With 71,000 worldwide employees and $25 billion in annual sales, Raytheon has been one of the nation's leading defense, aerospace and homeland security contractors for decades. Electronics, guided missiles, command systems integration and intelligence systems are all in its product portfolio. Headquartered in Waltham, Mass., this a company that really does need rocket scientists. How do you staff up a defense contractor? Kristy Kucharczak, Raytheon's director of Global Talent Acquisition, likes to ask this very fitting question of job applicants: "What’s your mission?" It's important, she says, for you to "determine your best fit within the company based on your technical interests and your career path."

How to Make Your Approach

Out of the company's more than 2,200 job postings, about 1,000 are engineering and technology-related positions, many for software, system, computer, cyber and electrical engineers. Most in demand are security experts and application developers and are among the hardest positions to fill, Kucharczak says. "We’re looking for malware security software engineers and well as developers with experience in developing in Java/J2EE, XML, Perl, C, C++, PowerPC, MIPS, or ARM in a Windows, Unix or Linux operating environment." New hires need to bring "technical competence, adaptability and a team-oriented attitude." If you're called in for an interview, be prepared to show how your experience matches what you described on your resume with specific examples. And be ready to ask your own questions. Asking appropriate questions shows that you're truly interested in the company and the position. "Being good at your technical discipline is just the start of determining the right fit," Kucharczak adds. "We’re looking for innovative people who are committed to exceeding the needs of our customers." The company's website includes a video of the corporate culture. Whether you fit is an important part of the hiring equation.

How to Read a Raytheon Job Posting

Raytheon's job postings include a position description, lists of responsibilities, required skills and desired skills. Pay special attention to that last category. If you find an opportunity that matches your talents and you have those special skills, you'll vault to the top of the pile. Also be sure to read the fine print. As a defense contractor, Raytheon has many positions that require government security clearances and background checks. To make it through the application process, you may need to prove you meet eligibility requirements for access to classified information.

Finding Jobs at Raytheon

In addition to using its own website, Raytheon distributes job information via social networks. Besides publicizing open positions, Kucharczak says they "search out possible candidates through social media, and invite them to come to our events and explore our opportunities." You can find Raytheon on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, among other sites.

Advice for Seasoned Professionals

Raytheon welcomes veteran tech professionals, but suggests that if you're looking for the first time in many years, take the time to determine what you'd truly like your next career step to be. Looking for any job as opposed to the right job is a mistake, she says. "Most interviewers can tell if a person isn't passionate about the position. That matters because it relates to job satisfaction, and ultimately to retention." When interviewing at Raytheon, be ready to:
  • Discuss not only your technical competence but also examples of how you faced a challenge, showed innovation or partnered for a superior solution.
  • Explain some positive lessons you learned through both successes and failures.
  • Talk about how you stay up to date in your profession and how your experience is a fit for the position of interest.

Advice for Recent Grads

College grads have a good shot at getting in Raytheon's door. On average, 15 percent of its annual hires are just out of school. The company recruits heavily at campuses around the country, and expects people to be buttoned up when they approach. "The job search process can be a challenge for students, so we do recommend above-and-beyond efforts to stand out," Kucharczak says. "If we're on campus doing a recruiting event, you should seek us out and have one-on-one conversations with our engineering staff and then follow-up with them afterwards. Always follow the formal application processes, such as applying online, since it’s a required part of our process." A few more helpful hints:
  • Make sure your resume describes any type of experience relating to the career you want.
  • Get an internship. Students with internship experience make their way to the top of the interview list.
  • Don't approach a Raytheon recruiter without first exploring its website, reading up on industry news and checking out the company on Twitter and Facebook. "Students who use these approaches can find themselves considered a high-quality candidate," says Kucharczak.
Raytheon also hosts periodic online chats for college students who are interested in making contact with the company.