Renee Small, Cybersecurity Super Recruiter, content creator, and host of the Breaking into Cybersecurity podcast, joins the Hacker Valley team to clear the misconceptions around recruiting and discuss cybersecurity’s open positions. Taking labor shortages and skills gaps into consideration, Renee explains how she’s helped others start strong in the industry and hone their skills. Additionally, Renee covers her journey into content creation and podcasting, and how that’s impacted her recruiting work.
[00:00] Understanding a recruiter’s role in big and small cybersecurity orgs
[06:37] Diving into content creation with the Breaking into Cybersecurity podcast
[12:13] Challenges and rewards of helping entry level cybersecurity professionals
[16:02] Rewarding cyber recruitment stories and tech mentorship opportunities
[22:39] Advising job seekers looking for entry level positions in cybersecurity
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What is the role of a recruiter in cybersecurity?
Renee knows the idea of a recruiter can be a confusing one, and the role of a recruiter can be radically different depending on the size of an organization or the type of recruitment they focus on. Overall, however, Renee believes that the role of a recruiter is to be a matchmaker for a position within a company. Cybersecurity recruiters have to understand the technical needs of a position and the cultural needs of a cybersecurity company to find the perfect practitioner fit.
“The role really is to be like a matchmaker. You’re seeing who out there is a great fit for which roles, which companies, and which culture, or which company culture, and that's what makes it, for me, a lot of fun.”
How has being a content creator impacted your work as a recruiter?
Although Renee doesn’t always identify as a content creator, her work with Chris Foulon on the Breaking into Cybersecurity podcast speaks volumes about the type of creator she really is. Renee always focuses on giving back with the work she produces, whether that work involves career coaching, recruitment advice, or cybersecurity education. Becoming a podcaster and content creator has allowed Renee to answer questions and provide information that helps the entire online cyber community.
“I experienced all the positions that were open as a recruiter, but I had no idea that there was this group of folks who were entry level, or transitioning into their first cybersecurity position, and they needed my help [in order to break into cyber].”
What are some of the most fulfilling moments that a recruiter can have?
Being a recruiter gives Renee the opportunity to help cybersecurity practitioners discover their dream job and navigate the industry intelligently. Her fulfilling moments actually center around those she’s helped along the way, including a former mentee and a former helpdesk employee looking for upward mobility. Finding the perfect match isn’t just about satisfying the company needs, Renee explains, but is also about connecting someone to an opportunity for success and growth.
“I get a kick out of people getting a job, it's almost like a little high for me. Every time I'm the person who connects people and it works out and they get paid well, I have a little party in my head. It's just so rewarding. I love that matchmaking process so much.”
What advice do you have for professionals struggling with their job search in the cybersecurity industry?
Cybersecurity’s labor shortage and staff burnout issues threaten even the most air-tight of security teams. Unfortunately, Renee explains that even with so many job openings, entry-level employees or professionals transitioning industries still can’t break into cyber. Her best advice for those struggling to take the first step is to connect with successful practitioners in the field already through nonprofit organizations and network events. Focus on a network that will expand your knowledge of cyber and the state of the industry.
“If you're a college student, if you are someone out there looking to understand what's happening in the field, join one of the myriad of cybersecurity nonprofit organizations and learn about what security really is.”
Keep up with Renee Small on LinkedIn
Listen to Renee’s podcast Breaking into Cybersecurity
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