Post-Pandemic Tech Job Market: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Dan Lohrmann | August 30, 2021 | 27 views

As we emerge from the worst pandemic in a century, many public- and private-sector employees and employers are reassessing their options within technology and cybersecurity roles.

Are boom times coming soon for tech companies, cybersecurity professionals and others?

Marketplace.org recently posted the headline, “Are we headed for a Roaring ’20s economy?

Here’s an excerpt: “A year ago, when most of the country was under stay-at-home orders and people were losing jobs at an unprecedented rate, we asked three people who study economic history to explain whether the recession on the horizon was going to look anything like the Great Depression.
“With the vaccine rollout well underway, weekly unemployment claims at their lowest level since the pandemic began and consumer confidence rising, we’ve asked them about a different historical comparison: the 1920s.


Meanwhile, NBC News reported “There are now more jobs available than before the pandemic. So why aren't people signing up?”

Here’s a quote from that piece: “The number of job vacancies soared to nearly 15 million by mid-March, but discouraged, hesitant and fearful job seekers means many positions are still unfilled, according to new data from online job site ZipRecruiter.

“Online job postings plunged from 10 million before the start of the pandemic last year to just below 6 million last May, as lockdowns and shutdown orders forced businesses to close their doors and reduce or lay off workers.”

Meanwhile, according to KPMG in the U.K., tech’s job market is growing at the fastest pace in two years. “The move towards new remote and hybrid working arrangements, new spending priorities for businesses around IT infrastructure, automation and the huge shift to online retail are likely to provide a long-term boost to sales and investment in the tech sector,” said KPMG’s chair Bina Mehta.

One more — thecyberwire.com just reported that the skills gap is getting wider regarding cybersecurity jobs: “The cybersecurity industry is projected to triple year-over-year through 2022, yet the workforce shortage still stands at millions worldwide. With a 273 percent increase in large-scale data breaches in the first quarter of 2020 alone, employing more cybersecurity professionals is a pressing challenge for both companies looking to hire in-house and cybersecurity agencies alike.

According to the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, there are now more than 4.07 million unfilled cybersecurity positions across the world. Despite high entry salaries, recession-proof job security and plentiful career opportunities, there are simply not enough trained cybersecurity professionals to fill the skills gap.

BAD TREND — AND EVEN SOME UGLY MIXED IN

I recently posted a story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on LinkedIn entitled “Employers are hiring again but struggling to find workers.” Here’s an excerpt: “Chris New said he has turned down $250,000 in business because he just can’t hire enough laborers and drivers at his Carrollton-based company, Barnes Van Lines.

“There are plenty of people without jobs, but unemployment benefits give them too much incentive not to work, he said. ‘We advertise and nobody comes in looking for a job. A lot of people are taking advantage of the system. It’s really killing us.’”

Although the focus on this article was not technology or cybersecurity jobs, many of the comments were tech- and cyber-related.

Marlin Brandys: So how do they explain people like me with a B.S. in networking and cybersecurity and an NCSP both from 2020 and I can’t even get an interview for a tier 1 help desk job? All these posts and stories from corporate America, universities, government agencies selling the bogus skills gap and shortage story. This platform alone has 1,000s of cyber qualified people able and willing to work in entry level positions at entry level pay and benefits. Stop the madness already. I applied for unemployment 01/08/2021. It’s now 04/19/2021 and I haven’t seen a dime of unemployment compensation. I’ll gladly take an entry-level position in cyber.

Quinn Kuzmich: Marlin Brandys - Honestly one of the unspoken truths of the security industry is age discrimination. Sad but true.

Dave Howe: Quinn Kuzmich - broadly true across all of IT though. They stand around demanding someone "do something" about the "skills shortage" but exclude 90% of candidates based on an arbitrary checklist, and 75% more based on illegal age, sex or race discrimination, disguised as "culture fit"

Joseph Crouse: Marlin Brandys you're overqualified.

Marlin Brandys:  Joseph Crouse, I wish I could believe that. For some types of positions in the teaching or instructing silo maybe, for entry level information security I do not believe so.

Dave Howe:  Marlin Brandys - it's difficult to tell. I have seen "entry level" roles demand a CISSP and CEH.

Gregory Wilson: 300+ applications and 4 interviews... No job yet... Overqualified, not enough experience, ghosted.... REALITY — I'm over 60 and nobody will hire me... All the BS aside, there are lots of people ready to work... Pay them what they're worth!

