Leadership Café

Linda Anderson: “It’s been a wonderful career”

Categories: Notes from the field, Total Talent Management

Linda Anderson’s first role with the University of Washington was as a student and, like so many alumni before and since, she stayed after earning her degree. She most recently worked as an employment specialist, partnering with hiring managers at UW Advancement, Burke Museum, Henry Art Gallery, Intercollegiate Athletics, University Libraries, UW Bothell and UW Tacoma.

POD caught up with Linda in December, just days before she retired. She reflected on how her work and UWHR have changed over four decades.


What was your first job in UWHR, and how did your career evolve?

I started as an office assistant 2, working as a receptionist for what was then called Staff Employment. From there I moved up to an office assistant 3, which was kind of a lead at the front desk, and then I worked as a personnel assistant, providing support for employment specialists. I was promoted to supervisor, which I did for three or four years, but ultimately I decided I wanted to do more with recruiting. I’d discovered that work was interesting to me, and I was encouraged to apply.

What are some things that you remember doing “back in the day” that have now completely changed?

Long before the web and everything being posted online, Jean Swarm and I used to type up the Employment Bulletin, which was usually about four or five pages total, and then I would take it to Copy Services and they would mail copies to departments across campus as well as outside agencies. Also, candidates used to fill out a standard application as well as a supplemental questionnaire specific to the position, and I remember working with stacks of paper. Now, of course, everything is posted, applied for, and reviewed online, and that’s been a huge difference.

Employment specialists also had a different role in the hiring process in that we’d perform the first round of in-person interviews for many open positions, give candidates a score, and then refer certain candidates to the hiring manager.

Have the changes you’ve seen in how UWHR works been positive or negative overall?

I’d say a little of both. It sure is a lot more convenient and faster to do things online; I’ve liked being able to reference things online and find things so easily — it’s all right there. The thing I don’t like is that there’s not as much personal contact. For instance, we used to do more departmental visits, with UWHR service teams going out to various groups and meeting with people face-to-face. Now, though, not only is work done mostly on the computer, there’s a lot of administrative work to handle with each requisition, and meanwhile the University has grown so much and there’s so many departments we serve, the volume and the nature of our work has changed.

UWHR has moved a lot. How many different offices have you worked in, and what was your favorite?

I’m sure I’ve lost count! When I started, we were in what was the Alumni House at 15th and 45th. Later we moved to the Brooklyn Building [where Elm Hall now stands], and then we needed more space, so a few of us worked in a little Craftsman bungalow behind the building. After that, we had a stint in Bloedel, then the Tower, and now Roosevelt Commons West. The bungalow was my favorite by far—oh, I loved working in that little house!

What has kept you at the UW for so long, and what will you miss the most?

I really enjoyed my time as an undergraduate, and after going to school here, I just wanted to stay. Sure, I guess you could make more money in the private industry, but that never appealed to me. I like feeling that I’m part of something really special and I like working with other people who feel the same way.
I’ve enjoyed providing a good product for our clients and serving so many different departments at the UW. It’s so interesting to see what they do and how it affects our world. Astronomy has this wonderful telescope that can see so far into the universe, and I love the feeling that I’m part of that because I recruited candidates who work with that telescope. With UW Bothell and Tacoma, I helped them with staffing from the ground up, and I’ve loved seeing them and the rest of the UW grow.

What I’ll miss the most is the people. We’ve got a great group of people here in UWHR, and over the years I’ve met so many wonderful, hard-working people across the University and also while doing outreach and talking to people at job fairs. It’s been a wonderful career.

In her retirement, Linda anticipates being able to spend more time with her partner, Jim, and she also hopes to travel more and visit family members — and her horse — in California. We wish her well!