A Talent for Cleared Talent:  Q & A with a Booz Allen Recruiter

Karen Mullikin is a Booz Allen sourcing recruiter for cleared talent. “My role is to dig deep, make calls, and assess fit.” Over three decades in recruiting, Karen has seen it all. Her experience is our gain: we picked her brain about why cleared talent should choose Booz Allen to advance their careers and help empower people to change the world.

How can a candidate make a great first impression?

I love candidates who have taken the time to look at our website and learn about us. I’ve had people ask, “What’s a ‘Booz Allen’?” or misspell our name. Not good. Spend some time on our careers site before we talk. Look at our jobs and be prepared to tell me how your skills are a good match for the role.

What’s the biggest mistake you see people make on their resume?

Typos, of course, that’s a no brainer. But on a deeper level, it’s a misstep when people talk about a program versus their role in it. If you tell me, “We built a new IT system and incorporated new payroll and benefits services,” my question will be, “But what did you do? What was your part? What did you accomplish?”

How can a candidate impress you?

Be professional. If we have an appointment and you’re not ready or don’t answer the phone professionally, that’s a red flag for me. Verbal communication skills are also key. I spend a lot of energy getting people to loosen up and communicate. Top candidates don’t require that. We’re a consulting firm, so you have to be able to talk to clients.

What’s the biggest mistake a candidate can make in an interview?

Bashing their current employer. That tells me we’re probably not the right fit. It’s okay if the situation isn’t working for you, but explain it in a diplomatic way. Don’t tell me you hate your boss. You’re a problem solver when you come here—I want to see you find a diplomatic solution.

What questions do you want candidates to ask?

I like them to ask me what’s next. I want them to be thinking long term, to be looking for a career with us. And I want them to follow up if they haven’t heard from me in two weeks. Email me, ask me what’s going on. That way I know they’re interested. It’s a partnership: I do my part, but I need them to do their part, too.

Why should cleared professionals choose Booz Allen over other companies?

We’re involved in crucial, mission-focused work. Securing critical information matters here. Clearance matters. But there’s another reason: we grow organically by developing our people. We expose employees to new challenges and focus on sharpening their skills. We even have an entire team dedicated to employee mobility. We make sure we’re always working on career skills, so when one assignment ends, we’re ready for the next.

What’s the best way to get a job at Booz Allen?

Well, first and foremost, keep your skills sharp and your resume up to date. Secondly, if you know someone here who can endorse those skills, ask them to make an employee referral. If someone recommends a candidate, they’re a priority for me. People should network—don’t be afraid to ask your peers for help!

So: research the company, clean up your resume, network, be professional, communicate, and ask questions. Good advice for any job, but especially at Booz Allen, where mission-critical work means cleared professionals can build a career that matters.

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