ClearanceJobs is preparing to release its 2021 Compensation Report, but if 2020 numbers are any indication, aerospace jobs rank in the highest compensation category in defense. So, you’d think that recruiting for these cleared positions should be a walk in the park, right?

Well, not so fast. There are certainly some easier locations to draw talent to. California supplies tons of engineers close to Silicon Valley and the state has the country’s highest number of engineers and two out of the top three universities for aerospace engineering. Virginia is another fairly easy location with the DMV being a hub for national security.

But what about the other top cities for aerospace hubs that are not as attractive? The Ohio contracts, the Alaskan missions, the southern programs in Georgia and Alabama, or the Midwest states…different strokes for different folks, but here are some cleared recruiting tactics to ensure your aerospace positions are staffed.

Targeting Universities in Your Searches

Partnerships that are beneficial to both parties may require some leg work in the beginning but can pay off and save your recruiting budget (and maybe your tension headaches). There are a few top aerospace engineering schools that likely have cleared or clearable candidates, but it’s important to partner with local universities to where you are staffing billets. Here are a few freebies for locations with government customers that have aerospace openings and excellent aerospace engineering schools that you could potentially pull candidates from:

Charlottesville, VA National Ground Intelligence Center University of Virginia
DMV area Multiple University of Maryland
Blacksburg, VA Defense Contractors Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Raleigh, NC Department of Army North Carolina State University
Cambridge, MA United States Air Force Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Atlanta, GA Multiple Georgia Institute of Technology
Columbus, OH United States Air Force The Ohio State University
Florida & Arizona Multiple Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University

Target Candidates Whose Hometowns Are Growing Hubs

This tactic is a risky one that could take time with no reward, but if you are desperately trying to fill a position that has been vacant, it’s worth a try. Cleared recruiters can target candidates with the required aerospace engineering skills that their program is seeking and make parameters for location of schooling, where someone was stationed in the military, or where they first worked in the DoD. There is a chance that they would like to consider moving back to that location if they’ve picked up and moved, or potentially know someone who can fit the role you are recruiting for.

Highlight the Incentives

As always, it’s important for a recruiter to do the research, and most importantly, listen to your candidates. They will subtly or very explicitly let you know what they are looking for in terms of personal life or location preferences, and you should be able to lead or guide the conversation effectively after active listening.

Are you recruiting for a location like Huntsville, AL? Talk up how overall, Huntsville is 43.5% cheaper than the DC area, and how they’ll have extra cash to take the kiddos to the US Space and Rocket Center or catch a concert on top of Burritt on the Mountain. Then head back to their affordable mansion where they aren’t stressing about the mortgage payment.

It once took me six months to a year to fill a tough aerospace engineering role in a lesser known city. The government customer was strict on unicorn requirements, the salary was so-so, and I felt like banging my head against the wall. But once I finally filled that billet, I realized I just needed to get a little creative.

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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 7+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