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Posts Tagged ‘Security Jobs’

Should Security Professionals Obtain Advanced Degrees

June 11th, 2011

Many schools now offer degrees at the Masters and Doctorate levels for security professionals. By conducting a small amount of research ,  the following degree programs quickly floated to the surface: 

• Masters in Intelligence Management

• Masters in Terrorism and Counterterrorism Studies

• Masters Degree in Security Informatics

• Master of Science Degree in Homeland Security

• Masters in Science in Safety, Security & Emergency Management

• Masters degree in information assurance and security

• Masters Degree in Security Management

• Masters degrees in Computer and Information Systems Security

• Master of Science in Criminal Justice – Homeland Security Administration degree

• Masters degree in security and risk management

• Master of Science degree in Integrated Homeland Security Management

• Integrated Homeland Security Management (M.S.)

These programs are popping up  in distance learning on-line formats , for-profit colleges and universities  and in traditional brick and mortar well-known colleges and universities.   

From the degree headings shown above one can see that some degrees focus on physical security while others focus on information security or cyber security. Some degrees focus on Homeland Security. Other degrees focus on security and risk management.  Which program will give a security professional the most bang for the buck? 

After reviewing the course offerings on-line for a dozen different security Masters Degree programs, we found a variety of creative ways in which colleges and universities describe the content of their programs. We found lists of courses. We found projections that Homeland Security would be hiring more government employees in years to come than the market could produce. We found explanations of how education would be delivered.  

In no case did we find the business case behind why a security professional should consider an advanced security degree. In no case did any of the educational institutions report on the demand a security professional would see for their skills after completing a Masters or Doctorate in security management. In no case did the educational institution explain how completing their degree program would help a security professional to better understand how to align their security and risk management solutions with the business needs of a corporate employer.  

If you are considering a Masters or Doctorate degree in security, first think about why you’re considering the degree.

  •  Have you determined why you want to earn an advanced degree? 
  • Is the attainment of the degree and the knowledge that goes with it a personal educational achievement goal?  If so, this is a great reason to pursue an advanced degree.
  • Is your employer encouraging an advanced security related degree?  Or are they more supportive of  short-term classes and certifications   that they perceive might more directly add value to the organization?
  • Is the attainment of an advanced security degree part of your overall plan to increase earnings potential? Are you certain that an advanced security degree will lead to increased earnings?

As of the writing of this article, we’ve never been asked  to deliver a security job candidate who has a Masters or Doctorate degree in any form of security management.    

That does not mean that employers won’t ask for this level of education in the future.  If a security professional is considering the pursuit of an advanced degree in security management, they should do so for reasons other than the immediate expectation of a  better position in the coroprate sector or an immediately higher paycheck.

While employers may appreciate your advanced security degree, these degrees are  fresh enough  to industry that as security executive recruiters, we’re not yet seeing demand from employers for candidates who have security education at the Masters or Doctorate levels.

 

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Security Interviews, Winning a Director of Global Security Job

May 29th, 2011

Winning a Global Director of Security, Policies, Procedures and Compliance requires a well-executed interview strategy from start-to-finish.

A Chief Compliance officer whom the job reports to explained what separated the chosen candidate from the rest of the candidate pool.   These are the elements of the interview process that separated security job candidates from the security job winner. 

Nailing an Interview….what the winning security job candidate did well:  

Asked great questions!   We’re frequently judged by the quality of questions we choose to ask in an interview.  I’ve been suggesting this to candidates for years as I prepare them for interviews. My Chief Compliance Officer client pointed out that the candidate who stood out from the rest of the interview group asked the most compelling, business focused questions.     

Approached the interview discussion as if he were a member of the team.    This interview process was defined by a group interview.   One candidate speaking to a group of six interviewers made for an uncomfortable situation for all candidates. The chosen candidate did a great job of  capturing the group’s attention by engaging everyone in the group   and asking questions of the team so they felt as if he were already collaborating with them just like he would be if he were on the job. In other words, he projected himself into the job and immediately started trying to work with his new teammates .  

Knew when to say….”I don’t know but I’m willing to learn”.   The chosen candidate knew his strengths and weaknesses  and wasn’t afraid to admit when a topic wasn’t his area of expertise. Other candidates attempted to tackle issues that were not in their areas of expertise. More often than not, you’ll gain more respect from the interview team when you can articulate your strengths, admit your weaknesses and when you don’t stretch to make up answers where you don’t have expertise.

