Senior Talent Acquisition Professional and Featured CLIMBER Nina Knight shares her unique journey to finding a career in recruiting, why she believes finding talent in the cybersecurity industry is important, and how the pandemic has affected the recruiting process.
We sat down with A-LIGN‘s Senior Talent Acquisition Professional and Featured CLIMBER Nina Knight to hear about her experience at A-LIGN. She shares her unique journey to finding a career in recruiting, why she believes finding talent in the cybersecurity industry is important, and how the pandemic has affected the recruiting process.
Where are you from? How did you start your journey at A-LIGN?
I’m from Dallas, Texas, and started my journey at A-LIGN about two and a half years ago. When I’m screening candidates and they ask me why I joined the company, I’m honest and tell them it was purely motivated by my son. He was nine months old at the time, and I wanted a remote opportunity that allowed me the flexibility and freedom to be present as a mother. When I was searching the job market and came across the opening at A-LIGN, I was so intrigued and impressed by the company. My decision to pursue a new opportunity wasn’t necessarily career-motivated, but It’s been one of the biggest blessings and pivotal moments in my career to have become a part of A-LIGN.
What has changed during your tenure?
The size of the company has changed the most since I joined A-LIGN. There were around 100+ employees when I started, and now we have over 330. I’ve also seen the professional growth of my colleagues over the years, and it’s been great to see how far they’ve come in such a short amount of time.
Tell me about your role at A-LIGN.
I spend most of my time searching for outstanding people to join our quickly expanding company. It’s not just about sifting through resumes, I put in a lot of effort proactively finding and contacting individuals who seem like a perfect fit in terms of skillset, background and attitude. I take my job very seriously since the people are the foundation of any company. The other big element of my job is demonstrating everything we have to offer. I go into a lot of detail about our history, where we’re headed, what makes us unique and what sets us ahead of the competition. All of that translates to the future someone can see for themselves. I’m honest and straightforward and have a lot of great information to share with candidates which is a big advantage.
If you could describe A-LIGN in one word, what would it be?
Opportunity. The period of growth and success that we’ve been experiencing over the last few years just means growth on the individual level as well. The kind of promotion opportunities and mentorship into leadership roles is a huge advantage.
What’s the most rewarding part about working for A-LIGN?
The thing that I enjoy most about my job is the impact I can make by adding great people to our teams, as well as the ability to change someone’s life for the better. A career affects every aspect of one’s life, so what I do daily completely transforms someone else’s day-to-day as well. It’s a big responsibility to affect someone’s career and therefore their life. I’ve gotten feedback from people where they accept an offer and they’re almost holding in a scream over the phone, they’re so excited to accept the offer and join A-LIGN. I also love getting to see what they achieve and how far they go. Even just being here for two and a half years, I’ve seen so many people I’ve recruited go through promotions, receive amazing feedback from their colleagues and leaders. It’s a great feeling. This is not to take credit for that because everyone is responsible for their own achievements, but I love getting to facilitate that.
What surprised you most about working at A-LIGN?
The people, especially our leadership team, are what surprised me the most when I first started. I never felt like the new kid; everyone welcomed me and treated me with so much kindness and respect. They made me feel like an equal which can be rare in recruiting. When I first started at A-LIGN, Steve Simmons and Petar Besalev were the first hiring managers I worked with and I’ll never forget how they thanked me for helping to add to their teams. That blew me away since it was the first time at any company I’d ever been thanked for doing my job, and by someone high up in leadership too. To this day I still site examples like that when I talk to people because I think it speaks volumes about the type of environment this is and how much of a difference it can make.
What do you do for fun outside of A-LIGN?
The main thing that I enjoy doing is spending time with my son. He is three and a half now and the biggest joy in my life. I’m always searching for fun activities to do since he has a lot of energy, so we mostly we go on walks and explore outside.
Why do you think recruiting talent in the cybersecurity industry is important?
Cybersecurity and the services A-LIGN offers are in high-demand from businesses across all industries, so it is critical to have a strong team that can meet those demands. There’s not much unemployment in this space either, so the competition is extremely tough. Being able to identify the right individual but also be seen and heard above the noise isn’t an easy task, so having a team dedicated to the best recruiting strategies and effort is very important and can make all the difference.
In what ways has the pandemic affected the recruiting process the most?
The biggest challenge that I experienced due to the pandemic was the fear and uncertainty it created. Everyone was living in the unknown which is not the ideal situation to present a new opportunity, another unknown for that matter. It can be challenging to entice candidates to make a change, especially in the middle of so much uncertainty. Before COVID they might have felt much more confident making the leap to a new company, but the pandemic understandably put a new level of concern and doubt in a lot of people.
A big advantage we had before the pandemic was the flexibility of remote work which was not so common. Since most organizations switched to a work-from-home structure during this past year and a lot are looking to remain that way long–term, it has created even more competition than previously. I’ve had to pivot, but it hasn’t been too much of a challenge. I still focus on our growth opportunities, culture, positive work environment and employee recognition. The comments I see in 7Geese where our people recognize each other have been one of the most well-received and surprising elements I share with potential prospects. I’ve never worked at a company before where individuals take time out of their day to publicly recognize and support each other. I think that’s so special and unique to A-LIGN.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I am a lifelong musician and was accepted to a conservatory after college with the goal of one day becoming a professional Violist in a symphony. Unfortunately, I had a lot of injuries that forced me to find a new path in life. I ended up moving to Europe and becoming an au pair in Madrid, Spain and eventually teaching at a British school there. I returned home after three years and found a recruiting opportunity through a friend. This career wasn’t something I ever considered before, but it became something I excelled in and enjoyed.