Agencies Implement a Mix of Hiring Strategies
Agencies have implemented a variety of mechanisms aimed at reaching more candidates, making salaries more competitive and speeding up the hiring process. At the CIA, for example, the IT team is using social media to cast a wider recruitment net.
“We’re trying to pivot from the traditional post-and-pray approach,” says Theresa Randall, deputy chief of the CIA’s Talent Acquisition Office. “We’re being more proactive, and we’re going to where the talent is — and that’s online. We’re going to the digital world to find the digital workforce of the future.”
When it comes to cyber recruiting, “we have ads that stream on various services, and CIA has active social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube,” she says. “We’re trying to meet people where they are to share information on our career opportunities.”
At the Department of Energy, a robust internship program is helping widen the scope of recruiting.
DOE recently launched its Omni Technology Alliance Internship Program, a 10-week rotational summer internship program for college and graduate students targeted at cybersecurity, says Robert Gettings, a program analyst in the department’s Office of the CIO.
“A lot of internships are either unpaid or pay a small stipend, so your average family can’t afford to have their kid at school in an internship,” he says. “This program gives a stipend that covers the students’ living wages, their housing, their transportation, relocation expenses. That way, we widen the pool of people who are able to take advantage of it.”
In the first cohort, completed in August, DOE selected 66 interns from among 400 applicants, Gettings says. The agency opened up the program for the second year this fall.
By getting emerging cyber professionals in the door, the program helps the agency build a talent pipeline.
“Interns will have spent three summers working for the department on some of the coolest mission work there is,” Gettings says. “And at the end of it, they’re also getting a security clearance. They will have been mentored by top scientists. They’ll be working on protecting the nation’s infrastructure. So, we hope that they stick with it.”
At the Office of Personnel Management, CISO James Saunders says messaging is key to recruiting, especially when looking for more seasoned cyber talent. He leverages the agency’s aggressive modernization efforts as a prime selling point.
“In recruiting senior and midlevel individuals, we’re talking about the great cyber work we’re doing. That’s what catches people’s interest,” he says.
“I do speaking engagements and webinars to get the message out that OPM is in the middle of a technology modernization. We’re sprinting to the cloud. We’re doing zero trust,” Saunders says. “Those things get ears perked up because who doesn’t want to be part of a transformation effort?”