Interview with a Recruiter, John Garrett, Systems Made Simple

Posted by Rob Riggins

John, tell us about yourself and Systems Made Simple

Recruiting was a career change for me after spending 8 successful years in business development and sales. I started my recruiting life In the Agency world with one of the largest privately owned firms in the US and eventually spent several years Recruiting/leading teams on large contracts for top 5 Integrators. I’ve also refined recruiting process and strategy in addition to recruiting model and business consulting.

I’ve been with Systems Made Simple/SMS for over 2 months as Recruiting Manager, overseeing all recruiting operations and process for the US and our 6 competency centers. Founded in 1991, SMS has become one of the fastest-growing technology services companies in the Federal space. Built upon a commitment to hard work and a desire to exceed customer expectations, we are a recognized leader in delivering high quality services and solutions in support of our customers’ missions. We are a SDVOSB and a Washington Technology FAST 50 awarded firm with over 100% growth year over year for the last 4 years.

Why do I want to work for Systems Made Simple

Aside from the SDVOSB status and our very stable core business with the VA, the SMS culture of dedication to the customers’ mission and our philanthropic support of numerous Veteran organizations like Wounded Warriors, Fisher House, Homes for our Troops and others creates an environment where you can make an impact and a difference. SMS is a flat organization in terms of leadership and that leadership is dedicated to helping ensure professional growth and career opportunities that will exceed expectations. Its an exciting time to be a part of Systems Made Simple.

At what point in their transition should a service member start looking for a job with your company  

Prior to terminal leave, configuring a strong resume with bullet points of achievements as well as a technical section outlining languages, platforms and environments is key. Reach out to company websites to create profiles and search for positions. Due to OFCCP hiring guidelines all companies are pushing candidates to apply through websites for tracking purposes. Attend job fairs and use LinkedIn to contact key recruiting and business personnel in the companies you’re interested in exploring, and last but not least look for opportunities with smaller more growth oriented companies. The big names going forward will be more susceptible to Government budget shifts.

What’s it like for transitioning military to work for your company

SMS is well positioned to accommodate transitioning military culturally. As veterans our leadership has created an environment conducive to employing military vets, so on balance a former military hire acclimates quickly. Our primary customer, the VA, is an organization dedicated to military health issues and our mission is dedicated to clearing the backlog of claims, streamline systems and process and manage the data more effectively.

Tell us about the hiring process with your company

Typically 3 to 4 interviews with various levels of leadership. A combination of phone and in person meetings. Our process moves quickly, we have a very strong idea of the talent we seek, so multiple interviews play out over 5 to 7 business days. Offers move quickly as well with a 24 to 48 hour turnaround.

There is an initial review of the resumes/application by a recruiter and if the minimum qualifications are met we contact the candidate for a screening interview and the next step would be a hiring manager interview. Our process is typically 3 interviews or more depending on experience and skills required. We also gather as much info as possible when a candidate creates a profile so the offer process goes smoothly and quickly. In terms of skills we focus on technical experience and the environments the candidate has worked in primarily. We also look to see a progression of skills and experience as well. Not every great candidate has all the buzz words in their resume and conversely not every resume full of buzz words makes a great candidate. Our recruiting team makes a concerted effort to flesh out a more robust idea of the candidates expertise as well as assess for cultural fit in the initial screen.

What types of cleared positions do you fill

All types in both the software / hardware world. Clearances are customer specific but are in line with DoD Secret to Top Secret.

What type of certifications or training can you recommend for someone looking to get a job with your company

Software development certs are helpful as well as Network related certs like ITIL, Security +, Network +, PMP, Scrum and Agile

What type of certifications or training can you recommend for someone looking to get into big data 

8570 compliant certs, RDBMS certs

What are the toughest security cleared positions for you to fill and why

Higher the clearance the tougher the find, but moreover we have a challenge in finding talent with specific military health systems backgrounds / military health systems legacy systems expertise.

What do you see security cleared job seekers doing wrong that you want them to stop doing

Come to a job fair with an agenda. Research the companies and if you do not see what you’re looking for, ask. Asking us “what are you looking for “ is not a good approach. Bring a concise 2 or 3 page resume and be prepared to answer questions about your background and expertise. Be prepared to discuss the reason you’re looking, salary expectations and location preference.  We are there to help as well as set expectations about opportunities and what is required of the candidate to be successful in raising their profile. Timing is everything so make a powerful positive impression and recruiters will remember. Anything less will diminish the chance of finding  your ideal position.

What do job seekers need to know about your job as a recruiter

We answer 100 emails a day, make 100 calls a day and there aren’t enough hours in the day.

What’s the craziest thing a job seeker has ever said to you

During a job fair, “Are you going to eat that?” Pointing at half of a breakfast muffin on the table next to ours. At 3pm in the afternoon.

Also, at a job fair, “You’re a recruiter? Cool. What’s that mean, recruiter? How can you help me find a job?”  True story, during my second ever job fair.

What’s the most inappropriate thing you’ve seen on a resume

Written on a resume given to an attractive recruiting colleague, a note/invite to go on a date. Hitting on recruiters at job fairs is a sure way to not only get rejected personally but also professionally.



This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 7:00 am

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