A mission to make mankind a multi-planetary species. Elon Musk. Rocket launches. And two consecutive Best Places to Work wins in a row. With accomplishments and accolades like this, it’s no wonder that SpaceX receives heaps of applications from interested candidates every day.
“Year after year, as awareness of SpaceX’s brand, mission and success grows, so does the interest in being a part of it,” shared Brian Bjelde, Vice President of Human Resources at SpaceX in a recent interview with Glassdoor. The good news?
“We always welcome candidates to apply,” Bjelde said. “We’re out there looking for people that want to help us achieve that goal of making humans multi-planetary.”
But what exactly does it take to land a job offer from a company on a mission to Mars? Read on to learn Bjelde’s top insights and tips on how to get a job at SpaceX.
1. Make Sure You Have These 3 Qualities
There are a lot of things that recruiters and hiring managers look for in candidates: experience, technical know-how, communication skills, etc. But at SpaceX, three qualities stand out above all else.
“I distill what we’re looking for in candidates down to three items: passion, drive and talent,” Bjelde said.
In your application materials, make sure to highlight these items. Your resume, for example, is a great place to show off your talent by listing your hard skills and relevant experience, while your cover letter is the perfect place to emphasize your passion and drive — in it, consider describing why their mission resonates with you and what motivates you.
2. Share What Makes You Exceptional
For every open position at a hot company like SpaceX, you can bet there’s more than just one qualified candidate applying for the position. To stand out, you can’t just demonstrate competency — you have to come across as exceptional. The best way to do that, according to Bjelde, is directly highlighting what your proudest accomplishments are.
“People articulating the exceptional things they’ve done really helps them stand out,” Bjelde said. And true to form, one of the recurring questions that appears in SpaceX interviews is, “What is your greatest achievement?” and for technical roles, “What is your greatest technical achievement?”
This is a great question to keep in mind as you’re writing out the bullet points on your resume. A good rule of thumb is to follow the STAR format — the Situation you were faced with, the Task you were assigned, the Action you took and the Result of that action. Then, you can expand on the details of your achievement in your cover letter, and, if all goes according to plan, your interview.
3. Expect a Practical Exam
No matter your role in the company, SpaceX recruiters and hiring managers love seeing a tangible demonstration of your skills.
“One of the best indicators of a candidate’s ability to perform the tasks we’re hiring them to do is to give them a practical examination of sorts,” Bjelde said. "If you’re hiring someone to be a world-class welder here, then we actually bring them in as part of the interview and give them a welding assignment to understand their talent with this task. We do the same thing with our engineering groups, and with any role in which the work activity can be distilled into a practical examination,” Bjelde added.
Of course, if you’re going to pass a practical exam with flying colors, you need to already be a master of your craft — but it never hurts to brush up on some of the basics and most relevant skills before you receive an assignment!
4. Go Beyond the Resume
Resumes are important — there’s no doubt about it. They’re often your first chance to make an impression on recruiters and hiring managers, and they can make the difference between moving forward in the interview process and being left behind. But while a strong resume will catch the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager, it’s not enough on its own to score you a job.
“Resumes gauge the ability to write a bulleted list of achievements, and that’s not always indicative of success — the resume is not going to be sitting in the seat doing the work on Monday,” Bjelde shared.
Instead, Bjelde said, recruiters and hiring managers at SpaceX “seek to understand what [candidates] didn’t put on the resume, the items people tend to not want to brag about in an interview — things like what failures they experienced along the way and how they worked through them.” They also “want to figure out, what makes the person tick? What motivates them and makes them do their best work? How do they like to be challenged?”
In order to do well in this part of the process, you’ll want to brush up on your interview skills. Review the most common interview questions and practice responding to them with a friend or family member. And it never hurts to cover some of the interview basics, like projecting confident body language and selecting an appropriate outfit.
And most of all, try to get in the right headspace — cool, calm and collected. SpaceX employees are an elite group, but if you’ve got what it takes, you might just get to join them.