NEWS + ADVICE
Interview with a Recruiter, Jo Weech, Red Alpha
Jo tell us about yourself and Red Alpha
Prior to working for Red Alpha, I had my own management consulting firm. A little over a year ago I started working with Red Alpha as a consultant. The company was growing and we focused our strategies on recruiting and retention. In May I became the Director, Talent Management. My role is recruiting, retention, team building and growing the careers of current employees.
Red Alpha was started in 2011 by three developers who still work on projects. In three short years we have established a great reputation with both engineers and customers in the IC. Red Alpha is on multiple contracts with great teaming partners. We currently have 40+ positions to fill, all pretty much in the same niche – cyber, cloud, web and HPC technologies.
Why do I want to work for Red Alpha
What makes us different is we’re highly collaborative. Red Alpha partners with people to help them achieve their career goals. We’re the antithesis of a body shop looking to put butts in seats.
We take on projects whereby individuals can learn new things and get more training and certs that will help them grow and become more valuable to themselves and to the company.
When you work for Red Alpha you know you’ll be supported, people will be alongside you to enhance your growth and career, and you’ll have a great time doing it! Think, “Federal Contracting meets Silicon Valley,” and you have a picture of our company culture!
What’s the Red Alpha hiring process
We keep things simple and efficient. A phone screen interview where we promise not to ask Google-style questions such as, “If you were an animal what would you be?”
The second step is a tech interview. We won’t ask you to code for 5 hours on a white board. The tech interview is to verify that what is on your resume is valid.
After that, if there is a fit for both parties, typically within a week you’ll be sent an offer letter, and we will begin to aggressively market you on projects that are of interest to you.
Do you target transitioning military
Yes. I’m involved with helping different organizations that assist transitioning military to translate their resumes into “civilianese” and help them with networking opportunities to meet people who can hire them. I’ve met great candidates that way, but I also enjoy simply helping people get connected even if we don’t have something for them ourselves.
What types of cleared positions do you fill
Clearance levels we’re looking for are predominantly TS/SCI with full scope polys.
Skills we seek are cloud, cyber, front end GUI development, UI/UE/UX developers. Knowledge of full stack is really useful. So many positions require documented if not certified cloud experiences. It’s the same thing all employers in our space are looking for – a purple squirrel with a mohawk and a ring on the 3rd left toe!
Do you use social media or search engines to screen job seekers at any point in the hiring process
I do try to connect with people on LinkedIn to network with them, but we do not use social media to screen candidates. We only use two hiring boards, as the candidates we are seeking are not typically found on generic job boards.
What are the toughest security cleared positions for you to fill and why
They all tie for first place! No ranking. Although junior software engineer positions are probably the hardest to fill, because they need two years of experience and already have a full scope poly. That’s a very rare person to find.
What advice do you have for cleared job seekers
The best thing I’ve ever seen on a resume is a skills section (e.g. technologies, programming languages, etc.) with the number of years’ experience in parentheses. It’s the most brilliant thing I’ve seen to date. One resume came with the tools, languages, databases, etc., all in alphabetical order with the years of experience in parentheses. I published my first LinkedIn article with my best tips on how to write a good tech resume.
What’s the craziest thing a job seeker has ever said to you
A couple of months ago, I called a candidate at the arranged time. Upon answering, he said, “Just a minute, I have to turn down the TV. I’ve been watching way too much TV lately.”
What’s the most inappropriate thing you’ve seen on a resume
A job seeker included information about extreme political/religious group participation. Anything with religion or politics should not be put on your resume. We do not use this criteria to assess suitability for positions, so it is best to leave this information off the resume and fill those spots with pertinent technical skills information.
What do job seekers need to know about your job as a recruiter
Understand that if you are a great match for us, I will do whatever I can to help you to be able to secure a position. If I can’t do that for whatever reason – your clearance isn’t correct or you don’t have the commensurate skills or experience – I will do my best to share your information with others in my network if I think they can help you. Winning friends is more important than winning slots on contracts. If we help you with your next position, even if it isn’t with us, we will win your friendship and someday, we know we will have another chance to work with you or with the people you refer to us!
I can’t help everyone in the universe so please don’t send me your relatives’ resumes! But just as a developer who codes all day and then goes home and codes at night, I recruit 24/7, but volunteer my “spare” time with assisting those in career transition to be the best candidates they can be. I truly love what I do, and it is a joy and a privilege to be able to do this full time with Red Alpha!