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Recruiting in trying times: How Lockheed Martin Space hired thousands (plus 700 interns) in a pandemic

Lockheed Martin Space hired 2,700 people plus 700 interns in 2020, a year unlike any other for human resources managers. Almost overnight, the prime contractor with about 23,000 employees switched from its traditional in-person approach to virtual recruitment, interviewing and training.

SpaceNews correspondent Debra Werner spoke with Lockheed Martin Space executives Nick Spain, human resources vice president, Renu Aggarwal, talent acquisition director, and Heather Erickson, organizational development director, about the opportunities and challenges posed by heightened demand for talent amid a pandemic.

How do you find new employees?

Nick Spain: I have a phenomenal staff. We have folks that think about college hiring, building relationships with schools. We partner with universities and two-year schools. We have programs in place for military hiring. We also have a pretty robust STEM program. We’re making sure that we’re giving people opportunities, whether internships or Co-Ops. Another thing we do is partner with our headquarters to make sure we’re searching for executive talent that we need.

What types of relationships do you have with schools?

Nick Spain: We’ve got our software associate degree program. We’ve got our advanced manufacturing technician apprenticeship program. From the corporate standpoint, we partner with minority-serving institutions and historically Black colleges and universities. For example, I’m an executive sponsor for Lockheed Martin with Hampton University. We help the schools with curriculum to make sure that students are prepared for the working world. We do workshops to help them, whether it’s to get ready for interviews or to understand what it’s like at work. We also make sure that we provide people with opportunities and training so they will be successful once they get here. We make sure we’re building long-term partnerships.

Heather Erickson: I would add that we focus on upskilling our workforce. We have a comprehensive tuition reimbursement program. If folks are trying to expand their education, we have practices and policies to support that continuing education whether it be a full degree or just a single course.

Do you have strong demand for workers with clearances and do you help workers obtain clearances?

Nick Spain: We do hire a lot of cleared individuals. We also have those that go through the clearance process while they’re working for us. They may do unclassified work while waiting for their clearance. That is a large portion of our Lockheed Martin Space workforce.

How did the pandemic change the hiring process?

Renu Aggarwal: It was a pretty big shift. We were an organization where interviews were done in person. We did over 6,000 interviews virtually last year. From a recruiting standpoint, we kept moving forward. We also held to our college hiring commitments. A lot of them worked virtually and were successful.

Is there an emphasis on diversity?

Nick Spain: Yes. That’s definitely been long standing. We believe that’s a business imperative. The best teams have diversity of people, diversity of thought. That’s why we build the right relationship, whether that be minority-serving institutions or organizations that serve more experienced professionals. We make sure that we have a presence at the conferences. We’re building that into our overall plan. We have a chief diversity officer for the corporation as well as a vice president of global diversity and inclusion to give it extra emphasis. We built it into our hiring and promotion practices.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 15, 2021 issue of SpaceNews magazine.

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