A recent two-day hiring event held by the Federal Chief Information Officer Council gave cyber and IT talent the opportunity to meet face to face with over 30 federal agencies looking to hire in those fields. According to attendees, that face to face meeting can make all the difference in securing a job at the right agency.

“Anyone who has applied for jobs with the federal government knows that it often can be very difficult just to get in front of a hiring manager,” said attendee Jakarra Howard. “Now I have specific names that I can email people back to, and they specifically told me to email them.”

“Some of the feedback we’ve heard for a lot of people it’s nice to be able to engage with the agencies that they’ve been interested in,” said Anjelica Dortch, senior policy analyst at the Office of Management and Budget. “I think a lot of people get frustrated with the current hiring process because they don’t get to talk to a human being, and so this event allows them to do that.”

According to attendee Hardik Patel, who previously interned at the Department of Homeland Security, an in-person event has helped him get a better sense of what agencies are actually looking for in their job openings.

“This definitely does make it easier. It brings everyone together in one location,” said Patel. “Talking to someone gives you insight into what they’re looking for rather than just looking at a description online. And I was actually able to get an interview here.”

By the middle of the event, the event space was crowded, with lines in front of nearly every agency table. DHS had the largest presence at the event, with 10 tables in the main space.

Dortch said that even if attendees don’t find the agency or job they’re looking for, the application and interview training the event provides can help them be more prepared for when those jobs are available.

“I came here to learn how to apply to jobs through the USAJOBS online,” said attendee Ernest Asongmo, adding that this event has helped him know what to do with his resume when applying.

According to Dortch, one advantage of the event is to kickstart the hiring process after the recent federal freeze.

“The answer is absolutely yes, we are looking,” said Dortch. “We’re always looking for talent.”

“Every single table I went to said that they are in desperate need of it, and so there is a hiring surge,” said Howard.

Patel pointed out that as the government becomes more and more dependent on technologies, the danger of vulnerabilities is also heightened, resulting in the need for more cyber personnel.

“Almost every agency there is, they have an opening for cybersecurity,” said Asongmo.

Howard said that she hopes the federal government will hold more hiring events like this in the future.

“I think they’re needed because I think that not a lot of people are aware of these particular events, and so I think once they have more and more and people speak highly of them, that they’ll do more of them,” she said.

According to Dortch, the future of these events will depend largely on the success of this one.

“It’s all going to depend on the after-action report and looking at the metrics related to the event,” said Dortch, explaining that these metrics will determine whether the event results will be worth the cost to the taxpayer. “If so, we’ll definitely look at what our options are, whether it’s something virtual, moving to that platform like the intelligence community currently does but expanding it governmentwide, or potentially doing something on the West Coast where we know there’s a lot of IT talent.”