The Top Trends Shaping the Future of Defense Recruiting, Part 1

Recruiting for top positions in the defense industry has always been a challenge. Companies must balance the desire for experience in the military with business acumen and smarts that can help companies grow their business. They don’t always go hand-in-hand, as those serving the military have many different priorities and responsibilities than those in the private sector. Throw in the global pandemic, the new focus on a more diverse workforce, the changing political winds that affect the military’s needs, and the evolving global threats that must be met, and finding the right executive for the position is that much more difficult.

With those factors in mind, here are the top four trends we are seeing in the executive search market for defense industry executives that are having a significant impact on finding and attracting the best candidates.

4 Trends in the Executive Search Market for Defense Industry Executive Search

  • The pandemic-induced labor shortage across the board. It’s not just fast-food restaurants that are struggling to fill their open positions. It’s also hitting all levels of the workforce, as even top executives find themselves in high demand and therefore looking at all options before making the decision to shift companies.
  • The geographic exodus from large cities, including D.C. Larger cities have been feeling the brunt of the aftermath of the pandemic, as many residents of D.C. are seeking a smaller, less expensive environment for themselves and their families. Whether it’s Ashville, N.C., Columbus, Ohio, or Boise, Idaho, potential executive candidates are flocking to less crowded regions with less traffic, lower cost-of-living, and a simpler lifestyle.
  • High compensation demands. Top candidates for defense contractor positions know that they are in demand, and recognize their value in the market. As a result, they are seeking higher compensation and stronger benefits packages, often above and beyond what companies had planned on offering.
  • The Amazon effect in D.C. It’s no secret in the D.C. defense and intelligence industries that Amazon—whose new headquarters is under construction in National Landing (previously Crystal City)—is syphoning away top talent. While Amazon is not a direct competitor to the businesses of most players in the government contractor arena, it is able to command the attention of those with the top technology skills that in high demand, making it that much more difficult to attract that same highly-qualified pool to government contractors.

There are a variety of approaches to better align what the top talent is searching for in their careers, which we will address in Part 2 of this blog series. The first step, of course, is ensuring that you have an experienced executive search partner that can help navigate these challenges and bring you the best candidates for the top executive positions.