Ask the Recruiter: Amanda Zawacki
In an effort to help job candidates understand what we look for while recruiting, we recently solicited questions from our social media followers related to their job search. And we thankfully got quite the response! You asked everything from whether it makes sense to apply for a job that you're not exactly qualified for to whether cultural fit takes precedence over technical skills.
We took your queries to a team of Leidos recruiters, including Heather Nguyen. In this installment, Amanda Zawacki weighs in. Amanda recruits for a diverse group of government contracting positions, from technical positions in Washington, D.C. to our Antarctic Support Contract based in Centennial, Colo.
Amanda's philosophy is that listening closely to candidates is the best way to help them find the right job. So she not only asks about their skills, but also works to understand their passions and their short- and long-term goals.
“Working with a diverse group of candidates, across a variety of needs for multiple programs is one of the most enjoyable parts of recruiting," she says. “There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that the candidate is placed in an opportunity that aligns with their interests."
We invite you to connect with Amanda on LinkedIn to ask about current and upcoming opportunities.
Now, onto your questions—with Amanda's responses.
Some entry-level jobs require more experience than new graduates actually have. How can recent grads overcome this?
Great question. First, make sure that you are indeed applying for an entry-level position that matches your skill set. Then revisit your resume and cover letter to ensure that they highlight relevant coursework and internships. Your cover letter should also explain the value you'll bring to the table beyond what recruiters can see on your resume.
If you still don't hear back from recruiters, then consider how to make yourself more marketable. One way to boost your resume and gain credible experience is by obtaining relevant certifications. Then update your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter with that information. Don't get discouraged. Follow-up on your applications and send thank you letters as you move forward in the interview process.
If I have most, but not all, of the experience you're looking for, how can I overcome that gap and show that I'm ready to take on more?
Acknowledge the elephant in the room! If you lack in certain areas, state it, but then immediately follow up with the positives of what you do bring to the table. Share your progressive experience and explain which personal strengths will make you successful in that role.
Does Leidos offer ways for employees to further their career by sharpening their skills or obtaining certifications?
Absolutely! This was actually one of the factors that attracted me to Leidos: The career progression. There's room for upward mobility or lateral opportunities. We constantly roll out various development initiatives, such as project management prep courses, train the trainer and mentor/mentee opportunities, and tuition reimbursement. Plus, you'll have frequent performance reviews with your manager to discuss your career trajectory, setting goals and laying out milestones toward achieving them.
The recruitment process at Leidos seems to be a little opaque. For example, I have applied for a job, and the status didn't change from “submitted" for more than three months. Does Leidos view this as a problem to solve?
This may have been an instance where the job required a clearance. It can take months for candidates to obtain a clearance, and it's never guaranteed, so many hiring managers prefer to keep the position open in order to continue accepting applicants in case something falls through in the clearance process.
Another reason for this is that the position may not be funded yet and is tough to fill once it is. In these cases, we'll open the job up early to begin building a candidate pool. That way, once funding is received, we can begin the immediate outreach to qualified candidates.
Of course, we are not perfect and welcome feedback from candidates on our processes. The chat tool on the Leidos career site is connected to a live Leidos recruiter who can answer candidates' questions and receive their feedback. And if a candidate has already worked with a recruiter via email or phone, they're certainly welcome to reach out that way. Personally, I find texting to be an efficient way to communicate with candidates.
Stay tuned for more answers to your questions
We hope that Amanda's insights have helped you gain confidence in your ability to find and land your next job opportunity. 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.