Innovating for the Future:
Virtual Hiring during a Global Pandemic

When coronavirus hit the United States the whole country slowed down. Stay-at-home orders were put in place, non-essential businesses closed, and life as we know it moved to a virtual environment.
The team extended six jobs offers to welders from the last virtual Hobart hiring event to join the team in Aiken, S.C. Bringing together the ever-growing virtual environment and on-site facilitation, this outreach event created an efficient, one-stop-shop
 
However even through these trying times BAE Systems, Inc. on-site manufacturing was deemed essential and continued on, while employees who could do their jobs remotely did so to keep those on-site safe. This work required innovation as teams strived to creatively solve new challenges, including when it came to vital, time-sensitive hiring.

Sites across the BAE Systems, Inc. Platforms & Services sector needed welders in order to continue their essential work. Recruiting welders was not easy in “normal” times, due to the shortage of the skilled trade and the high demand across the U.S. Reaching the limited candidate pool had become even more difficult with the pandemic. With this in mind the Outreach team, which focuses on building strategic partnerships externally to strengthen the pipeline for hard to fill positions had to think outside the box and innovate in order to meet the business’ needs. What came to mind for this team was to leverage the partnerships already formed with key welding schools, who continued to graduate students monthly. These schools have access to students who could help fill these critical hiring needs. This creative solution in the midst of a pandemic took advantage of the new virtual environment millions were living in: a live hiring process using an iPad, WebEx, and on-site weld trainers to connect our hiring managers with prospective candidates.

The team has hired 39 welders since last September while partnering with the Hobart Institute of Technology, Tulsa Welding School, and ArcLabs. Hiring welders prior to COVID-19 required hiring managers to travel to each school and perform weld tests and interviews on-site. With travel restrictions in place this was no longer possible – but the company’s Aiken, S.C. site had an urgent need for these skilled trade workers. No other companies had tested the idea of a virtual interview process and weld tests with the schools, making BAE Systems the first company to present such an innovative solution to the trade school partners.
 
Lonny Snyder, certified weld instructor, conducted the tests which were live-streamed through an on-site iPad, while Greg Bakke, weld engineering training manager, conducted the interviews.

On August 26, at the Hobart Institute of Technology in Troy Ohio, BAE Systems employees conducted the first welding virtual hiring event. Lonny Snyder, certified weld instructor, conducted the tests which were live-streamed through an on-site iPad, while Greg Bakke, weld engineering training manager, conducted the interviews. Gerardo Flores, trade school program manager, collaborated with many other employees across the sector to put on the event, including Anthony Martinez, Aiken operations manager, along with hiring managers from San Diego and Jacksonville Ship Repair. This collaboration allowed other teams to get a glimpse of what the virtual hiring process is like to build confidence in cross-sector and multi-site implementation to ensure their own hiring needs are met. This joint effort involved true collaboration and the problem-solving necessary to continue to move vital work forward to advance our mission, even during the toughest of times.

“COVID-19 has created challenges for many companies, but when you are working in a mission-critical business, our hiring managers still have milestones to meet that require skilled labor,” said Talent Outreach Manager, Michael Villanueva. “This has been a true collaboration between hiring teams, Talent Acquisition and invested Outreach partners.”

The team extended six jobs offers to welders from the last virtual Hobart hiring event to join the team in Aiken, S.C. Bringing together the ever-growing virtual environment and on-site facilitation, this outreach event created an efficient, one-stop-shop for hiring managers to fill these positions.

Skilled trade careers, and careers in craft and manufacturing, will always be critical and in vital need. BAE Systems anticipates utilizing this out-of-the box virtual method to hire future candidates as a more efficient way to rapidly hire for these highly sought after skills. Travel restrictions can’t stop these employees from filling important roles  to continue their mission-critical work across the organization.