How to Attract Talent in Security Positions

This content was provided by SIA member company Kisi.

Security is an element that many businesses forget to prioritize over other operations, and finding the right people to lead a security team, whether it be physical security or cybersecurity, is full of challenges that are hard to prepare for.

Kait Hobson
Author Kait Hobson is content marketing manager for Kisi.

Attracting talent in security positions tends to be competitive. Expected salaries are high, with the average base pay of a chief security officer being almost $160,000. This reality, mixed with a high expected level of job satisfaction, creates an environment in which job seekers in the security industry are highly selective and company recruiters are competitive.

Cybersecurity Needs

According to research by (ISC)², the world’s largest membership association of certified cybersecurity professionals, many cybersecurity workers are currently open to new employment opportunities. Typically, workers want to join companies where security needs are taken very seriously and the efforts of the security team are recognized. With evolving technology and increased cybercrime damages, cybersecurity needs are increasing by the week. Cybersecurity spending is expected to rise to more than $1 trillion cumulatively between 2017 and 2021, according to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures. With this increase in spending comes an increased need for security positions. Knowing how to attract talent in this arena to your company will ensure not only the safety of employee and client information, but also the success of the company itself.

Reach Out to Cybersecurity Professionals

Almost half of all cybersecurity professionals are contacted by recruiters weekly. The contact is even greater for those who are actively seeking new employment, which makes it that much more important to attract talent to you company, rather than watching workers go elsewhere. Companies recognize the need for talented security employees, so much so that by 2021, Builtin predicts there will bei3.5 million cybersecurity job openings.

Physical Security Needs

Physical security officer positions involve a
large amount of training. The security sector demands that officers and
managers meet certain qualifications in terms of both formal education and
industry-specific training, including everything from fire safety to emergency
planning and terrorism awareness. Officers also complete industry-specific training
geared toward the sectors they are entering. For example, government facility
physical security officers will go through different training procedures than a
shopping mall or residential complex security officer will. Regardless of exact
position, physical security officers look for similar opportunities to what cybersecurity
positions look for in a job. Both types of positions are important for
companies to recruit and retain.

Actionable Ideas

Detail Everyday Life

Transparency is key when trying to convince
people to join your team. Often, a business looking for security personnel
offers vast amounts of information on the company for anyone who takes the time
to look. Some companies use social media to highlight their cultures and
day-to-day company life. It’s also common practice for businesses to write
blogs that highlight employees and interesting internal processes.  

Work With Others

Recruiting for security positions can be
difficult among the younger talent pool because students and young
professionals may not get as much exposure to the industry as others. Forging
better connections with students and interns early in their careers with allows
companies to foster deeper interest.

Promote Content About Security

When putting
together a security position advertisement, think carefully about the job
description. The phrasing of an ad could be the determining factor for many
candidates. Turnoffs to future employees include vague or sensational language
and seemingly inaccurate descriptions. Job hunters like to see clarity and
detailed descriptions of the company’s expectations no matter what industry is
involved. If the company appears to not understand security and the job they
are hiring for, candidates won’t take a second look. Employers and recruiters should have a sense
of what skills are required for the job and what the ideal candidate looks
like. Some of the most common cybersecurity skills include cybersecurity
strategy, cybersecurity management, user education, risk assessment and
security operations.

Demonstrate Appreciation

Showing potential employees how they would be valued at a company makes those employees feel more respected right off the bat. Security personnel want to know their work will make some sort of impact; thus, appealing to emotions is one way to attract talent in security positions. Companies should also give employees a chance to make a difference. An (ISC)² survey found that 68 percent of workers want their opinions taken seriously and 62 percent prefer clearly defined cybersecurity responsibilities. If workers have the option of changing things for the better or implementing new practices as they see fit, they will likely be interested in the company— – job flexibility will always be appealing.

Emphasize Differences

When attracting talent, consider the reality
of the situation. Security candidates are likely juggling multiple offers.
Emphasize competitive differences, and give job candidates a reason to pick
your company over somewhere else. When interviewing candidates, mention opportunities
your organization provides. These opportunities should be things that entice.
Talk about the value the candidate would add to the company. At the same time,
let the candidate know how they will not only receive a competitive salary for
their efforts, but also gain valuable experience and career development
opportunities that are hard to find elsewhere.

Overall Tops to Build a Strong
Security Team

  • Clearly communicate company goals and strategies
  • Hire security professionals who can assist in areas where talent is currently lacking
  • Consider quality over quantity
  • Emphasize work-life balance, pointing out health and wellness initiative programs as well as flexible scheduling
  • Invest in the future and detail potential career development opportunities that security positions have available to them
  • Develop a mentorship program: when people have others to learn from and collaborate with professionally, there’s less of a chance they’ll leave (thus, boosting employee retention)

Additional Resources

in learning even more about hiring for security roles? Visit these additional

  • This SIA piece summarizes some of the steps companies can take to attract more talent.
  • This article from Kisi lists the major physical security conferences to attend in 2020.
  • This CSO resource provides examples of the organizational structure of a security team.