When I was the Cyber Veteran Program Manager for Maryland State’s Department of Business and Economic Development, I helped Veterans launch business and careers within cybersecurity. My first week on the job, I was inundated with calls/emails from Veterans with cybersecurity experience seeking assistance to get hired. On the flip side, employers also requested that I connect them with military members with cybersecurity experience. To my surprise, very few Veterans that I connected with employers were interviewed and disappointingly, none got hired! It didn’t make sense. There was and still is a huge gap between the number of cyber jobs and the amount of qualified talent to fill those jobs. Before I share the problems that I discovered here's some contextual facts...
Cyber warriors wage war using information technology. They may attack computers or information systems through hacking or other related strategies, or defend them from their counterparts. Cyber warriors also may find better ways to secure a system by finding vulnerabilities through hacking and other means and closing those vulnerabilities before other hackers find and exploit them. – Techopedia.
Red Team - Blue Team:
85 percent of all military cyber operations are being executed by the Enlisted workforce, so we’ll be exploring the transition issues that they face. The DoD Components reported a total of 163,144 military and civilian personnel within the cyber operations workforce in FY09. The majority of these individuals, 145,437 (almost 89 percent), were engaged in operations and maintenance (O&M) functions. This equates to more than 5 percent of the DoD workforce. The DoD is the largest single employer of IT/Cybersecurity talent within the Federal Government, thus often assumes a leading role in the identification and development of initiatives impacting the human capital management and professional development for the IT/Cybersecurity community.
“Cyber warriors are highly trained individuals who engage in offensive operations” - General Keith Alexander (Ret.), Commander of U.S. CyberCom (2010 - 2014)
Problems Military Cyber Warriors (MCW) Face:
Ex: Chart below illustrates the Air Force’s Cyber Systems Operations Career Field Education and Training Plan (CFETP) – difficult for both military member and civilian employer to easily translate.
A CareerBuilder survey found that 41 percent of employers say it is difficult to decipher how military experience fits into civilian positions. 27 percent of employers feel that Veterans don't always market their military experience. Now consider the fact that MCW's work in highly classified job roles making it even more difficult to share their experience on a resume or interview.
"Employers recognize the unique value military experience can bring, but they don't always understand how military skills fit into corporate America," says Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America. "Veterans will need to clearly make that connection in their résumé, cover letter and job interviews as they enter this new chapter of their careers." - Kaitlin Madden, CareerBuilder.com
Stats to consider:
CWN’s Mission: Fill 100 cybersecurity jobs with Military Cyber Warriors – Skills needed to fill Gap:
Transitioning Military/Veteran Create your FREE profile today!
Human Element of Cybersecurity:
Cyber war wages on from the battlefield and continues all the way to the boardroom. “Cyber attacks are people attacking people with a lot of technology in between” cited by Masha Sedova - Senior Director of Trust Engagement at Salesforce. The 1 Million plus cyber job vacancies do not exist purely from a lack of cyber-skilled workforce pipeline. People build exploits, create backdoors, and initiate Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. There is a “Cyber Arms” race going on for cyber weapons, products and the people that create them. Cyber Warriors must be able to match their adversaries technical and psychological skills.
HR ill-Equipped for Cyber:
Hiring decisions are not as binary as the threats that we face in cyber warfare. Hidden within the sophisticated strings of ones and zeros that make up the digital machine language of cyber threats are the masked locations, origins , and the identity of hackers. The discovery of a breach means one thing - you’re too late! The intruder has already outsmarted you or your protection measures.
Cyber jobs are created because of a breach, audit or new business goals. This means that talent acquisition is predicated on filling a position with a candidate who possesses the right combination or "Cyber-Hybrid" of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA’s) to combat an identified threat. Factors like trustworthiness, corporate culture fit, and work ethic are also critically important when selecting your new hire.
The Recruitment Process (generalized & simplified):
Once the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) gives the green light to fund the jobs, the following activities transpire:
Resume is dead:
Ok, I know I’m going to ruffle a lot of feathers by declaring that resumes are dead… But, hear me out! Resumes were created as a way to showcase someone’s education and experience to an employer. Cybersecurity is a business of technical and psychological aptitude that requires domain expertise with the highest level of trustworthiness. Resumes do not give employers the required data needed to make business intelligence decisions to hire the right candidate. It is simply a document used to filter candidates within an employer’s Applicant Tracking System.
Human Intel to fight evolving threats:
Cyber recruitment strategies and tools need to be as sophisticated as the threats that we’re fighting. Employers need a Cyber Talent Business Intelligence platform that can help de-risk a cyber hire by validating their knowledge, skills, abilities and fit. Business managers need predictive analytics for projecting a hire’s ROI and forecasting talent acquisition efforts based on business objectives in an evolving threat environment.
The first time that I recall hearing the phrase "One Team One Fight" was in a bunker during a mortar attack while deployed at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan in 2007. One of the Marines taking shelter in the bunker said this to a fellow Airman while helping him secure his body armor. At that point, I realized that neither branch of service nor rank mattered. We all had the same instinctual mission; survive the attack and live! Unfortunately, servicemen and women are fighting a whole new battle when they transition out of the military.
Heroes need help too: A CNN report states that "Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives. That's a suicide every 65 minutes". In 2014, a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics; U.S. Department of Labor found that over 573,000 veterans were unemployed. These numbers are proof of the saddening reality that we are failing our hero's as a nation.
My name is Nigel LeBlanc, I'm an Air Force Veteran, entrepreneur, and proud father of three amazing sons. I'm passionate about veteran entrepreneurship and self-improvement.
The Struggle: Many veterans struggle to find employment, health care, housing and resources needed to be successful in their civilian lives. This blog is not about calling out the Veterans Administration (VA) or Department of Defense (maybe a little), nor is it about demanding entitlements "owed" to veterans. It's about educating, empowering, motivating and inspiring veterans to attain their goals and dreams. We are still charged to be good "battle buddies" to each other as we embark on new personal missions.
The Challenge: I challenge everyone; especially veterans with the means to help, to step up and actively find ways to help less fortunate veterans. If you're a CEO or C-level executive of a "Fortune whatever" company; consider mentoring a veteran. If you're an Angel Investor; consider funding a veteran startup. If you give to charity; consider giving to a veteran organization. If you're hiring; hire a veteran. Corporations also share the social responsibility to step up and help veterans as well. I challenge anyone reading this to give a hand-up; not a handout.