Intelligence Agency Goes Virtual in Search for Talent

Roberto Piras/

Wednesday's virtual career fair was just one of the ways NGA uses technology for recruitment.

From an Urdu language analyst to a mission support accountant, Wednesday’s intelligence community career fair offered a wide array of job opportunities.

But perhaps its greatest attribute came from the ease at which the public could access the fair. Participants did not need to venture further than their computer screens -- the event was completely virtual.

In its sixth year, the intelligence community's virtual career fair included group chat rooms, live streaming presentations by employers and even avatars for participants. And although completely virtual, it had real-life results.

In less than 24-hours after the event, Sue Shumate, head of recruiting in human development at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, said she has already called back two potential job candidates to discuss specific job opportunities.

Shumate said the event, like any in-person job fair, helps NGA find job candidates they might not have otherwise discovered.

As one of the many federal agencies represented at the fair, NGA had more than 50 staff members participate during the six hours, along with four different virtual booths. Participants could enter these booths and ask questions about specific jobs, along with broader queries about best practices for applications.

NGA is no stranger to pairing technological techniques with recruitment.

Last fall, the agency organized a Twitter town hall, a first for the intelligence community, according to Shumate. It focused on reaching out to potential applicants for its student intern program, which had its application due date quickly approaching.

In addition to answering questions via Twitter, four of NGA’s former social media interns created 30-second videos to explain what it’s like to be a student working for the agency, which were then posted on Facebook.

Although the town hall only had about 20 participants, and has not since been replicated, Shumate said, “We learned a lot from it about how much involvement we had on Twitter ... [and] Facebook.”

Since then, NGA’s social media following has increased exponentially.

In less than a year, its Facebook “likes” went from 5,000, to its current number of about 45,000 “likes.”

Today, NGA takes advantage of its social media following by posting its “job of the week” on Facebook and Twitter.

“We use it for notifying the public of when we're going to be at different campuses or professional organizations for recruitment activities,” Shumate said.

Next month, the agency also plans to try its hand at using a video conferencing platform to talk with students at California State University, San Bernardino, according to Shumate. They will likely give the students an overview of NGA’s recruitment practices, along with the role of cyber work.

“If successful, our next step will be to try to do it with more institutions, because our goal is to broaden our visibility,” Shumate said.

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