Jobs may no longer drop effortlessly into your lap, but the prospects for 2010 are not all doom and gloom. Two recruiters share tips on how to get ahead in a challenging market.
There are signs that the job market is recovering. Vendors are recruiting salespeople, suggesting that demand is picking up. Companies are beginning to consider contractors again, admitting that in-house teams are overworked and struggling after the budget cuts of 2008/09. Other roles include senior managers and internal consultants, while the technical roles tend to be application penetration testers within systems integrators and niche organisations.
Overall, as we move into 2010, there are still more people on the market and fewer jobs than in the past, which means that an individual's differentiators are more important than ever.
The greatest influence on the selection process comes from how security is sold within business units. Hiring managers seek those who are skilled at persuasion and achieving security objectives at a time when budgets have been cut. Job descriptions increasingly call for client-facing people with a general understanding of security and communications skills – even for an internal security team.
It is this softer skillset that is getting people jobs, rather than the technical skillset. Credentials are required: we are seeing increasing recognition for the IISP, while CISSP is considered essential 60 per cent of the time. These are requirements to entry rather than differentiators. Hirers want to see not only the softer skills demonstrated in an interview; they also require proof that they have been put to work to positive effect. Typical questions will centre on what candidates have done to improve awareness, better align the security message within the business, or how they justified projects despite a freeze. The more they have been involved in ‘negotiations' of this kind, the better.
Chris Batten, Acumin Consulting
Our experience and information shows a cautiously improving marketplace with demand for highly specialised skills and qualifications. Indications seem to suggest that 2010 will see a continuing gradual improvement, but overall it will still be a challenging marketplace.
We are seeing demand for IS professionals, with a particular requirement for candidates who are experienced penetration testers, forensics specialists, security architects, and PCI DSS consultants, especially those with QSA status. Candidates who hold SC or DV clearance are also desired by government clients.
Salary levels are likely to reflect the cautiousness in the market. Individuals who have been out of work will have to be more flexible in salary expectations; some are prepared to take a significant drop to get into the right role.
Redundancy is not all negative; it can provide an opportunity to study for qualifications, where lack of time previously prevented it.
In a competitive field, candidates must perform well through the entire recruitment process. It may be a shock for some to have to work harder than ever before at making the next move, as the instances of opportunities dropping into a job seeker's lap without too much effort on their part are less frequent.
The CV must be up to scratch: clear, concise and well presented. This can be a challenge for candidates who have been in one position for a long time and not had to put a CV together recently.
Once an interview is pending, preparation is key and it is essential to be extremely well informed about the prospective employer, the requirements of the role and how you can fulfil them.
Louise Harris, Alderbridge Network Recruitment