Looking for hard-to-hire talent? See how Virgin Orbit was set up for success to hire rocket scientists.

Aviation and aerospace

Long Beach, California



Applicant Tracking & Offer Management


– First Advantage for
background screening
– Ultimate Software

Virgin Orbit specializes in launching commercial and government satellites. The Long Beach, California-based aerospace company that employs 500 people is a sister to Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company, and together the trio aims to open space to everyone.

Known for rocket scientists who determine how to launch 60,000-pound, satellite-carrying rockets from the delicate wings of flying airplanes, Virgin Orbit thrives on imagination. However, the company’s six-person recruiting team shared a recruitment platform with its sister companies, restricting its ability to make changes without impacting them.

Virgin Orbit looked to Kelton Legend, a full-service talent-acquisition consulting firm, for guidance on how to optimize use of their iCIMS Talent Cloud.

Kelton Legend, one of iCIMS’ advisor partners that knows the software inside and out, studied Virgin Orbit’s end-to-end recruiting process, recommended the company move to its own cloud platform and worked with iCIMS to clone the solution shared with its sister companies.

“As a TA leader, you know what you’re trying to deliver, but trying to configure, advise, change manage, win over, and make sure you have user adoption. It can be overwhelming if that’s not your skill set,” Kelton Legend’s chief executive officer Kim Jones said. “Having a trusted partner who is working to make sure you have an ideal solution is an advantage to this program.”

“There aren’t a lot of rocket scientists on LinkedIn looking for a job. We need to spend our time finding them, then make the experience as painless as possible and remove any obstacles along the way. Now we can do it our way.”

Gary Michael, Virgin Orbit’s talent acquisition manager, leaned on Jones to translate their vision into the new platform, create unique workflows, set up dashboards, advise on application setup and align more intricate details, such as the system’s login groups.

“I can be the expert in the room when it comes to how to enhance the candidate experience, how to recruit, how to source, how to close, but I am not a systems person,” he said. “It’s about understanding your swim lane. I understand that I am way out of my depth. I needed someone to help bring that to life.”

Once achieving system independence, Virgin Orbit configured the platform of its needs and enabled the seamless flow of new hires data into its HR system by implementing iCIMS’ integration with Ultimate Software. Virgin Orbit also opted to use iCIMS’ Prime integration technology with First Advantage. The Prime integration experience improves efficiency and transparency during the background screening process —a key to providing a candidate experience to attract their unique targeted candidates.

With efficiency now at their fingertips, the Virgin Orbit recruiting team now has more time to source some of the hardest-to-find passive talent in the world: rocket scientists. Recruiting and sourcing passive candidates in a highly competitive market, sparring with the likes of NASA and SpaceX, takes an expert eye and attention to detail.

“What I like about iCIMS is it’s scalability. Right now, we are at about 600 employees within our organization. And looking to where we are going to be at 800, 900 or even 1,000 employees, I know that I can scale with iCIMS. No matter how big or how small, I have a partner who is there with me to make sure we’re doing the right things at the right time.”