All About Athena

Celebrating the Leaders in our Community

Ashley Ward Athena Awards 2020

The Grand Rapids Chamber stopped by to congratulate Ashley!

We are thrilled to celebrate our very own founder and CEO, Ashley Ward, among the other incredible finalists at this year’s ATHENA Awards! We hope you join us in virtually celebrating this year’s event, Beyond the Bios. The event will be held virtually on Thursday, September 24, 2020 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. 

You can register here and join us in celebrating Ashley and all of this year’s finalists. Thank you to the Grand Rapids Chamber for bringing us all together to celebrate these outstanding leaders in our community.

ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award Finalists

ATHENA Leadership Award Finalists

ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award Finalists

My Life as a Promoter

The Profile That Perfectly Describes Me

Regan Lang

by Regan Lang 

Throughout high school and during my first few years in college, I did very few tasks and activities independently. I preferred to invite friends to run errands, workout and even study with me. Although enjoying group work is not a bad thing in itself, I went through a phase where I struggled to work on tasks alone. It was not until my later years in college that I realized the reasons why I prefer this social lifestyle. Naturally, I am a good communicator and relate well with a variety of people. This allows me to work well with many different types of people and enjoy doing so. With this being said, I am a person who  strongly values relational connections. As I am getting closer to my college graduation, I have now figured out how to work successfully independently while still being able to enjoy time spent with friends.

 I first was introduced to the Behavioral Assessment from Predictive Index when I was applying for the internship position at Hire for Hope. Previously, I have taken the enneagram test and StrengthsFinder Test both of which provided me with insights as to the type of person I am. However, the Predictive Index (PI) test was able to provide me with an even further evaluation of my strengths, preferences, natural tendencies and weaknesses. By taking the PI test, not only was my employer able to evaluate the right position for me, but I was able to understand the concepts behind the assessment which allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the type of worker I am and where I have the best opportunity for success.

 By taking the PI test, I was able to discover that I am the Promoter profile type. A Promoter is a casual, uninhibited, and persuasive extrovert with a tendency for informality. I am collaborative and sociable and am most comfortable working closely with others. Having these attributes allows me to work extremely well with a team and focus on the common goal above my own personal goals. However, with being a relational person, it is important I do not get derailed with the social aspect that I do not focus on completing the task at hand. 

 I was especially surprised by how accurate my PI Test results were regarding my needs, strengths and weaknesses. One aspect of my results states how I need “a clear, specific description of the given task or the responsibilities expected of me.” I am someone who needs to first form a detailed list of tasks to be completed, including each of the rubrics for the tasks, prior to completing a project. I see this trait in both my work life and school life. When completing an assignment, I prefer to always be given a rubric with specific instructions of what the professor expects to see from my work. I then am able to complete each assignment knowing I am checking all of the boxes. 

 One of the best ways I have used my results moving forward is to understand my personal strengths and challenges with the people around me. Once you have your PI Test completed, you are able to see the evaluation of your profile type and how to best relate with someone else with different personality traits. This allows you to realize and understand the wants and needs of the people around you in order to work together to achieve a common goal or to further the relationship.

If you’re curious about learning more about Predictive Index and how Hire for Hope can help you and your company uncover the keys to helping your workforce work at it’s best, visit Hire for Hope’s Talent Optimization page or reach out to speak directly with a Talent Advisor.

Ashley Ward Named 2020 ATHENA Awards Finalist

Young Professional LeadershipAshley Ward ATHENA Finalist

Congratulations to Ashley Ward, Hire for Hope’s founder and CEO, for being a finalist for the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award!

The ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award Recipient:

• Is an emerging leader who demonstrates excellence, creativity and initiative in their business or profession
• Serves as a role model for young women personally and professionally
• Is 40 years old or younger as of September 2019, and has a minimum of five (5) years professional experience
• Provides valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in the community


Both the ATHENA Leadership Award and ATHENA Young Professional Award are founded on the ATHENA Leadership Model® from ATHENA International. This model identifies eight distinct attributes that are reflective of women’s contributions to leadership: Authentic Self, Relationships, Giving Back, Collaboration, Courageous Acts, Learning, Fierce Advocacy, Celebration and Joy.

