My Career Journey: Sean Rae, Managing Director at Workforce Genetics

Sean Rae recently joined the Workforce Genetics (WGx) team as its Managing Director. Prior to joining WGx, Sean had enjoyed a successful, decade-long career in the talent industry, serving in roles of increasing responsibility. Most recently, he was the Branch Manager for Ultimate Staffing located in Baltimore, Maryland. 

Sean brings strong talent leadership experience, deep industry expertise, a keen understanding of business operations and an expansive network to his new role. A Baltimore area native that has lived and worked in the local community for years, Sean is yet another team member with intimate knowledge of the BioHealth Capital Region’s assets, challenges and mission.

The WGx content team recently talked to Sean about his career journey to WGx, the scope of his new role and how he views both the candidate experience and his relationships with job seekers and employers.     


Tell me the “movie trailer” version of your career journey.

The cool part of my start date with WGx is that was the same day I got started in the staffing business, which marked ten years in the industry. 

I started out doing back-office work for national accounts at a global IT staffing agency where I learned a lot about the nuts and bolts of business operations. I then moved over to the sales side as an account manager with another staffing agency and eventually moved into a branch management role.

The last two years I’ve been a branch manager for a large staffing agency where I’ve focused on administrative, clerical, HR and customer service types roles with producing responsibilities as well.


How did you connect with Workforce Genetics and why did you choose to join the team?

Chris Frew sent me a message on LinkedIn. I always receive a ton of messages from recruiters on LinkedIn but Chris’ message was unique. At the time the company I was with was celebrating its 28th anniversary and Chris said, ‘Hey, would you like to join a company where 28 years from now you’re celebrating this anniversary and you were there at the beginning?’

That got me excited. I could see this was an opportunity to be a part of the journey and help the company grow, influence the culture, influence the development of the people and build new relationships and see where things go in 15, 20, 28 years…

I received four offers along with one from WGx and I went with WGx because it was a special opportunity. WGx’s media arm, BioBuzz, was also a factor because this model is an industry disruptor and could help WGx really explode from a growth perspective.  


What’s your role within the WGx recruiting team?

I will produce some and share my expertise in recruiting, account management and the business development side of things. I’ll also provide support to our team by creating some additional structure and sharing things from a different perspective that could impact our performance.

I see this as a player-coach role. 


What’s the best piece of advice you could give a candidate seeking that dream job in the current talent marketplace?

Cast a wide net. Talk to everyone. 

Don’t pigeonhole yourself to a specific industry, company size or type of work environment. Just have conversations with hiring managers. Network and build relationships. As you do this you’ll start to organically narrow things down to opportunities that interest you the most and make the most sense for you in that stage of your life. 


What are a few key components to building strong relationships with employers and how do you keep them strong over time?

This depends on the type of position you are looking to fill. If you’re looking for aggressive sales people your approach will be different than hiring for biotech where you have all different kinds of roles and personalities. 

For employers it’s important to define your culture and what type of personality will fit within that culture. That doesn’t mean everyone has to be a robot and the same, but it does mean that everyone you bring on board has to share your culture’s values. You don’t want to hire a culture disruptor and have a negative impact; you want to hire someone that can bring a new perspective and can add value to your culture.

Our job at WGx is to ask the right questions of candidates that bring out authentic responses. I personally ask certain questions where I don’t want a ‘canned’ response. I’d rather someone be genuine in the interview process so I can learn who they really are. That way we can better match a candidate with an employer’s culture. We want to create interviews where people show their authentic selves and we can determine if they’re passionate about a particular opportunity and mission or if they just want a ‘job.’ 


From a recruiters perspective, what does delivering a great candidate experience look like in a highly competitive talent market?

My general philosophy is to treat people well and do business the right way. 

Whatever it may be, I am transparent; I will never pull the wool over a candidate or employer’s eyes. You need to treat a candidate with respect; they are giving you their time regardless whether we hire them or not. 

A lot of big staffing companies are very transactional in their approach. The relationships aren’t as important in many cases.

The successful people in this industry, regardless of the space they’re hiring for, put relationships first. They have great relationships with their clients and the candidates, who are the lifeblood of their business. 

I take the time to get to know the people I work with and for. I want to know about their families…I build connections beyond filling a seat. It’s not just all about business or money or transactions. Relationships will make you successful; turn and burn will not.  


You have really strong ties to Baltimore and the region. How is this an advantage for you when it comes to connecting candidates and employers?

I grew up in the Reisterstown, Maryland area and went to the University of Maryland Baltimore County. I played baseball at Calvert Hall near Baltimore and played ball in the area my whole life. The connections you build playing sports and working locally are really valuable, and they’re everywhere.

My network is large and from a variety of communities. I’ve spent my whole life bringing people together and I have a large network of friends, close colleagues and others that are always willing to lend a hand or connect me to other people. Geographically, I know the area like the back of my hand. My whole staffing career has been spent here in the Baltimore area and I know the demographic here very well.  


What are some hobbies you enjoy and what do you do in your free time?

I love to spend time with my wife and daughter. We live in a great area in the woods surrounded by about 100 acres. I love doing stuff outside. My daughter loves riding around with me and going to parks and playgrounds.

My wife and I love cooking together. On Sundays, we cook all day long. We love coming up with new cooking ideas. We work out daily, too. And model trains is a big hobby of mine as well.