June 1, 2022

Driving Success Through Successful Cybersecurity Leadership Placement

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We all remember the ominous call to earth from the astronauts aboard Apollo 13, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” The same expression can be used to describe the tremendous challenge facing many organizations in critical infrastructure, banking, energy and public utilities, fintech, healthcare, insurance, and other sectors as they compete for highly-coveted cybersecurity leadership talent among an increasingly shrinking pool of potential candidates. Unfortunately Houston can’t help solve the problem created by the supercharged competition to secure talented cybersecurity leaders across all industries.

The pandemic-fueled increase in career mobility is at least partially to blame. As Senior Lead Technologist George Platsis writes in Security Intelligence, “the Great Resignation is real. It is being led by Millennials and Generation Z, who are highly mobile in their professional lives and followed by Generation X, who have the tendency to be self-sufficient and work long hours but are less committed to specific employers. This trend should worry employers, because not only do they face a retention problem, they face a current and future workforce problem.”

A recent survey conducted by ISACA further demonstrates the challenges of cybersecurity leadership placement. The survey, reported in Security Magazine, found that 63 percent of companies had unfilled cybersecurity positions. One in five companies reported that filling a cybersecurity vacancy requires at least six months.

At a time of increasing cyber threats, the need for cybersecurity leaders is growing at a rate of 31 percent, compared with a 4 percent growth rate for occupations in general. The high growth rate means that cybersecurity leadership placement will remain quite challenging for years to come. The cyber skills gap continues to widen as well, putting many organizations at risk of having underequipped cybersecurity capacities.

The trend toward remote work is further compounding cybersecurity leadership placement challenges, according to Dice. More than 70 percent of companies report experiencing a security breach attributed to a dearth of cybersecurity leaders and staff.

Five Ways to Attract Cybersecurity Talent

In this tight labor market, companies must be proactive to achieve successful cybersecurity leadership placement. Partnering with top cybersecurity leadership placement firms like Wolf Hill Group is one way to get the leg up on the competition. There are several other simple strategies that companies can deploy to attract top cybersecurity talent.

Avoid the Warm Body Trap

When companies become desperate to fill vacancies, they are often willing to settle for less than the best to achieve full staffing. That strategy is fraught with risk. As argued by George Gerchow, the chief security officer at Sumo Logic, in a recent article in TechCrunch, “It’s tempting to just grab anyone you can, not only because cybersecurity jobs need to be filled but due to additional pressures such as protecting headcount before any open positions are cut in a layoff after a bad quarter. Don’t do it. Cybersecurity is too important to risk having team members who can’t (no pun intended) hack it. Wait to find the best people, no matter what.”

But waiting can also be risky as a less than robust cybersecurity team may leave the organization vulnerable to cyberattacks. And that is why partnering with an experienced and accomplished retained leadership search firm like Wolf Hill Group is a smart strategy. Building and maintaining a relationship with us maximizes your chances of successful cybersecurity leadership placements.

Academic Degrees Aren’t a Must Have

Organizations often require candidates to possess specific academic degrees to seriously consider them for cybersecurity leadership positions. While holding a degree from a top school is impressive, it's not the primary qualification when seeking cybersecurity leaders. Having the right skillsets and relatable experience, working well with a team, being calm under pressure, and possessing keen situational awareness are more important determinants of a candidates’ chances for success.

Resilience Matters

More than half of cybersecurity pros say they have trouble sleeping at night because of the intense challenges they face every day. And the Great Resignation is expanding opportunities for talented people in high-pressure vocations to choose different career paths, so leaders must be cognizant of their cybersecurity team members’ mental and physical health. Cybersecurity leaders themselves may experience burnout, testing their resilience. This phenomenon must be considered when developing cybersecurity leadership placement strategies. The cybersecurity leadership placement specialists at Wolf Hill Group understand the need to vet candidates based on their resilience and capacity to thrive under pressure.

Pay a Competitive Salary

Talented security analysts typically earn more than six figures, according to US News and World Report. Therefore, paying a competitive salary is foundational to cybersecurity leadership placement success.
Offering an appropriate title is also an essential recruiting tool. In this competitive market, many talented cybersecurity specialists seek a prestigious title, such as CISO with increased responsibilities. That said, organizations need be mindful to extend appropriate offers aligned with the value-add that the candidate brings.

Consider Nontraditional Sources

A logical place to seek out talented cybersecurity professionals for your company is your competitor companies. The landscapes are often similar so the transition should be smooth. However, by tapping into nontraditional networks and sources, companies can enhance their cybersecurity leadership placement efforts by increasing the scope and diversity of potential candidates. When partnering with the cybersecurity leadership placement specialists at Wolf Hill Group, companies gain access to our extraordinary networks and the established relationships we have developed with both active and passive candidates. Those networks and relationships give your organization a competitive advantage when recruiting talented leaders.

Building diverse teams is critical for almost all companies for myriad reasons. Companies with significantly more racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to outperform competitors. And inclusive companies are 1.7 times more innovative and 120% more likely to hit financial goals. Diverse teams see a 60% improvement in decision-making as compared with their peers. For all these reasons, it makes sense to partner with the cybersecurity executive placement team at Wolf Hill Group. We also offer a full suite of DEI services to help organizations build and sustain an inclusive workplace, which will help retain current workers and attract new ones.

Retaining Cybersecurity Personnel

A company that retains a stable, productive, and happy cybersecurity team has an advantage in cybersecurity leadership placement. Talented people want to work with other talented people in an environment that encourages innovation, offers support, and makes them feel safe. As Brian McGowan, CISM, VP Global Security and Privacy at SharkNinja, writes in CIO Review, “We have control over how we treat people and treating them well is at the core of creating lasting friendships and retaining team members…Connecting with our team members will lead to better engagement and likely better retention.”

Executives also need to groom ambitious promising young cyber leaders to facilitate their upward mobility within the company and increase the chances they will stay. The chance of a successful cybersecurity leadership placement at any company is only enhanced when team members feel valued, satisfied, and engaged – both in the office and on social media where candidates often search when seeking information about a prospective employer.

Cybersecurity Leadership Placement Specialists

With more than 75 years of leadership recruitment experience among its founders, Wolf Hill Group excels at building cybersecurity leadership teams for startups, venture capital, private equity, and family office investors. Our cybersecurity leadership placement teams partner with companies in almost all sectors, including critical infrastructure, banking, financial services, healthcare, insurance, and public utilities. We are industry specialists with a focus on recruiting cybersecurity leaders across a range of functional areas, including:

  • Asset Security
  • Communications and Network Security
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Security and Risk Management
  • Security Assessment and Testing
  • Security Engineering
  • Security Operations
  • Software Development Security

Working with a cybersecurity leadership placement specialist helps companies channel their limited time and resources into their business operations and enhances their opportunities for choosing the most talented person from a rich, robust, and diverse candidate pool. Wolf Hill Group is uniquely positioned to identify both active and passive candidates and ensure confidentiality throughout the process. We prioritize targeted sourcing based on truly understanding our clients’ needs, cultures, and timetables. Our professional recruiters are experienced specialists whom candidates can relate to, respect, and trust. And when you engage with us, your professional stature in the marketplace is enhanced because others know that you are willing to retain a top cybersecurity leadership recruiter to build out an amazing team.

Cybersecurity leadership placement is becoming more challenging as the need for talented leaders becomes more and more pronounced and the pool of prospects becomes more and more concentrated. Wolf Hill Group is ready to work with you and your team to ensure that your cybersecurity leadership placement efforts are a success.  

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