Harry Benz knows how competitive the Canadian job market is for infosec pros. The head of a Toronto-based recruitment firm that bears his name which specializes in placing cyber security leaders has a simple tale that explains the situation:

“I got a company I deal with: For a junior person, entry level they’re taking six weeks to interview. Nobody can make a decision. They’re going to lose people.

“Tomorrow [Friday] I’m taking an individual who is on a work permit downtown where he’s going to meet all four decision makers in one afternoon. And by Monday they’ll have a decision.

“Those are the companies that are going to get people.”

“The big problem I have as a recruiter is to make companies understand that (demand). We have a cyber war out there for talent. People that want to take the traditional route for talent and take a month and a half or two months to hire somebody, they’re going to be left behind.”

That situation is reflected in a new report from online job site Indeed.ca. A rough guide, it measured search activity for cyber security jobs for the four year period ending in 2018 compared to infosec-related job postings.

The conclusion: Searches for cybersecurity positions as a share of Canadian job search activity grew 16 per cent from 2015 to 2018. Yet that didn’t come close to meeting the number of infosec-related jobs posted on the site. Cybersecurity’s share of Canadian search activity in December 2018 alone was still less than a fifth of the field’s share of posting activity.

In fact, says the report, more people clicked on tech jobs openings than on cyber security-related openings — there’s a 31 per cent gap.

“This gap in job seeker interest in cybersecurity roles compared with other tech jobs isn’t due to lower pay, at least when compared with standard tech roles,” says the report, which notes annual salaries of cybersecurity jobs posted on Indeed.ca averaged $82,000 in 2018. That’s 14 per cent higher than the average $72,000 for tech openings overall listed on the site.

Brendon Bernard, an economist at Indeed Canada, said the numbers suggest “the cyber security field offers great opportunities for job seekers looking for work. At the same time it’s going to be a challenging environment for employers to hire in.”

His advice to employers: They may have to think about broadening their search for candidates by offering training courses to current staff, or look to hire people from outside their region — and pay moving fees.

Meanwhile, he advises job seekers to have the skills employers are looking for, beyond just general strong tech skills and computer programming. They may need to take cyber security certificate courses in community colleges, he said.

Benz warns employers that it may take a lot to keep their current employees. Young infosec staffers aren’t hanging around. Some are changing jobs after only two years because technology changes so much, they are looking for promotions and salaries are rising, “They’re doubling their salary in three years,” he noted.