Ask the Recruiter: Advice to land your first job in a new career
April showers bring May flowers — and new college grads eager to land their first job. But freshly minted college graduates aren't the only people looking to embark on a new career. Whether it's because of pandemic upheaval or an interest to acquire emerging skills for fast evolving industries, many people today are making career transitions.
In this installment of Ask the Recruiter, we're responding to questions from such recent graduates and in people seeking a career transition.
Below is our round table of Leidos recruiters who offered their insights into the recruiting and hiring process. If one of them recruits for your area of expertise, please consider connecting with them on LinkedIn.
- Revecca Padiotis, Intelligence Group, GeoIntelligence, Geospatial, language skills
- Amy Roberts, Intelligence Group, Defense Group, Logistics, intern and college recruiting
- Evie Shaffer, Defense Group, Airborne Solutions, Army ISR, ARLE, Unmanned Planes
- Donal Duffy, Defense Group, GSM-O, Cyber, Enterprise IT (Veterans at Work Certified)
- Jenny Pellegrino, Defense Group, Air Force, Cleared Cloud, AWS, Project Management, Cyber
Now, onto your job search questions – and our insider answers.
What's the best way for a recent college graduate to get a job?
“Apply for internships or lower-level positions and include examples of when you've gone above and beyond in other life experiences on your resume," Jenny says. Beyond pursuing internships, leverage your personal network and begin building a professional one.
“An established network can be a recent grad's greatest asset," says Amy Roberts, who specializes in intern and college recruiting. She suggests starting with school clubs and organizations since other members could end up being future colleagues. Employee referrals make up about a quarter of all new hires at Leidos, which proves that who you know matters and networking early on can lead to future career opportunities.
“People who are referred to us often make the best job candidates, so building a strong reputation among your network connections will serve you well if some decide to recommend you for open positions," Amy explains. “Beyond internships and campus connections, let people in your daily life know that you'll be graduating soon and are looking for a position in your field. You never know who may have connections that can help you launch your new career!"
Some companies, including Leidos, have jobs pages specifically targeted to recent college graduates, so also look for opportunities there.
What's your advice for someone who wants to transition their career?
Start with where you want to go, what you want to do and why, but also consider whether there are any natural next moves for you to make. It's easier to make a transition to a role, for example, in a department with which you've already worked in a cross-functional role. Other examples of common career moves include taking a similar role as your current one in a different industry or a new role in an industry where you have deep knowledge and experience. Whatever the scenario, the key is to call out your related skills and experience.
“Transferable skills are invaluable," says Donal. “Adapt your resume to showcase how your skills and experience in past positions will serve you well in the role you're applying for."
In addition to identifying and highlighting your transferable skills, consider whether you know someone who could mentor or even sponsor you as you navigate your career transition. If not, ask around to see if anyone in your network could connect you with a mentor or sponsor.
Does Leidos offer opportunities to military members who are transitioning to civilian careers?
Yes. In fact, over 20% of Leidos employees are military veterans. Many of our job openings offer seamless career transitions, especially in the Defense Group. Leidos also hires military veterans for roles in cybersecurity, IT, and intelligence, to name a few.
“Veterans often bring experience in supporting specific Department of Defense systems and technologies, as well as an understanding of military culture. That can give them a great advantage when applying," says Donal, who often hires military veterans for entry-level technical positions at Fort Meade, MD. While these positions typically require a security clearance and a technical certification, such as CompTIA Security+, they also present opportunities to hire experienced candidates from a variety of career paths. Donal suggests that veterans nearing their separation date maintain their clearance and take advantage of free and discounted programs offered to military members, such as Hiring Our Heroes. “This sets them up for a smoother transition into their civilian career."
Stay tuned for more answers to your questions
We hope that these insights have helped you gain confidence in your ability to find and land your next job opportunity. Please consider connecting with our recruiters on LinkedIn for your areas of expertise. Follow Leidos on LinkedIn to make sure you see our next installment of "Ask the Recruiter" to get more answers to your job search questions.