Industry Leader Jo Weech discusses the Challenge of Overcoming Hard-to-Fill Roles

Welcome to the Hiring Hero Spotlight! In this feature, we talk with real-life hiring heroes—those hard-working folks in HR and talent acquisition—to learn about their approach to sourcing and hiring.

In this installment, we caught up with HR consultant Jo Weech to discuss some of the trends in talent acquisition, the unique sourcing and hiring challenges in the DC area, and how programmatic is poised to change this industry.


Tell us a little about your background. What is your role and how did you get into talent acquisition?

Currently, I provide strategy and execution in talent acquisition and HR for startups to medium sized companies in a variety of industries, but primarily tech companies. I got my start in 2002, when I was tasked with recruiting, onboarding, training, and career pathing over 100 marketing interns per year for seven years. I remain in touch with many of them to this day! Over the years, I have been involved in talent management: recruiting and retention, which are both essential to achieving overall corporate goals.

What’s your favorite part about being in the talent acquisition space?

Partnering with people to connect them to companies where they can achieve their career goals. I enjoy this so much that most of my volunteer life is helping to coach candidates in their job searches, be it at job fairs, universities, military transition groups, retiring Foreign Service careerists, or in job transition groups. I reverse-engineer the job search process.

Describe the biggest challenge you’ve faced with sourcing over the last year. How did you overcome it?

Right now, one of the most difficult arenas to recruit in for the DC area is for candidates with active and current clearances. For many of the most stringent clearances, the pool of eligible candidates is shrinking, due to the backlog in the renewal process, and the lure of commercial work in our area. I created a shared platform for niche recruiters wherein we could add, with the candidate’s permission, their résumés divided by MD or VA, specific labor categories like Systems Administrator or Embedded Engineer, and then subdivided that into the levels of each clearance. Sometimes, we get employee referrals and there is not a match to current contract obligations, so we share. Sometimes, a recruiter in MD gets a résumé of someone who only wants to work in Northern Virginia and vice versa. This became a way to organize the passing along of candidates/résumés, to help one another, and to serve these candidates. In this niche area of recruiting, we’re all in this together!

You have several years of experience in recruiting and you’ve seen many technologies come and go. From a recruiter’s perspective, what do you think is different about programmatic?

Doing specific digital targeting in real time increases the ability of a company to get their messaging to the right audience. It isn’t an exact science, as AI can miss the mark in a few areas, but I believe that this premise is not only here today, but will be honed for the future, so that recruitment advertising dollars can become strategically invested rather than a throwing of the dice.

If you had to describe “programmatic” in one word, what would it be? Why?

Targeted. Because if I am shopping for trainers on Amazon, as soon as I check on my FB page, the exact shoes I was looking at earlier are right there in my feed, keeping me engaged. If someone clicks on a job on one platform, it can then appear as a “reminder” on another platform, keeping that company/job in the “here and now.”

What top 3 trends in sourcing are you most excited about?

  1.  The focus on leveling the playing field EEOC-protected categories of candidates in order to achieve a more diverse and inclusive hiring process.
  2.  The plethora of combo-tools that integrate and play well with each other, minimizing the need to have 200+ Chrome extensions, with 92 tabs open.
  3.  The community of sourcers and recruiters continues to grow, so that we can all learn from each other, and this improves our abilities to hone our craft.

What advice would you give recruiters looking to fill the top of their talent acquisition funnel?

A crucial need in attracting candidates to your positions is not to “cast a wide net” but to make targeted candidates aware of “What’s in it for me?”. This is not where you try to “sell” them on your company, your culture, or your benefits. It is key to provide the opportunity to grow in their careers. If you can partner with them to make this happen, because they have the skills/expertise/aptitude you are seeking, and you have the right opportunities for them to not just leverage what they know right now but also will help propel them to the next level—and that is win-win.


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