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10/11/2017
04:35 PM
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Cybersecurity's 'Broken' Hiring Process

New study shows the majority of cybersecurity positions get filled at salaries above the original compensation cap, while jobs sit unfilled an average of six months.

[UPDATED 10/12/2017 with link to the report, now published]

A soon-to-be published study shows how the traditional corporate human resources operation actually hampers cybersecurity hiring against a backdrop of the industry's well-documented talent gap.

The Jane Bond Project report, commissioned by security talent recruiting firm CyberSN, found that in addition to the lack of available talent for those positions, respondents say their HR generalists are not equipped to recruit and hire cybersecurity talent, and that flawed salary data complicates their ability to issue the best job offers.

More than 80% of the 83 cybersecurity positions studied in the report ended up with compensation offers higher than the salary caps stated in the original job descriptions. Half of the 52 organizations participating in the study say they had to up the compensation offers to seal the deal. The positions in the study include security engineers, product sales engineers, incident response analysts, SOC analysts, and product security experts.

Meanwhile, the typical cybersecurity job sits unfilled for an average of six months, the report shows. "It boggles my mind" that some jobs sit vacant up to nine months, says Chenxi Wang, founder of The Jane Bond Project.

Most respondents said recruiting for cybersecurity positions was "difficult" or "very difficult," and especially challenging for the more experienced positions.

Wang, who headed up the study, titled "The Cyber Security Hiring Crisis," says one CISO she interviewed lamented that HR was "looking in all the wrong places" for cybersecurity talent. The CISO has filled positions by recruiting from veteran databases, where he's found candidates with some military training that he was able to tap and then train for cybersecurity, he told Wang.

In addition to more accurate and updated IT security salary information, Wang says, the industry needs HR specialists focused on security talent who have an understanding of the industry.

"I had a CISO tell me [in the study] he had a recruiter turn away a really good hacker because he 'didn't look into your eyes' when he talked to you. The HR recruiter turned him away as 'not a good fit,'" she says. "But the security team knew he was a good hacker and wanted him. The criteria in which HR generalists [vet candidates] does not work" in all cases for cybersecurity, she notes.

Most hiring managers in the survey say they rely more on their own personal networks of contacts and LinkedIn – not HR – for their recruiting efforts.

Deidre Diamond, founder and CEO of CyberSN, says HR really shouldn't be expected to recruit and hire cybersecurity talent. "It's really unfair to even suggest that the HR department has the department to support the recruiting efforts of a cybersecurity position," she says. "It's so niche, there's no common language there … I feel badly for HR."

Many HR teams end up cut-and-pasting cybersecurity job descriptions that don't accurately reflect the actual day-to-day responsibilities of the opening. Companies also end up starting way too low with their offers, sometimes $10,000 to $20,000 under the appropriate salary range for a security job, she says, often because HR doesn't have the proper budget approval for a competitive offer.

Meanwhile, two of out five organizations review or adjust salary offers every six months, and three out of five do so annually.

Diversity Deficit

While the study did not look at diversity, it did find that only eight percent of the cybersecurity positions in the report were filled by female candidates. And of those women, none had negotiated a salary higher than the job offer.

"I had five organizations [in the study] that talked about their hiring practices and what they see. A few of them said 'women don't negotiate,'" Wang notes. "But a lot of men don't, either."

CyberSN's Diamond says the gender salary gap should improve when the Equal Pay Act kicks in next year. "Now, women often make less money, so their offers" are for less, she says.

"But that's only going to change if women push for it" and learn to negotiate for equal salaries in cybersecurity, she says.

Diamond says her firm plans to release a free tool for cybersecurity job candidates to create strong profiles that are attractive to prospective employers. 

A recent ISC(2) study shows organizations aren't tapping in-house talent as a way to fill security slots, either. More than 60% of respondents in the ISC(2) report say their organizations are short on staff, but just 34% say their companies cover the cost of security training.

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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CyberMark
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CyberMark,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/19/2017 | 9:37:36 AM
Re: I'm Living Proof of. Broken HR recruiting for Cyber Security
Interesting post seems we are both in the same position, I to have completed my Master's in Cyber security and am giving up on finding employment. I love the ethical hacking "Pen Testing" side of security, and have sent my CV to about 50 agencies and have had not one single reply. I'm really not sure what to think or what the future holds. I'm sick of seeing reports about the massive shortage of cyber professionals though.  

 
InfoSecurityMaster
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InfoSecurityMaster,
User Rank: Strategist
10/18/2017 | 5:00:41 PM
Re: I'm Living Proof of. Broken HR recruiting for Cyber Security
Oh, Lor! this just makes my head hurt.. . . Where to start?

(I WILL be contradicting myself, so fasten your seatbelt and make sure your table is in the upright position...)

Your career is just all over the map, so to speak.  MS-Sec - check.  Security+ - WHATT?!?! STOP - get a CISSP (you probably wont need a prep boot camp, but get a review book in case you are unsure of content). OR a CISM, or a CRISC or a CGEIT. (ALL ISC2 plus MOST ISACA will do). I  mean, do you really want to reboot firewalls (SEC+).  the ones I noted match in varying degrees to your PM experience, and data analytics will only better.  Or better yet, get all then go for EE Council CCISO. this is how YOU GET APPROPRIATE SALARY. 

AND join the groups - ISSA, ISACA in particular. There might be chapters near you. Isc2 also has some chapters.

But the job ratings in Infosec are inconsistent (did I say that in previous?) - 2 nearly identical requisitions can have salary variations of $20-40k. 

You have experience, just need to twist it in to infosec lingo. Not data analytics: SEIM. (not best example, but I'm living on red bull now). not PM: security mgt. 

then mix with certifications. security is strangely addicted to them mostly. ignoring degrees. what you lack in security work, paint with certs. I listed the CCISO to illustrate the breadth that infosec is moving towards. I've done systems and networks, but now I emphacize scheduling and analysis and management.

