August 28, 2013
Getting inside the state's biggest employers
A recent discussion on LinkedIn focused on how to get a foot in the door at Washington state's largest employers. This year's top five are Boeing, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Navy Region Northwest, Microsoft and the University of Washington. (Although the ranking changes annually, the list has been about the same for the past several years.)
All of these employers fall under Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) compliance, which means that candidates need to follow the application procedures stated on the organizations' websites. Boeing, Microsoft and UW require candidates to apply separately to each job they are interested in.
Civilian jobs and support positions are available on the Puget Sound area's military bases. To find and apply for federal jobs, your best resource is USA Jobs.
The best way to get into any organization is usually with an inside referral. This is definitely true at Microsoft. All employee referrals are screened for a general fit, and then referred to the recruiter who manages the job for which the candidate has applied. All internal recruiters have access to these pre-screened candidates and their resumes.
Boeing does not accept employee referrals. UW considers them but is much stricter on its requirements, as it's a state employer.
Why does it seem so difficult to get into these organizations? Quite simply, many companies practice elitism, preferring candidates with degrees and experience at top schools and companies. That's why the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) established guidelines to ensure that all qualified candidates are given a fair evaluation for any job they're interested in.
These guidelines require employers to at least look at candidates they might not otherwise have considered. That's not to say that favoritism has been eliminated, but it does level the playing field somewhat. Most important, to be considered for a job at any of these employers, you must meet the stated minimum requirements.
Once you have applied, try to connect with a recruiter or hiring manager to let them know. If you have a mutual business connection, it should be someone you have worked with who can speak to your skills. Networking is still the key to getting recognized, but application processes are still a necessary evil for most employers.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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