15 July 2016
There is no doubt that the global rise of technology has created an incredible demand for IT professionals. “Over time, changing business needs can dictate what skills are most critical to the success of an organization,” says Erica St-Pierre, Managing Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Information Technology division. “While this often varies by industry, we’ve begun seeing an incredible need for cybersecurity professionals across the board.” In fact, cybersecurity is poised to become a $170 billion global market by 2020— 121% increase from 2015, according to MarketsandMarkets. According to Erica, this uptick in demand can be attributed in part to continued high profile hacks. “When cyberattacks make national headlines, organizations will react by investing in their own security,” she says. “They’re concerned that their company may be at risk of a similar hacking attempt, and they are seeking the help of Cybersecurity Engineers, Network Vulnerability Engineers, and Ethical Hackers to ensure that their data is protected.” These cybersecurity concerns are so great that President Obama has even stepped in through several initiatives like Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity in an attempt to spur industry growth and keep the public and private sectors safe from malicious hackers. “If you have an interest in building your career around these skills, the outcome can be professionally and financially rewarding,” says Erica. “For job seekers looking to benefit from this high demand, it’s important to pay close attention to current events, as they can have an effect on the number of available positions.” For example, cybersecurity professionals can expect to see a rise in demand for their expertise when the following factors are in the news cycle: Politics: When politics rise to the forefront of the news cycle, tensions arise from every side of the argument. As soon as inflammatory statements or controversial decisions make headlines, irate hackers can act maliciously toward the opposing political group, or even the media. “From internal campaign communications to election committees to news groups, cyberattacks pose a major threat,” says Erica. “That’s why those with the skill set to handle such challenges during this election year may find themselves in a unique position to diversify their experience.” Company Hacks: The accelerated rise of technology over the last 20 years has created a gap between the capabilities of hackers and the ability for companies to keep up with them. In fact, cybersecurity firm, EY, recently found that 88% of global organizations don’t feel confident in their ability to defend their valuable information against an outside threat—something that has become an even greater concern as these threats have become more public. “When news breaks of major company hacks, such as Target, Sony or LinkedIn, a panic sets in among executives who are ill-prepared for a similar event,” notes Erica. “The negative media coverage and loss of profits create a tangible threat to businesses that once viewed cybersecurity as an abstract risk or inefficient use of resources.” Once they realize that they cannot combat such an attack, many executives make the decision to invest in IT resources. Mergers, Acquisitions & IPOs: The need to guard sensitive information on a daily basis becomes especially critical when a merger, acquisition, or IPO is on the table. Although executives often concern themselves with logistics and contracts in such an important business decision, they often forget that these same contracts, logistics, and financial information are being shared between several parties. All of this vulnerable information being accessible at a pivotal time for an organization can lead to a hazardous cyberattack. For example, Telstra’s acquisition of Pacnet is just one case where the company being acquired was a victim of a cyberattack mere weeks before the contracts were signed. Telstra only learned of the attack, which allowed infiltrators full access to Pacnet emails and systems, after the deal was closed. Situations such as this result in a financial loss of the parent company, including lost clients and a drop in stock prices. “Once again,” says Erica, “this bottom line result can get the attention of other executives planning to make any of these moves. In order to protect their business, they will be proactive throughout the process by hiring security professionals upfront.” From these high profile examples, it is clear that this trend spans across industries, which gives IT professionals the opportunity for variety in their work—especially as a consultant. Erica also noted that there are opportunities outside of contract consulting. “Many larger companies are developing long-term security divisions, and there are new security firms looking for top IT professionals to join them,” she says. “Both of these are excellent opportunities.” Regardless of these trends, Erica comes back to the larger perspective at hand. “No matter what’s in the news, there is a continuous increase in available positions.” Erica recommends that any IT professionals interested in pursuing this growing number of opportunities should address any skills gaps they may have. “And when these hacking stories do appear in the headlines,” Erica advises, “job seekers should take note and look for new cybersecurity opportunities that may emerge as a result.”
15 July 2016
In a time when professionals have more opportunities than ever, you may find yourself debating whether you should start looking for a new job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent jobs report, current trends such as the country’s low unemployment rate and increasing labor force participation rate are indicative of a job market where professionals are growing more confident in their ability to land a new job. As a result, a new study by LinkedIn found that over the past 20 years, the number of companies people worked for in the five years after they graduated has nearly doubled. However, while it’s still considered good form to put in time at a company to gain experience and show loyalty and dedication, there is a certain point when it’s perfectly acceptable—if not preferable—that an employee move on. So how do you know when that time has come for you at your current position? If you’re experiencing any of these red flags, it could be time to hit the job search: You’re stagnating. An employee’s growth at a company is two-fold: it takes effort from both the professional and from the employer. While you should take professional development in your own hands as much as possible, there comes a point at which your growth can be hindered by an employer if they aren’t giving you opportunities for improvement and internal mobility. Any position that results in a dead-end—either because you’ve grown as much as you can in that role, or because there was no room for growth to begin with—is often one worth leaving, which is something many professionals have begun recognizing as professional development becomes increasingly important to them. In fact, respondents to our Hiring Outlook survey cited lack of advancement opportunities as the top reason why they would leave a company. You’re constantly stressed or unhappy. Every job has different expectations and varying levels of stress; for example, if you’re in a taxing high-level position, it could be possible that you experience more stress than some of your other peers. However, if you’re stressed out regularly just by the thought of going to work—not by the occasional deadline-driven project, which is just situational and can happen in any position—this is a good sign that you’re better off moving on. Maintaining high levels of stress for long periods of time can affect your mental and physical health, which an engaging and fulfilling role should never do. Your talents and/or hard work go unnoticed. When an employer notices and appreciates your skills and efforts, they make it known. Even in large companies where there is less one-on-one interaction, there should be some kind of acknowledgement, whether it be a raise, promotion, or a good year-end review. If it’s been a while since you’ve felt appreciated at your job, that’s a bad sign—and although money shouldn’t be your sole focus, this includes not being paid what you’re worth. You only stick around for the money. Many are familiar with the saying “money can’t buy happiness,” yet many stay in jobs that fill their Sunday nights with dread because of an impressive paycheck. While it’s important to be sure you’re paid what you’re worth, the extra bump in pay isn’t always necessarily worth the additional stress. If pay day is the only part of your job that excites you, it’s time to look for a position that offers good pay and a healthier mind-set. The grass (always) looks greener on the other side. It’s possible, if not common, for happily employed professionals to come across an exciting job posting or hear about a friend’s new job and experience a bit of jealousy. However, when every job out there sounds much better than what you’re doing—even if it’s something you’re overqualified for, or outside your field entirely—that could be a good sign that you’re ready to call it quits. The best thing to do at that point is identify what these other jobs have to offer that your current position doesn’t, and start scoping out a job at an organization that has those qualities. In many cases, discontent with a position is heavily linked to discontent with the organization itself, and so a clean break from the company altogether is usually the best solution once another opportunity is lined up.