Some look for degrees.  I post for some that I am overqualified for, but then get turned down because I dont have a masters. but if they dont ask for certifications, I suspect they have less of a clue.

I dont agree with those exam passers and certifcation addicts that do a week long cram so they can pass a test either. and many have so many certs you wonder if they actually do work.  For myself, I've been doing security for around 20 years, so I dont need to cram; I hardly need to study (CISSP with only a book review for a few specifics like crypto-passed on first. CAP with only an online seminar because I already mostly memorized SP 800-37; also passed on first).

Take the words in PM and data analytics, and find in infosec literature. and also vendor webinars. that will help you to tie the two to security and improve your chances. look at any book or other webinars on the certifications too.
SotarrTheWizard
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SotarrTheWizard,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/17/2017 | 8:00:22 AM
Re: "Broken Hiring Process"? what process?
Actually, when I do get a call from one of these recruiters, you can often HEAR the multiple conversations going on in background, suggesting a "boiler-room" operation, an open call center.  And, just as invariably, the callers are equipped with thick sub-continent accents, suggesting that the call is actually from overseas, and only appears to be domestic, thanks to cheap VOIP PoPs. .  .
SotarrTheWizard
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SotarrTheWizard,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/16/2017 | 5:19:23 PM
Tales from the Field. . .
. . .   I've been a cybersecurity pro for 15-20 years (depending on how you count it. . .)

Recruiting is getting more random every year, from what I see.  I get generally 5-10 solicitications per week.  But 95+% are clean misses: they appear to be the result of 1-2 keyword searches and a resultant email blast.   For a contract of short duration at about a third to a quarter of my current compensation, in a far distant location.    I suspect these are actually designed to generate rejections for US Candidates, in order to enable a slot for an H1b canidate from overseas.

The few that ARE decent matches still offer insufficient compensation, claiming "that's all the market will bear".  Which seems odd, considering the widespread reports of massive Cybersecurity talent shortages, especially as the mid and senior levels.

It's gotten to the point where I amuse myself by writing rude commentary on the more clueless pitches. . . . which, I suspect, will be a book, sooner or later. . .
Lorita77
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Lorita77,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/16/2017 | 12:28:02 PM
I'm Living Proof of. Broken HR recruiting for Cyber Security
I'm a career changer with 20 years of project management, developing and managing database, and data analytics experience; I've received my Masters in Cybersecurity in May 2017and had a five month internship in Security. I was told by a prominent Consulting firm that I was being offered a position, and the recruiter asked for my salary request and I informed her my request and she stated, "I don't want to waste your time and I will discuss your salary with the hiring manager and I will get back with you." Needless to say, I never heard from her again. I've been told by corporate recruiter I didn't have enough expirence for an entry level position. I'm finding out my cyber security education and my transferable skills means nothing to the recruiters. I just obtained my Security + certification and I have a secret clearance. I've been networking for over a year. I'm struggling to secure employment in the cyber security field. I recognized that the cyber security jargon vary. The cyber security language needs to be standardize and the field must create employment standards and rating based on education, experience and certifications. There are candidates who are taking and passing certificates exams with little to no education and experience in the cyber security field and they're getting employed without the foundation that is gained via a formal higher education programs. From my experience the recruiters are gate keepers who will not admit that they're not capable of recruiting new and experienced talented cyber security professionals. Thankfully I have employment in my current career field which pays me what I'm worth.
InfoSecurityMaster
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InfoSecurityMaster,
User Rank: Strategist
10/16/2017 | 11:55:25 AM
Re: "Broken Hiring Process"? what process?
Sure. Exactly: look for the wrong things, ignore the right things

Says it all, Joe S

It appears that the wide net approach is most common.  Are these guys working in sweatshop conditions? OR do they get credit for every response regardless of outcome. This seems very unlikely, but....
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2017 | 9:52:59 AM
Re: "Broken Hiring Process"? what process?
> HR generalists and recruiters are mostly not competent (not equipped, to be nice) to recruit security professionals. 

Call me a mean ol' cynic, but I've come across enough recruiters in my time to be of the opinion that there is no need "to be nice" here.

Many HR people look for the wrong things, ignore the right things, and make up a list of arbitrary boxes to tick. Many recruiters have perverse incentives to either cast the net as broadly as possible or to look for the exact-match purple squirrel. They all give their profession bad names -- and they are far from the exception (at least around these east-coast big-city parts).

And, in many cases, they can't fill the cybersecurity and data-privacy positions because they are underpaying and/or undertitling.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2017 | 9:48:01 AM
Just like everything else.
Everything described here is typical.

Posted job salaries get negotiated upward -- especially if the candidate is smart enough to know that they are in high demand.

And jobs sit for months -- even years -- vacant in every industry. And the longer they sit vacant, the less likely candidates are to apply for those jobs.
InfoSecurityMaster
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InfoSecurityMaster,
User Rank: Strategist
10/13/2017 | 12:36:33 PM
about The Report
Great to get the actual report.

As per my previous post, the premise is sound (IMEEHDPO).  However, from an analytical perspective, it seems to be a bit small sample.  This can and should be updated, perhaps with partnering with am Infosec organization, like ISC2, ISSA and/or ISACA.  Any of these could provide a wide and large set of security professions to interview. And ISC2 does an annual salary survey.
guypod
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guypod,
User Rank: Author
10/12/2017 | 5:04:51 PM
Expanding to other teams
While hiring security professionals in a better and more diverse way is indeed critical, IMO the true key to scaling security is empowering the non security team to embrace security practices, building security in
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