Ask the Recruiter: Heather Nguyen
In an effort to help job candidates better understand our recruiting and hiring process, we recently solicited questions from our social media followers related to their job search. After receiving a plethora of questions — from how to create a stand-out resume to what factors help candidates ace their interview — we took them to a team of Leidos recruiters to weigh in.
Here to deliver helpful answers to your most pressing job search and hiring questions is Heather Nguyen, a senior talent acquisition specialist at Leidos who has spent more than 20 years helping IT professionals land jobs at various career levels.
Currently, she recruits for roles in network engineering, cybersecurity, software engineering, systems administration, systems engineering, and other related specialties in the defense and intelligence space. If your expertise fits into any of those categories, please consider connecting with Heather on LinkedIn to ask about current and upcoming opportunities.
Now, onto your questions—with Heather's insights.
How can I make my resume stand out?
Heather: Honestly, I wouldn't say there is just one thing that takes precedence when I look at a resume. You'll capture my attention quickly, though, if you have a well-thought-out objective and an organized resume structure that shows clear position details, responsibilities, and dates of employment. This helps because I'm typically honing in on specific skills, technologies, certifications, and longevity required in a particular position, when necessary, to make sure you have the right experience.
When it comes to your accomplishments in your past roles, include quantifiers whenever possible. Tell me what you did, as an individual contributor, and not what your team was responsible for. Finally, be concise and use spell check. If you can, ask someone to read over your resume before you send it out. Spelling and grammatical errors can be a real turnoff for some managers and employers.
If I don't meet all the requirements or have every qualification listed in the job posting, is it worth applying?
Heather: If you have at least 80 percent of the skills and qualifications, then you have a real chance of being considered. Many times, employers will include a laundry list of what they'd like to have when, in reality, only a unicorn with a rainbow horn would fit the bill! So, if you have that 80 percent of the required skills, then take the leap.
How can I overcome small gaps in experience or requirements that you're looking for?
Heather: Overcoming gaps in experience or requirements might not be as hard as you think. The best approach is writing a cover letter that speaks to any related experience, and including this information in conversations with the recruiter. This is also a practice I encourage in an interview. Rather than simply saying “I don't have that experience," respond instead with your related experience and foundational skills, noting that you're willing to learn new skills, if provided the opportunity.
If a job description notes that a polygraph is required, then is not having one a deal breaker or should I still apply?
Heather: This is a golden question! The true answer is that if a job requires a polygraph, then only candidates who have one are qualified. Companies that require the polygraph to start generally make no exceptions to this requirement, and getting a polygraph takes up to two years. So, not having one likely is a deal breaker. I would not, therefore, recommend applying to any positions that require a polygraph unless you actually hold one today. I do, however, recommend applying to the position if it says something along the lines of "Must be able to obtain clearance.” I would also encourage you to seek out a Leidos recruiter to let them know of your interest in the role and/or pursuing a clearance. Our organization offers programs that may help process you for clearance while you work on unclassified content. We may also hire you for an un-cleared role while we work on processing your clearance in support of another position. When in doubt, seek it out!
What soft skills or character traits can I display in an interview that will help me get hired?
Heather: The number one thing I look for in a candidate, especially in terms of culture, is probably transparency. If someone is transparent, then they are being real about themselves, their objectives, their goals, their capabilities, and their expectations.
Does Leidos offer professional development opportunities? If so, what types?
Heather: Leidos offers a broad spectrum of career planning and enhancement opportunities as well as excellent internal career paths. This includes plenty of ways to further your career and sharpen your skills. For employees who plan to continue their education, we offer tuition and certification reimbursement. We also offer mentoring programs, various learning resources (e.g., courses, videos, and books), and career path discussion and development guides.
Employees work with their manager for help in obtaining further certifications and, many times, get reimbursed for related costs, especially if they pertain to their area of technical capability or support.
Stay tuned for more answers to your questions
We hope that Heather'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.