September 20, 2022

Recruiting Talent for Cybersecurity’s Next Open Position with Renee Small

by Hacker Valley Studio

Show Notes

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. 


Timecoded Guide:

[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


Sponsor Links:

Thank you to our sponsors Axonius and Uptycs for bringing this episode to life!

The Axonius solution correlates asset data from existing solutions to provide an always up-to-date inventory, uncover gaps, and automate action — giving IT and security teams the confidence to control complexity. Learn more at

With Uptycs, modern defenders can prioritize, investigate and respond to threats across the entire attack surface—all from a common solution:


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

Connect with Ron Eddings on LinkedIn and Twitter

Connect with Chris Cochran on LinkedIn and Twitter

Purchase a HVS t-shirt at our shop

Continue the conversation by joining our Discord

Check out Hacker Valley Media and Hacker Valley Studio

Read more

Listen Now


Recent Episodes

January 31, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

In this episode of the podcast, Maril Vernon joins Ron and Chris and discusses the importance of breaking down silos between cyber teams and inspiring individuals to drive their own careers in cybersecurity. Maril has been a key player in promoting t...

January 24, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

In this episode of Hacker Valley Studio, Rob Wood, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at CMS, discusses the challenges of data silos within organizations. Rob explains that security teams often operate in silos, with different departments focu...

January 17, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

Taylor Lehmann, Director of Office of the CISO at Google Cloud, has made it his mission to make healthcare and life sciences more secure and strategic for everyone. Joining our security podcast this week, Taylor talks about how security and strategy ...

January 10, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

Maxime “Max” Lamothe-Brassard, Founder of LimaCharlie, brings a tech-focused community perspective and a history of working at Google to the Hacker Valley security podcast this week. Inspired by the internal motivation to empower others and build wha...

January 3, 2023
by Hacker Valley Studio

Brian Haugli, Founder and CEO of SideChannel, brings his CISO expertise to the security podcast this week for a discussion about strategy and leadership in cybersecurity. Working alongside CISOs and fractional VCISOs, Brian has seen his share of lead...

December 20, 2022
by Hacker Valley Studio

Allison Minutillo, President of Rebel Interactive Group and Host of the Rebel Leadership podcast, joins the Hacker Valley team this week to talk about her journey from individual contributor to company leader. With a leader’s mind and a rebel’s heart...

December 15, 2022
by Hacker Valley Studio

Cody Wass, VP of Services at NetSPI, brings his near-decade of experience to the pod to talk about longevity, development, and leadership. It’s no secret that cybersecurity is in need of people. Cody’s journey from intern to VP at NetSPI has shown hi...

December 13, 2022
by Hacker Valley Studio

Brad Liggett, CTI Intel Engineer Manager at Cybersixgill, puts on his improv hat and joins the pod ready for anything. After COVID pressed pause on daily life, Brad kept himself sane and gained some new skills by returning to his improv roots (a hobb...

December 6, 2022
by Hacker Valley Studio

Richard Rushing, CISO at Motorola Mobility, brings his decades of experience to the show this week to talk about leadership, communication, and perhaps most importantly of all: prioritization. After joining Motorola through a startup acquisition, Ric...

November 29, 2022
by Hacker Valley Studio

Kenneth Ellington, the Senior Cybersecurity Consultant at EY and Founder of the Ellington Cyber Academy, achieves his goal of being on the Hacker Valley Studio this week. From working at Publix in college to becoming an online course instructor, Kenn...