Ricci DePasquale, KForce Technology
Market Manager/Technical Recruiter
As a technical recruiter, Mr. DePasquale works with clients in DoD, DHS, and civilian agencies in the federal space; identifying IT resources in the DC/MD/VA area for federal customers, in a fast-paced, competitive market.
As a market manager, he currently manage a team of six full-lifecycle recruiters on a day-to-day basis, providing continual training and oversight to his team. Ricci has been recruiting for almost three years, and finished 2013 as #1 in his office for recruiters in terms of revenue generated.
What is the greatest challenge you face as a defense contractor recruiter?
The greatest challenge I face is keeping an open line of communication with both the candidate and the hiring managers. On the candidate side, because clearances are typically involved, many candidates have a difficult time having discussions during working hours. Consequently, in a fast-paced, immediate need hiring situation, many opportunities are missed due to the delay in response/timing.
On the hiring manager side, opportunities that are conveyed as “immediate hire” that prove to be otherwise are the biggest challenge. In a market where high level cleared technology professionals are in high demand, the “shelf life” of candidates in the market with hot skill sets is very short (1-3 weeks depending on skill set). Identifying a qualified candidate but receiving no feedback for a week from hiring managers causes a significant amount of missed opportunities.
What are the top three things you want any viable job candidate to know when applying for defense jobs?
1. Reason for looking—why are you looking to leave your current opportunity/why did you leave your most recent position? This lets me know a few things. A candidate’s motivation for leaving their position can be for a variety of factors—money, hours, location, work responsibilities, contract ending, etc. This will help me determine whether the position I am calling about is a good fit or not. If not, it will allow for me to better identify a position that is ideal for the candidate.
2. What they are looking for—what do you want to see in your next engagement? This is similar to the first question, but it gives me a picture of what the candidate really wants. Having a clearance held is sometimes paramount to the candidate—understandably so in this area. If it is not, this will often open up the job search significantly. Sometimes money is the motivating factor—this can be addressed very quickly (sometimes the money is there, sometimes it is not). Maybe the candidate wants to be closer to home—traffic can greatly affect quality of life. All of these factors are important to know up front so that time is not wasted on the candidate or client side.
3. When they can interview and start. I only like to work with specifics. The last thing I want to do is tell a client the candidate can interview anytime this week, get an interview request for the following morning at 8:00am, and have a candidate tell me that they have a doctor’s appointment. This gives the client a bad first impression that can be a significant disadvantage in the interview process. Tell me what days and time blocks you can interview, what days and times definitely DO NOT work, and if offered the position, how soon you could start.
How do you feel the current market is evolving in light of budget cuts in DoD?
Due to budget cuts, we are seeing a pattern of 1 year awards with option years behind them. Due to this, there has been an increase in clients utilizing consulting services. Most candidates would prefer permanent placements, but the reality is that consulting is preferred by clients in the cleared space these days. Additionally, we are seeing candidates are open to making a jump from DoD to the DHS space.
What advice would you give a veteran seeking a job?
Be certain to highlight your technical skills in your resume. Often, I see more of an emphasis placed on the functional area but cannot determine what specific tools were being utilized or what operating system was being used. Recruiters usually spend less than a minute on a resume before moving to the next one—be certain to make your qualifications for the position you seek stand out.
When conducting an interview, what are the most important questions/answers you usually need to know?
If you are referring to an interview with a recruiter, I discussed this above. If you are talking about with the hiring manager/client: Be absolutely certain you can speak to everything in your resume. It is a huge turn off for managers to ask a question about something in your resume and hear that the candidate has not actually used the technology/skill but has heard of it/somewhat familiar with. Additionally, be prepared to speak about when and how you utilized a tool/technology, specific instances when you solved a problem/demonstrated leadership, and other real-life examples that make your experience more than just words on paper. Lastly, I ALWAYS tell candidates that at the conclusion of the interview (if the candidate likes the position), to thank the manager for their time and consideration, let them know you are very interested in the position and moving forward, and ask what the next steps are and what kind of timeline to expect.
From your experience, what are the top pet peeves job seekers have with most recruiters?
I have heard a common pet peeve from most job seekers in regards to working with recruiters—not getting feedback or follow ups from submittals and interviews. I always follow up with candidates whether or not they get the job. It is just as important to let candidates know they were not selected so that they can move on/get constructive criticism. Unfortunately, sometimes the feedback is “no feedback.” Recruiters are at the mercy of the responsiveness from hiring managers.
Nevertheless, I try to make it a regular practice to check in at least once a week to let them know there is no feedback.
What makes a job seeker stand out in the crowd?
This is a two-way road. Responsiveness—it can be as simple as responding to an e-mail saying “not interested, looking for…” At least I know that the candidate will get back to me in regards to potential opportunities and I can better identify a position that will be of interest to them.
How long does it usually take to make a placement in a Security Clearance position?
This could take as little as a day and as long as three months. It truly varies from position to position, but paperwork, 2 week notices, clearance transfers, and much more will be the determining factors.
What advice do you have for those who have been unemployed for six months or more?
Be prepared to discuss what actions you have been taking in the meantime, what certifications or education you have been obtaining to make yourself more marketable, what have been the hardships or hurdles you have encountered, and in general, get creative. It is always helpful to have this handy when marketing a candidate who has been unemployed for an extended period of time.