Deciding to move to Northwest Arkansas from Arizona was an easy decision for Marcy Pummill – “It was the coolest place that was anywhere close” to family in Kansas City and St. Louis.
Finding a great job to match was less simple, especially as Pummill, with wide-ranging experience in natural resource management, education, entrepreneurship and pickleball coaching, wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do next.
“I was trying to look for something new,” she said.
She found it by joining the Northwest Arkansas Talent Network, which combines a regional job posting site with a personalized matchmaking service that links jobseekers and employers in health, technology and other specialized industries based on their backgrounds and skills.
Pummill met one-on-one with Justin Stewart, the Northwest Arkansas Council’s talent ambassador, who began connecting her with openings that matched not just her resume but also her priorities and interests. It wasn’t long before she was hired as food hub coordinator for the new Spring Creek Food Hub, a startup organization supporting local farmers and linking them to more customers.
“I loved that there was such a localized option,” Pummill said of the network, crediting it with finding her a meaningful next step in her career. “What we’re doing, I’m so excited about it. We’re trying to build an entire local food system.”
Experiences like Pummill’s are exactly why the Council started the network late last year as part of a relaunched CareersNWA.com, said Aron Shelton, director of Finding NWA, the Council initiative focused on attracting and retaining talent in the area. The talent network and similar projects aim to help newcomers and longtime local residents alike fill thousands of needed jobs. Stewart plays the role of a walking, talking compendium of leads, references and openings.
As of this month, more than 1,000 people had joined the network, connecting with more than 100 employers and thousands of local jobs. Though the network doesn’t track hiring data from its members, its job postings have been clicked more than 50,000 times since it began. It has also highlighted Pummill and dozens of others on a regular Talent Showcase to bring their job search extra attention.
Among them was Lindsey Navarrette, an NWA local who wasn’t having any luck finding jobs through Indeed or LinkedIn before a Google search led her to CareersNWA. The talent network eliminated time wasted reading through countless job openings that didn’t fit, and its showcase helped Navarrette network with the right people. Meeting with Stewart also nudged her to focus on nonprofit openings.
This summer she joined Groundwork, the Council’s workforce housing program, as its communications, social media and event manager.
“I saw a job posting for the Northwest Arkansas Council and knew I needed to apply,” Navarrette said. “Justin supported and encouraged me throughout the interview process and welcomed me, now as a co-worker. I am very thankful for the NWA Talent Network, as it helped me shift from endlessly searching for a job to developing a plan for my career.”