Why Does a Recruiter Attend Black Hat or DEF CON

Posted by Kathleen Smith

Kirsten Renner, Parsons Black Hat and DEF CON are two pre-eminent information security conferences. DEF CON bills itself as the oldest continuously running hacker convention and is a less institutional type event than Black Hat.

I recently asked Black Hat / DEF CON veteran Kirsten Renner, Talent Management with Parsons, for some background on why these conferences are valuable to her as a recruiter.

How long have you been going to Black Hat/DEF CON?

DEF CON was the first information security conference I attended, which was in 2010. It was a career changing experience for me and I can’t even quantify the value it added to my network and relationships in the information security community.

I won’t lie, I was scared. But I was fortunate to make connections with the right people at the right time who helped me cut through the noise and pick up a lot of value from the events. I’ve since attended ShmooCon, Toorcon, BSides and many other information security conferences.

DEF CONDo you actually interview and hire candidates at these events or is this just to develop street cred for you and Parsons?

Not all events are the same so I don’t have one answer that covers all of the conferences. It also depends on if I am at a booth or attending sessions. My purpose in attending is less about the street cred that might inadvertently occur and more about broadening my knowledge in the space technically and fostering relationships. Of course as a recruiter I hope to find talent for opportunities if it is mutually advantageous for all parties.

BlackHatIf a tech candidate is at one of these conferences, what is the best way for them to work with you for future career opportunities?

I like to break the ice and bridge the gaps if you will so that communication is easier. I take a genuine interest in what the attendees are interested in and looking for, and listen to them. From there, a match may or may not be in place at the current time, or again in the future. The relationship is established, the person becomes comfortable reaching out, and in many cases we are able to help each other out at some point in one way or another, i.e. referrals, job leads, etc.

From your tweets, it sounds like you and Parsons are doing something innovative at DEF CON? Can you give us a bit more background without unveiling the whole surprise?

Well the cat is out of the bag on what we’re doing. Parsons is partnering in hosting the first ever Car Hack Village at DEF CON. The Village will include surprise OEM(s), multiple different zones for learning, talks and even a special challenge where attendees can try out their telematics skills to win prizes. It’s very exciting!

This entry was posted on Monday, August 03, 2015 3:29 pm

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