Streamlining the CyberSecurity Hiring Process


Another week goes by, and the spotlight is still on cybersecurity recruiting. Until the Defense Department is able to compete with industry in the cybersecurity field, the discussion has to continue. Defense contractors and defense agencies are alike in looking for an edge in the cybersecurity recruiting race.


The Department of Homeland Security is asking for Congressional help in leveling the cybersecurity recruiting playing field. DHS feels unable to compete within the current government recruiting restrictions. Keep in mind – many can attest that the federal government’s hiring process is less than streamlined. It isn’t easy to find the right candidate who is willing to take a lower salary, has the necessary certifications, can get a clearance, and is willing to jump through any federal government hiring hoops.

DHS is asking Congress to relax federal salary requirements for cybersecurity hires, a move the National Security Agency (NSA) has done that has increased its attractiveness to cyber talent. A bump in salary could go a long way in helping qualified candidates feel the value of public service.

DHS’ deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity, Phyllis Schneck, also wants to give candidates from the private sector a chance to come in and see what she has learned. Schneck left a job at McAfee for her position at DHS. As someone who has experienced the shift from private sector to government employee, she feels she can help DHS make the case to the cybersecurity community.


What’s the best way to attract cyber talent? Money and mission. When you lack in one, make sure you’re adequately selling the other.

It’s time to get real with the cybersecurity recruits in the defense industry. Acknowledge the pay gap. Work to close the gap, but don’t pretend that it doesn’t exist. Help potential candidates understand their value to the mission of the organization and let them know they are appreciated. Speaking of the mission – tell them about it as much as is appropriately possible. Supporting national security is a big deal. The key recruiting strategy for the NSA is letting recruits know they’ll be working on the cutting edge of technology – with opportunities that are literally impossible in the commercial sector.

Recruiters can also go a long way in keeping top talent interested by streamlining the hiring process. Consider how your hiring practices could be scaring off the best talent. How crucial are your questionnaires? What is your application process? Make things as easy as possible for your most in-demand fields. When it comes to in-demand positions, like cybersecurity, it is time to scrutinize all the elements of the procedure. One way to compete is to be smarter and more efficient in the hiring process.



The biggest challenge in the cyber recruiting market is finding talent actively looking for positions – candidates ready to make a quick move. While you should always be cultivating your talent pipeline and finessing passive candidates, candidates ready to make an immediate move are also critical. Activity on the Cleared Network is a great way to find active candidates. Cleared Network groups for Cybersecurity professionals are some of the best places to look for active cyber talent. Post job updates or relevant news articles and add members with the right skills to your network.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.

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