Recruiting in Cybersecurity (S2:E61)

June 8, 2023

Currently, there are 1 million cybersecurity workers in the U.S., yet there are still upwards of 700,000 positions in the field that need to be filled immediately. Today, we’re chatting with Tanya Freedland, VP of Human Resources and Talent Acquisition at Identiv, about effectively and equitably recruiting top talent in cybersecurity.

Full Transcript

Voiceover: You are listening to Humans in Tech. Our podcast explores today's most transformative technology and the trends of tomorrow, bringing together the brightest minds in and outside of our industry. We unpack what's new in physical access, identity verification, cybersecurity and IoT ecosystems. We reach beyond the physical world, discuss our digital transformation as a species, and dive into the emerging digital [00:00:30] experience. Join us on our journey as we discover just how connected the future will be and how we will fit into that picture.

Host: Welcome to Humans in Tech. Thanks for listening today. We're joined by Tanya Freedland. She's the Vice President of Human Resources and Talent Acquisition at Identiv. Tanya, thank you so much for joining us today.

Tanya Freedland: Thank you for having me.

Host: You joined Identiv in December of last year, so you're a relative newbie to the company, but definitely not [00:01:00] to HR and recruiting. What's currently getting you the most excited to come to work each day?

Tanya Freedland: Well, it's been an amazing three months to say the least. Time flies when you're having fun. The innovation, our talented team and the ability to make a difference excites me every day. Our team is very special here. The leadership team has been very supportive during my tenure. They've allowed me to have the autonomy to lead my team and to do my job while being interactive when necessary. [00:01:30] Getting to know Identiv and what the company is about has been exciting as well. There's a lot of work to be done, which is equally exciting to me. We have made good headway, but we still have a lot to do. We will continue to make changes for the better to ensure we are consistently improving the Identiv culture. I really love being a part of building the tomorrow the world is dreaming about today. Such an exciting statement.

Host: A big part of your job is finding the right people for the right jobs, [00:02:00] which I know is a daily challenge. What are some of the difficulties in recruiting talented professionals, particularly in the cybersecurity industry?

Tanya Freedland: The recruiting marketplace has proven to have its challenges and the security industry is no exception, especially with the innovation and the talent that all of our people have to have. It can make it very challenging to find those individuals. The shift from an employer marketplace to a candidate marketplace and back again really keeps us on our toes. [00:02:30] The key to understanding how to recruit in this space is to understand that the security world is very small and intimate. Everyone knows everyone, as I'm sure you guys know, and most individuals that we come in contact with have worked together in the past.

The right people are out there if you know what to look for and where to look. Timing is key. We have increased our average time to fill rate from 68 days to 24 days since I started in December, which is really exciting. It definitely [00:03:00] helps that Identiv is the leading employer in the industry. Thankfully, it's not hard to sell working at Identiv. Most of the people that we talk to, like I said, know somebody and are excited already about the company. There are more challenging roles. However, we have an extremely talented recruitment team that will do whatever it takes to fill our positions. I'm really proud to lead a team of such talented and skilled recruiters.

Host: What are some of the keys to building that efficient and effective recruiting process with your team?

Tanya Freedland: [00:03:30] So a good recruitment process allows you to find qualified candidates quickly and efficiently. The process requires intentional planning and consistent evaluation. The recruitment process should be streamlined so each team member has the tools and resources they need to fill the open positions. The key objectives in building an efficient effective recruitment process are having a solid recruitment strategy, maximizing automation, making data driven decisions, having a strong employee referral program. By the way, we offer $3,000 [00:04:00] for each referral. Utilizing the most innovative tools to source and find candidates, having a clear employer brand, consistent, clear and ongoing communication between candidates, hiring managers, recruiters and leaderships, and a commitment from the leadership team. Hiring managers and recruitment team to invest their time and energy into finding the highest level of candidates and having a solid offer and onboarding process.

Host: So tell me this, I noticed a pretty immediate change when you started [00:04:30] that a lot quicker response to candidates, a lot deeper dive into the initial screening process than I'd seen before. And so what are some of those philosophies? Is it because it's such a competitive market space for this talent?