Answered questions directly.    The candidate who won the job asked great questions and gave direct answers to questions that came his way  . According to the Chief Compliance Officer, the hiring authority, candidates who came up short were vague when answering questions.    Interviews will seldom resemble one another.   The best you can do to prepare for an interview is to know yourself, know how to articulate your acomplishments, know what isn’t your expertise, ask great questions and be honest.  The winning candidate in this situation did all of these things well.   So well in fact that he was the only candidate of interst when all interviews had completed.    Hopefully this direct feedback coming directly   from a hiring official can be helpful to you the next time you have the opportunity to interview for a new security job.

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Build Relationships With Specialized Recruiters Before You Need ThemSpecialized Recruiters Hold Keys To Great Careers

May 28th, 2011

Why Work With Specialized Recruiters?

Insurance is purchased before an accident happens  You choose a primary doctor when you initiate new health insurance coverage. You identify a dentist before you need a root canal.  Isn’t your career important enough to you to proactively identify and promote yourself to recruiters who specialize in recruiting in your discipline of skill?

Do your research to find highly specialized recruiters who specialize in recruiting your skill set before your boat is taking on water and sinking. Build relationships with these recruiters proactively so you’re already know to them when you need them or when they have opportunity for you.

Learn to identify specialized recruiters

Headhunters” who specialize in recruiting skills such as Information Security, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity are not difficult to find. These recruiters are specialized because they are focused in their respective disciplines and don’t generally stretch  outside of their areas of expertise. Many different ways exist to identify these recruiting specialists.   For example, you’ll find specialized recruiters through business and social networks.  LinkedIn is a gret place to search for a security recruiter for example.  Recruiting specialists are found in directories of specialized recruiters on-line and through search engines. Don’t forget to ask your peers who they know of who is specialized in recruiting your particular set of skills. Once you have found one, which is again the easy part, here are some ways to manage your relationship with them.  

  • Corporate clients set expectations for specialized recruiters to deliver to

Specialized recruiters are hired by companies  that want the industry’s top talent. When a specialized recruiter takes on a search, the parameters of the search are generally very tight and the bar of expectation on the hiring manager’s side of the desk sits very high. Employers who are paying a search fee  to a specialized recruiter set higher expectations than employers who fill their own jobs without the help of specialized outside recruiters.  You have to make yourself stand out from the crowd and, you have to be at the top of your profession for a highly specialized recruiter to be able to place you with one of their clients.

  • Create a plan for introducing yourself to a specialized recruiter

Before you reach out to a specialized recruiter to make yourself known, think through your objectives. If you’re going to use email to make a first impression , take the time to write a carefully developed cover letter. Your cover letter should be written in executive summary format. It should be spell and grammar checked. A well-written cover letter will provide compelling enough information in bite-sized portions to make the recipient of the cover letter want to read your attached resume. If you choose to use the phone to make your first introduction , speak clearly, make the purpose of your call easy to understand,  spell your name clearly and report your phone number more than one time.    Leave a first impression that entices a specialized recruiter to call you back.    

  • Get to know specialized recruiters before you need them

Companies that have highly strategic and extremely challenging positions to fill frequently call on specialized recruiters. One could say that specialized recruiters frequently sit on some of the most lucrative, challenging, sought-after and compelling positions in industry. Think of these positions as career advancing positions that aren’t always advertised and frequently fly below the radar screen.   Who are the candidates who win these compelling job opportunities?   The first professionals to receive calls from specialized recruiters are professionals who have proactively built relationships with highly specialized recruiters at times when the professional isn’t in need of a new job.  

  • Strong career moves require careful planning

Build relationships with recruiters who specialize in recruiting your skill set and your phone could ring unexpectedly to discuss just the right career move that you weren’t looking for but you might be ready to pursue.  Highly specialized recruiters frequently open doors that advance careers. 

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Expecting Too Much When Hiring For Security Jobs

May 12th, 2011

Is It Possible To Create A Security Job That Can’t Be Filled?