The 31st annual ATHENA Awards celebration will be held virtually on September 24 at 4:00PM. Join us in cheering on Ashley and all of the other incredible women who were nominated for awards this year. Learn more about the event and register here!

Be sure to read Ashley’s story and find out why she started Hire for Hope.

My Life as a Specialist

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Kelly Bos

by Kelly Bos

You know that question. You know, the one you’ve been asked over and over again? If you’re like me, half the time you don’t know how to answer. Other times you simply come up with something random just to have an answer.  

What do you want to be when you grow up? Yep, that’s the one.

Some of you may always have known what you wanted to be when you grew up. Or, if you didn’t, you found something intriguing and stuck with it. For me, my answer was always different…that is, if I had an answer at all. I find interest in everything (well, almost everything). And I love to learn. However, not in the traditional sense. I love to learn of my own accord and relish in the hands-on training that may be available. Up until recently, I never could understand why I was bored in school, got tired of the monotonous tasks at work, and constantly was on the look-out for the next opportunity. That is, until I took The Predictive Index’s Behavioral Assessment.

Those results, though! They are spot on. Not to mention they help shed some light as to why I always questioned policies and decisions, constantly desired something better, and craved a good challenge.   

Entering my last interview (yes, I’m still challenged), I was asked to take the BA. can completely see why it is a such a useful tool, especially when entertaining a candidate for a certain position. I’m not saying that it’s the sole decision maker when hiring, but it can certainly be insightful as to what the position may require from an individual and if that individual is right for that position.  

Welcome to, I’m a Specialist; and you can count your lucky stars I’m a skeptic…about almost everything! It’s all making sense, now. This is precisely why I could never definitively tell you what I wanted to be when I grew up. It now makes sense why I would get restless in a job that wasn’t challenging.   

As a Specialist, I am constantly challenging decisions (in my own mind) until Im able to investigate and decipher all information.  Details, details, details. It’s all in the details. And a Specialist processes those details with discipline, so that they can communicate their thoughts clearly and concisely. We’re normally pretty accommodating, however, we may take some warming up to. We can be quite analytical, which for me personally, has been an asset for those difficult HR decisions and conversations. It’s also been extremely helpful when making business decisions.   

On the contrary, though, this, on many of occasions, has been misinterpreted as having a lack of empathy. Us analytics do have a heart; we just tend to rely more heavily on hard data. So, please remember this if you encounter a Specialist; we still care.  

As a Specialist, I also tend to operate quickly. And many times, I expect others to operate the same. Well, not so much. (Hello, not everyone is the same!) I’ve been able to learn and understand the differences in other profiles, especially in respect to how they interact with each another. Understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses has really helped my interrelationship with everyone I work with (and those who I live with).  

A skeptic I was, but only at the beginningI honestly can say that the BA is an extraordinary tool that can be used professionally and personally!   

If you’re curious about learning more about Predictive Index and how Hire for Hope can help you and your company uncover the keys to helping your workforce work at it’s best, visit Hire for Hope’s Talent Optimization page or reach out to speak directly with a Talent Advisor.

Recruiting With Purpose

 Hire For Hope: WGVU Morning Live

Ashley Ward in downtown Grand Rapids

Ashley Ward shares her story in creating Hire for Hope, a mission-driven recruiting and Talent Acquisition firm that gives back to the community. Rebuilding her life after an abusive relationship with the help and support of Safe Haven Ministries. Ashley now gives back 10% of her net worth profits to help others escape domestic violence. Pairing her passion for recruiting and her purpose, giving back to the nonprofit that gave her hope! Specializing in executive and professional recruiting searches in West Michigan, Hire For Hope is a highly awarded recruiting firm on a mission, contributing multiple resources for local and national businesses. Offering a suite of behavioral and cognitive assessment tools to clients through the division Optimize, Hire for Hope is able to assess applicants for culture fit and their behavioral wiring to identify the perfect candidate.

Additionally, Hire for Hope provides recruiting services to businesses that have had to lay off their internal recruiters due to the pandemic. Acting as an extension of internal recruiting teams Outsource allows Hire For Hope’s team to work on behalf of companies to elevating the workload- from sifting through resumes to providing screening interviews and reference checks, and often walking candidates through the recruiting process.

