Hiring success no secret at NSA

Monday - 12/13/2010, 8:08am EST

Kathy Hutson, Associate Director for Human Resources, NSA

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

A recent study by the Partnership for Public Service says, if you want to effectively recruit top talent, technology is the way to go.

Kathy Hutson, National Security Agency's Associate Director for Human Resources, agrees, but she told Federal News Radio the message is still as important as the medium.

"All of our job openings are posted on the NSA.gov website which allows applicants to apply directly online and also we've put all of our paperwork that we require for our applicants also online which has been a huge efficiency," said Hutson.

This year for us is going to be a tremendous hiring year. We are really looking lots of folks in the science, technology, engineering and math skill fields and we've had to use a variety of marketing tools to include things such as recruiting on college campuses, reaching out to professional organizations, virtual career fairs - NSA was the first, really, almost in the federal community to use a virtual mechanism to do career fairs, which is an incredibly green approach to hiring.

Push and Pull

The NSA, said Hutson, is "trying a number of things this particular year because our need for skills is so enormous." She said the NSA is using "cool high tech tools," like an iPhone app to send alerts anytime anything new is posted on NSA.gov and that they're working on an Android version as well.

They're also looking to social media to pull in applicants. The agency formerly referred to by wags as the "None Such Agency" has come a very long way. "NSA has friends on facebook, which is really amazing," said Hutson, and they've had good success using traditional marketing like billboards.

The Message

Hutson agreed when told her job sounded like she's pitching the agency. "I think folks who are watching TV," said Hutson, "get a sense what the FBI's about, what CIA's about, or at least they think they understand those things, but it's not so much for the National Security Agency." It's not always portrayed in ways that are true to the mission, she said, so it's important to market and educate people about the mission.

One of the biggest selling points for the agency is its emphasis on work-life programs. "It's really important for people these days to be able to know that they can balance work and life or home priorities. I think it's really important that the workplace acknowledge that and have respect for that," said Hutson. "So we have services and programs here that touch on everything from deployment to shiftwork as well as day care and financial coaching."

In fact, Hutson said, largest daycare facility in the state of Maryland is at the NSA.

"We let people know not only do we have extraordinary careers here, but you can come here and come into a culture of wellness, a culture that respects diversity, and also that places great value on work-life balance."

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily DoD Report. For more defense news, click here.