Dave Howe: I think there is a bigger picture. Welfare shouldn't be so generous as to encourage people to stay on it, but equally, it shouldn't be so stingy as to cause people to struggle to stay afloat (meet rent, put food on the table, however basic, keep the power on) — there is need for balance. Equally though, an entry -evel role where a worker is willing to put in a nominal 40 hours at a routine, boring but not dangerous or unpleasant job should pay sufficient after expenses so as to be able to afford some luxuries above and beyond what welfare provides — if you are no better off, then that job is underpriced and needs either automation to improve output so as to make paying more a better proposition, or automating entirely and the job eliminated. If the job is dangerous, distasteful or involves unsociable hours, then that should be reflected in the pay, above and beyond what a "basic" job should provide. The answer should never be "we need to cut welfare so that they will take my crappy, low paid job out of desperation, because adding automation means upfront costs and I don't want to pay any more"

You can join in on that LinkedIn conversation here:

SOLUTIONS, PLEASE

This Forbes article offers some interesting perspectives on how both employers and employees can succeed in the coming post-COVID cybersecurity world, while offering a new model for our future workforce:

Cybersecurity is a striking example of where the supply-demand gap for personnel is particularly volatile, with companies routinely lacking both the technology and available human capital needed to integrate relevant, highly skilled workers at the same speed as their unprecedented digital transformation. When the COVID-19 pandemic forcibly distributed security teams, organizations were given a new perspective as to how remote teams can de-risk innovation. Now, many are moving to industrialize the 'new normal' of cybersecurity with greater efficiencies across their internal programs and the software development life cycle by seamlessly integrating expert security talent on-demand.

While this coming boom may not be good news for state and local governments who struggle to compete with the private sector for the most talented tech and cyber staff, there are new options opening up for public-sector employees as well.

This research finds that many retirees want to come back and work 10 to 20 hours a week, especially if they can work remotely.

Many groups are training workers for the post-pandemic job market.

I also have spoken with CISOs and other technology leaders in both the public and private sectors who are much more open to hiring out-of-state workers, even though they would never have allowed that before the pandemic.

And finally, what about those who can’t find work, despite the supposed “boom times” that are coming? Last year, I wrote this blog describing why some skilled cyber pros are still not getting jobs. Here are just a handful of the reasons I listed there:

  • People are living or looking in the wrong places. They want a local job and do not want to move. (Note: More remote hiring is happening now with COVID-19, but it is still unclear if many of these jobs will go “back to the office” after the pandemic. This leads to hesitancy in taking a job in another part of the country.)
  • Insistence on remote work. While this is easier during the pandemic, some people want 100 percent remote without travel, which can limit options. Also, some hiring managers are not clear if remote jobs will last after the pandemic restrictions are lifted, so they want to hire locally. 
  • Company discrimination due to older worker applicants. Yes, I agree with my colleagues that this is alive and well in 2020. Other forms of discrimination exist as well, such as race and gender.
  • Lack of professional networking — especially true during COVID-19. They don’t have personal connections and have a hard time meeting the right people who are hiring or can help them find the right job.
  • Attitude, character, work ethic, humility, etc. I have written several blogs just on this topic, but some people never get the job because they come across in interviews as entitled or too angry or having a bad attitude. They scare off hiring managers. For more on this topic, see “7 reasons security pros fail (and what to do about it)” and “Problem #3 for Security Professionals: Not Enough Humble Pie” and “Problem 5: Are You An Insider Threat?”
  • Putting this all together, I love my brother Steve’s perspective on individual career opportunities and selling your ideas (and yourself) to those both inside and outside your organization: “It’s all about the right product at the right place at the right time at the right price — with the right person delivering the message to the right decision-maker.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

During a recent vacation to northern Arizona, I found myself working in a coffee shop surrounded by several men and women that were supporting global companies with technology projects. Conversations were all over the map regarding application enhancements and complex deliverables for some industry-leading names.

I was frankly a bit shocked that all of this work was being run out of a coffee shop — with a few video conference calls to people’s homes. The “new normal” of global workforces became more of a reality to me, and I see this trend accelerating even after the pandemic.

Article Orginal Source:
https://www.govtech.com/blogs/lohrmann-on-cybersecurity/post-pandemic-tech-job-market-the-good-bad-and-ugly

Spotlight

MicroAge

MicroAge is a leading provider of information technology solutions and services headquartered in Tempe, Arizona. We serve clients from the data center to the desktop with technology from industry-leading suppliers. Our tech-savvy account executives are experts at assisting clients with selecting IT solutions that best meet their unique requirements. We are a well-known name and a respected industry pioneer with a heritage of industry innovation spanning five decades.