Tanya Freedland: Yes, it is. It's being that we are such a small industry and like I said, we don't have as many competitors as most typical companies do. So it [00:05:00] is really important to get in and understand the key characteristics and performance indicators that have proven to be successful at Identiv. I'm sure you know that has been a challenge in the past. So I've really been spending a lot of time with our leaders and the hiring managers to figure out what our top performance, what characteristics and things do they bring to the table that we can try to focus on when we're looking for new talent.

Host: And because it's such a small industry, for instance, [00:05:30] whenever we go to a show, and it doesn't matter which piece of the business it is, whenever we go to a show, you'll stand in the booth with people in the organization and as people walk by, they'll be like, oh, there's my old boss and oh, there's a guy that used to work for me. Oh, I used to work with that guy. And so it's obvious that it is an industry where people don't necessarily venture out of the industry very much. They tend to just go from company to company in the industry. So are a lot of the [00:06:00] candidates that you see known quantities to people?

Tanya Freedland: Yes, and that can be a good thing and a bad thing as you know. Typically, actually what I've seen is, I'm going to use Mike Taylor as an example, which leads our sales initiatives. I've never had so many employees speak so highly of somebody in the industry, not just from a company perspective ever before. Everybody that I've talked to on his team [00:06:30] has just said, oh my gosh, I've known Mike forever. And when he called me or when the recruitment team called me and said they were interested in me, it was so exciting for me just to have the opportunity to work with Mike. So that's a good example.

We see that often when we meet up with the candidate. We obviously can look at their LinkedIn and see where they're from, but typically the first thing they say is, oh my gosh, I worked with Dave. Oh, I worked with Mike. I [00:07:00] worked with this person, and I would love to have the opportunity to work for them again, and not only the individuals that are working with us, but the company as well. I have heard on many occasions that Identiv is truly a leading employer in the industry. So like I said before, it really makes our job much easier.

Host: We have three pretty unique and diverse business segments. Is it a challenge to recruit for a company that has a broad portfolio?

Tanya Freedland: [00:07:30] It can be just because again, the competition is limited. The amount of individuals in the industry is limited, but it's kind of interesting. Prior to me starting the recruitment, working with the recruitment team, I heard that we've had positions open for six months and the recruitment has been a huge challenge in the past, and I'm not sure if I've just been lucky or if it's my background and skillset, [00:08:00] but I've been able to come in and kind of reorganize the team, set up some new processes and procedures, work very closely with the leadership team and the hiring managers. And like I said, we've brought that timeframe down to 23 days average time to fill. So I'm not feeling that this is the most challenging industry to recruit in. However, I'm sure that there will be positions coming in the future that might make me rethink [00:08:30] that.

Host: Beyond a formal education and skillset, what are some of the more unique traits you look for in a candidate?

Tanya Freedland: Sure. So background education is a really easy thing to look at, especially when you're looking at a resume but finding the unique individuals that fit from a culture standpoint is probably the more challenging thing. And the most qualified candidates have many, many options nowadays. So if we don't act quickly on them and get them through the recruitment [00:09:00] process, we'll lose them. So it is important that we have a good key understanding of the key characteristics and performance indicators that have proven to be successful at Identiv.

So we've spent a lot of time working with the leadership team, the management team, and figuring out what that looks like, what characteristics have led people to being successful, and the opposite of that, right? So a few of those unique traits that we look for are goal-oriented, self-motivated outgoing, [00:09:30] confident, positive attitude. I mean, everybody that works on this team wears many hats. They have to be multitask oriented, and I'm sure you guys know we're all running in a wide variety of different directions every minute of every day. So we really need people that are more excited about that and work well in that environment versus somebody who like to work in a more calm environment.

Host: We're in an industry that isn't known for being inclusive, [00:10:00] diverse, or equitable. So there's a lot of industry initiatives around that, whether it's in the Security Industry Association and the Women in Security Forum. So there are different programs and things in our industry, but how do we as a company, really what are some of the very specific actions that we're doing to make sure that we're casting a wider net, that we are being more inclusive, and that we are fostering that [00:10:30] diversity?

