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You Think You Have Problems? Try Retention in the Missile Technology Industry...

Short post today, but a timely one given what's going on in the world.

You have retention problems. You've got pay issues, leadership issues and Sally said something nasty to Jeff.  It's a hard-knock life.

Then, there's the missile technology industry.  

As luck would have it, I found myself on the phone on Friday with a HR manager type embedded in a division of a government contractor that produces missile technology.

Her biggest issue? Trying to convince young talent that it's OK (forget cool) to develop missile technology that is bleeding edge - and ultimately used to kill people on a weekly (if not daily) basis across the world.

As it turns out, we can all rattle the battle shields to our heart's content - this post isn't about politics. But at the end of the day, someone still has to produce the technology and innovation that keeps us a step ahead in the modern world of warfare.

According to my HR manager friend on the front lines of the missile technology industry, it's getting harder to find young technical talent that wants to work on missile technology.  Once they're in the door, it's even harder to keep them. Seems as if the drone strikes have a draining effect on this section of the talent industry, as their innovation and work contributes to a lot of death.

I'm more of a hawk than a pacifist, but in listening to her talk, it's pretty jarring to remember that there are thousands of people inside that industry that have to live with the fact that their work contributes to a lot of pain around the world. It's one thing to arm a soldier with the tools they need - you can spin that defensively as well as offensively, right?

It's a whole other thing to work on technology that's delivered in a pretty automated way and may cause civilian casualties on a routine basis based on the way targets use civilian populations as shields.

What would you tell this HR Manager?  I told her the only idea I had is to look at the recruits with low sensitivity as the best cases for retention.  Low sensitivity means low empathy, with is probably a requirement if you're going to be in the missile technology industry given everything that's going on in the world these days.

So the next time you feel grumpy about retention, just remember your peers in the missile technology industry.  


Deepakkumar Tripathi

We can put it this way: e.g. we are producing nuclear weapon but will be used when required and we won't use first. The same way, you are going to produce the best missile but it will be used only when required as no country would like to waste it or use it unless & until it's war time or much needed...Till that time it's only used for testing....
2nd way - hire some techie guy who are just focused over technicality or R & D & not much focused over how these missile will be used
3rd way - hire some ex army person who are good in technical or family members of army man...They know it's real need. How these technologies can save more lives of their country.
4rth way: also we can explain the new recruit that if we have very good missile tech it will save lots of our country's people during war.

Just these points cm to my mind...
There can be more ways too

I just subscribed today and this my first blog reading on your site...


I've often wondered about recruiting people for what I would view as a truly awful job. For example - the gal that has to perform autopsies on children, or the guy that literally has to kill kittens at an animal control facility. You can't really appeal to patriotism or the excitement of technology to get these people in their jobs. You are exposed to the ugliest society has to offer and not much upside. It's hard to imagine filling jobs like that. Career path? Hard to say...

I once interviewed an engineer who designed a "chicken killer" as part of a poultry processing facility. It was a fascinating and horrifying discussion.


This in no way surprises me. As someone with a decade of DoD industry experience, getting and keeping young talent is just plain hard. Even in an area that is a literal hot bed of DoD work, it is interesting to look at the workforce. The majority is older and the technology expertise is retiring with them. Most of the younger generation in the area is leaving for the greener pastures of larger cities (two cities I won't mention that KD knows all too well) and work that doesn't kill, maim or injure.

My thought is, isn't this an opportunity for the military and transitioning service members? Encourage more engineering degrees, paid for while in service? There's already hands-on experience built in with technology as well? Just a thought.

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