Say "Department of Defense" and most Americans automatically envision uniformed Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen or Space Force Guardians.
They don't think of the sinews holding all this together: DOD civilians.
"One of the things that I find so fascinating is that the Department of Defense civilian workforce … is close to 950,000, and still people don't seem to know about it," said Michelle LoweSolis, the director of Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service. "We're really and truly one of the biggest civilian employers in the country."
Your average citizen doesn't realize that you can come into the Defense Department and not wear a uniform, she said.
Pentagon officials have built a website — www.dodciviliancareers.com — to correct this misperception. The website project’s team lead said the site is primarily a recruitment tool; the website's purposes were to educate folks about civilian employment and help them explore where they might find their fit within the organization.
The idea began about two years ago, said Desiree Seifert, associate director for employment integration and strategic recruitment, at the service.
"We knew we needed to be more active in social media," she said. "We knew we needed to have more of a way of communicating. We really wanted to look at our website as kind of the central hub of that messaging."
The organization had a website before, but it wasn't dynamic, Seifert said. "It didn't let people know who we are or the variety of positions that we have," she said. "It didn't specifically target certain groups to say, 'Hey, come on in and learn about us; here's why it would be interesting to you.'"
The site is designed to give those working with it different paths to explore. If someone knows they want to work for the Army, for example, the site will give them a pathway there. If they want to work in South Korea, it will show them opportunities there.
"If the person is not sure, we have avenues where they can look at our different careers," said the website project’s team lead. There's also a job exploration tool that allows people to answer a few basic questions about their interests and background and get some tips on where they might start looking. "The site can show them opportunities already aligned with their backgrounds."
There are more than 600 civilian occupations in the DOD. There are all kinds of careers from scientists and engineers to artists to human resource personnel to intelligence analysts to medical professionals.
"If you want to fix aircraft, you can do it," Seifert said. "If you want to build ships, have at it. If you know talented individuals who want to make a powerful impact as DOD civilians, then www.dodciviliancareers.com is an excellent place to begin."