Defense Contractor Jobs: Landing A Military Transition Job In The Defense Industry
The U.S. government will spend $717 billion on defense in fiscal year 2019. Service members get a 2.6% raise next year, but nearly half of the 2019 defense dollars won’t be spent directly by the military branches. They’ll go to defense contractors who provide equipment and a broad range of services to support national defense. According to a 2017 Congressional Research Service report, the U.S. Department of Defense contracts with more than 50,000 companies, with 641,000 full-time employees. Any way you count it, that’s a lot of defense contractor jobs.1
The defense industry keeps America’ military rolling and sailing and flying and much more. If you’re planning a transition from military service, it’s no secret that the defense sector can provide excellent career opportunities. Many defense contractors are actively seeking candidates with military experience. Working for a large contractor can be a comfortable fit after a military career. Most of the projects for contractor jobs are run by ex-lieutenant colonels, and it’s former sergeants who do the detailed work.
Most of the top 10 U.S. contractors are familiar names. They handle weapons programs, build aircraft and boats, and provide management and technology consulting services to the military.
Here’s a list of the top 10 U.S. defense contractors by annual revenue:2
The industry is growing steadily. Deloitte’s 2018 Aerospace and Defense Industry Outlook projects an increase from 2.1% revenue growth in 2017 to 4.1% this year as military spending increases in the U.S. and among regional military powers – India, China, and Japan. Deloitte projects steady defense growth over the next 5 years.3
Dangerous Defense Contractor Jobs, Excellent Pay
If you’re looking for adventure and a short-term gig with excellent pay, there’s another segment of the defense contracting industry that you might want to consider.
Private security contractors are seeking skilled commissioned and non-commissioned officers with combat arms experience.
These defense contractor jobs have a preference for ex-Special Forces candidates. Companies in this niche include Vinnell Arabia, Academi (formerly Blackwater), and DynCorp.
There are other interesting non-combat positions available in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries with ongoing conflicts. DynCorp provides intelligence, logistics, training services, and operations support in conflict areas. Another interesting company, Comprehensive Health Services, operates medical clinics for the Federal government, both within the U.S. and abroad.
Insuring the Military
You might not think of an insurance company as a defense contractor, but Humana is the health insurance provider that manages TRICARE. In 2011, they launched a Veterans Hiring Initiative with a commitment to hire 1,000 Veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014. The goal was reached early (in December 2012), and the health insurance provider continues to seek Military Veterans for a range of positions. Humana has hired more than 4,000 Veterans and Military spouses since the inception of the hiring initiative.
Targeting Defense Contractor Jobs
If you want to land with an excellent defense contracting position after your separation, the best time to start targeting companies is before you leave the military. Networking is still the absolute best way to get an inside track with employers. Chances are good that you interact and work with defense contractor representatives on a regular basis. Tapping these resources is a good starting point for learning about the specific positions that you’d like to target during your military to defense transition.
Ask your contacts to introduce you to others in their organizations and find out what positions fit your military background. Meet lots of people. It’s not at all unusual for even large companies to create a position to accommodate a valuable candidate.
Of course, you’ll also need to do some homework. Here are a few tips to help you with the process:
Research – You’ll want to know as much as you can about the companies you target. Most defense contractors are publicly traded, so there’s a wealth of information. Check the websites and look in the investor relations section for annual reports or do an EDGAR search with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You’ll find financial results and a lot of insight on company goals and direction.
Check the Culture – Talk with your contacts and take a Look at glassdoor.com for company reviews. Get a sense of the organization’s ethics and work environment. There’s more to a career than compensation and a comfortable “company fit” is important for your success.
Refine Your Resume – The days of “one size fits all” resumes are long gone. Your resume should be tailored for the job and the company that you’re targeting. You’ll have to squeeze your military career into a tight 2 page format that encapsulates your achievements and stands out from the competition.
Mention your security clearance – A current security clearance increases your value for many defense contractor positions. The federal government’s processing backlog for security clearance stood at over 700,000 earlier this year. Processing times for Defense Department contractors now extend to a year and a half.4 If you have a current military security clearance, it’s generally good for 2 years after your separation. Current clearances are also comparatively easier to reinstate, so make sure to include this information on your resume.
Practice – Anticipate the conversation and practice before you interview with a prospective company. If you’ve done your homework ahead of time, you’ll have some allies inside who can provide insights about the process.
Military Transition Assistance from CareerPro Global
If you’re planning a military transition, your timing for finding a great career in the defense industry couldn’t be better. But, even with high demand for qualified candidates, the process of making the military to defense transition, targeting defense contractor jobs, making contacts, and sending out resumes can be daunting. CareerPro can provide lots of assistance with your job search, including overseas contractor resumes, Veteran transition coaching, and military-to-contractor resumes. It’s easy to get started. Just give CareerPro Global a call for a free career consultation.
Barbara Adams is the founder and CEO of CareerPro Global, Inc. and has led the company since 1990. She is recognized as one of the pioneers in the career services industry and a titan of the resume writing industry. Barbara has built CPG into one of the largest and fastest-growing premier career services organizations industry-wide. She is committed to CPG’s core factors that include quality product, exceptional customer service, a successful proven process, and taking care of her people. Barbara has Co-Authored numerous books, including:
Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service
Roadmap to Becoming an Administrative Law Judge
Job-Winning Military to Civilian Resumes
Roadmap to Federal Jobs
She also co-authored the certification requirements for the Master Military Resume Writer (MMRW) and the Master Federal Career Advisor and Trainer (MFCA-T) certifications.