My recruitDC Story

by Jo Weech


I will never forget my first ever recruitDC. It was Spring of 2014. I have not missed one since!

“Where do I begin, to tell the story of how great a love can be?”

The first I heard about this event was from a job seeker I was helping through a career transition group. Since I was new to cleared recruiting, I knew I had to check it out. I didn’t really know anyone except for recruitDC board member Mike Bruni, who I had met through Project S.A.V.E. Little did I know that Mike would become a most trusted advisor and friend. His wealth of knowledge and insight exceeds his youth and tan! By the end of that event, I had met many, many industry greats who are my friends to this very day.

Here are a few of those stories:

Always, there are choices for workshops, and I really, really needed Derek Zeller’s information on OFCCP compliance, which was in the “other” room. I reached out to him afterward, he sent me his slide deck, and then agreed to meet me for lunch to discuss. At the time, I had no idea that it would be the first of countless meals shared, from Arlington to Portland. (You can move away, but I will hunt you down and I will find you, and I will sup with you!)

Ben Gotkin agreed to meet with me so that I could pick his brain about employee referrals. This led to enrolling in a Recruiting Toolbox training, hosted by Pete Radloff at ComScore, as well as a conversation about legitimizing our profession. I then became the first paid charter member of the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP), of which Ben is the Executive Director. The most highly regarded Carmen Hudson conducted sessions in this training, and I learned Boolean for the first time! Little did I know just how deeply and vastly Carmen’s expertise and friendship would guide me through many, many dilemmas. Of my many mentors, I hold Carmen in the highest esteem.

Neal Anders and I both connected with Matt Duren, who successfully recruited him to work at Tenable. I formed a professional alliance with Neal and have hosted him at a recruiter breakfast, and have enjoyed sharing stories and referrals with him since. All because I asked him to lunch after meeting him at the happy hour after recruitDC.

Many, many professional and personal friendships have been formed through recruitDC events. I remember seeing the infamous Gerry Crispin hat in the revolving door of my hotel during one event. I ran to track him down but missed him on the elevator. I had attended his session at SHRM Talent in Nashville, and couldn’t believe he was here at recruitDC! As history now has borne out, he has become my trusted mentor, adviser, and it is an honor to call him my friend.

Nando Rodriquez was frequently featured on my friend Celinda Appleby’s FB page. I was like a schoolgirl when I spotted him at the Spring 2015 event. Ran over to him practically asking for his autograph! He took a selfie with me, as we were both sporting ‘dos that were “on fleek” as he called it. That same day, I met J. T. O’Donnell, who I feature when I speak at events for job seekers, which has been over 60 times in the last two years. She has the best, most trusted advice for those in transition, and those of us who are on one side of the table should invest our intel to help candidates be the best they can be when auditioning for roles.

I met Moe Hutt somewhere along the way, and she enlisted my help on a committee for recruitDC. I became enamored of her organizational skills and am proud to call her my friend. She brings the “professional” to her role on the board, and I have enjoyed being the recipient of many of her event optimizations.

Christopher Kurtz did his first ever speaking engagement at recruitDC, and he and I forged a friendship that will stand the tests of time, as we support one another’s speaking engagements around the country.

Do not even know what to say about Audra Knight. (Holding back tears as I type.) Met her through Matt Duren, recruitDC board member, and the rest, they say, is history. Which includes planes, trains, and automobiles. She is the quintessential go-to person with questions about recruitment marketing. After her session at recruitDC, I went home and implemented nearly every suggestion from her presso. My personal brand was born!

John Nixon is the quiet one who likes to stay out of the limelight, but I want to give honor to whom honor is due. John provides financial support of this amazing conference year after year through his company If you have ever put the recruitDC lanyard around your neck, you will have seen that name. Do yourself a favor and find him at the next event to thank him. Don’t tell him I sent you. I don’t want to be in the doghouse for that!

Kathleen Smith has leveraged her knowledge of events, social media marketing, and branding to lead the board of recruitDC as its Director. These events have hundreds upon hundreds of meetings behind them, as you can only imagine! This takes a lot of stamina and endurance. She does all this with a bit of pizzazz. (Look for her shoes at the next event!)

So many people to honor. So little space. Many heartfelt thanks to Mike Bruni, John Nixon, Kathleen Smith, Lars Schmidt, Ben Gotkin, Doug Munro, Michael Heller, Jay Perreault, Tiffany Balve, Kara Yarnot, Moe Hutt, Matt Duren, Suzie Greco, Pete Radloff, Elizabeth Guevara, Lee Wanless, Brenden Bo Wright, Tony Palma, Carrie Oliver, Denise Slaysman, Bob Wheeler, Shannon Smedstad, Danielle Boykin, Brigit Freedman, Amy Rau, Mark Horning, Conor Nicholson and countless other local DMVers who I have enjoyed getting to know and getting to work alongside of in this, our most proud profession. Contrary to the Google search of “Recruiters are…” well, we are the few, the proud, the tireless, and the dedicated. I am honored to share my craft with y’all!

All this to say that you could just come and be a butt in a seat in the sessions, or, you could network the heck out of it and cultivate lifelong friendships with your peers and colleagues. I am pretty emotional trying to recount these stories, because the investment of just one day can change up your entire career. I speak from experience. Connect with me on LinkedIn. Come talk to me at the next event – better yet, come see my presentation Talent Sleuthing in the Intel Community. We could have a lifelong friendship ahead in our future!

It’s not too late to have create your own recruitDC story! Tickets are still available and you can get them here

Jo Weech loves to assist everyone from hiring managers to recruiters to job seekers. Speaking engagements include job fairs, career transition groups, and national HR and Recruiting conferences such as HIREconf, Social Recruiting Strategies Conference, Talent Success, ERE Recruiting, and will take the main stage at RECFEST18 in London. Jo was awarded the 2016 HRLA Leadership Excellence award, and the 2017 Gary Cluff Award for Recruitng Excellence. Jo was named by RecruitingDaily as one of 300+ Women In HR Technology to Follow and Support. In November 2017, Jo traveled to Japan in a US delegation of top HR and Talent Acquisition Professionals and will represent the US again this fall to Prague and Budapest. In December 2017, she won the award for Best Presentation in the Category of “HR is Awesome” for DisruptHR NYC. Additionally, Jo serves on two advisory groups for the National Initiative for Cyber Security Education and is an Adjunct Professor at Montgomery College in their CyberAdvantage Program.