Live From ISC East: How Security Can Plan for Gen Z

New York – Born between 1996 and 2010, the next generation of workers, currently referred to as Generation Z, has an entirely different set of expectations for their career – and it is an opportunity that the security industry can seize upon.

A well-documented talent crunch is impacting the ability to build security teams both in the physical and cyber arenas. Recruiting and attracting skilled employees has proven difficult. In fact, research from ESG and ISSA finds 74 percent of organizations have been impacted by a security skills talent shortage.

But Generation Z is primed for work that is valuable and personally enriching, and security is the perfect industry for them, according to Angela Osborne, regional director for Guidepost Solutions’ Security & Technology practice based in Washington, DC.  At ISC East this week, in a session title Generation Z: Who are they and how are they changing the security field?, Osborne laid out the case for attracting this next generation of skilled talent.

“They are very attracted to mission-oriented careers,” said Osborne. “The great thing about the security field is we have a wonderful mission. I can’t think of a more valuable mission – and one that can bring value to people’s lives.”

Panelists laid out the characteristics of Gen Z and how it will impact the industry’s ability to get their attention. Gen Z are self-proclaimed technology addicts, according to presenter Jairo Borja, president of Borja Consulting Group & Financial Services. A defining event in the lives of the older portion of the generation is the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009. They feel uncertain about the future and are concerned about financial security. As a result, future employers will need to figure out how to fill these needs in order to recruit them for roles.

Osborne had several tips on recruiting Gen Z, based on their unique traits. They include:

Tip 1: Be very clear about your organization’s values

What are the values of your organization, or department, and what unites everyone together? Gen Z wants to know because it is important to them to feel invested in the corporate mission. Make this information clear in job postings and as you build your team, said Osborne.

Tip 2: Don’t apologize for your values

While you want to advertise your values, you also want to understand they won’t be for everyone that walks in the door. Invest time to ask about what Gen Z-ers want and make sure they understand the expectations of your corporate culture.

Tip 3: Welcome challenges and screen out oppressors

It is important that the people who join your team can adapt and appreciate different  points of view. With multiple generations, including Gen X, Millennials and Boomers also in the workforce, flexibility is key. Osborne suggests checking out social media posts and other digital footprint materials (note: check the legalities in your state around this practice before doing it) to gauge how an applicant interacts and converses with others who may have divergent opinions. Osborne also suggest checking out how they interact with the receptionist or other team members.

Tip 4: Consider uncertainties and ambiguities

“We grew up in time before we had Siri or Google Maps,” said Osborne. “It was a time where there was a lot of ambiguity. But today Gen Z has so much data and information that it is cutting down on ambiguity and they are less comfortable with not knowing things quickly.”

Michael Brzozowski, senior manager of Enterprise Security Risk Management for Symcor, said that the future of work with Gen Z will recruit a willingness to do things differently.

“In order to recruit the best and brightest of a generation, it will require a change in mindset,” said Brzozowski. “Employers must be willing to adopt at a speed of evolution that reflects outside environment.”

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Article Written by Joan Goodchild | View all articles by Joan Goodchild