Information Security recruitment tips from Steve Latchford

What areas of IT recruitment do you cover, and what are you looking for?

I have over twenty years experience in IT recruitment. With information security, I’m not necessarily searching for particular languages, but for skills and qualifications. Popular qualifications such as SANS GIAC, CISSP, CISA, CISM, Cisco CCIE and CCNP certifications, and Fortinet certifications are all useful ones to have.

Skills required in the area include the ability to penetration test, (Pen test), to consult on perimeter security, and provide guidance to companies on Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and Firewall skills.

On the infrastructure side, I seek out candidates with infrastructure skills on either Linux or Microsoft technologies, usually in virtualized environments, i.e., into the cloud or datacenter.

What tips would you give to people looking to get started in information security?

There has been a lot of growth in this area, which is attracting a lot of people into it. However, candidates also need to be genuinely interested. You can demonstrate this by certifying yourself. Online courses offered by Coursera and others help to show your interest and competence in this area.

What advice would you give in preparing for interviews and doing well in them?

It may sound obvious but do your homework, research the company and the role. In the interview answer the questions you are asked by the interviewer, making sure to link the answer to examples of things that you have done.

You’ve been in IT recruitment for twenty years. How has it changed? 

Tech changes all the time, and people change their tech all the time, but the core skills don’t change. You need good engineers, who are good at solving problems. Companies still look for talented people to ensure they can achieve their engineering challenges.

Are there more tools to help you now?

We have great power and reach at our fingertips now, so we can search and locate more good people. At the same time talent is more sought after now, so it’s harder to find the right people. We have to look in the right places as we need a specific collection of skills, and our ideal candidates are not necessarily visible online! Fortunately, we are the people they will come to when they are looking for new challenges. They know that this is what we do best in terms of finding them interesting, relevant positions.

Will information security continue to be an ever-escalating battle between hackers and those trying to defend companies?

Yes, it will continue, especially as there is state sponsored hacking too, looking for valuable data. It’s not just criminals, but also states going after the information and data.

It’s a question of not ‘if you’ll be hacked’, but when you will be. When companies discover they have been hacked, it’s often the case that the hacker has already been inside the company for 12 months or more when they are discovered. This will continue, so our job is to find good certified ethical hackers to combat this risk.

In relation to infrastructure skills, it is a complex area, how hard is it to find good candidates?

You need strong engineering skills, and to also be comfortable operating across multiple servers. Companies are looking to automate solutions to issues, for engineers who can write scripts, which can then multiply across a wider area. Our job is to find people who can achieve this.

The job for life is gone. Big corporates will find it hard to keep talent, and good engineers will move when the opportunity is right. Some companies will compete on price and others on the technology that they can offer their people to work with.

Looking at current trends what type of jobs do you think will be in demand in the future?

For infrastructure related jobs, it will be about scale. The demand will be for people who can work with multiples of servers and systems, this is important now and will remain so in the future. On the security side, Risk Assessment is also important, the ability to do penetration (pen) testing, firewall security and the capacity or training to work with big data. This will all be important for security and this will only continue to grow in the future.

How can IT workers future proof their skills?

Keep certifying yourself. A B.Sc in software development should only be seen as the start of your career. You should keep learning, and prove that you have a genuine interest in the area. The certification is also important as it is often required to even be permitted on site to work with many of the companies and clients we deal with.

What do you enjoy about working for Software Placements?

The company builds expertise in specific areas, allowing us to serve our clients as well as possible. Our clients can call looking for a Project Manager or a Python developer, and be secure knowing that a consultant with a deep sector knowledge will search on their behalf. There is a relaxed atmosphere, they let us get on with what we like to do. We have a lot of talented people here working to find the best candidates.

Why is Ireland a good place to work in and relocate to?

Ireland has a reputation as a tech hub for people looking at Ireland from overseas. This can be said both about Dublin and the wider Irish market including Cork and the West. This means people are willing to make a career relocation and consider their strategy for the next 5 to 10 years. In this context Ireland ticks a lot of the boxes for what they are looking for. There are lots of good companies, working on interesting challenges, with good relaxed working conditions and excellent prospects and benefits.

Many of our successful candidates, from all across the EU and other countries find the atmosphere and quality of life here appealing. There are also lots of US multinationals who come here and then look to grow their businesses. They use us as they can’t always find the talent, and we can help to sell the potential benefits of working in their organisation. We are selling Ireland and its lifestyle. It’s not just about not sending the candidate’s CV, we also selling a career, a company and a country / not just the job!

Things have changed, yet it is still hard to find top talent. This area is in demand and very important. The ability for a candidate to progress in a prospective employer is also very important, and the potential for career growth with some of our clients is exceptional. Part of our role now is to sell this opportunity and explain it to our candidates.

Anything to add / we should have asked?

A cloning machine would be useful!! There is a lot of demand in the market and it is hard to find good people. We are searching across Europe, this will continue. Even if the economy dips there will be a tightening as there often is on a cyclical basis, but the IT sector will remain strong and requiring good candidates.

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