Listen Here Learn More:

Hire for Hope

We catch up with CEO/Talent Advisor Ashley Ward, Hire for Hope, discussing why the launch, how the company supports women through it’s funding of Safe

My Life as an Altruist 

What the Predictive Index Taught Me

By Jessica Strayer

As a recent graduate who was always looking for ways to convey my strengths in interviews, learn more about myself, and improve both professionally and personally, taking The Predictive Index was a no brainer. A personality test that will tell me how I work, communicate, and what environments I would thrive in? Sign me up! Little did I know it would teach me so much more. I knew my DiSC, my strengths from Strengths Finder, and my Myers Briggs but never did I think an assessment (that took me less than five minutes) would know me so well and teach me so much about myself. Once I was hired here at Hire For Hope I sat down with Ginny the Talent Advisor, at the time. Ginny walked me through my behavioral pattern, as seen below.

My Behavioral Pattern: 

 If this is your first time seeing a predictive index behavioral pattern like it was mine, you may feel like you just walked into the twilight zone. Bur rest assured, among many helpful tools the  Predictive Index offers a way to break down patterns like this. In fact, 17 Reference Profiles offer translations for a behavioral pattern like this one. My patter most closely alines with that of an Altruist type.

What Does It Mean to Be an Altruist?

  Diving deeper into my reference profile I learned what it meant to be an Altruist, I learned that my type is people-oriented, extraverted, (like I needed to be told this). I always knew I favored collaborative work over independent work, working on group projects in college was fun and exciting, and as I got in the workforce I found working independently lonely and looked for opportunities to talk with others throughout my day. I find myself thriving in environments where I get to interact and work closely with others. I enjoy anytime the team and I can work on a project together, and when I can bounce ideas off of other team members and gain their insight. This also explains why I loved any sales position I worked in, getting to work with customers in a service-oriented role has always energized me. Even in positions where a balk of my day was making cold calls or networking as a part of my duties.  As a recruiter, I get to flex this muscle working with not only my team but also with the candidates in my pipeline and our clients.

In addition to my desire for collaboration or social interaction, I learned as an Altruist, I tend to work at an extremely fast-paced and favor process and procedures over free reins of a project. I learned this combination is the reason I tend to avoid risk in the workplace and like to be prepared, knowing what is expected of me before I take action. Knowing this about myself I can ask questions, create guidelines and templates for myself to streamline my work and continue working at a fast pace. Being able to communicate this with others has been life-changing, I can communicate my need for process, information, and expectations which gives me the confidence to head up any project and take what I like to call, “educated risks”. The Altruist tends to work well under pressure for this exact reason, we tend to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, so while others are scrambling trying to solve an issue, oftentimes us Altruists have already created a solution before the issue has even arrived.

Lastly, I learned that as an Altruist I need a position that will provide me variety in my day.  I always gravitated towards positions where I had the ability to juggle many tasks and projects. I have learned that working on one repetitive task leaves me exhausted, annoyed, and drained at the end of the day. The Predictive Index has given me the language to ask for more responsibilities and projects and taught me that my strengths are not only unique but also valuable to a team that needs my collaborative, fast-paced, and variety-oriented Altruist self.

What the Predictive Index has done for me: 

I am fortunate to work in an organization where we all speak the same “language” and can understand the work style of each person on our team with our reference profiles, at Hire for Hope we consist of an Altruist, Maverick, Promoter, and a Specialist. Learning and understanding each Reference Profile in our company has helped me understand my work style in relation to others, I have been able to see my strengths and my shortcomings and how they might affect others in our organization.  Since learning more about my profile type I can delve deeper into personal and professional growth and vocalize my needs when it comes to my work. On average we spend one-third of our life at work, I believe we should enjoy the time we are there and feel free to communicate what we need to be most productive. After all, it is for the good of the business if I am feeling fulfilled, confident, and empowered in my work.

Want to know your Behavioral Profile or use the Predictive Index in your organization?

Visit our website to learn more or take the test here.