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MRK Technologies Adds New Autonomous Penetration Tests

MRK Technologies | April 18, 2022

MRK Technologies, a cybersecurity risk management company, has announced a collaboration with Horizon3.ai to assist its clients tackle the ever-evolving ransomware threat with a new Autonomous Penetration Tests as a Service (APTaaS). Penetration testing can be automated and executed as often as needed to guarantee all systems are safe utilizing Horizon3.ai's NodeZero platform. John Tookman, Chief Revenue Officer and Senior Vice President of MRK Technologies said that "We pride ourselves on continuously bringing the best technology to our customers. We're excited to add Horizon3.ai's NodeZero platform to our managed security services, which allows us to help ensure our customers' systems are secure." He further added that, "In the last couple of years, we've doubled down on our efforts to build out our Security Operations Center in order to provide best-in-class service offerings to our customers. Adding APTaaS is just the next step in continuing to achieve our mission of helping our customers achieve a stronger security posture amidst the ever-evolving threat landscape." Annual penetration testing is often seen as a compliance necessity rather than a value addition. Many pentests merely provide a snapshot of a network that is only relevant for a limited time. This new continuous APTaaS is a real SaaS product that assists cybersecurity teams in constantly identifying and fixing vulnerabilities in their systems before attackers can use them. "Threat actors know how to chain together network misconfigurations, vulnerabilities, harvested credentials, and dangerous product defaults to create attack vectors you never imagined would be exploitable. Our partnership with MRK Technologies allows us to provide APTaaS to customers, helping them to harden their security postures with pentests that can run as often as they wish." Snehal Antani, CEO and co-founder of Horizon3.ai This new product complements MRK Technologies' Security Operations Center's existing managed securities portfolio, which includes Managed Detection & Response (MDR/EDR), Managed Security Information & Event Management (SIEM), Managed Deception Technology, and Managed Network Detection.

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PLATFORM SECURITY

CrowdStrike and Mandiant Form Mission-Focused Strategic Partnership to Protect Organizations Against Cyber Threats

CrowdStrike | April 08, 2022

CrowdStrike , a leader in cloud-delivered protection of endpoints, cloud workloads, identity and data, and Mandiant , announced a strategic partnership that will help joint customers investigate, remediate and defend against increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity events that plague organizations globally. As part of the collaboration, Mandiant will utilize the CrowdStrike Falcon® platform and subscription offerings for its incident response (IR) services and proactive consulting engagements for joint customers. Further, the Mandiant Managed Defense offering intends to include support for customers leveraging the Falcon platform later this year.As two of the most respected leaders in the cybersecurity industry, CrowdStrike and Mandiant share a common mission to stop breaches and put customers' needs first. Both companies have long operated under the practice that in order to defend against tenacious cyber adversaries, there must be a combination of cutting edge products and elite cybersecurity experts. Because of this, both companies have embraced an open and collaborative approach with high caliber partners and technologies to provide organizations superior protection. Today’s complex threat environment calls for a collaborative approach that brings together industry-leading technologies and world class teams to build the strongest defense for customers, which is exactly what this partnership is about,” said George Kurtz, co-founder and chief executive officer of CrowdStrike. “CrowdStrike has worked with Mandiant many times over the years and there is a mutual respect for the caliber of technical and team expertise we both bring to the fight. We are proud to establish this alliance with them and to more effectively enable the people, processes and procedures necessary to secure the modern organization. “CrowdStrike and Mandiant have developed reputations as go-to cybersecurity resources for public and private sector entities across the globe,This partnership between two mission-focused companies strengthens cyber defenses at a time when cyber attacks have become a notable business issue faced by organizations every day.” -Kevin Mandia, chief executive officer of Mandiant. About CrowdStrike CrowdStrike , a global cybersecurity leader, has redefined modern security with the world’s most advanced cloud-native platform for protecting critical areas of enterprise risk — endpoints and cloud workloads, identity and data.Powered by the CrowdStrike Security Cloud and world-class AI, the CrowdStrike Falcon® platform leverages real-time indicators of attack, threat intelligence, evolving adversary tradecraft and enriched telemetry from across the enterprise to deliver hyper-accurate detections, automated protection and remediation, elite threat hunting and prioritized observability of vulnerabilities.Purpose-built in the cloud with a single lightweight-agent architecture, the Falcon platform delivers rapid and scalable deployment, superior protection and performance, reduced complexity and immediate time-to-value. About Mandiant, Inc. Since 2004, Mandiant® has been a trusted partner to security-conscious organizations. Effective security is based on the right combination of expertise, intelligence, and adaptive technology, and the Mandiant Advantage SaaS platform scales decades of frontline experience and industry-leading threat intelligence to deliver a range of dynamic cyber defense solutions. Mandiant’s approach helps organizations develop more effective and efficient cyber security programs and instills confidence in their readiness to defend against and respond to cyber threats.Join the conversation.

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