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The Privacy Advisor | How the pandemic has altered the privacy job search and what to do about it Related reading: The struggle can be real: Getting hired in privacy today

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A job search at any time can be challenging, but in a pandemic that has left many out of work or furloughed and dramatically altered the face of networking with scarce in-person meetings, successfully finding your next position can feel insurmountable. 

Privacy professional Brittany Charles, CIPP/US, a 2018 graduate of Syracuse Law who most recently worked at Facebook, has embraced that challenge head-on using the virtual tools at her disposal. She has identified other privacy professionals on LinkedIn, following their pages and reaching out to make a connection. She started a group on the professional networking site to connect recruiters, general counsels, recent graduates and law students, she said.

These efforts, said TRU Staffing Partners Founder and CEO Jared Coseglia, are highlighting standout qualities for recruiters and potential hiring managers.

“Brittany is demonstrating through all of this that she is not only competent in privacy and passionate about privacy, but she’s also demonstrating that she is a self-starter, that she is bringing people together, that she has an interest in the field and not just the job. These are all things that a smart hiring manager interprets,” he said. “They signal all of these things to a potential hiring manager without you have to do much else than do it.”

Coseglia and Charles joined IAPP Westin Research Fellow Nicole Sakin, as well as privacy and compliance consultant Mark Jaffe, for “Job Searching During a Pandemic: Getting into Privacy in 2020,” a LinkedIn Live discussion moderated by IAPP Vice President and Chief Knowledge Officer Omer Tene. The professionals, each at various levels of their privacy careers, discussed how to network and job search in this pandemic environment and shared tips for overcoming challenges.

While the pandemic has hit the job market and the economy hard, Coseglia said the privacy and compliance market has “stayed strong.” TRU Staffing Partners tracked 300 new job openings in the second quarter, which Coseglia called “the worst quarter for hiring in the history of privacy probably for the last 10 years.” 

“There’s something about privacy that has been, I don’t want to say pandemic proof, but pandemic secure. We did not see nearly as many layoffs in the privacy vertical as we did in cybersecurity and e-discovery, and we are seeing the privacy market come back very strong,” Coseglia said.

The regulatory action and “political winds,” potentially leading to more privacy regulation and subsequently, jobs for privacy professionals, are also “maturing and evolving the privacy market,” Coseglia said. 

For the job search market, one of the most challenging impacts for candidates and recruiters has been the drastic reduction in in-person networking opportunities, as many conferences have gone virtual.  “Having a social life on social media” can help professionals get noticed in this new environment, Coseglia said.

He recommends “developing a personal brand,” starting with commenting opinions or offering congratulations or positive reinforcement on others’ posts as a way to “gain visibility.” Then, begin connecting with other professionals and consider contributing content or being part of a speaking engagement, he said. In their searches, Coseglia said professionals should identify companies they want to work for and find a way to connect, instead of searching for job leads.

Professionals should also embrace what he called the biggest shift in the privacy job market, the transition to contract and contract to hire positions. Contract opportunities are now making up 84% of job requisitions, he said. While the contract term “scares a lot of people,” Coseglia said contracts tend to last a minimum of three months, and on the longer end, can be a year to 24 months. They can also be as lucrative as a full-time role.

“I will say this, the likely candidate to get a job that turns into a full-time role is the one that’s been in that role as a contractor for six to 12 months,” he said. “That’s the trend we’ve seen in prior post-economic collapse rehabilitation is that those contractors tend to stay on in perpetuity or get converted, and it’s difficult to come in and dethrone someone who builds institutional knowledge about an organization, even as a contractor.”

While the pandemic has taken away more traditional ways of connecting with other professionals, Sakin said there are still a lot of opportunities for connections remotely.

“You can attend a conference where maybe there are hundreds of participants online and you can have the opportunity to still message that person. If this was in real life, I would have come over to introduce myself, so I wanted to do it virtually,” she said. “And being able to not be afraid of videoconferencing or picking up the phone to chat with somebody. I think there are still opportunities to network, it just might be a bit different in a remote environment.”

Looking for a more senior role and being open to a location change, Jaffe said it has been easier to connect with professionals around the world. And Coseglia said 87% of job placements this year have been remote, with no intention of changing, vastly expanding the number of job opportunities available to individuals.

“Every connection you make, if they can give you one or two more connections, you are expanding your network. In some ways, it’s easier. On the other hand, when a job lead occurs it’s a much slower process because of the distance,” Jaffe said, adding while professionals may find opportunities around the world, they should be sure to consider whether they would be open to relocating in the future. “In the high-tech area of the world, which continues to grow, being remote may work permanently. But I think at the higher levels, certainly where there is at least historically a center of power in a specific office, it’s much more beneficial to eventually relocate to the power center to be effective.”

For junior- and mid-level professionals, Charles added she has found senior-level professionals are building in time to virtually meet with people, to network and mentor, helping to “really break in and start those conversations.”

“The pandemic has, yes, it’s taken away those more traditional ways of meeting, but it’s given us a different toolbox to use,” she said. “When you are virtual you are actually able to target the individuals whose careers you want to emulate or who may have particular expertise in something that’s your interest. … We are that tech generation and we are not used to controlling the narrative and this gives us some control.”


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