While some defense companies are focused on hiring or layoffs, others, like  defense contractor O’Neill & Associates are focused on steady growth in the midst of COVID-19. The Miamisburg technical writing and defense contractor has not had to layoff any employees; however, Hernan Olivas, President and Chief Executive has noted that projects have been delayed until later in the year. Despite $3 million in new business in the beginning of the year, the organization has noticed about $3 million delayed since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Despite the unknowns, companies like O’Neill & Associates, which have years of experience on ways to remain financially strong, can weather the delays without losing valuable talent. It’s never safe to be a benchwarmer at a defense contractor. Companies usually leave very little funds for projects billed to overhead. So, delays or downtime usually translate to layoffs. Olivas is confident the impacts later in the year will not be fatal, but he will not be surprised if the organization gets hit before the year is over.

Layoffs Impacting the Defense Industry

GE Aviation In a letter to the company, GE Aviation’s VP and CEO stated, “We are developing our plan for permanent reductions to our global employee base that we anticipate will bring our total reductions this year to as much as 25% (including both voluntary and involuntary actions already announced). These plans, which we expect will be ready over the coming months, are part of a comprehensive strategy we are developing for resizing the business consistent with the forecast of our commercial market.”
Boeing After completing a voluntary layoff program of 5,500 workers, Boeing has announced involuntary layoffs for 6,800 US employees. While the defense and space business continues to provide stability for the company, the defense unit of the organization was still hit with under 400 voluntary and under 1200 involuntary layoffs. A company spokesman stated, “ongoing stability of our defense, space and related services businesses will help us limit overall impact, and we will continue hiring talent to support critical programs and meet our customers’ evolving needs.”

While layoffs are never fun, recruiters are seeing firms “up level” their teams, which means that after removing low performers, they are replacing them with fresh talent. For industries that that touch engineering, defense work, and cybersecurity, this is good news.

Hiring impacting the Defense Industry

Microsoft Microsoft is planning a $64 million software development hub in Fairfax, VA. While this does not provide a new opportunity next month, the company expects that this software development and R&D regional hub will create 1,500 jobs by summer 2021. Microsoft is not a stranger to VA, with a presence in the area since 2002. Terrell Cox, general manager states, ““One of Microsoft’s core principles is actively listening to our customers, so we can build and improve our technology based on their feedback. Being close to our customer base is extremely important to our ongoing collaborations. We’ve had a presence in Reston for many years now, and this expansion will allow Microsoft to deliver even more solutions from a region known for its innovation and passion for technology.”
Leidos Leidos has over 2,500 currently open positions, all across the country. While the company took a $50 million hit in their first quarter and expects 2% of total sales to be impacted by COVID-19, they still think they will recover by next year. Leidos is prepared for the impact of request for proposals (RFPs) taking longer via video conference and continuing resolutions in place, rather than the hoped for National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this year.
Booz Allen Hamilton With over 3,000 open positions, Booz Allen continues to be a strong employer. The company’s spokesperson states, “We’re using a combination of phone and video interview platforms so that candidates can feel connected with our teams. We’ve also shifted to an all-virtual onboarding experience, including an immersive day-long remote orientation where new hires are introduced to our culture, their colleagues, and receive guidance on how to have a successful start at Booz Allen.”
Cisco From program manager to engineer, Cisco has over 800 open positions. The openings are not just in the company’s CA base. The openings are across the country.

Employer to Watch

Ironman may have been created from someone’s imagination, but some of the capabilities of the character (or superhero, depending on who you’re talking to) may not be that far from reality. Magic Leap was slated to layoff 1,000 employees just a few weeks ago. The augmented reality company has managed to raise $350 million in additional capital in order to avoid the prospect of layoffs. With this influx of cash, the company hopes to make progress with defense deals. After helping to secure the cash, Magic Leap’s CEO, Rony Abovitz, has decided to turn over the reigns to someone new.

Augmented reality has already impacted our military, from enhancing the cockpit displays for fighter pilots to enabling more information in the scope of the long range shooter. The training possibilities for the military are encouraging. In person training is pricey, but sometimes virtual reality is limited in fully preparing personnel for real world scenarios. Augmented reality can take training environments to the next level, with increased capabilities. Magic Leap is in a race against larger companies, but their ability to find $350 million in this pandemic market is noteworthy.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.