Jessica Strayer

Hire For Hope’s Altruist.

A Women Owned Company On A Mission

Hire for Hope: Rise Up Live Interview

Ashley Ward’s mission from the very beginning of starting her own Recruiting and Talent Acquisition firm, three and a half years ago, has been to give back to the nonprofit organization that changed her life forever. Rebuilding her life with the help of Safe Haven Ministries, Ashley has been able to combine her passion for recruiting and desire to give back by helping to fund their mission. Hire for Hope is committed to giving 10% of net worth profits to Safe Haven in the efforts of helping others escape abusive relationships. Ashley got the chance to sit down and speak with West Michigan Women‘s Content Engagement Manager and the host of ‘Rise Up Live’ Jennifer Pascua. Speaking candidly with Jennifer, Ashley was able to tell a bit of her story, share how Hire for Hope has adjusted the way we do business post-pandemic, as well as, share Hire for Hope’s new division: Outsource. 

Watch the Interview for Yourself!

Read more

My Life as a Maverick

The Predictive Index Results That Changed the Way I Work
Sarah Anderson - Predictive Index- Maverick

by Sarah Anderson

My first job was the perfect fit for me. I was fresh out of college with a marketing degree and little experience and a local magazine decided to give me a chance and let me sell advertisements for them. Eventually, that job morphed into a dual role that was part-time sales, part-time editorial. As a small company, the entire staff was independent contractors and thus could plan our own schedules and come and go as we please. I loved it. I would schedule my sales days full of meetings and run around town. If I was having an off day, I would work from home with no problems. Most days, I would come into the office late morning, get my work done and we usually ended the day with a happy hour or an event to attend. (The main photo for this post was taken in one of my client’s stores. We stopped by their anniversary party as the first of four events we attended that evening! My heaven!) My position was flexible and fun and every day I was able to propose new ideas and run with them. I loved my job with my whole heart.

When that company dissipated, I was lucky to land another wonderful job working in e-commerce. The company was young and fresh and the job itself was fun, but everyone was expected to put in 8 hours a day, no matter what, in the office. Since my new job was primarily dealing with the website, I didn’t have any external meetings or any excuses to get out of the office. I liked the work I was doing, but I felt too much strain on my life and couldn’t figure out why.

It wasn’t until I got wine with my friend Ginny, Hire for Hope’s talent advisor, that I realized why I just wasn’t as happy as I used to be. Ginny had joined Hire for Hope to work in the Talent Optimization division, where Hire for Hope helps companies utilize Predictive Index (PI) to better understand the behavioral drives of their workforce, optimize their environment to best suit their talent and recruit the candidates who are hardwired to be the best fit for their open roles.

Ginny had me take the Behavioral Assessment from PI prior to meeting up just for fun and to better explain to me what she did. The Behavioral Assessment is a tool through the PI platform to uncover the hardwiring of  teams and and candidates. There are 17 reference profiles a person could fall under after taking the test. While each person’s results are a bit more individualized, these profiles can provide the general guidelines for behaviors, needs and best ways to work with each.

When Ginny and I met up, we caught up and I opened up to her about some of the ways I was feeling stress at my job and wasn’t as happy as I used to be. She had to laugh at some of the things I was saying, because she had my Behavioral Assessment results with her and the things that I was struggling with was exactly what my profile type would struggle with. And then she gave me my results and it turned out that I am a Maverick!

The Maverick personality profile is described by PI as an “innovative, ‘outside the box’ thinker, who is undaunted by failure.” Maverick’s communication style is forceful and direct, animated and telling. We are innovative and have confidence in our decision making. We love to take risks as we believe “the ends justify the means” and we’re quick to act. 

Ginny was right. The Behavioral Report she handed me spelled out exactly why I had loved my old job so much, and why I was struggling with the new environment I was in. 

As a Maverick, some of the things I need are: to be challenged, opportunities to influence and variety and freedom from rules and controls. Having a workplace that had me arbitrarily adhering to rules like being in the office from 9-5 just because everyone else had to didn’t work for me. I needed flexibility. I needed to be able to take my ideas and run with them.

