Getting your Head in the Game: Sourcing Information Security Candidates

Recruiting and Sourcing information security candidates is not for the faint of heart.  Recently, the Leviathan Security Group said, ” With more than one million cyber security positions unfilled worldwide, currently identified security needs couldn’t be met if every employee at GM, Costco, Home Depot, Delta and Procter & Gamble became security experts tomorrow.”  Wow.  Just wow.

What does this mean?  It means that while we are learning to grow the next generation of security professionals, we have to also be smarter about our candidate sourcing in this critical space.  The first step, which can also be the most challenging in the information security sector is potential candidate identification.  If you haven’t found the person, you certainly can’t network, hire or receive a referral from them either.

In this part of our Sourcing series, we will explore the most critical first step in the process:  Getting Your Head in the Game.  This stage in sourcing will set the strategy for the entire search and it is a step that should not be skipped.

Contrary to instinct, now is the time where you have to slow down and think before you act.  Spending this time up front will ensure you can work efficiently down the road.  Let’s get started:

Analyze the position description

Look up all of the terms and technology you’re not familiar with yet.  Pull up the org chart and see where this person fits in the organization.

Talk to the decision maker

The majority of your strategy time should be spent here.  Give this conversation a good 30 minutes so you can get what you need from this meeting.  Remember, this is the only person who will really understand what you’re looking for in the market.  They will be the one who will know what EXACTLY this person will be doing on a day to day basis, the percentage of time that will need to be spent utilizing skill A versus skill B and separate out the “must haves” from the “it would be really awesome if we could finds.”  They can help you set the priorities, learn about professional associations your ideal candidate may belong to, companies who hire the same talent, suggest online communities this person may be contributing to and hopefully even give you the name of someone to network with.

Create a plan

Take the information you’ve gathered so far and flesh out a real plan.  Set down a list of major and niche job boards to source from, a list of associations and universities as well as online communities and companies you will be targeting directly.  Determine where you feel you’ll get the most immediate return and start there, moving down the list with daily activity.

Write strong search strings

This isn’t everyone’s strong suit, but it is critical to a strong search. There is a great LinkedIn group called Boolean Strings – The Internet Sourcing Community that has excellent resources for beginning and advanced string users.  You can even get real-time advice from members when you run into trouble.  AIRS offers excellent sourcing training as well.

Refine as you go

Try one string and refine in each source.  Log your progress so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you try a new source or refine a string.  Sourcing and internet strings are a process.  With each element added, candidates are eliminated, so add and subtract to your search mindfully and play around with the terms.

Spending this time getting your head in the game will pay off with more relevant results and less wasted effort.  One full hour of front-end planning is worth three hours of shot in the dark sourcing.  Your managers will be happier and you will be able to fill more positions more quickly, which is the whole point, isn’t it?