DHS wants to go big with its hiring fair this week

DHS official Kristie Canegallo, shown here at a USCIS employee town hall on June 20, 2024, is hoping to find candidates for "hundreds" of jobs at an upcoming agency career fair.

DHS official Kristie Canegallo, shown here at a USCIS employee town hall on June 20, 2024, is hoping to find candidates for "hundreds" of jobs at an upcoming agency career fair. DHS photo by Mikaela McGee

The department says it's cutting red tape in government hiring by giving tentative job offers on the spot and starting vetting processes in person.

The Department of Homeland Security is hosting its annual in-person career expo on Thursday and Friday this week in the hopes of filling hundreds of positions. 

The in-person event in Chantilly, Va. is meant to connect jobseekers to the breadth of work done at the third-largest federal agency and accelerate the often-lengthy government hiring process. 

“I started my career in government 20 years ago, and I remember how I didn't know how to get my foot in the door,” said Kristie Canegallo, the senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary, in a recent interview. “I know that it can sometimes be hard to understand how to apply for a federal government role.”

Attendees will be able to meet with recruiters, get interviewed and potentially leave with a tentative job offer, said Canegallo. They can also start background check requirements like fingerprinting while they’re there. The department estimates that starting the vetting process at the hiring fair can shave six to eight weeks off of the lengthy government hiring process. 

So far, over 10,000 have registered for the job fair, the fifth of its kind at the department since 2018 and its largest hiring event of the year, said Canegallo. Last year, about 2,500 job seekers walked into the event in Arlington, Texas, and approximately 500 of those walked out with job offers. 

“We’re seeing even higher demand and interest this year,” said Canegallo, “and we’ve got hundreds of roles to fill, so we’re really excited.”

Among the focuses this year is the recruitment of more women into law enforcement roles at Customs and Border Protection, the Secret Service and more. There will be a panel of current women in DHS law enforcement jobs at the event, and attendees will also be able to talk to other current DHS employees about their work.

Hiring for cybersecurity and artificial intelligence jobs is another priority, although the department’s AI Corps won’t be hiring at this fair specifically. 

But top DHS officials have been to Silicon Valley for targeted, AI-focused recruiting, said Canegallo, noting that targeted outreach is another prong in DHS hiring efforts, in addition to this in-person event.

“We are really trying to be intentional about bringing onboard an inclusive and representative workforce,” said Canegallo, “whether that's targeted and intentional recruiting at [historically black colleges and universities], for example, or having discussions more broadly when we think about our Artificial Intelligence Corps.”

This week's expo is an in-person event, but remote and hybrid job seekers, as well as those not located in the Virginia area, should be aware that DHS has offices and personnel distributed nationwide. While some DHS jobs do require workers to be in-person, other roles are open to remote workers. 

The biggest challenge for filling DHS roles?

“Making sure that people understand the role that the Department of Homeland Security plays and the diversity of the available job opportunities,” said Canegallo. “The breadth of our mission is so significant, that there are so many ways that people can help disaster survivors, try to keep drugs off of our streets, try to help individuals who are looking to make a better life for themselves in the United States.”