While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed where Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) finds new employees, it has not slowed down the number of new employees the Command is recruiting and hiring.
As part of the Command’s COVID-19 response, hiring is now completely virtual with no in-person recruiting events or interviews. Since the Command began maximum telework on March 18, NSWCPD has brought 72 new hires onboard.
“We’ve just been rolling with the punches and adapting to COVID,” said Victoria Gonzalez, NSWCPD’s recruitment coordinator. “Slowing down hiring was not an option.”
NSWCPD has participated in several virtual career fairs, worked with collegiate partners, and leveraged USAJobs to connect with potential employees.
“I think in some ways COVID has made us more competitive. Some industries may have been forced to slow down their hiring, but we have been able to continue at the same rate,” Gonzalez said. “We have been connecting with very talented people.”
All hiring is currently being accomplished completely digitally. NSWCPD hiring managers connect with potential employees through phone interviews and digital resume submission, employees complete all the necessary paperwork from home, and only come in to pick up their IDs and work computers while the Command is under maximum telework.
NSWCPD’s virtual New Hires Boot Camp runs every two-weeks with the goal to get new hires familiar with the Command and its mission while completing all necessary training and paperwork so that they can begin supporting the Fleet as soon as possible. NSWCPD’s New Hires Boot Camp team worked closely with other Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) Warfare Centers to provide the best experience that is the closest to the in-person boot camp.
NSWCPD’s Director of Strategic Planning and Investments, Glenn Ward, is one of NSWCPD’s leaders who presents during the New Hires Boot Camp. While before the leaders would speak to the cohort of new hires in a classroom, now everyone is in the same Defense Collaboration Services (DCS) conference room. New hires can follow along with presentations and audio capabilities so they can meet the Command’s leadership even though they cannot be in the same room to allow for social distancing.
“The good news is we are continuing to onboard talented people; we haven’t missed a beat since we started teleworking,” Ward said. “While I prefer to have in-person classes, we are still able to bring our new hires onboard and get them set up, so that’s a big win for us.”
According to Gonzalez, the biggest difference between the virtual boot camp and the in-person boot camp is the new hires don’t get to tour the Command. However, NSWCPD is currently developing a virtual tour video to familiarize new hires with the Command’s test sites and labs, to help make the virtual boot camp as seamless as possible.
“I really believe that more virtual hiring is the way of the future,” Gonzalez said. “Our flexibility with virtually recruiting and onboarding has prepared us if something like this happens ever again.”
While there are some disadvantages to virtual recruitment, according to Ward there are several advantages, from reducing internal bias in the process to cost-savings.
“We are finding that these tools allow us to hire people without bringing them all the way to Philadelphia,” Ward said. “I think we will continue to see certain aspects of the virtual onboarding continue, especially as we step up our technology.”
NSWCPD will continue to recruit new employees virtually for the near-term as the Command is still under maximum telework.
“The true test is going to be how we do next year,” Gonzalez said. “I believe in our recruiters and I think we are going to do great.”
NSWCPD employs approximately 2,700 civilian engineers, scientists, technicians, and support personnel doing research and development, test and evaluation, acquisition support, and in-service logistics engineering for Navy ships. NSWCPD is also the lead organization providing cybersecurity for all ship systems.