The security recruitment landscape of 2018 looks quite different from that of ten years ago. Technological advancements that can benefit search firms, hiring companies and professional security job candidates alike have grown and convey the impression that staffing methods have changed.
While that is accurate, the jury is still out on whether these changes are positive. It turns out not everyone believes the next best things yield the best results. As a result, in 2019 security search firms may find themselves at the forefront of the next step in recruitment evolution. Which may be a somewhat backwards one.
Many organisations around the world have restructured to separate their former HR departments into human resources and talent acquisition teams. Regardless of moniker, these internal departments spend massive amounts of money on technologies designed to better manage their candidate management processes.
Externally, companies aggressively fund their organisation’s social media presence and spread themselves across multiple platforms for perceived better visibility and access. The now-usual suspects that dominate the socialisation of internet recruitment roll out wave after wave of enhancements each year. These upgrades and new products are advertised as better messaging and management for a company’s target audience and come with steep price tags for organisations while remaining free to use for candidates.
In large companies, human resources and talent acquisition are often sizeable departments with substantial budget commitments to their infrastructure. As a result, they – rather than hiring managers – can often be the ones driving the train in recruitment.
So: has this evolution of recruitment technology positively affected what recruiters in organisations do? Depending on the level of jobs they recruit for, the candidate sourcing techniques of internal organisational recruiters vary widely. Some still build strong candidate networks in the areas in which they regularly recruit while others limit their search strategy to internet research.
Each method can deliver results; however, when limited to online candidate research alone, the search results will only be as good as the individual conducting it. A recent Harvard Business Review article notes a significant digital skills gap within HR departments. HR are not necessarily skilled at operating in a digital environment. This should strike fear into the heart of any candidate who relies exclusively on social media to secure their next position.
Add in the variable that the search is for a professional level security position, and the odds increase that an internal recruiter may be challenged.
Despite security’s heightened profile, security roles remain in the minority of all roles within organisations. Internal talent acquisition departments often struggle to fill these positions as they recruit for them infrequently so turn to social media as an answer. As a result, many hiring managers see only those candidates who are readily available online.
By its nature, security is a profession whose practitioners are necessarily sceptical and cautious. There is often a reluctance to place large quantities of their personal data online for consumption by unknown individuals. I refer to these tendencies as social monitoring vs. social media when it comes to the security community. Simply said: a large percentage of professional security candidates are not accessible via online sourcing.
In our roles as owners of a global specialist security recruitment company, we have noticed an interesting trend amongst clients in 2018 that we expect to see continue into the New Year, one directly linked to the socialised recruitment dilemma. SMR is frequently told by hiring managers that they are not confident that their internal recruitment teams have found either all or the best candidates for the roles they are seeking to fill.
While SMR generally views our relationship with the clients who hire us as a partnership that extends to all involved stakeholders, we have had hiring managers fund their security search independently of their internal HR function. Some security departments at our client companies are adding an external recruitment line item back into their annual budgets to ensure they can recruit top talent.
Recruitment companies of all sizes have adapted in different ways to the ever-changing face of talent acquisition. Within the security space, some that pre-dated the IT/cyber security frenzy have either been sold, diversified into other recruitment sectors or branched into unrelated businesses such as themed conferences to augment revenue.
Many new firms have formed as a direct result of the rise of high-quantity quick-fill IT-related roles. Additionally, the rollout of GDPR earlier this year is likely the end of transactional recruitment whereby fringe recruiters harvest large quantities of personal data to peddle.
Given these pivots within corporate recruitment practice and external search providers, what is the outlook for security recruitment going forward in 2019?
The best search firm partner for an organisation will remain one that is skilled at working collaboratively with its clients regardless of which internal department initially reaches out. Actively listening to what each stakeholder requires is key, as is the ability to understand and manage client expectations. Agility to adjust to new technologies and practices should be a core competency. Ready access to – and strong relationships with – top security talent are paramount.
Security specialist recruitment will continue to be a valuable partner for hiring organisations both into the New Year and beyond.
Jerry Brennan, Chief Executive and Joanne Pollock, Chief Administrative Officer, Security Management Resources® (SMR)