Friday, June 28, 2013

Why Are Security Jobs So Hard To Fill?

It’s Hard to Identify the Right Security Jobs

Security professionals reach out to me every day to share the challenges they have in finding appropriate employment.  An experience I’ve recently had serves as a crystal clear example as to why many security jobs are so difficult to fill.  They shouldn't be but they are.

The Executive Assistant Call

The Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff of a high net worth family recently reached out to me to discuss the family’s need to hire someone to fill an executive protection job. This would be executive protection in the US and around the globe as the family travels either for business or personal reasons.

Not having a job description in hand, I started asking probing questions to determine what the family had discussed with regards to an executive protection person’s background, experiences and credentials.

She Didn't Have a Clue

I only had to ask one question before it was crystal clear that person I was on the phone with didn't have the slightest idea what the family needed in an executive protection professional.  She thought a retired police officer might be a good fit. 

When I explained that there might be a better fit if they were to hire for example, someone who served in the Secret Service because they have devoted their career to protecting dignitaries who travel to foreign countries, the executive assistant didn't understand.

The History of the Position

I asked how long this position had been open.  The executive assistant told me that the position 
had been open for 2-3 years.  I got the impression that the job might have been filled a time or two and I was told that the recruiters who had been called on in the past weren't being called on this time around. 

Open Up the Vending Machine

The first request of me from the executive assistant was that I would send over a few executive protection resumes.  While I have a database of well over 30,000 security candidates and a LinkedIn network of almost 30,000 direct connections, my office doesn't have a candidate vending machine. 

As politely as I could, I explained to the caller that my company is a security search firm. That means that we search for talent rather than pushing a button and having talent fall to the bottom of a vending machine. 

Furthermore, I don’t send my candidate’s resume anywhere until a complete interview has been conducted and the candidate gives me permission to share their resume with my client company.  She didn't like this answer.

Jump through a Hoop

I was then asked to sign an NDA before talking to the current person who is in charge of executive protection for the family.  This seemed like an unnecessary investment of time to me but I complied with the request.  With the NDA signed, I was told that I would be speaking to someone who understood the family’s executive protection needs.  We’ll call this person John.

A week passed.  Then another week passed.  I knew that this deal was dead but curiosity got the best of me.  

Rather than speaking to my references or putting me on the phone with John so he could evaluate me and I could evaluate him, the executive assistant dropped the ball. 

When I called the executive assistant today, I could tell that she was shocked that I was following up.  I could hear panic in her voice because she had to come up with something intelligent to say on the fly to justify her ball dropping behavior.

The Solution?

I was told that my phone never rang because it was decided that they could hire the person the needed for free.  Really?  You've identified a security recruiter who can help you to clarify what you need and then go find what you need but you’re going to put the safety of the high net worth family’s future in the hands of someone you hired through a free process?

Are you beginning to understand why security jobs are sometimes so difficult to fill?

Why are Security Jobs so Hard to Fill?

  • Wrong People:  People involved in hiring processes who don’t understand what they’re doing but they gate keep nonetheless.

  • Lacking Clarity:  Stakeholder decision makers who are involved in interview processes to fill security jobs frequently possess different levels of understanding regarding these positions.  Sometimes stakeholders don’t understand security positions at all but they land on an interview panel anyway.  When this happens, stakeholders make decisions from their own point of view rather than from a unified level of understanding that is aligned with business needs.  The result; interviewed candidates are never right and jobs go unfilled.

  • Specialized Recruiting:  Highly specialized recruiters know and understand their areas of search specialization.  Hire a security recruiter when you want to hire security talent.  You wouldn't hire a plumber to replace your roof would you?

  • Recruiting:  Recruiting is much more complicated than pushing a button on a vending machine to get to great talent.  When recruiting is done correctly, it is a process and not an event than just anyone can succeed at.

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