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Getting Ahead

This HR Leader Is Proof You Don’t Have to Switch Companies to Get Ahead in Your Career (and He’s Hiring!)

smiling person wearing glasses
Joe Farrar, a director of talent acquisition at CVS Health.
| Courtesy of CVS Health

Joe Farrar never could have imagined that a part-time job at CVS Pharmacy in high school would lead to a life-long career at the company, but that’s exactly what happened. Over the last 26 years, he has worked up the ladder from pharmacy clerk to a director of talent acquisition (with many positions along the way)—and is now helping to hire qualified candidates who can support CVS Health’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts.

“During my time at CVS Health, I’ve had the opportunity to take on different roles and try new things that I was never formally trained in. But I had the core competencies to achieve success,” says Farrar.

Over the course of his career, he worked as a pharmacy technician and a pharmacist, and held a leadership role in launching CVS in a new market for the company. He was also the face of CVS to pharmacy schools, with the task of recruiting interns and graduates to join the company. “I now oversee our pharmacy campus and retail management campus programs, which allows me to shape our talent strategies to bring in top tier individuals to help millions of patients and retail customers each day,” he says.

Here, Farrar shares what he likes best about the company culture, the types of roles he is currently trying to fill, and advice that applies to a career in healthcare and beyond.

What attracted you to work at CVS Health?

Being able to pay for car insurance and put gas in my car first attracted me to a job at CVS Pharmacy! However, having been with the company for 26 years, what has kept me here have been the opportunities to challenge myself in new roles or with stretch projects that were outside my comfort zone. I wasn’t always so sure that I could tackle them, but my leaders and the people around me were confident in my abilities to succeed.

What positions are you currently trying to fill related to CVS Health’s effort to provide the COVID-19 vaccination?

Putting an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and saving lives is closely tied to the work we do as a company each day to help people on their path to better health. Our portion of the vaccination efforts provides us the opportunity to hire large numbers of pharmacists and pharmacy intern vaccinators, so we definitely have those roles available in markets across the county. We do continue to hire registered pharmacists for store leader roles that provide a good mix of patient care and business engagement. Our Coram Specialty Pharmacy business unit is also looking for individuals interested in the infusion business to take on pharmacy managers to lead entire branches. In this role, you develop and lead large teams, and provide important life-saving therapies to patients in our infusion suite or their own homes.

We also continue to elevate the role of pharmacy technicians, and in many states pharmacy technicians can also immunize under the supervision of a pharmacist. CVS Health will provide aspiring pharmacy technicians the training and certification needed. This might be an interesting career change for someone who wants to break into healthcare without completing a pharmacy school curriculum. A college degree isn’t necessary and we can help you obtain your license and train you to provide patient care.

What advice would you give to someone interested in joining the team at CVS Health?

Find an area that you are passionate about and showcase that to hiring leaders in our company. We are always looking for people with creative thoughts and approaches as we innovate both big and small. You may also find that our leaders see other unique traits in you that you aren’t even marketing, and you could be offered a role on their team you haven’t thought of yet. Be open as it could take you in an exciting new direction!

What do you like best about the company culture?

My favorite thing about our company’s culture is that we place great importance on one of our core values: caring. When we make strategic or business decisions, we ask ourselves. “What is best for our customer, colleague, and community?” To me this is a strong indicator of the company we strive to be each day. We aren’t perfect, but I continue to be very proud of the organization I represent.

What skills and traits have helped you succeed in your career?

As CVS Health has grown over the years the skill that I think has helped me stay successful is my ability to connect with people and build trusted relationships. When people know they can count on you, a bond forms and it helps to strengthen our company.

The second trait I would say is essential not only in our company, but also in the world today is resilience. Things change at a rapid pace and you have to be mentally prepared for those changes. Don’t let small setbacks or bumps take you down emotionally or mentally as that keeps you from being your best each day.

What advice would you offer someone early in their career that’s applicable to any industry?

There is no such thing as a “career fairy.” No one is going to hand you the career of your dreams. As a business professional and a pharmacist, I had to put in the time and work to earn a powerful position when opportunities would present themselves. I didn’t always get selected for the new job, new project, or new assignment, but by raising my hand and being brave it showed people in decision-making positions that I was serious about my dedication and my desire to do more. Therefore, they knew they could count on me when it was time to fill the new role, assign the project, or direct the new assignment.