My communication style has always been forceful and direct. I was never one to be scared of confrontation, especially in the workplace. I have always been fine having intense conversations if there was a disagreement about a project or if I saw an opportunity to make something better. I’m known among my family and coworkers to either hate something or love it — I don’t fall in the in-between or indifference very often. As a Maverick, it totally fits in my profile to be a little extra animated and to not shy away from directness, but that can come off to some as polarizing and a little too harsh to some (some feedback I had received from my new boss).

The Maverick profile actually gave me a lot of insight on how others in the workplace may see me. It noted that Mavericks may appear tough-minded, may be intolerant of delays, may not adhere to structure or direction and need to be reminded to listen to others’ perspectives. It was a good reminder for me to see that I get very excited about my big ideas, and it would be good to slow down for a minute and listen to the input and ideas of others.

Perhaps my favorite thing that the PI test and my Maverick results gave me was a language and a logic to my hardwiring and some of the difficulties I may come across. Instead of wondering if some of these things were my personality flaws or my improper training from such a freewheeling first work environment, I was able to see them as my hardwiring. It is simply the way I am and what I need from a work environment to be successful. And my favorite part of all of it? It helped me realize how successful I could be. 

One of the Maverick’s weaknesses can be attention to detail. We love the big picture and see it so incredibly clearly. We sometimes skate over the details or the small steps we need to get there. I used to feel bad about myself for this. Why wasn’t I as organized as some people? HOW did I not think of that? What’s wrong with my brain that other people remember that stuff and I don’t?

After reading my results and realizing my Maverick profile type, I simply see it as my strength. I know I’m amazing at the big picture. And now, I know to ask for help with the small things and lean on those incredible people with the brains for details. I seek out people to work with me who are better than me in those ways because I know that our opposite minds will come together to create something wonderful.

My boss and I were able to use the results of my PI test to create a better working agreement for me. After we went over my test and the Maverick’s personality type, we allocated a couple days a week that I did not need to report to the office. He also more clearly saw my need to be handed projects and run with them, and shortly after he made me lead on a couple big projects and let me make all the decisions. He also recognized my need to lead and hired a couple interns under my supervision. I’m so thankful that the results of this test and the realization of my hardwiring were able to give us proactive conversation points to move forward and create the best environment possible for me. 

I have since gone on to new adventures, although I will always hold a special place in my heart for my first two jobs. Now, my full-time job is incredibly flexible. No one tracks my time or cares what I do or how I do it as long as much as they care that I’m able to do my work and create powerful results, which is absolutely perfect for a Maverick profile. I also have enjoyed taking on clients and projects on the side, which really fuels my need for variation. 

I’ve found that if I’m in a spot to fuel my hardwired needs like freedom, flexibility, variation and taking on challenges, I perform better work in every sense. My productivity increases, the quality of my output increases and I am overall just so much happier. And now, I’m able to explain that better to my bosses and have meaningful conversations about what I need to thrive in my role. 

So, here’s to you, my good friend Ginny. (Ginny has since gone on to explore different adventures and spend more time with her family.) Thank you for introducing me to Predictive Index, having me take the Behavioral Assessment, and explaining to me in so much detail my personality type and what I need most in my environment. That information was life-changing to me, and I think every person who works should have access to that same information so they can clearly communicate their environmental needs and find a workplace that best suits them. We spend so much of our lives at work, it’s important to get it right. 

If you’re curious about learning more about Predictive Index and how Hire for Hope can help you and your company uncover the keys to helping your workforce work at it’s best, visit Hire for Hope’s Talent Optimization page or reach out to speak directly with a Talent Advisor. (I highly recommend it!)

Diversity Doubled: Data-Driven Decisions

HireReach Helps Companies Utilize Evidence-Based Selection

Group of happy business people

HireReach Helps Companies Utilize Evidence-Based Selection

by Jessica Strayer

Bias, whether we like to admit it or not, plays a fundamental role in our decision making. We have been conditioned to rely on our past experiences, prejudices, and unconscious bias, and the hiring process is not immune. From sourcing candidates and interviewing prospects to onboarding employees, companies need a fair, data-driven strategy to effectively seek out, attract, and maintain their diverse workforce.

