The digital world is notorious for spin and sensation, with few tech solutions living up to their own hype – or going the distance. Fads come and go, but few actually make a tangible or truly disruptive impact. Can digital tech displace the human touch in recruitment? The Daily Squirrel caught up with Dan Paine, Security Recruiter at Facebook in London to discuss the challenge of recruiting cyber security specialists at the world’s best-known social media platform.
Are there any particular trends – technologies or tools – on the horizon that you’re excited about?
The big one is AI and machine learning and everyone’s talking about how it will affect recruitment. I think that, yes, it will have an impact, but you’ve got to look at applying it in the right way and I don’t think anyone knows what that is yet. How can this actually help us?
At the end of the day you’re always going to need the human touch in recruitment. Some say that AI is going to take recruiters’ jobs, but it won’t because you’ve still got to do interviews, you’ve still got to have phone calls with people and talk to people. It’s a people-to-people business; you really don’t want to be approached by a machine.
Recruitment bots are something that a lot of companies are missing out on and that could be quite big – a bot that would stay in touch with someone via WhatsApp messenger or a Facebook group. Maybe this person won’t be interested straight away, but this bot could pop up every four or five weeks to have a chat about team size, environment and day-to-day work. Then, when that person is ready to chat, the bot could set it up automatically with a recruiter.
That kind of creative stuff, which will make us more efficient and more scalable, is where it’s going to be at – but I’m very much waiting to see it happen successfully.
What is your view on the workforce of today?
I hate the word “millennials” and giving a group of people a label, but I’m very passionate about young people exploring different careers and opportunities in the workplace. The 18-22 age group in full-time work is very low, they’re really under-represented in the workforce, but this is our future generation. A lot of them are going to university, but what happens to the ones that don’t? Do they end up in part-time supermarket jobs for the next three years because they don’t know what else to do?
By 2030, around 75% of these people are going to make up our workforce and they’re more or less wasting their time. Where this really stems from is the early education years, 14-15, when you’re at a point when you’re just starting to think about the future. Where our education system is fundamentally broken is the lack of business knowledge available, and what the world does – what businesses actually do – and it’s quite worrying.
If I’d had the opportunity when I was that age to really learn about business and how things are actually structured, I’d have been in a much better position.
In terms of cyber security, what key challenges do you face as a major social media platform?
We’ve actually faced a branding struggle recently, which is surprising considering we’re one of the most famous companies in the world. I’ve spoken to many people who’ve said they never thought Facebook would have a security team here in London, and it’s a real branding issue – we’re not just software engineers, we do have some pretty hardcore, exceptional and industry-renowned security people who work here.
The other challenge is the famous ‘skills gap’, or talent shortage – I would always say there isn’t actually a skills gap, it’s more that the bar is set very high when you’re interviewing people. It’s not about finding the right skills, it’s about finding people with the right personality who are going to be able to be successful here. We have a lot of people who are great technically, but the way Facebook operates doesn’t agree with some people.
On the whole, diversity is also an issue in cyber security recruitment – diversity in tech is a massive issue anyway, and this is something that needs to be taken back to the schooling system and get people interested early on in their career.
People need to learn that you don’t have to have a certain sort of profile to study computer sciences or get into IT. You can go beyond coding and into sales, HR or project management or analysis. That’s where our industry is struggling quite a lot.