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Looking for a Homeland Security Job? Be Patient

Looking for a Homeland Security Job? Be Patient

Allan Hoffman / Monster.com

October 16, 2007

The US may be pouring billions into homeland security, including funds to target cyberterrorism, but these outlays don’t necessarily translate into easy pickings for information technology professionals seeking work in this sector.

Those with security clearances and expertise in a security niche, such as encryption or biometrics, have an edge in seeking employment on homeland-security projects. But even for those with years of security experience, the field is difficult to break into, because:

1) Government bureaucracy slows hiring.
2) Jobs may be contingent on federal contracts being awarded to private-sector employers.
3) Security clearances may be necessary, whether for employment at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or companies working on government contracts.
4) The work isn’t concentrated in one place. Jobs exist at the federal, state and local levels of government, as well as at small businesses and corporations.

Advance Your Career

Michael Fitzgerald, principal consultant at staffing firm Winter, Wyman & Company, sees homeland security as a “growth area” for IT workers, yet notes that the complications of job hunting in the field can be discouraging to techies accustomed to faster hiring processes.

Techies may also have the misconception that working in homeland security, even for the DHS itself, is like working for a spy agency. It’s not, Fitzgerald cautions. Tackling the innovative challenges of the post-9/11 world certainly makes up a portion of the IT work available on homeland security projects, but not all of it, he says. “There’s a lot of work that is just humdrum IT work,” such as updating and maintaining computer systems and other such functional tasks, he notes.


Look Down the Private Path 


But the hiring situation may be improving, especially as DHS awards IT-related contracts to companies. “There’s a lot of activity,” says Jacob Goodwin, editor-in-chief of Government Security News. “It’s not a slam-dunk [for job seekers], but it’s a growth opportunity.”

Furthermore, the security concerns spawned by 9/11 have created opportunities beyond those classified strictly as homeland security. Brian Drum, president and CEO of recruitment firm Drum Associates, says that major companies must often retool their IT systems and data centers to cope with the possibility of power-grid problems, terrorist attacks and other unforeseen events.



Such work can entail:

1) Developing biometric identification for smart cards.
2) Sharing information between government agencies through databases, intranets and other communication systems.
3) Protecting the Internet and other networks from attack.
4) Designing back-up systems.
5) Bring It All Home


If you’re seeking work in homeland security, keep the following in mind:

Be Prepared for Bureaucracy: Don’t discount the power of government bureaucracy to create obstacles to hiring. That is particularly true for those seeking work at DHS, says Fitzgerald, who notes the “long and trying process” many job seekers will face. “You need to examine whether you’re patient enough to make this happen,” he says.

Look Beyond the Government: Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the DHS is where all the action is. “The best and most important IT work is not done by government employees who are on the government payroll,” Goodwin says. “It’s done by contractors.”

Follow the Contracts: Because many jobs in homeland security exist outside government, follow the trail of government contracts to find which private-sector employers are working on DHS-related projects. Check out articles at Government Security News, Government Technology and Washington Technology for leads. Conferences, such as the RSA Conference, is another way to learn about who’s working on homeland security projects.

Use Your Clearance: If you have a security clearance, you will have a much better chance of finding work in homeland security. “Security clearances are normally required to be an applicable candidate for this space,” Fitzgerald says.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    akonilimon

    about 4 years ago

    4 comments

    Can anyone tell me who are these contractors, that this article? Because if it really that hard to get a job woth gov I woulod like to know these contractors.

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    marthapitts15

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    I have government security clearance. I worked at Maxwell AFB.

  • 8-30-2008_1_23_28_am_max50

    msfoulks

    over 4 years ago

    4 comments

    I retired from the US Navy as an Aviation Ordnanceman and has 5 years as an Manufacturing supervisor. I am 52 years of age and in excellent condition. I am currrently unemployed and strongly would like to get into Homeland Security.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    over 4 years ago

    It is my dream to work for DHS. This is an excellent article! I never knew how these government contracts in IT worked. Now, I have a better idea. Thank you, for this awesome article.

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    HSteates

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    Well said. I have a passion for contracts, supply chain, and procurement functions of business and have issues finding a government position in the Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale, AZ area of the US. I don't want just 'a job', I want to continue my career, but work for our Homeland Security branch of government. What chance does a civilian have in applying for government positions and where are they? Anyone have any suggestions or feedback?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    vernon_eldred63

    over 4 years ago

    24 comments

    Why the hiring process is so tideous? why are'nt there jobs for people who have a passion and not just for people who just want the job? cause if you have the passion you would do your job more diligantly than just do it for the heck of doing it because it gives you a paycheck.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    nbt2px3

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    I apply too many times ....nothing happen? speak both languages..i have a BA degree in Psych.
    Gov jobs require a CLEARANCE????????????...I don't think so...

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    cgvidal

    almost 5 years ago

    2 comments

    hOW WOULD ONE GET AN UPDATED SECURITY CLEARANCE. i HAD ONE BEFORE RETIRING FROM THE ARMY IN 1995. SINCE ALOT OF GOVERNMENT JOBS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT REQUIRE A CLEARANCE, HOW WOULD ONE GET A CLEARANCE NOW???

    GEORGE VIDAL

  • Mis_fotos_051_max50

    marrero

    almost 5 years ago

    2 comments

    the people that lost your time and effort to written this way dohv24 and neb03c... don't be a losers crying like a baby here..the DoD AND ICE, FBI,HLS ect ,ect they don't think about us...I apply 1,500 time in difference gov agency since 2006 until now. 8 year like MP US NAVY, 16 YEAR EXPERIENCE LAW ENFORCEMENT AA CRIMINOLOGY WITH INVESTIGATION , 2 DEPLOYMENT IRAQ AND KUWAIT so did you think that they think about us just because we're served war..I don't think so

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    dohv24

    almost 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I have 8year Army veteran, been deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom within the last 4 years, and currently possess an interim TS clearance. I grew up in African and speak French. I have a BA degree in Psychology and am currently pursuing an MS degree in Intelligence Management. My ideal job would be in the Counterintelligence Field, but I'm willing to work in the physical security and law enforcement field as well. I am very flexible and adaptable to any environment, so if anyone knows someone hiring people with my credentials please let me know. or email me at dohv24@yahoo.com . thanks.

  • Nicole_business_pic_max50

    neb03c

    almost 5 years ago

    2 comments

    Anyone have any advice for someone with a degree in Criminology and Psychology from Florida State University. I can not seem to find anyone willing to hire a recent grad.?!?

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    dave321

    almost 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I live in Adrian Michigan, and retired eight years ago from the Navy. I have been stationed at FICPAC, ONI, & DIA holding a Top Secret clearance, and various sea tours with a Secret clearance. I will be completing my BBA-Concentration in Human Resource Management June 2009 (GPA 3.2). I am looking for a forward thinking company. If you are looking for someone to take the lead and finish the project with little or no supervision, then please contact me so that we can get the job done together. I believe it is important for management and HR to work together.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    edwlyd

    almost 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I live in Tampa FL. Have security clearence in the US ARMY RESERVE. I seeking a job in the
    homeland security in Tampa, FL. Just got back from my Second Deployment from Iraq

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Milretiree

    almost 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am a retired military, held secret and top secret security clearance while in. I am 53 years old and in perfect shape, seeking a job in homeland security near Augusta, GA or surrounding areas. Currently trying to finish my BS in criminal justice. I am unemployed after 10 years as assembly supervisor at John Deere.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    BobConklin

    about 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I live in Tampa FL.Had security clearence in the US Air Force. I have recently retired, am 66years old, in good heath

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