Talent 2025 and West Michigan Works saw this need and worked in collaboration to create the HireReach Initiative.

Rachel Cleveland-Holton

I sat down with Rachel Cleveland-Holton, technical consultant and project manager at HireReach, to learn more about the initiative and their   goal to “help employers make better hiring decisions.” 

Rachel explained that HireReach promotes evidence-based selection methods by connecting data-driven platforms with local companies and corporations who sign up to participate. Currently, HireReach is working with 20-25 employers between their two cohorts, offering those employers a fair process of standardized strategies to improve their quality of hire, reduce their first-year turnover, and increase workplace diversity.

So, what is evidence-based selection? Evidence-based selection is a structured and standardized process to guide decision making, offering consistent processes with proven selection measures backed by industrial/organizational psychology, all informed by quantitative data. This objective and data-driven method is a fair, holistic approach to hiring, reducing unconscious bias by assessing candidates based on their skills. The evidence-based selection process can be seen below:

 The essential elements of evidence-based selection include: (1) a fair and objective process, (2) compensatory ratings, (3) reliable, valid, and predictive selection measures, and (4) score measures using valid selection criteria. 

Evidence-based selection is proven to be effective in combating bias that negatively impacts the selection process. Mercy Health in West Michigan was one of the first to adopt the evidence-based selection process back in 2010. Over an eight-year period, 10,000 candidates were hired. In using evidence-based selection, Mercy Health saw its diversity more than double. Also, they saw their first-year turnover of those hired drop by 23% and the hiring process take 16% less time. 

Bias and noise will continue to plague our ever-changing modern world, it is by the implementation of a standardized hiring process that provides objective data-driven decisions. Companies who chose to join the HireReach initiative will be provided with training, guidance, and consultation from the HireReach team and supporting subject matter experts. You can learn more about evidence-based selection or get involved by visiting

Hire For Hope is an advocate for evidence-based selection in recruiting and proud partners of the HireReach initiative, presenting their evidence-based selection tool (The Predictive Index) to each of HireReach’s Cohorts. 

Reach out to us or more information on our services.

Want to learn more about HireReach? Read their answers to frequently asked questions or contact HireReach.


Business photo created by –

How Predictive Index Makes Hiring Easy

Help With Sifting Through Thousands of Applications

Predictive Index for Hiring
by Ashley Ward

With high unemployment rates, your business is likely to experience a flood of applicants for each open position. That’s great — exactly what you had hoped for months ago when you felt like it was impossible to find the right talent. However, when it comes to sorting through hundreds of applications and finding the right fit, you may find it difficult and time-consuming to be able to spot those winning candidates.

That’s where Predictive Index comes in. Predictive Index (PI) is a talent sourcing tool that utilizes one quick, easy assessment for measuring each applicant’s motivating drives and needs. Through PI, you’ll be able to use objective data to prioritize applicants by match score and quickly bring candidates to the top of your list who are hardwired to be a great fit for the position you’re hiring for. 

How does it work?

You’ll begin by creating job targets before your job postings go up. Completing this process will help you and your team identify what you really need in this position, and PI will give you the insights that will help identify the hard-wiring and underlying traits that candidates will possess to be successful in the role. 

PI’s Behavioral and Cognitive Assessments help sort candidates based on the highest predictors of job success. These assessments will bring the best fit to the top of your list through science and data. You’ll be able to go beyond their resume with this process — you’ll see the factors that motivate them, what they need in an environment to be successful and their cognitive abilities that will be applied to this role. 

Remove bias from hiring. 

These tools make it simple and easy to ensure that you aren’t distracted from details and biases that may sneak into our decisions, whether we realize it or not. Behavioral drives and cognitive ability are scientifically proven to be great predictors of performance. By focusing on those, you’ll be able to get a clear picture of how candidates will act in this role. This information will be a powerful tool for finding the best candidates from the long list of applications. 

Define your existing roles.

You can use this process to create clearer maps of the existing roles in your company and shift work responsibilities to those who have the best hard-wiring for them. Plus, who knows, you may find that you have the perfect fit for the new position right in your organization already! 


To learn more about using Predictive Index in the workplace, visit our Talent Optimization page.