Space might completely freak you out and you might never want to work there, but it's a new industry and a great opportunity to see how they are attracting a very niche group of people. In this article we’ll analyze the strategy, the content, and the conversion/application process by applying to the Space Operations Officer position with the newly formed Space Force.
Here’s what we know about the Space Force talent operation. It’s a part of the Air Force, mostly based in DC and LA. The Talent operation team is small - ie. one person: Aine Nakai: Director Talent Management. She is a seasoned Air Force member and most recently the Director, Talent Management at U.S. Air Force. Marketing is likely partnering with talent on the recruitment strategy. There doesn’t seem to be much separation between the Air Force and Space Force. At the time of writing this article there are 17 ‘Space’ openings.
Let’s break down the strategy I observed:
The most notable piece of content that I found was a 30 second advertisement video. I first learned of this piece of content through a daily email from another company. This email referenced the video's circulation on Twitter. Just a quick search found this video or clips of this video on blogs, reddit, LinkedIn and more, so paid or not paid, it was quite shareable. You can infer that they put some effort behind sharing and sponsoring this piece of content where they thought their audience would be.
30 Second Advertisement:
The video itself has a ‘movie preview’ feel. I was half expecting Matthew Mconaughey to show up at the end with ‘Summer 2021’ panning in. My point is - this is a high budget production. There are a lot of great visuals. Rockets launching, satellites drifting in space,and an epic stargazing clip at the end. This is all anchored around their tagline: “Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet”.
The call to action isn’t actually in the video. Rather, they have a link in the supporting text that brings you to this landing page. The background image itself is not a high-quality image and it almost looks like something you would have seen back in the internet of the 90’s (I’m looking at you Angelfire). This page feels like an afterthought and doesn’t carry the same quality as the video. There’s also a huge missed opportunity here to provide more context about what they are trying to do, who they are looking for and not to mention the ability to build a talent community.
From the landing page you are directed to the U.S. Air Force career site that is filtered to only display the space openings. The career page doesn’t have any of the information you might expect to find on a career page like benefits or employee testimonials. This career site is strictly about searching for career opportunities. I clicked on Space Operations Officer which brings me to a parsed out job description, similar to what you might find with Ruutly. It’s all the information you would see in a job description, but displayed in a way that is more engaging and palatable. This might be the one thing they got right because it’s all downhill from here. About half way down where there is an Interests & Skills section. When clicked, they actually navigate you away from the job posting. The unified goal of a career page is get the right candidates to apply for your openings. I’ve never seen anything like this before.
There are also two other CTAs under the ‘Take a break’ section that prompt you to request information or start a live chat. These two sections are seemingly unrelated as one speaks to vacation time and the other is a CTA to ask questions before applying. This is very confusing.
There is yet another section that speaks to pay and benefits, college opportunities, and the on-boarding process that navigates you away from this job posting. It’s almost like they don’t want you to apply for this position.
Finally, at the bottom is a banner with an ‘Apply Now’ tagline and ‘Get Started’ button. But I would soon learn that this was not exactly applying for this position.
Right off the bat it seems strange because it mentions becoming an ‘Airman’ in the U.S. Air Force. Earlier, I was able to piece together that the Space Force is part of the Air Force, but this is a different message than what we saw at the start of this process. There’s actually no reference to Space Force at this point. This should have been more apparent in the beginning. The application form feels less like an application and more like filing your taxes. They ask to input your GPA and address etc. At the end you receive a thank you message that actually included contact information to a local recruiter. At this point, it feels like I just applied to a general application pool within the Air Force and not for the Space Operations Officer position itself. I won’t be surprised when I receive a phone call from my ‘local recruiter’ asking more questions and trying to drive me to some other job within the Air Force.
I also never received a confirmation email that my application went through.
I did receive an email a couple of days later and a phone call from Staff Sergeant in the US Air Force. This was followed by a text that read “Hello is this Brian Mooney”?
Overall Score: 24.4 (out of 50 possible points)
My overall experience was not great. I love the strategy of creating content for a specific group of people and driving them to opt-in, but beyond the video it was poorly executed. If Space Force wants to bring the best candidates through the door they need to make major improvements in this process. I would start with updating the landing page and converting visitors to opt-in to an email list without having them complete an application. Next, I would fix all the CTAs on the career site and drive visitors to apply or join a talent network.
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