Tanya Freedland: Well, solving the diversity problems in tech typically start with how do we hire more minorities? I personally believe the most successful diversity efforts start with inclusion versus hiring. Without an inclusive culture, you compound your diversity issues with retention challenges. So if we're not working hard to welcome, cultivate, and develop a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and ideas, the candidates we work so hard to recruit will not stay. [00:11:00] So what that means is we have to look inward and work on continuing to build and strengthen a culture that can retain our amazingly talented employees. It really takes an honest look internally to determine if all employees are truly equal. Changing hearts and minds really must happen before going to recruit underrepresented minorities. We're working on putting policies, processes, procedures, and training together to ensure all of our employee decisions are made [00:11:30] in the most fair and consistent manner possible.

So making employees feel safe to share their concerns, providing protections, support and assurance from retaliation, soliciting team-wide input, building policies that focus on retaining our underrepresented talent, utilizing open communication techniques. Those are just a few, but there's a lot of different things that we can do that will help us to continue to build and foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture. We currently have a wide [00:12:00] variety of unrepresented or marginalized employees succeeding in leadership positions at Identiv and on promotional paths. So that's usually a good sign when other employees can look around and see individuals in the underrepresented pools being successful. So all the examples I mentioned are being actively carried out in our recruitment processes as well, so we can ensure DEIA [00:12:30] in our candidate pool. We are really striving to create a workplace that reflects the communities we serve, and we want everyone to feel empowered to bring their full, true and authentic selves to work.

Host: What kind of investments does Identiv make in training and continuing to upskill our workforce?

Tanya Freedland: The investment of time in our employees and candidates is one of the most important investments we can make. We have a world-class training team focused on training both internally and externally. This includes [00:13:00] our employees, customers, dealers, and integrators. We are constantly looking to up-level talent, provide resources and make sure our teams have everything they need to excel. We continue to hire world-class leaders within the space to help foster the environment. This is an exciting area for me. I really do love learning and development and helping employees grow from within. Upskilling employees can benefit a company in many ways. It can increase productivity and efficiency, improve the quality [00:13:30] of work, and enhance problem solving abilities.

Upskilling can also make employees more adaptable and flexible and enable them to take on new responsibilities and challenges. Additionally, it can improve job satisfaction and morale and enhance the company's ability to innovate and think critically. Overall, upskilling employees can lead to a more competitive workforce and contribute to the success of the company. We understand why training programs are so important and what benefits they bring. We're currently evaluating [00:14:00] our training and upskilling programs, and we'll be working very hard to improve the processes we already have in place today.

Host: Do you use data-driven recruitment tactics?

Tanya Freedland: Yes, of course. And nowadays, you have to I feel. Data-driven recruitment tactics are an important part of the recruitment function. Data helps shape our company's strategies with critical insights that can be easily shared with executives and cross-functional partners. Recruiting teams that use data are more likely to be efficient, reduce costs, and improve [00:14:30] their hiring. I feel it's really important.

Host: Is there anything additional you want to tell us about? All the great things that are going on with your team?

Tanya Freedland: Well, we are always looking for top talent in our industry. If anyone listening to this podcast is interested in working for Identiv or know anyone who may be interested, please make sure you visit our career page I know we talked a lot about recruitment, but I did also want to just bring up that we have an amazing HR [00:15:00] team that has done a lot over the last couple years, and I'm really looking forward to contributing to that and making an already amazing HR team more amazing.

Host: Thank you for joining us on this episode of Humans in Tech. Tanya, it's always great to talk to you and we appreciate you taking the time out of your day.

Tanya Freedland: Thank you so much, Leigh. It's been a pleasure meeting with you guys this morning.

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Physical security, identity verification, the IoT. The hyperconnectivity of our lives will only grow more pervasive as technology becomes more automated and experiences more augmented. It's up to us to preserve our humanity and use new tools and trends for good. The only question is, are we up for the challenge?