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The Information Commissioner’s Office sought a seasoned Principal Solicitor with expertise in cybersecurity to diligently oversee and direct legal matters within their Directorate, especially pertaining to intricate and high-profile cases and issues. This role reported directly to the Director of Cybersecurity and was the first designated expert in cyber law that they appointed.
Cybersecurity specialists nationwide primarily operate in IT roles. From the outset, it was evident that attracting candidates would pose a challenge due to the scarcity of specialised Solicitors in this area. In addition to an incredibly small candidate pool, we were well aware that the majority of relevant candidates were employed in the private sector, commanding significantly higher salaries. To address these challenges, during the campaign’s execution we formulated a comprehensive recruitment strategy designed to enhance our prospects of successfully filling the role while ensuring a diverse candidate pool.
We leveraged our extensive network and implemented a multifaceted advertising campaign to ensure widespread visibility. In parallel, we proactively conducted targeted headhunting initiatives to leave no stone unturned. We underscored the far-reaching significance of this opportunity, making sure all potential candidates were fully aware of the ICO’s pioneering launch of a cybersecurity division, emphasising their pivotal involvement from its inception and their substantial role in shaping UK cybersecurity regulations. Our primary objective remained the identification and engagement of high-calibre candidates who, while not actively seeking new positions, possessed the exceptional expertise sought after for this specialised role.
As a significant proportion of candidates in this field were from the private sector, we emphasised the generous civil service pension scheme and the array of public sector benefits they would benefit from. The primary hurdle we encountered pertained to salary expectations, with many candidates commanding salaries in the hundreds of thousands. Notably, one candidate disclosed a current salary of £500,000.
While we acknowledged that accepting a pay cut was less than ideal, especially given the prevailing economic conditions, we remained steadfast in our approach. Our belief was founded on the understanding that there were prospective candidates who placed a higher value on work-life balance and participation in the pension scheme, making the transition to the public sector a compelling proposition.
Following submission of a diverse applicant pool to the Information Commissioner’s Office, with more than 50% being female candidates, the ICO proceeded with a shortlist of 5 applicants to shortlist and interview stage. Despite encountering formidable challenges, we were able to secure an outstanding Solicitor for this role within the stipulated timeline.
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