• United States



Infosec jobs: 5 Ways to score an ace recruiter

Dec 03, 20156 mins

Working with recruiters who specialize in placing security professionals can give you an advantage in your job search. Here’s how to spot the great ones.

With cyberattacks on the rise, infosec jobs are hotter than ever.

According to a report from Stanford University, cybersecurity jobs are expected to grow 10fold in the next decade. That’s good news for security professionals, but bad news for the companies already struggling to meet the demand.

Enter recruiting firms, a resource that more businesses are relying on to find qualified talent, according to Blake Angove, director of technology services at LaSalle Network. “We’re at almost zero-percent unemployment in information security,” he says. “The market is very competitive, and finding a great recruiter can be a huge advantage.”

Good recruiters have connections inside companies, knowledge of unpublished jobs and a deep understanding of the company and the candidate it’s seeking, says Joe Walsh, technical recruiter at IT staffing firm Mondo. They’re also key in negotiating on your behalf, says Joyce Brocaglia, CEO of Alta Associates.

[ ALSO ON CSO: 10 Tough Security Interview Questions, and How to Answer Them

“There is a tremendous value in working with an executive recruiter as long as you select the right one,” Brocaglia says. “A competent, experienced recruiter will act as your advocate in representing your skills, differentiating your talent and ultimately negotiating the best possible offer.”

But like job candidates, not all recruiters are created equal. Here are five ways to discern whether a recruiter is a good fit for you, plus tips to make the most of your relationship.

1. Ask what roles the recruiter has filled.

Much like security professionals, recruiters’ specialties run the gamut: Some may specialize in placing security architects while others may concentrate on security auditors. To make the most of a relationship with a recruiter, find out which roles they have experience filling, across how many disciplines and the depth of their experience, Angove says.

“Ask them how many placements they’ve made in the security space throughout the year. You’re not really looking for a specific number, just that they have a demonstrated success in placing people like you,” he says. “Have they just done infrastructure placements, or have they placed on the application side, too? Try to get a good understanding of where their strengths are.”

[ ALSO ON CSO: Don’t use general recruiters in salary negotiations ]

Your recruiter should also have experience placing candidates in companies that interest you, Brocaglia adds. “You should ensure they have access to the caliber of companies that you are interested in joining and, most importantly, you should use your network to do reference checking on both the firm and the individual you are considering working with,” she says.

2. Does the recruiter get to know you?

Making a good match—for both the candidate and the company—is more than just cross-referencing your skills and experience with a company’s requirements. To ensure a good fit, recruiters should spend at least 15 minutes on the phone or in person getting to know you, Walsh says.

Recruiters need to figure out how to sell you to a client. Good recruiters will take this time to learn about your skill set, your strengths and what you’re looking for next, he says. Consider it a red flag if your conversation is cursory: “If they can’t or don’t explain the project you’ll be working on or what the corporate environment is like, they haven’t done a good job of figuring out what exactly that company needs in a resource,” Walsh says.

3. Your recruiter’s knowledge of the job and company should extend beyond the job description.

Recruiters are valued for their relationships with companies, Angove says. If your recruiter can’t speak in detail about the company’s corporate culture or specifics about the job, consider it a red flag, he says.

“If it’s a company you haven’t heard of, can the recruiter speak intelligently about what they do? Do they have insight into the company outside of what’s listed in the job description? And can they speak to what’s happening within the security team—the projects they’re working on and what’s coming up?” he says. “You want to know that the recruiter has done their homework and actually has a relationship with and is invested in the company.”

4. Recruiters should be passionate about their job and the security field.

Good recruiters are passionate about their jobs—a quality that should be evident in your conversations, Angove says. Ask your recruiter questions like, “How would you describe your firm?” and “How is your firm different from other recruiting companies?” he says. These answers will offer a peek into how hard they’re willing to work for you.

“If they can’t sell you on their company, they won’t be able to sell you to clients,”Angove says. “You want someone who loves what they do and is passionate about their work.”

As important as passion is their knowledge of the security field, Brocaglia says. “Generalist recruiters don’t understand the nuances of our industry and will not properly be able to differentiate your skills when representing you,” she says. “Even though there is low unemployment, the competition for the best jobs is still fierce and the competition can be greatly influenced by an executive search partner who is experienced in negotiations.”

5. Good recruiters communicate.

Communication is key to developing a strong relationship with a recruiter, Walsh says. Even when work and life get hectic, good recruiters keep in touch.

“If your recruiter submits you for a job and you don’t hear from them for a few days or a week—and they don’t lay out a timeline for getting feedback—take it as a bad sign,” Walsh says. “It’s a warning that they don’t have control over the hiring process, which doesn’t benefit you.”

What can benefit you well into the future is developing and cultivating a relationship with a good recruiter, Angove says. “It’s kind of like a sports or movie agent: Recruiters know your compensation requirements, where you want to commute to, and work on your behalf to get you the best position,” he says. “When you find the right one, they can give you a leg up on the competition.”