briefed exclusively on finding a new CEO for a leading communications firm and, due to the high calibre of the candidates I sourced, they ended up creating a General Manager role on top of the CEO one so they could hire two of my people.

What attracted you to a career as a Talent Director? 
I actually fell into it but I believe that fate intervened!  I went to see a recruiter about changing careers and the next thing I was working there!  That led to starting a recruitment business and then moving in-house to my first Talent Director role.  I’m now in my second one at a larger business with greater challenges and responsibilities and loving it!

What are some of the challenges particular to your firm? 
Retaining our top talent is definitely a major challenge.  We have amazing people and are fortunate to attract the very best.  But that means that our people are in huge demand from our competitors and being approached daily.  We know they can easily find another job so we need to work hard to keep them engaged and inspired. 

Which areas of talent acquisition are you most passionate about? 
Challenging the brief when I feel it’s not working or coming up with a creative solution to a talent problem.  Finding that elusive “unicorn” just when you think there’s no one out there and I never tire of putting a job offer to someone and making their day. There’s nothing quite like it!

Please complete this sentence: If you weren’t working in talent, you would be…
Probably working in the health and fitness industry.  Not sure what I’d actually be doing but that’s another passion of mine and I would still be working with people which is what I love. 

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