Be a U.S. citizen. Almost all highpaying U.S. defense contracting jobs are held by U.S. citizens. Get a security clearance. Nothing is in more demand within the U.S. defense contracting community than someone with a security clearance. This is especially so since 9/11. The good news for you is that one of the easiest ways to get a security clearance is through military service.
Network. It’s true all over the civilian job world – it’s who you know. There are very few people who get a job with a defense contracting firm without knowing someone. Make sure you attend job fairs, sign up on web sites where contractors discuss contracts and talk to contractors on military bases. Tell them you are looking for a job in the defense contracting world. If you can, check in with them once in a while to see if the firm they are employed by is hiring.
Tailor your resume. All the regular resume rules apply, but if a job appears to support military operations directly make sure you list your military experience in detail. If the job you are targeting doesn’t directly support military operations, focus on your skills and knowledge.
Be a problem solver. Emphasize your problem-solving skills because those will translate into nearly every job in the defense industry. Make sure you include at least one example in your resume or cover letter and be prepared to cite several examples during a job interview.
Serve in the U.S. military. The good news is that if you are reading this resource then you likely can already check off this requirement. Nearly all U.S. defense contracts are managed by former military officers. Usually these are former U.S. Army lieutenant colonels or equivalent. Most U.S. military operations are supported by contractors who are being paid more than their uniformed counterparts with much better quality of life and less risk.
Know your stuff. You must establish technical credibility. While it is true that former battalion commanders
typically are the program managers for defense contracts, it is also true that former sergeants are typically doing the more detailed work.
Be willing to relocate. If you don’t care about your location, then you will have a much easier time finding a job working in the defense contracting arena.