Security experts from Juniper Networks issued comments this afternoon about the impact of the US government shutdown, specifically citing how it may affect government IT recruiting and hiring:

Nick Bilogorskiy, Cybersecurity Strategist at Juniper Networks:

“The biggest impact of the shutdown, in my opinion, is that furloughing cybersecurity analysts creates a vulnerability for government networks. As we all know, the top problem in security today is the shortage of trained cybersecurity professionals, and the cybersecurity skills shortage was already getting worse in 2018 with millions of unfilled cybersecurity jobs. Now, with the shutdown and some staff furloughed, this problem is exacerbated. Attackers are likely to intensify their activity during the shutdown in an effort to exploit this. Longer term, it’s likely that the government will lose valuable cybersecurity talent to the private sector.

Dave Mihelcic, Federal Chief Technology and Strategy Officer at
Juniper Networks, and Former Chief Technology Officer at Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA):

During prior shutdowns, recruiting and hiring efforts have certainly been impacted as these are not typically considered essential functions. But perhaps the more significant challenge posed by these shutdowns was the lasting impressions they made on young IT professionals. Undoubtedly IT job seekers had a more negative view of federal employment due to the shutdown. Likewise the most talented IT professionals in federal service were left with lasting questions about their future that would cause some to seek outside opportunities.

With the class of 2019 graduating in just a few months, there is a new pool of talent entering the job market who have a dynamic set of IT and cyber skills to offer employers from both the private and public sector. As the war for this pool of talent begins, the government furlough could present significant ramifications for agencies because they are currently precluded from making any headway in attracting, recruiting and hiring prospective IT and cyber candidates.

The shutdown could greatly hinder the federal government’s ability to recruit top IT talent. In many cases, agencies are simply incapable of competing against private industry on salary alone. Coupled with a more complex recruiting process and security clearances that can last up to 18 months, the shutdown could be the tipping point for soon-to-be graduates who are pursuing careers in IT and cyber to join the private sector rather than the federal government, as it signals there could be far less stability for future jobs in the public sector.  But data from the Office of Personnel Management shows that millennial talent is needed now more than ever before. In fact, the number of federal employees who are eligible to retire will rise to 30 percent within the next five years. This means that the existing cyber and IT talent gaps affecting the federal government will continue to widen if the federal government is unable to tap prospective candidates.  

To overcome the workforce silos that will likely result from the shutdown, the onus will be on federal hiring managers to obtain direct hiring authority for mission-critical, IT and cyber roles, which helps mitigate one of the greatest challenges federal agencies face in the recruiting and hiring process: slow speeds. After I graduated from college, I interviewed for several jobs with the federal government, but due to the hiring process, which was incredibly slow, it resulted in a discouraging experience. Years later, this is still an ongoing challenge for the federal government and something that needs to be addressed before agencies can expect to compete with private industry. While it’s clear that in many cases, federal agencies are unable to match the salaries of their private sector counterparts, they will also need to get creative in the ways they showcase their unique brand, benefits and mission-focused work in their job listings.

The shutdown has skewed the perception many Americans have of jobs within the federal government, as these roles are historically considered to be more secure. With roughly 800,000 employees affected by the furlough, it has resulted in concerns that benefits and pay of federal workers could be at risk.”

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