FEATURE SecTor 2015 stage

Among the trade show booths at this week’s SecTor security conference in Toronto was one for an organization that hadn’t appeared at previous IT or security shows in the area before: The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

SecTor 2015 CSIS booth 2
CSIS booth at SecTor 2015. ITWC photo by Howard Solomon

Usually recruiting at job fairs and universities, the spy agency sent four staffers (two of them literally men in black) plus a media spokesman to this year’s show to make a pitch for those with infosec skills. According to the agency’s Web site, right now it wants an applications analyst/developer, IT analysts, a programmer analyst, a security assessment analyst and a systems analyst.

Overall there are about 100 categories of people needed, according to a brochure, are everyone from clerks to fleet managers (CSIS has a vehicle fleet, at least some of which are used for following suspects and meeting people. That’s why for some jobs a drivers’ licence is a requirement.)

But it’s the technology and intelligence jobs that are the priority. “These are jobs that are available right now,” Tahera Mufti, chief of external communications, said in an interview at the conference, because CSIS is expanding.

(Or it was under the Harper administration. There’s no word yet on what the incoming Trudeau government has in mind for the agency’s budget. But with every speaker here forecasting an increase in threats of all types the odds are good it won’t be frozen.)

Mind you, candidates have to pass security clearance, which could take up to 18 months, to get their Top Secret clearance. Everyone starts at that level, Mufti said. And yes, everyone has to take a polygraph. And be traceable for the last 10 years. Don’t apply if you’ve been living off the grid for a while. Or have a criminal record.

Why this year’s SecTor? “This is a big show, probably the biggest in Canada,” Mufti said, eyeing the hundreds of attendees (official count: 2,200), who range from university students to IT veterans. “The people that come to this show are the people we want to attract to our organization, because we need people in these professions.”

“One of the reasons also we come to shows like this is to get the word out to this community that we’re hiring,”

According to the agency’s Web site, the pay could be attractive. That software developer being sought should have six years of experience in the past six years, plus a college diploma in engineering or computer science, and could be paid between $74,540 to $90,730. IT analysts could earn between $58,000 and $79,840 depending on experience.

CSIS employees are not a member of the Public Service Alliance and therefore don’t have the right to strike. But there is a health and dental plan.

Why work for CSIS and not the private sector? “People who work for our organization know it’s unique,” Mufti said. “Those who work with CSIS do very interesting, highly sensitive work, but we all are working to keep Canada safe. It’s a special group of people.”



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