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Homeland Security Struggles to Tempt, Retain Cyber Talent


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U.S. Department of Homeland Security analysts work at the National Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center in Arlington, VA.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is struggling to hire cybersecurity professionals.

Credit: Hyungwon Kang/Reuters

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is struggling to hire cybersecurity experts, says Mark Weatherford, the department's former cyber chief, in part because prospective employees do not want to have to wait several months before they are hired. Weatherford says the top talent in the tech industry is unlikely to wait that long to get a job.

Another challenge is the private sector generally pays cybersecurity professionals more than the federal government does. However, current DHS cyber chief Phyllis Schneck says the department could compensate for the lower salaries by appealing to the patriotism of prospective candidates and by pointing out cyber professionals can gain valuable experience by working for the federal government. "We could actually use our mission to outdo some of those salaries they're offered," Schneck says. "But we have to have the flexibility and some additional competitiveness to bring them inside."

Meanwhile, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has said he wants to address the problem by getting involved in recruiting himself. Johnson also wants Congress to give him the authority to directly appoint new hires to certain cybersecurity positions, revise job descriptions and requirements for some positions, set salaries, and offer prospective cybersecurity professionals additional incentives to come to work for the department.

From Reuters
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