You bet there is!  Over the past couple of years and more specifically since the first bank failure in 2008, many security jobs have surfaced  that realistically can’t be filled

When was the last time you ran into an information security professional who had expertise in Identity Management and SAP?  Sure, there is someone out there who has this unique mix of difficult to find skill sets but can you imagine filling such a job for $75,000 in Los Angeles, California ? Seriously, I received a call and a job description like this from a company in Southern California within the past 18 months .   

Information Security Threats are not diminishing . However, companies are doing what they can to hire fewer people to protect their digital and intellectual property.  They’re rolling the dice. When you see a job description that asks for so many skills that you find yourself thinking you’ve just read 3-5 job requirements, there is nothing wrong with your eyes. Employers today are regularly trying to get more for less when they hire.   

Recently, a Security Architect professional called me and shared a story of his face-to-face visit to an employer to discuss a Security Architect position. On the East Coast, in a high cost of living location, this Security Architect is earning in the $150,000 range. In the city where he invested his time to fly to for an interview, the employer wanted him but wanted him for a salary of $85,000. This comapny didn’t ask for my help in this recruiting process.  This hire didn’t happen.   

I’ve researched this employer and the position the security job candidate interviewed for. The security job is designed to consolidate the work of several security skilled professionals into one role and it is severely underpriced for the market where the company does business. Unless the hiring expectations change , the job will go unfilled or the employer will have to compromise significantly to get someone on board.   

Sometimes, employers simply don’t know how to build security job descriptions. Sometimes they build a strong description but then they hang the wrong price tag on the description.   I’m convinced that there are many times when a job description is created out of the ashes of 3+ older descriptions connected to 3+ people who are no longer with the company.  What the employer is trying to do in this case is to get the job done through one person without  paying for the skills of three people. This type of hiring looks like a roll of the dice to me.

 I’m not arguing about whether current hiring trends are right or wrong.  What I’m sure of is that information security professionals today have to become deeply skilled and well-rounded  if they’re going to have a chance of matching up to the expectations many employers are placing on the information security job candidates and technology risk management job candidates they choose  to interview.

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What is a Business Mentor?

May 5th, 2011

What Defines A Mentoring Relationship?

 My old Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word Mentor like this: 
 

 A trusted counselor or guide; also: TUTOR, COACH

I routinely receive communication asking me for the right formula for education, certification and experience for a security professional. I can’t recall  a time when I received a question asking me if I thought a particular mentor would be of value to a security professional.

If a mentor is as the dictionary suggests, a trusted counselor, guide, tutor or coach, how many security professionals have a coach ?  Who is watching after your career , your career moves , your career progression ? Who do you turn to when you need an objective point of view nad objective outside advice?

Mentors aren’t always readily available or easy to find.  It may take hard work to identify and to acquire a mentoring relationship.  When I first started fly fishing, I would have never caught a trout if I hadn’t made the effort to seek out mentors and to occasionally hire a guide or a coach.

 I’m a decent fly fisherman. However, make me fish with nymphs and I still need help. A buddy is great at nymph fishing so I’m constantly picking his brain to learn his technique. I’m not there yet. I still don’t have the fly fishing skill my buddy has.)

I’ve done some rock climbing with a number of lead climbers but I’m not a lead climber. I lack the skills, experience and the expensive rack of equipment one needs to be a lead climber. To climb, I seek out a guide, tutor or coach to lead the way with their expertise, expertise I don’t have.

In business, it is a good idea to seek out mentoring relationships wherever you are in your career. Since I work on the telephone as an executive recruiter, I frequently turn to someone whom I believe to be one of the industry’s strongest telephone sales trainers. I’ve been on the phone for 20 years but having a trusted counselor, guide, coach whose sole focus in his business life is to make telephone sales people stronger, continues to be of benefit to me.

If you are a security professional, where do you turn to find a mentor? If you’re really fortunate , your mentor at any given time could be your boss.  This isn’t always the case though. If you look with the expectation of finding one, you might find a mentor in an  ISACA, Infragard, ISSA or ISACA group. . You might find a mentor by reading various security blogs and seeking out the authors of those blogs for a potential mentoring relationship. Wherever you have to look to find a mentor, you need to find one! 

I paid a fly fishing guide to teach me the tricks of his trade. Perhaps you could think about a paid mentor relationship. After all, isn’t the mentor’s time, energy, knowledge and experience worth something?   

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