Anyone in the cybersecurity field who spends any time on LinkedIn will see numerous recruiters vying for your attention. You will also see numerous complaints from cybersecurity professionals about how those recruiters conduct their business. Unfortunately recruiting as a profession is becoming a stigma.
But why is this happening? The profession itself is a critical one, and done well is of tremendous value to any professional’s career. These partnerships can, and should, last a lifetime, yet the majority of recruiters I’m come across these days are nothing short of used car salesmen.
But if you can find a good one!… Who else can put so many opportunities in front of you when you’re too busy doing your dayjob? Who else can talk you up to the RIGHT people before they even see your CV? In other words, who else can help you in your career as much as really good recruiter? Even mentors rarely have as much influence.
So What is a ‘Good Recruiter’?
While this is becoming more and more an oxymoron, it’s really quite simple from a candidate’s perspective:
- Do not approach me with a job in mind. At least not out of the gate. You have no idea what I’m looking for, or even if I’m open to conversations. The positions you’re trying to fill are your problem, not mine. Instead, approach me with a request to talk. If I’m not willing to talk I’ll let you know, politely, and waste no more of your time. If you don’t start the partnership with MY interests first and foremost, we’ll have little to discuss. Besides, to provide good service to your clients, you need to know if I’ll be a good fit. For example, trying to place me in a position that requires extreme tact and diplomacy will likely not go well.
- Do your HOMEWORK! There are few things more irritating than; “I read your LinkedIn profile and think you’d be a perfect fit for…” If you had actually read my profile, you would know that I’m not at the beginning of my career looking for a Security Analyst position in Abu Dhabi starting at AED140K. If you want to start handling more senior placements, don’t treat potential candidates with such discourtesy. You get one shot at this, if that.
- Assume you may never place me, but call me anyway. Recruiting, like sales, is all about relationships, and EVERY relationship pays off in some way. Maybe not directly, but going from one ‘kill’ to the next will set you up for eventual failure. Deservedly so. Senior candidates may place infrequently, but they usually know lots of other people. Recruiting is as much about networking as it is direct contact. That’s why I call this a partnership, I can help you too.
- Stay in touch. Any recruiter who stops calling / emailing me just because a job placement falls through, will not get a second chance. And any recruiter (or employer for that matter) who stops calling hoping you’ll ‘get the hint’ is a coward and extraordinarily unprofessional. Communicate, Hell, over-communicate, but keep your candidates in the loop, there’s always a next time.
- Be proud of what you do. How many people have you LinkedIn with who have titles like ‘Security Consultant’ who turn out to be recruiters? At least half of the invites I receive from recruiters are hidden behind some other title. In Peter Smith’s; “Why do we hate (our own) sales people?“, he used an excellent phrase; “If a person is worried about having sales in their job title, then they probably do not have the right DNA.” This applies every bit as much to recruiters. Take pride in your profession, you are needed.
I now throw down the gauntlet to all recruiters specialising in senior cybersecurity placements. While I am not actively looking for a move, I am open to any conversation. I have my own business, so short/long-term contract work is best, but I will not disregard full-time gigs if the opportunity is right. Feel free to reach out.
But what I’m really looking for is great recruiters. I have a hard time believing that there is a such a deficit of cybersecurity talent, I just don’t think employers are asking the right questions. There are many junior security folk out there who need help, I am going to make it one of my goals to put them in touch with recruiters I trust and respect.
First I have to find them.
To end this blog on a crappy analogy; In Jerry McGuire there are two types of sports agent; 1) scumbag agent Bob, who cares nothing for anyone and 2) equally slick, but with a heart of gold Jerry.
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