As the inflationary environment continues to elevate operational costs, many businesses have shifted toward cautious hiring practices. U.S. job openings have fallen to a three-year low, and the wide breadth of executive opportunities has slimmed—yet 75% of CISOs remain ready for a career change. As such, cybersecurity leaders, must be strategic in their pursuit of other career opportunities.

I recently had the pleasure of joining Misha Sobolev, Head of Community at Aphinia, to discuss how CISOs can prepare themselves to navigate the more competitive landscape for interesting CISO opportunities in the market. Here are three key insights I provided on the podcast.

Building an Expansive Professional Network

As competition grows, cultivating strong professional relationships will prove paramount for securing leadership roles. Proactive engagement with peers—as well as executive recruiters—can keep CISOs on the radar for interesting roles, empowering them, whether actively or passively job searching, to seize ideal opportunities. Regular outreach to professionals in your field and desired industry should be routine for any CISO considering a career change soon.

Further, preparedness is critical to relationship-building success. By staying abreast of market dynamics, CISOs can join network-widening LinkedIn conversations and contribute their own thought leadership, all while improving their interview readiness. Maintaining a robust, up-to-date LinkedIn profile can further attract valuable connections. Be sure to highlight your awards and accomplishments in senior leadership roles and ask colleagues in advance for references and LinkedIn recommendations if possible.

Managing Expectations in the Competitive CISO Job Market

The CISO job search has become an intensive process—and even executives with an outstanding track record must compete against a robust pool of qualified candidates. In the current job market, CISOs should be ready to double the time they expect to find a new position and anticipate a potential need to compromise on salary, industry, organization size, location requirements, and other important considerations.

While executive search firms can connect CISOs to optimal opportunities—particularly when given clear job criteria such as location, industry, scale, and position—competition is high. At JM Search, we are increasingly seeing InfoSec executives broaden their parameters; many top-performing CISOs are even stepping into CIO, operating partner, and investor roles. Others are showing openness to more conservative increases in compensation than they may have previously in different market conditions, particularly when offered a more senior role with broader scope of responsibilities, the chance to learn a new industry, and/or to have significant impact with businesses of a smaller scale. Be transparent with recruiters about areas where you’re willing to compromise, as well as dealbreakers in your search.

Embracing Short-Term Opportunities

While some companies are hesitant to hire full-time CISO executives, the rise of advisory and fractional leadership roles presents new opportunities for job seekers. CISOs can leverage these contract roles to bridge employment gaps—staying relevant in their field without having to make reactionary career decisions.

These short-term engagements shouldn’t slow down the job search. CISOs must ramp up their networking efforts—attending events and connecting virtually—to accelerate their search for their ideal career.

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