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As a generalist technology executive search firm owner for almost 15 years and now having run a specialized cybersecurity search firm for the past 5 years, I have found there are critical differences between the two areas. I hope to shed some light on those differences here.
As a hiring manager or talent acquisition leader, it is essential to properly qualify search firms upfront, otherwise, search firms can waste a tremendous amount of your time, and it may result in a mishire of a security expert which can be extremely painful and costly to replace. Plus, it could put your company and your company’s data at risk.
As you may know, finding the right security talent is not easy. There are a lot of ‘wannabe security folks” out there who try to pass themselves off as security experts. They know common buzzwords that can trick many recruiters who are not intimately familiar with security. Most often, when a search firm is engaged, you are looking to hire a person with existing skills who can “hit the ground running.” A security-focused recruiter can dig deeper to uncover if candidates have the appropriate practical and proven experience for that specific position.
“It’s not who’s looking for you, it’s who you are looking for.”
Therefore, here are some questions you should be asking any search firm before you hire them to work on critical security roles:
As described, recruiting security experts is a very different process than hiring IT support or development personnel. Most recruiters rely heavily on in bound candidates from job postings listed on LinkedIn, Monster, Career Builder, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc. It is extremely rare for great security candidates to come in through job postings.
Case in Point: Over a one year period, our firm received over 10,000 resumes from one of those above sources (out of respect I won’t name which one). We only placed one “inbound” candidate after reviewing those 10,000 resumes and that person was released in under three months which was a blemish on our reputation. This is why our motto continues to be, “It’s not who’s looking for you, it’s who you are looking for.”
Security candidates who do have extensive LinkedIn profiles will continue to be pursued heavily even after they are hired.
Really good cybersecurity professionals don’t need to respond to a job posting. They often receive 10-20 recruiting calls and emails every day. Rarely will they respond to an unknown recruiter as they know they are in extremely high demand. If they want a new position, they most often leverage their trusted security network.
More and more security professionals are reducing their social footprint on LinkedIn and other social platforms. Security candidates who do have extensive LinkedIn profiles will continue to be pursued heavily even after they are hired. This leads to a higher turnover rate, salary demand, and a lower return on investment. Therefore, those professionals may not be the ones you want to target. This is why it may be a big advantage to hire a firm who has already built a deep and trusted network within the industry.
To conduct a successful security search, search professionals must know this domain well, leverage trusted relationships, and be influential in the industry to be able to attract those highly valuable embedded candidates.
About Tim Howard
Tim Howard is the founder of Energy Sourcing (www.energysourcing.com) and Fortify Experts (www.fortifyexperts.com) which helps companies hire and deploy exceptional “Embedded” talent through executive search perm placement and expert consulting.
In addition, he has a passion for helping companies develop Higher Performing Teams by working with them to increase effective communications, improve non-productive behaviors and on-board faster by providing clients with “Employee Operating Manuals“.
He has teamed up with Lyndrel Downs to launch www.CybersecurityDIVAS.com to help promote the most influential women in cybersecurity and provide a mentoring program to help increase encourage and support more diversity within the industry.
He has been leading technology staffing teams for over 15 years and is the founder of three other technology firms. He has degrees from Texas A&M University in Industrial Distribution and Marketing.
Invite me to connect: www.linkedin.com/in/timhoward