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CJ currently serves as the Talent Lead for the Defense Digital Service
The year 2020 is undeniably one for the history books. The world was affected in the first month of the new year, on January 26, when the news broke that NBA legend Kobe Bryant and seven others, including his 13 year old daughter, died in a helicopter crash. Less than six weeks later, the world as we know it came to a halt, and we began preparing for stay at home orders to combat COVID-19. Here we are, more than 60 days later, at home adjusting to strict protocols that have removed socializing in public spaces and replaced that with video conferencing as an everyday practice.
As a Digital Service Expert at the Defense Digital Service, preparing for telework until further notice was not a challenge, but as a recruiter I was concerned with how to attract top technical talent without attending technical conferences or Meetups. During the first week of quarantine, like many of you, I thought, this is great, an entire week to get a lot of work done without office interruptions. Our office even hosted daily brunch sessions that were fun pick-me-ups in the middle of everything. During week two I completed interviews with candidates who were vetted pre-COVID-19. By week three reality set in, and I began to have anxiety about being social while distancing. I didn’t want to let my team down, and after a day of worry, I realized this pandemic is universal and everyone is at home — this is a great time to recruit!
Following that epiphany, I began reaching out to every software developer, data scientist and interesting technical recruit I could find on LinkedIn by phone and email. I also engaged with technical recruiters and talent acquisition managers in the private sector who happily shared upcoming virtual recruiting conferences and companies that were laying off technical talent. These leads were not only priceless, but they proved that technology is the most effective social tool because it can bring people together in hundreds of individual spaces at one time for one purpose — to socialize.
Since we began mandatory telework mid-March, here are my three key takeaways:
During these unprecedented times it is vital to maintain a healthy schedule inclusive of connecting with not only friends and family but also with social groups that emulate who you are. These strange times will not last forever, but the social connections you make along the way will. Since moving to a mandatory telework model, DDS has successfully recruited 13 technical hires. Talent is everywhere, may you always be recruiting!